Midwife means “with woman”. A midwife is a specialist in normal pregnancy and birth. She works with other caregivers to provide women and their babies the best possible care during the childbearing year. In Alberta and around the world, midwives have excellent safety records.
The midwifery scope of practice includes providing primary care to low risk women and their newborns through pregnancy, birth and 6 weeks postpartum. Registered midwives have complete access to laboratories and diagnostic services; are able to prescribe and carry select medications, and consult or refer to other specialists when needed. Accordingly your midwife can order prenatal lab work, ultrasounds and prescribe certain pregnancy related medications. Hospital admitting privileges are available in most regions where midwives practice, or in most cases clients are able to choose to deliver in a birth center or at home.
Clients under midwifery care do not see an OB or family physician in addition to their midwife for pregnancy related care. Midwives are able to consult with these other providers when necessary and/or medically indicated.
An Overview of Midwifery Practice in Alberta
Midwives work as independent practitioners and can either work alone or with groups of other midwives in a private practice. Midwives provide care from their homes or private offices. A variety of birth places are offered such as home, birth center or hospital.
All midwives must be a member of the AAM and carry full liability insurance. Midwives can apply for admitting privileges at many hospitals in their area. Midwives are the Primary Care Provider for low risk women and can order blood work; ultrasound scans and consult with a variety of professionals if required. Yearly certification is required in CPR, NRP, Emergency Skills and a variety of other workshops.
Midwives typically welcome clients into care between 8-10wks, when they have an initial appointment. They are then seen every 4 wks until 30wks of pregnancy, then every 2wks until 36wks of pregnancy. They are then offered weekly visits until 41wks of pregnancy. When labour progresses the midwife goes to the woman’s home to assess progress and remains with the woman through active labour and delivery, in the woman’s home, at a birth centre or in the hospital. Typically 3-4hrs after the birth if the woman and baby are stable, the woman will be discharged home by the midwife if at a birth centre or the hospital. If the birth occurred at home, the midwife will leave at this point. Post Partum visits at home by the midwife are usually done on Days 1, 3 and 5 unless further visits are required. The woman then comes to the clinic at 2, 4 and 6 weeks Post partum when the care is completed. The client has access to her midwife 24hrs/7days a week throughout her care by means of a pager system shared between her midwife team.
In order to practice and be registered in Alberta, a midwife must apply to the Midwifery Health Disciplines Committee. After extensive review of qualifications, written and practical examinations, an eligible midwife may now register to practice in the province of Alberta. The Health Disciplines Board also appointed the Midwifery Health Disciplines Committee, which is responsible for public safety and regulation of the profession.