5 Things that Secretly Upset your Midwife

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We really try to let things roll of our back. We do! But some things still get to us sometimes. Know what I mean? Here are 5 things that secretly upset your midwife. We want people to have accurate information about midwives and midwifery care. Our blog is one way we are trying to ensure the that following 5 things (6 actually!) become a thing of the past – for your benefit and for ours!

1. When your family doctor doesn’t to tell you that midwifery care is an option or even (gasp) makes derogatory comments about midwives. Lots of family doctors know that registered midwives are primary care providers in the Ontario health care system with excellent safety outcomes and high satisfaction rates. But some are unaware and some have all kinds of misconceptions about the safety of midwives, or believe that you have to have a home birth or that midwives won’t support the option of an epidural. On the one hand, midwives understand why this is so. On the other hand, it is disheartening that after 20 years of regulation in Ontario, many people are not receiving accurate, evidence-informed facts about midwives from their family physician.

2. When someone tells us that they think having a midwife is a nice idea but they wanted to be safe so they chose an obstetrician. It doesn’t upset midwives that you believe that you will get safe care from an obstetrician. You will. What upsets us is the incorrect belief that midwives do not provide care that is just as safe. Research in Canada shows that moms and babies are just as safe in midwifery care as they are in the care of an obstetrician.

3. When it is said that people choose midwifery care because they care more about their experience than safe outcomes. There are a number of problems with this and I can’t address them all here. But suffice it to say that people who choose midwifery care expect a positive experience AND safe care. I work with obstetricians and nurses who also find this offensive. All of the members of your maternity care team work hard to treat people well and they care about how people experience their care. Your safe care does not come at the cost of your positive experience. If someone tells you otherwise, look elsewhere for care. Not all birth experiences are positive, of course. But your experience of the care you receive generally should be.

4. When people are surprised that Ontario midwives are trained in a vigorous university degree. Ok. So this one maybe doesn’t upset me so much as surprise me. We are primary care providers (meaning we are the person responsible for all the clinical care) for pregnant people and we deliver* babies! It is a big responsibility! Of course we are well trained! Midwives are funded by the health care system and granted admitting privileges by Ontario hospitals. Being an integrated part of the health care system means that the government and the hospitals have concluded that we are qualified. It only makes sense!

5. When people are judgmental about home birth. I fully support people to choose hospital birth if hospitals make them feel comfortable and safe (and for people who are high risk, of course) . And I don’t think that everyone who chooses hospital birth is being judgmental. And I fully understand why people would misunderstand the safety of home birth because they lack knowledge about:
• the training of midwives,
• the fact that we carry the equipment, medications and supplies needed to provide medical care in the home,
• and that we have excellent safety outcomes.
I understand that a lack of knowledge about birth might make it hard to understand that home birth can be safe with a registered midwife who carefully screens clients and is well integrated into the health care system. And let’s face it, hospital birth remains the norm in our society and people are generally more comfortable with what is familiar. But it really upsets us when people who don’t have all the information toss grenades in the mommy wars. A lack of information and/or a lack of empathy for why people make choices different from your own does not make it okay to criticize others. That kind of thing isn’t good for anyone. If you do this, please reconsider. If you want to learn more, check out this video and this blog post. Call us and we would be happy to provide further resources. Know someone who is planning or had a home birth? Ask them for more information.

6. When people think that midwives won’t support your choice to have a hospital birth or to use pain medications during birth. Ok. So, I know that this post is titled, “5 Things that Secretly Upset your Midwife.” This is item number six. Apparently, this midwife is particularly upset! This one actually makes me sad. I’m not into being judgmental about the informed choices that people make (see #5 above). It makes me sad to think that someone would avoid midwives because they think they won’t be supported in their preferences. Ontario midwives have three principles or tenets that guide our care. One is informed choice. This means that we give you as much information as you want and need in order to make your own decisions about your care and then we support those decisions. Full stop. Let me repeat myself here. We will tell you about your options. You make choices. We support your choices. We will make recommendations when indicated, of course. But all things being equal, the choice is up to you. The other two tenets of midwifery care are continuity of care and choice of birthplace. So, you might notice, discouraging hospital births or pain medications is not on our agenda. Informed choice is. We feel really strongly about it. It is kind of our thing…

*Pregnant people, women, mothers deliver the babies not care providers. Midwives and doctors just catch them. The use of the term “deliver” was chosen intentionally as it is commonly understood terminology.



Genia Stephen is a registered midwife with Generations Midwifery Care. Learn more about Genia here.