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.
Midwives are autonomous practitioners whose scope of practice parallels that of a family doctor. In addition, midwifery care includes expert, consistent support throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the early weeks of parenthood.
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.
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. Previously, Alberta families 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 are primary care providers, which means that you do not need to see another care provider for a typical, low risk, healthy pregnancy. They attend birth at home, at a birthing centre, and in hospitals. 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.
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.