What is Midwifery

What is Midwifery?

A midwife is a person who has successfully completed a midwifery education program that is duly recognized in the country where it is located and that is based on the ICM Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice and the framework of the ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Education; who has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery and use the title ‘midwife’; and who demonstrates competency in the practice of midwifery.

In Ontario, a midwife is a registered health care professional who provides primary care to low-risk women throughout pregnancy, labour and birth. Midwives also provide care to both mother and baby during the six weeks following birth. They are available to clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week by pager.

The midwife is recognized as a responsible and accountable professional who works in partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period, to conduct births on the midwife’s own responsibility and to provide care for the newborn and the infant. This care includes preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in mother and child, the accessing of medical care or other appropriate assistance and the carrying out of emergency measures. The midwife has an important task in health counselling and education, not only for the woman, but also within the family and the community. This work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and may extend to women’s health, sexual or reproductive health and child care. A midwife may practice in any setting including the home, community, hospitals, clinics or health units.

The Ontario model of midwifery is based on three principles

Continuity of Care
Midwifery care is available to pregnant families throughout their pregnancy, labour, birth, and the first six weeks after birth. Midwives spend time developing relationships with clients and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Informed Choice
Clients are active decision-makers in the care they receive; midwives give information to help you make informed decisions.

Choice of Birthplace
Midwifery clients may choose to give birth at home or in hospital. Midwives maintain hospital privileges at many Ontario hospitals and work collaboratively with other health care practitioners.

As of January 1, 1994, the practice of midwifery in Ontario has been covered in legislation that regulates several health professions in the province. Midwives are required to be registered with the College of Midwives of Ontario, which sets standards for practice and education. All aspects of midwifery care are fully funded for Ontario residents through the Ministry of Health. Clients without OHIP coverage who are residents of Ontario, will be required to pay for certain hospital expenses but some laboratory and ultrasound fees may be covered. Click here to read more.