Midwifery

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Midwives are available to provide care to healthy women during pregnancy, labour and birth and in the early weeks with their newborns as part of the publicly-funded health care system. They work closely with the obstetrics clinic, family physicians, nurse practitioners, obstetricians, nurses and other care providers to enhance the maternity care provided on the South Shore. Midwives are specifically trained to care for women who are experiencing a normal pregnancy, and their healthy newborns. Midwives order and interpret routine tests including bloodwork, ultrasounds and referrals to genetics services; prescribe medications and treatments as appropriate; and provide ongoing counseling and education to their clients. They provide assessment, monitoring and support during the labour and deliver the baby whether at home or in the hospital. Following the birth, midwives continue to provide care to the mother and baby for up to six weeks including newborn exams, breastfeeding support and frequent home visits. For more information, contact 634 7375.

Midwifery Care Brochure

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What do midwives do?
Midwives are health care professionals who are experts in normal pregnancy and birth. Midwives provide a wide range of services including:

  • prenatal care
  • ordering and interpreting routine tests including bloodwork, genetic screening and ultrasounds;
  • prescribing medications and treatments as appropriate;
  • counseling, education and support
  • continuous support, assessment and monitoring during the labour, birth and early postpartum delivery of the baby
  • comprehensive newborn exams
  • breastfeeding support
  • extensive follow-up care after the birth including frequent home visits

Will I have a midwife and a family doctor looking after my pregnancy?
No. A midwife will provide clinical care in the same way that family doctors in the obstetrics clinic do. If you choose a midwife, you will not need to see a doctor unless there is a specific concern that needs to be addressed. Midwives have clear guidelines for consultation and transfer of care to physicians or other health professionals.   

Is having a midwife as safe as having a doctor?
The safest way to give birth is with a trained and skilled attendant. Doctors and midwives are both trained to deliver babies. Research shows that both options are equally safe.

What happens if there is an emergency?
Midwives are trained to detect problems and deal with emergencies.  For planned home births, midwives are skilled and equipped to handle emergencies prior to and during transfer to hospital.  Protocols are in place to ensure safe and timely transport to hospital when necessary.

Where do midwives provide care?
Midwives provide care in hospitals, in the community and in your home. You will be seen in the clinic for regular visits. Midwives will see you at home several times in the days and weeks following the birth.

Do I need a referral?
No. Women can refer themselves to a midwife. They can also be referred by their family physicians, nurse practitioners or by the staff and physicians in the obstetrics clinic.  

Can my midwife deliver my baby in the hospital?
Yes, in fact, most midwife-assisted births in Canada take place in hospitals. Midwives are trained for births in hospitals and in homes. You may choose where, with whom, and how you would like to give birth within the guidelines of safe midwifery care.

If I have a midwife, can I have an epidural?
Yes, you will have the same access to all pain relief options that all women have within the hospital setting.  Midwives are specialists in normal labour and birth, and are skilled and experienced with many supportive techniques during labour, often reducing the need for medical pain relief.

Do midwives have formal training?
Yes.  Registered midwives are trained professionals who are considered experts in normal pregnancy and birth. In Canada, midwives must complete a four-year university program and register with their provincial regulatory body.

Can midwives order prenatal tests?
Yes, a midwife can order the same tests that a doctor typically provides to pregnant women — such as bloodwork, ultrasounds and genetic screening. Midwives also explain the purpose and potential outcome of each test before you decide whether to take it.

Are Doulas the same as midwives?
No. A doula doesn't provide medical care or deliver babies. A doula offers emotional and physical support to a woman during labour. For example, they may help mothers with relaxation techniques, positioning and other non-medicinal pain-relief measures. Many doulas offer postpartum care as well, including breastfeeding support. Doula services are not publicly funded.

Where can I get more information or make an appointment with a midwife?

South Shore Health's Community Midwives can be reached at 902-634 7375 or by visiting their offices at:
South Shore Health Community Midwives
Fishermen's Memorial Hospital
14 High Street
Lunenburg
Nova Scotia, B0J 2C0

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