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Midwifery FAQs

What is a midwife? 

Registered Midwives are health professionals who provide expert primary care for healthy low-risk pregnant clients and their babies throughout pregnancy, birth and the first six weeks postpartum.  Registered Midwives in Nova Scotia are integrated into the provincial health system and work collaboratively with physicians, nurses and other health professionals to provide the best possible maternity and newborn care.

What does care with a midwife involve?
  • Prenatal care: Midwifery care in pregnancy includes physical examinations, prenatal tests, health assessments and the information and support clients need. Midwives spend time learning about clients and their family, listening to clients concerns and explaining what to expect at every stage. Regular 30-45 minute appointments are scheduled once a month up to 28 weeks, every two weeks until 36 weeks, then weekly until the birth. Midwives on call can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Labour and birth care: If a client's pregnancy is low risk they can choose to give birth at home or in the hospital. In either setting, a midwife will be with the client providing continuous support, care and monitoring through active labour, birth and the immediate postpartum. A second midwife or a nurse will also be there to assist at the delivery.
  • Postnatal care: Midwifery care continues for six weeks after the birth. Midwives make home visits in the first few days and follow up with further appointments in the midwifery clinic to make sure the client is doing well physically and emotionally, check the baby’s health and growth, and provide breastfeeding support. Midwives remain on call 24/7 for their clients during this time. Midwives also counsel clients regarding family planning, and perform PAP screening as required.  After six weeks, a client will see their family doctor for routine care.
When should I contact a midwife? Do I need a referral?

Because the demand for midwifery care is high, it is best to contact a midwife as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. It’s also beneficial to start prenatal care early in your pregnancy. You can make an appointment to see a midwife without a referral.

Can I have both a midwife and a doctor/OBGYN?

You can choose either a midwife or a doctor for primary maternity care. When you have a midwife, she is your primary care provider during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum, and you will not need to see a doctor unless there’s a medical reason to consult.

Where are midwifery services available in Nova Scotia? 

Midwifery services are available at three provincial sites:

  • IWK Community Midwives (IWK Health Centre)
  • South Shore Community Midwives (Fisherman's Memorial Hospital)
  • Highland Community Midwives (St. Martha's Hospital). 
How are midwives trained and regulated?

Midwifery education in Canada is a four-year university degree program that includes extensive clinical experience along with academic studies. Midwives who have trained in other countries must complete a Canadian assessment and bridging program to qualify for registration.  Registered Midwives are regulated and licensed by the Midwifery Regulatory Council of Nova Scotia (MRCNS).  Midwifery has been regulated in Nova Scotia since 2009.  Nova Scotia currently does not have a midwifery education program.

What if there is a problem with my pregnancy or birth?

If a health concern or complication arises during pregnancy, birth or afterward, a midwife will consult or refer to a physician as needed (see Indications for Consultation or Transfer of Care set by the MRCNS). The midwife will continue to provide support and appropriate primary care for the client and their baby (for example, after a caesarean section). Midwives are trained to identify early signs of complications, manage emergencies and ensure that the clients receive necessary care.

What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

Doulas offer emotional and physical support to women in labour.  Doulas are not trained to provide medical or midwifery care, or deliver babies. For women who want extra support, a doula can be a positive addition to the birth team. Doula services are not offered by the provincial health care system or covered by MSI.

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