WHAT IS A MIDWIFE?

The word midwife means with woman

It means midwives partnering together with pregnant people and their families to facilitate and ease childbirth. The very nature of midwifery care is grounded in holistic, and physiologic health. All aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, and breastfeeding are inherently normal and natural. By providing individualized care, we can promote, support, and encourage a positive and normative birth experience.

The midwifery model of care promotes normal birth, enables people to make informed choices, and provides continuity of care and support throughout the childbearing experience. We believe that women and their families are transformed by birth and we provide compassionate, supportive, and informative guidance to facilitate this transformation. All families are unique and we tailor our care to your very personal needs.

Midwives are registered health care practitioners. We are professionals who provide primary care to women and their babies during pregnancy, labour, birth, and the postpartum period. Midwives provide the full course of care for low-risk women. This includes physical examinations, screening, diagnostic tests, the assessment of abnormal conditions, and the conduct of normal vaginal deliveries at home or in the hospital, as well as postpartum care for mom and baby. This means that when a woman comes into care with midwives, at about 8 weeks gestation, midwives are on call 24/7 to attend her needs related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and infant feeding.

Midwives keep up to date on research and believe that it is our responsibility to provide comprehensive, and up to date information so that women can make informed choices at all stages of care. We practice based on a philosophy of informed choice. We believe that although we are experts in the field of midwifery, we are not experts at knowing your personal history, experiences, and beliefs. It is our work to keep you informed about all aspects of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care and to support your decisions. It is your work to be informed, ask questions, and play an active role in the decision-making process required during your care.

During labour and birth, a midwife stays with a woman and her family, from the onset of active labour to 3 to 4 hours after the birth. Midwives are trained in the management of maternal and newborn emergency situations. We carry the equipment necessary to handle emergencies out of hospital. On the occasion that transport is necessary, midwives are skilled in identifying the appropriate time and method of transport. In case a transfer of care to another practitioner is required, the midwife continues to provide supportive care until such time that full care can resume. We work in collaboration with other health care professionals and will consult or refer as appropriate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

