A woman who would like to receive care from a midwife must submit a request to the midwifery service in her region. Consult the List of midwifery services to find the service nearest to you.
The woman and her partner are invited to attend an information session.
Midwives provide care during pregnancy using a personalized and comprehensive health care approach. Care during pregnancy focuses on discussion. Physical changes are discussed but other subjects may be addressed too. The midwife may, for example, suggest discussing social, cultural and emotional aspects related to managing pain during childbirth or to the baby’s arrival. The future mother is invited to take part in discussions with her partner.
A typical pregnancy involves about a dozen visits. Appointments are scheduled once a month during the first months of pregnancy and more frequently after this, as with visits with doctors.
Midwives order various tests, including blood tests and ultrasounds. Tests and procedures are usually done at the referral hospital centre the midwifery service is associated with.
A midwife is trained to provide safe care and respond appropriately in emergency situations. If necessary, the midwife refers the mother to another professional. If complications arise during pregnancy (gestational diabetes, premature labour, for example), the midwife must consult a doctor or transfer the pregnant woman’s care to him or her.
They usually work in teams of 2 or 3. This means that a midwife is always available to answer any questions the pregnant woman might have and to provide care when labour starts. A second midwife will assist the primary midwife in caring for mother and baby during the birth. Services are organized the same way for all birth settings. A “birth assistant” may also attend the birth to provide additional assistance.
During pregnancy visits, the midwife helps the future mother prepare to manage pain. She also provides personalized care during labour. Midwives do not give epidurals. If a woman would like to have an epidural during labour, she must be transferred to a medical team and give birth in a hospital centre.
If a complication arises during labour, the midwife consults a doctor and transfers the woman’s care to a medical team if necessary. A regulation arising from the Act describes situations where a consultation with or transfer to a doctor is required. The midwife refers to this regulation to determine whether or not she may provide care for the future mother.
The midwife continues to provide care to the mother and the newborn until 6 weeks after birth. This includes a minimum of 3 visits in the mother’s home, the birth centre or the midwifery service’s consulting rooms. During these visits, the midwife monitors the mother’s and the baby’s health and provides breastfeeding support. The mother can have 2 additional visits at the birth centre. She can also contact the midwife at the birth centre at any time.