About midwifery care
The practice of midwifery is based on the understanding that pregnancy, labor and birth are profound experiences which carry significant meaning for a woman, her family and her community. Midwifery is grounded in the belief that having a baby is a natural life process and an opportunity for considerable growth. The intent of midwifery care is to enhance these life experiences.
Midwifery is traditionally wholistic, combining an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, psychological and physical aspects of a woman's reproductive experience. Midwives promote wellness in women, babies and families both autonomously and in collaboration with other health care professionals.
Midwifery is a partnership between a midwife and woman and her family which is based on mutual respect. The women is the center of the childbirth experience and a great influence on the health and well-being of herself and her family.
The Alberta Association of Midwives (AAM) was registered as a society in 1982 to represent the professional interests of midwives. Membership includes registered midwives, associate members and student midwives. The AAM evolved out of a recognized need for continuity of care in the maternity cycle, as well as in response to increasing public support of midwifery in Alberta. Since it was formed the AAM has worked with consumers, government agencies and other health care professionals to promote legalization and public funding of midwifery.
The Midwives' Alliance of North America (MANA) is an organization of North American midwives and their advocates. MANA's central mission is to promote midwifery as a quality health care option for North American families.
Most women in Canada now have nominal access to regulated and funded (paid for as part of the provincial health care system) midwifery care, as well as a choice of birth location (home, hospital or birth centre). Access varies by province, as the following table shows:
Province, Regulated, Funded, Birth Options with a Midwife
Alberta, Yes, Yes, Hospital;Home or Birth Centre
British Columbia, Yes, Yes, Hospital or Home
Manitoba, Yes, Yes, Hospital or Home
Newfoundland and Labrador, No, No, Hospital (only in certain areas)
New Brunswick, No, No, Home
Northwest Territories, No, No, Home
Nova Scotia, No, No, Home**
Nunavut, Pilot Project, Yes, Most flown to other locations for birth
Ontario, Yes, Yes, Hospital or Home
Prince Edward Island, No, No, Home
Quebec, Yes, Yes, Birthing Centre; Hospital or Home
Saskatchewan, No, No, Home
** Legislation has been passed in both Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan to support midwifery, however, both governments have more to do in terms of implementing this plan. Reportedly, the first publicly-funded midwifery services will be available in Saskatchewan in the spring of 2007. In Nova Scotia, the government expects to have the legislation declared, including with all the related regulations in the fall of 2007.
Midwifery was legally recognized in Alberta in 1992. Midwives in Alberta are registered under the Health Disciplines Board by the Midwifery Health Disciplines Committee, which sets the standards and educational requirements. Until recently in Alberta, families have paid out of pocket for the services of a midwife, but starting April 1, 2009, midwifery was added to the maternity services covered by Alberta Health Services.
Midwives in Alberta attend both home and hospital births. In some health authorities, midwives have hospital admitting privileges, which means they can provide primary care in the hospital. Admitting privileges vary from region to region.
Midwives are autonomous practitioners whose scope of practice parallels that of a family doctor. In addition, midwifery care includes expert, consistent support thoughout pregnancy, childbirth and the early weeks of parenthood.