HOW ARE MIDWIVES TRAINED?
All Registered Midwives in Alberta have at least the equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree in Midwifery. They have demonstrated a high level of competency as required by the College of Midwives of Alberta through rigorous written, clinical and oral examinations. Midwives have skills in normal birth and the identification of high risk situations that may require a more involved type of care. They come from a variety of educational backgrounds and have many different skill sets. All midwives are trained in emergency skills and are capable of handling emergencies related to birth for both the pregnant person and newborn.
IS IT SAFE?
Midwifery care is a safe choice for low-risk, healthy women. It is endorsed by many organizations that strongly influence maternity care in our country, including the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC). Women and babies actually tend to fare better in countries where midwifery care is the norm. Midwifery clients experience lower rates of forcep and vacuum deliveries, cesarean sections, episiotomies, infections, and babies requiring resuscitation, when compared with women in the same risk group delivering with physician-led care.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
Midwifery is a fully funded service through Alberta Health Care. It is billed directly to AHS and there are no up front costs or fees to our clients. Depending on your choice of birth place and if you choose to use waterbirth, herbs, aromatherapy, oils, or homeopathics, you may expect to spend about $50-$200 on supplies. This cost is determined by you, and your particular needs and choices. Midwives do not always supply a pool for water birth in the home, and this option may come at an expense as well. Pools for in hospital waterbirth are supplied, however there is an associated cost for supplies needed for the pool.
HOW MANY CLIENTS DO YOU TAKE/YEAR/MONTH?
Midwives believe that it is very important to provide comprehensive care to all of their clients. Due to this philosophy, we can only accommodate a certain number of clients per year. Usually, this number is somewhere around 40 births per year, per full-time midwife. Our funding comes from Alberta Health Services and is, at times, restrictive based on the number of people requesting midwifery care. Alberta Health Services and Prairie MIdwives has been working diligently to try to increase funding, so that we can accommodate the demand for midwifery care. Usually our demand is quite high which results in us having to make some difficult decisions. A consultation is simply a means of meeting one another and discussing your needs. It is a chance for you to ask questions and feel comfortable with your choice to access midwifery care. It also gives us a chance to see if you are a candidate for low-risk care. We believe that offering consultations to our potential clients is an important step in the process, but does not guarantee that we can give you care. We do carry a wait-list for clients as well in case spaces open up for around the time you are due.
HOW OFTEN DO I SEE THE MIDWIVES?
Midwives typically welcome clients into care between 8-10wks, when they have had a consultation and then schedule an initial appointment. They are then seen every 4-5 wks until 28 wks of pregnancy, then every 2-3 wks until 36 wks of pregnancy. They are then offered weekly visits until 41wks of pregnancy and then every 2-3 days after this. Certainly if there are labour concerns, your midwives are available 24 hours, 7 days a week, and may see you between appointments if questions or complications arise. As labour progresses the midwife may assess the client in their home, at the clinic, or in hospital and stays with them through active labour and delivery, either in their home, or in the hospital. After you have your baby, you generally see your midwife 12-24 hours after the birth (either in hospital or at home). We will then do home visits on or around Day 3 and 5. This gives you the opportunity to spend time with your new family in order to establish breastfeeding and bond with your new baby. We highly encourage you not to leave your home during this precious time. You and the baby will then see us in clinic at 2 weeks and 6 weeks postpartum in the clinic.
WHAT IF I LIVE OUTSIDE YOUR SERVICE AREA?
We do provide care to women in central Alberta, however in order to provide our best care possible it is difficult for us to travel a great distance for birth and postpartum visits. If you would like an out-of-hospital birth, you will have to make your own arrangements to birth within our service area and be prepared to stay for 1- 3 days postpartum. This is to facilitate your postpartum care and to ensure that you are getting the care that you and your new baby need. This can be discussed and options are available, please speak to your midwife.
HOW DO I ACCESS CARE?
Please fill out our intake form as soon as you know you are pregnant. We will contact you within 1 week of receiving your completed form. We will arrange a consultation visit with one of our midwives if we have availability at the time you are due. We feel it is important to meet with you and your partner or support team. Please keep in mind that we are a small practice and only take a limited number of clients each month to ensure quality, personalized care to our clients. It is not uncommon for us to fill up quickly.
DO I NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR?
Throughout your pregnancy, while you are under the care of a midwife, you will not need to see a physician routinely for pregnancy concerns. However, there may be times that seeing a physician is necessary. This would include concerns that aren’t related to pregnancy. If you do need to see your physician, please keep your midwives updated on your health. We care about you and like to know what’s going on. If you develop complications related to your pregnancy, we will provide a referral to an obstetrician if necessary, and be there to help guide you through the process.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE A HOMEBIRTH?
Many midwives, including the midwives at Prairie Midwives, have admitting privileges in hospital, just as a family doctor would. We can admit clients and provide care in hospital. We believe that choice of birthplace is an important aspect of your maternity care and strive to provide that option. Your midwife can help you make that decision as your pregnancy progresses. The decision about where to birth is a very personal one, and can only be decided by you. We are happy to accommodate both options freely.
CAN I HAVE AN EPIDURAL OR PAIN MEDICATIONS IF I HAVE A MIDWIFE?
Midwives are specialists in normal birth. Generally speaking, our clients share the common goal of natural childbirth and choose to deliver their babies with minimal intervention. Of course, it is impossible to predict what your birth journey will look like and there are times when intervention becomes necessary. This includes the use of medications, including epidurals. Many interventions in birth are, at times, useful, if not necessary. It is important to keep an open mind and be educated about all of your options. It is ideal that you feel supported, listened to, and feel a sense of achievement after your birth. We will discuss your options prenatally with you, including all methods of coping in labour.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MIDWIFE AND A DOULA?
Doulas provide prenatal, labour, and sometimes postpartum support. Doulas do not provide care in a medical or clinical arena. They do not deliver babies, and are not responsible for ensuring the health and well-being of the mother and newborn. Doulas work as part of your team, along with a midwife or physician. They provide constant emotional support and are there for the duration of labour, including early labour where your midwife may not be directly present. Doulas are for partners too, and they are a very welcome resource at any birth.
WHO WOULD BE AT MY BIRTH?
It is your choice who to have at your birth. Your support team is very individual to you. This may include children and other family members. This may include friends. The choice is yours and will be discussed at your prenatal visits. Children and other family members may require some special preparation.
Generally speaking, there are two midwives at every birth. If you are planning a homebirth, midwives are required to have either two midwives, or a midwife and a Registered Nurse (RN), if a second midwife is unavailable. We have a small pool of RNs who are experienced in providing back-up for homebirths and may be called upon to attend your birth if the second midwife is unavailable. They usually arrive late in active labour and stay for a few hours after the birth. Your midwife will continue to provide your care.
If you are planning a hospital birth, midwives will provide the majority of your primary care and either a second midwife, or an RN will be present at your birth, usually right around the time of delivery and about an hour afterwards.
We believe that it is extremely important to foster the future of the midwifery profession. We may have midwifery students that are practicing with as at various stages of their education. Most of the time, you will have met a student and will have a sense of what they may be responsible for at your birth. The primary midwife will always be present with a student. Please feel free to ask our students or ask your midwives if you have any questions or concerns. Many facilities are teaching facilities and there are a variety of students who may request to be a part of your care, from midwifery students, to family practice residents (doctors), to nursing students. Your midwife will discuss with you if an opportunity arises and you should always know and feel comfortable with whomever is a part of your birth/care.
WHAT’S MY ROLE AS A MIDWIFERY CLIENT?
Your role as a client is to learn! Pregnancy and childbirth offers us many things, and the opportunity to grow a solid understanding of your body is just the beginning. For many people (and their partners), pregnancy is their first opportunity to learning about health and wellness. We offer diet counseling and discuss ways to maintain your health so that you have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. Please ensure that you bring questions with you to your prenatal appointments so that we can be sure to provide you with comprehensive care. Informed choice is a big part of your care, so you want to make sure that you are reading and ‘doing your homework’ so as to make the best decisions for yourself and your baby. We can guide you along the way, but the work is yours!
WHAT IF I CAN’T GET CARE FROM PRAIRIE MIDWIVES?
We do wish we could accommodate the demand in Central Alberta for midwifery care, and are working hard to that end! We continue to, at times, have waitlists for care. There are other practices services Central Alberta that may be able to accommodate your care. West Country MIdwives is located in Rocky Mountain House, and although they also have wait lists, you may want to contact them as well. If you are delivering in the traditional medical system, we highly recommend getting a doula to help support you along the way. Be prepared to read lots and seek as much information as possible. We wish you all the best on this very exciting journey! Please do not hesitate to contact us for future pregnancies if you continue to desire midwifery care.
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THEY SAID IT BEST

