In Ontario, Midwives are primary health care providers who care for low-risk women throughout pregnancy, labour and birth. Use these midwifery FAQs to learn more about midwives and your birth choices.
Many people think that low-risk means “no risk” or “no complications” and this is not the case. Close to 90% of women are low-risk. Call us to find out more. Midwives also provide care to both mother and baby during the six weeks following birth. They are available to clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week by pager. Clients receive care from a small number of midwives. You will know the midwife who attends your labour and birth. In Ontario, if you see a midwife you will not see a physician unless there are concerns or complications outside of the scope of midwifery practice. Most births are normal and there are no complications that require a physician. If there are complications, midwives will consult or transfer care to a physician if needed. Midwives provide safe and expert care to healthy women and newborns.
What does it cost to use a midwife? Midwifery services are completely funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, so women do not pay for care out-of-pocket. Women who are not currently covered by OHIP but are residents of Ontario can still receive free midwifery care.
Do I need a doctor’s referral? You do not need a doctor’s referral. You can call us directly.
When should I contact a midwife? It is best to contact a midwife as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Not only is demand for midwives high, but also it is beneficial to access prenatal care at the beginning of your pregnancy. We sometimes have openings for clients later in pregnancy. Call anytime.
How do I find a midwife? Call us! 613-345-6608. If you are not within our service area, we will help direct you.
How many midwives are there in Ontario? There are close to 700 registered midwives practicing in 100 clinics throughout the province. In 1994, Ontario became the first province in Canada to regulate midwifery. Since that time, Ontario midwives have attended more than 180,000 births, including 35,000 home births.
What is the philosophy behind midwifery care? Ontario midwifery is based on three principles:
Continuity of Care – Clients receive care from a small group of midwives and will know the midwife who attends her birth. Midwifery appointments are approximately 30 minutes long so there is lots of time to get to know each other and build relationships. Your midwives are directly available by pager 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for urgent concerns.
Informed Choice – Women are the primary decision makers in their pregnancy and birth. Part of our role is to facilitate informed choice by providing clients with the information needed to make informed choices.
Choice of Birthplace – Clients may choose to give birth safely at home or in hospital. Ontario midwives have hospital privileges. This means that we can admit and discharge clients at hospitals and access hospital resources and other care providers as needed by clients. We hold privileges at Brockville General Hospital. Midwives are the only health-care professionals specifically trained in out of hospital birth.
How are midwives trained and regulated? Registered midwives complete a four-year university degree through the Ontario Midwifery Education Program (offered at two Ontario universities). If a midwife has been trained outside of Canada, she completes the International Midwifery Pre-Registration Program, offered through Ryerson University. Once a midwife has completed her training, she is licensed by the College of Midwives of Ontario. Newly registered midwives are required to complete a mentorship year with an experienced midwife. Another option available to Aboriginal midwives in Ontario is the four-year Aboriginal Midwifery Training Program at Tsi Non:we Ionnakeratstha Ona:grahsta’ Maternal and Child Centre on Six Nations of the Grand River territory.
What happens at a prenatal appointment? During regularly scheduled visits to the midwifery clinic you can expect to receive the same health care as you might expect from a doctor or nurse practitioner. Midwives provide physical examinations and assessments, support and information. Appointments are on average 30 minutes long. Prenatal visits are usually once a month for the first 28 weeks, every two weeks until 36 weeks and then once a week until your baby is born. Most women will see their midwife 11-12 times before they go into labour.
What happens at appointments once my baby is born? Midwives provide care for both mothers and babies for six weeks after the birth. Whether your baby is born at home or in the hospital your midwife will visit you and provide care in your home within 24 hours of the birth and twice more within the first week. Clients will have about six midwifery appointments during the six weeks following the birth. Midwives monitor the health of mother and baby and provide breastfeeding support. Midwives remain available by pager 24 hours a day, every day. After six weeks, clients are discharged from midwifery care and will see their family doctor for care.
Can I have a home birth or hospital birth with a midwife? Yes. Midwives provide the option of a home or hospital birth. About one in four clients in midwifery care choose a home birth in Ontario. In our community, the home birth rate tends to be higher than the provincial average.
What pain relief options are available? Midwives offer a range of natural and pharmaceutical pain relief options, including access to epidurals in hospital. Pharmaceutical pain relief can only be accessed at a hospital birth. Many women use water, massage and other methods as an effective way to relieve pain at home and hospital.
Can midwives order the same kinds of tests as doctors? Yes. Midwives can order all routine prenatal testing including ultrasound and genetic screening, as well as standard laboratory and diagnostic tests. Midwives discuss the results with clients and provide information and follow-up.
Am I too old or too young to have a midwife? There are no age restrictions for accessing midwifery care. Anyone with a normal and low-risk pregnancy is eligible for a midwife. The majority of births are normal and low risk.
What happens if there is a problem with my pregnancy? Midwives are experts in normal pregnancy and birth and provide safe care for both mother and baby. If a health concern or a complication arises, your midwife may consult with a physician or other health care provider. You can check out the details by reading the College of Midwives of Ontario Standard for Consultation and Transfer of Care. If needed, your care is transferred to a physician (for example, in the case of a caesarean section). Your midwife will continue to provide support and resume primary care when appropriate.
Can I have a midwife and a doctor? No. Women can have either a midwife or a doctor for pregnancy, birth and newborn care. Midwives, obstetricians and family physicians are all considered primary caregivers. A primary caregiver takes responsibility for your care.
What is the difference between a doula and a midwife? A midwife is a health care provider. A birth doula is a trained labour support person who provides emotional and physical support to a labouring woman and her partner. While a doula is not a medical professional, she can offer a wide range of comfort measures. Research shows that this support helps reduce the need for medical intervention. You would find and pay your doula yourself. Doula services are not covered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. If you are considering having a doula at your birth, talk about it with your midwife. We can try and help you find a doula and we can discuss the many benefits.
Can I have give birth in the water with a midwife? Yes. We provide access to birth pools for home use. Brockville General Hospital does not offer water birth at this time.
I had a cesarean section birth with my last baby. Can I still have a midwife? Yes! Midwives will support you to make a decision about having a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) or an elective repeat cesarean section. Midwives can care for you either way even if you have had more than one cesarean in the past.