In Vancouver and the surrounding area there are currently numerous midwifery practices providing maternal health care services for pregnant women. Midwifery care has been an option for many years since it became legalized and regulated in 1998. It is fully covered by the Medical Services Plan.
A midwife is your primary care provider providing care prenatally, during the labor and birth and with followup postpartum care for 6 weeks for both mother and newborn. This includes home visits in the initial week after birth. Midwives are also skilled in breastfeeding support and provide infant care education. To learn more about what a midwife is, click on this link: http://www.bcmidwives.com/
At the heart of midwifery care is the idea that birth is a normal, healthy part of a woman's life. While they will call on medical technology when it is clearly needed, midwives discourage the routine use of ultrasound, fetal monitoring, induced labor, episiotomies and Cesarean section.
The role of the midwife is to monitor the mother’s physical, psychological, and social well-being and provide education and assistance. If problems do arise, they explore alternatives for coping with the issue, generally attempting to minimize technical interventions.
Midwifery care, due to being non-interventionist, results in cost-effective care and significantly lower rates of Cesarean section & premature and low birth weight births. Midwives identify and refer women who need the specialist care of an obstetrician.
Within the Greater Vancouver area midwives have privileges at various hospitals including BC Women's, St. Paul's, Burnaby General, Richmond General, Royal Columbian Hospital and Lion's Gate Hospital. Each midwifery practice has specific hospitals that they work in. In early labor, midwives will often come to the home to assess progress which can make a difference in terms of when one arrives at the hospital. It avoids the uncertainty of when to make that move, especially for first time parents.
With midwives, the place of birth can be either hospital or home. Currently midwives are the only care providers who can attend birth at home. Research 'showed that planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and adverse maternal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician.' See: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/181/6-7/377.full
Update: The government will be allotting funds so that home birth supplies will be provided by midwives for your home birth. See:http://www.bcmidwives.com/contract-negotiations
Note: • Home Birth Supplies Program that will support Regional Health Authorities to provide these supplies and medications.
For links to our local Vancouver area midwifery practices, see below.
I hope this article encourages interest in midwifery, as it offers wonderful 'woman to woman' care.