Hear what the community has to say

I feel so blessed and fortunate to be under midwifery care!! I was on the wait list for over half of my pregnancy and just when I was beginning to lose hope I got the email saying that they had space. I’m so so grateful!

Already my experience has been ten times what I was receiving under the care of my doctor. I feel heard, comforted and most importantly as a new mother to be, safe.

The fear that I have developed over the years of just even the idea of one day giving birth is starting to lift as that day now slowly approaches and will soon become my reality, I am beginning to open up to and believe for an amazing and empowering experience for both me and this little babe!

I feel so strongly for myself and for other woman that we should have a sisterhood of support, love, comfort and care and that with the right care our birth stories can be the most amazing and transformative experiences of our lives.

So needless to say THANK YOU! to all of the wonderful people that are working to contribute to, advocate and believe for the positive outcomes of healthy pregnancies and births for all each of us, forever grateful.

Raelynn L.
Having midwives with me through 3 of my pregnancy’s and beyond is something I could only have dreamed of. What a difference it was to have a kind and understanding voice to hear you and listen to you, especially when it comes time for labor. Jenn and Tina delivered my 4th baby, and they helped me transition into one of the toughest years of my life so far, with 4 kids under 5. I would have 5 more babies just to have that amazing connection and feeling of being seen, heard, valued and loved by a care provider. They truly have a gift that was heaven sent.
Jennie M.
My husband and I can't say enough good things about our experience with Prairie Midwives! From the first appointment to my postnatal care, I have nothing but rave reviews. My midwife Melissa was supportive, caring and so knowledgeable. My home birth was exceptional and I couldn't have done it without Melissa and Tina. I highly recommend midwifery to any women and will continue to praise and advocate for Alberta Midwife services so more women can get the opportunity to experience such a wonderful service. I feel very blessed to have had a midwife and the experience I did. My family who was also present at the birth is also singing your praises and is spreading the word about midwifery as well.
Krissy P.
It's hard not to write 1000 words on how every woman deserves the care of a midwife! Suffice it to say, midwifery care will leave you feeling informed and able to make the right choices for you and your journey. We were so fortunate to have team Tina and Jenn for our second pregnancy. With our first we had a typical prenatal clinic experience and hospital delivery. I was very stressed by feeling like no one really knew who I was or what my wishes were. With Tina and Jenn, despite again going very overdue, I felt no pressure from them to 'get things going' or start booking inductions. I didn't stress about knowing everything myself so that I could defend my decisions. I felt empowered, and able to trust that they would recommend interventions out of necessity, not out of convenience. Midwifery care is second to none in Central Alberta.
Carli C.
Midwifery was such an incredible gift to me. After a C-section with my first that came with so many conflicting emotions- I’m so thankful for a support team that stood beside me, honoured my desires and championed me all the way in the births that followed. There’s something so incredibly transformative about the birth process and midwifery care has shaped and influenced so many other aspects of my life. It truly started a whole process for me of empowerment and informed choices❤️. I love that it’s not about medical vs natural.. its about support and trusting the process.
Chelsea F.
First off, midwives are amazing! Shehana and Kayla made us feel like family from the very first day we met. I was never apprehensive about the care we were all receiving, myself, my husband and my growing baby inside me. ALL the midwives are very caring and competent women who put the mother and baby first! They also honour and respect all our questions and wishes we had throughout the entire prenatal to postnatal care. I would recommend midwifes to anyone who is appropriate for their care.
Aimee R.