What is a Canadian Registered Midwife?
Midwifery is regulated in Canada by provincial and territorial authorities. Currently, some provinces and territories regulate midwifery and some do not (see Legal Status of Midwifery in Canada). In all regulated provinces and territories, midwives must be registered with the regulatory authority in order to legally call themselves a midwife and to practise their profession. Individuals that are registered with their provincial / territorial regulatory authority use the title Registered Midwife (or midwife) and are legally permitted to carry out actions that are reserved in legislation for midwives.
Educational and Clinical Backgrounds
Midwifery education in Canada is offered at a university baccalaureate level. Education programs are âdirect entryâ (i.e. there is no nursing or other credential required for entry). Since there is limited enrollment in midwifery programs, and the first Canadian midwifery education program only started in 1993, many currently registered midwives were educated outside of Canada. Canadian midwives therefore have a variety of educational and clinical backgrounds including vocational training (often hospital-based), apprenticeship training, and baccalaureate and masters level university-based education. Some of these programs required a nursing degree for entry and many did not. Likewise, these midwives have brought a wide array of clinical experience with them to Canada, ranging from working in isolated outposts to large volume tertiary care hospitals.
While there is a diversity of educational backgrounds and clinical experience among registered midwives in Canada, all registered midwives have been assessed against consistent required competencies and high standards to ensure that they are able to deliver safe, competent care as primary care givers in the Canadian model of midwifery and as laid out in provincial / territorial regulation, legislation, and standards of practice.
Type of Care Provided
All Registered Midwives in Canada provide continuity of care so that women and their families have the opportunity to get to know their midwife or midwives well before the baby is born, and have a familiar care giver with them during labour and birth and for their postpartum care. They all offer personalized care from early pregnancy to six-weeks postpartum. Registered midwives keep up-to-date on maternity-related research. This allows them to provide comprehensive information so that women and their families can make informed choices about all aspects of their care. Visits are usually about 45 minutes long to facilitate these discussions. Registered midwives offer a choice between out-of-hospital or hospital birth unless there is a risk factor that indicates that out-of-hospital is not a safe option for the woman or the baby.
During labour and birth, a midwife stays with a woman and manages all her care (a second midwife or other care provider will attend the birth as well). As primary caregivers for childbirth, midwives regularly update certification for the management of maternal and newborn emergency situations. If a complication arises at any point in the pregnancy, labour, birth, or postpartum, midwives consult with specialists such as obstetricians and pediatricians. In cases where management of care needs to be transferred to a physician, midwives will continue to provide supportive care.
In summary, a Canadian Registered Midwife is an autonomous professional who offers a high quality of maternity care to women and their families.