What is a Midwife?

A midwife is a healthcare provider who specializes in normal pregnancy and birth, providing complete prenatal, labour, birth and postpartum care to childbearing families.  Midwives are experts in normal birth and strive to provide holistic women-centred care.  A midwife is a primary care professional who supports women to give birth under the midwife's direct responsibility.  Midwifery care includes the provision of preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in the mother and baby, as well as the execution of emergency measures if necessary.  Midwives can also order genetic testing, bloodwork, ultrasounds and prescription medications when needed.

What is different between physician care and midwifery care?

Physicians and midwives provide many similar services, including access to genetic testing, laboratory testing, ultrasounds and specialist referrals.  Both care providers support women throughout pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum period.  Both doctors and midwives write prescriptions, are able to access pharmaceutical pain relief in labour, and refer to obstetricians for complications in pregnancy or birth.

Midwives tend to offer longer prenatal and postpartum visits, ranging from 30-60 minutes per visit.  This enables midwives to provide more information to clients and to encourage women to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Midwives do not work according to an "informed consent" model of care, but rather by an "informed choice" model of care.  This means that the midwife does not generate a care plan and request the consent of a woman, but instead she provides the woman with education and supports her to be the primary decision-maker for her own health.

Can I have a midwife and a doctor care for me throughout pregnancy?

Pregnant women have the choice of one primary care provider throughout pregnancy and birth.  You may choose an obstetrician, a family physician or a midwife.  Our healthcare system will not pay for two primary care providers, so you must choose to have a midwife or a doctor, but not both.  Clients of midwives have access to everything that patients of doctors can access, including genetic testing, laboratory testing, ultrasounds, pain medications in labour, and referrals to specialists.  If at any point in your pregnancy a referral to a specialist were indicated, your midwife would request a consultation while continuing to provide complete maternity care services.

Where do midwives provide care? Can I birth at home? Can I birth in the hospital?

Midwives support women to give birth at home, in the hospital or in an out-of-hospital centre, depending on the woman's preference and health status.  Prenatal visits take place at the Malachite house, while early postpartum visits usually take place in the woman's home, with later visits occurring again at the clinic.  We are specialists in out-of-hospital births, but also maintain hospital privileges and provide complete labour and birth care at Kelowna General Hospital.

What training do midwives have?

Different midwives have arrived into registered practice in BC following various paths.  The midwives at Malachite Midwives have all completed a 3-4 year post-secondary intensive training program, followed by a National Certification Examination, and extensive credential evaluations.  Midwifery training includes academic, evidence-based learning as well as apprenticeship learning.  All midwives are required by the College of Midwives of BC to maintain various active certifications and ongoing education in order to practice regulated midwifery.  Importantly, we learn from the wonderful women and families who teach us the art and science of birth every day that we practice midwifery!

When should I book my first appointment with a midwife?

Whenever you confirm that you are pregnant, we congratulate you and welcome you to complete our online client registration form.   We will then contact you if we are able to accept you into care, and we will set up a visit as early as eight weeks of pregnancy.  If you are hoping to come into care later in your pregnancy, we will accommodate you when possible and book a visit with you as early as we can.

How long does midwifery care extend?

Midwives provide care for mothers and babies throughout pregnancy, labour and birth, until six to eight weeks postpartum.  At the end of care, your maternity records will be given to you, and your care will be transferred to your family physician or naturopathic doctor if you have one.  While we cannot continue to be your care provider after six to eight weeks postpartum, we love keeping in touch with our mamas and babes!

What is a doula?

A doula is someone chosen by a birthing woman to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support during labour and birth.  Many doulas have completed a training course, although levels of experience vary dramatically between doulas.  Research has demonstrated that doulas are associated with higher rates of normal birth and greater satisfaction within families.  Midwives value doula services tremendously and strongly advise our clients to consider having a doula as a member of their birthing team.  Doulas provide support to mothers and partners during labour, while midwives are able to provide some support, but are also responsible for monitoring the well-being of mother and baby.  Having a doula and a midwife makes for an ideal birth support team!