Happy International Day of the Midwife this coming May 5! Not that long ago, only a few generations, most babies were delivered by midwives. Today, modern midwifery is making a positive impact by supporting families to safely give birth in home or hospital settings, while paying close attention to social and cultural factors to support a heart-warming and profound but usually quite normal event. Midwives in Ontario deliver about 17 per cent of the babies in the province or around 24,000 per year.
In addition to home and hospital settings, there are three birthing centres in the province in Toronto, Ottawa, and Six Nations of the Grand River. In Ontario, Registered Midwives work as autonomous care providers in midwifery clinics or practices and are regulated by the College of Midwives of Ontario. Ontario also has Aboriginal Midwives, who are authorized to work within their communities by their communities.
Midwives are healthcare professionals who provide primary care to women and their babies during pregnancy, labour, birth, and the postpartum period. Midwifery practice is informed by research, evidence-based guidelines, community standards, clinical experience, and the unique values and needs of those within midwifery care. There is an opportunity to personalize one’s care to meet their needs and support their birth plans, and to involve family and other support people.
Midwives provide complete care during pregnancy, including regular visits, diagnostic tests and ultrasounds, routine bloodwork, and emotional support. People can call a midwife as soon as they know they are pregnant to request care; a referral is not necessary. Midwives care for healthy, low-risk clients and if necessary, they collaborate with other health professionals during pregnancy and birth. Midwives visit the parents and their newborn at home in the first week after birth. They continue to provide care for at least six weeks after birth. A midwife is an expert in supporting breastfeeding and helping new parents ease into the postpartum period and the experience of parenting a newborn.
Midwifery services are fully funded by the province’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and there is no charge to residents of Ontario.
Midwives in Canada are active making a difference internationally. The Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM) works to mentor and support midwives and families in other countries, and hosted its first Global Symposium on Reproductive Health and Rights in October 2018. CAM partners with other organizations such as the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM) to drive progress on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada. The World Health Organization envisions midwives to be a vital part of a strategy to decrease inequality in maternal health globally and to improve outcomes.
At Midwives of Lindsay and the Lakes, it has been 12 years that we have been supporting families of the area, at Ross Memorial Hospital and at home. We are thrilled to be part of the difference that midwives are making internationally and close to home. Midwives of Lindsay has helped approximately 1000 babies into the world since we opened our practice. We truly appreciate working within a supportive environment of inter-professional collaboration and with the vibrant population of the City of Kawartha Lakes. It is the people of this region that make our work so rewarding!
For more information on midwifery, visit www.ontariomidwives.ca www.canadianmidwives.org www.midwivesoflindsay.ca.
Submitted by: Kerry Bebee, Alison Bowen and Julie Piggott (Registered Midwives).