In BC, we are lucky to have the most midwife assisted births in the whole country - with 21% of birthing people doing it with a midwife. By 2020, the goal is to have the rate go up to 35%. Midwifery has been regulated in BC since 1998 and their terrific growth is a clear indication that women are all sharing their love for midwives and the care they receive from them.
Midwives work as the primary health care provider whose expertise is with low-risk pregnancy and birth. They are university educated and medically trained to support birth people through their pregnancy, birth and postpartum periods. Midwives are covered by MSP. Midwifery is a safe, and often safer, choice for the vast majority of births. If the goal of your birth is to have a low risk, low intervened, vaginal birth, then midwives are the best choice.
Not long ago, getting a midwife was incredibly difficult, simply because there was too much demand and not enough supply. Thankfully, the number of midwives has grown and it is now often much easier to get into midwifery care. It is still a great idea to call soon after finding out you are pregnant to avoid disappointment. If you find that your chosen midwives are full, be sure to add your name to their waitlist. Spaces often open up for a variety of reasons - this also goes for those who wish to change care providers.
Our top 5 reasons why midwifery care rocks:
1. Unparalleled Prenatal Support
Pregnancy comes hand in hand with questions. Lots of questions. For most people with a doctor, they are lucky if they get more then 5 minutes during their prenatal appointments to ask them questions, never mind actually getting to know them! With midwifery care, each appointment runs at least 30 minutes. Not only does this leave you lots of time to ask all your questions in a relaxed and calm environment, but it also gives you that time you need to connect with your midwives. This person is going to be witness to the biggest moment in your life, it is important that you are comfortable with them and that you have a clear understanding of the kind of support they can give you.
2. Choice of Birth Location
Midwives are the only registered health care providers who give you the choice of where to birth - at the hospital or at home. For low risk pregnancies, home birth has been proven to be as safe as hospital births. There are many benefits to birthing at home, including less chance of interventions being needed, birthing in the comfort of your own home, and having the benefit of knowing everyone present at the birth. One client recently said to me "The only person I want to meet for the first time on that day is my baby" - and that is only possible at home with midwives. Be sure to join us on November 24 for our Home Birth Information night with Harmony Midwives to learn more.
3. Better Birth and Postpartum Outcomes
Recently BC Midwives released their Progress Report and included in it was the fact that midwifery care has resulted in 42% fewer caesarean births in midwife assisted births then the provincial average. They have also seen an average reduction in hospital stay duration of 18 hours, fewer prenatal, newborn and postpartum hospital admissions, reduced preterm birth rates, increased breastfeeding support and reduced rates of medical interventions. People who choose to birth with midwives share that they have a more positive overall experience.
Unlike with a doctor who comes in to check on you every few hours then to catch your baby, the midwives stay with you from the start of active labour until the birth of your baby. Many will start in your home with you, then transfer when needed to the hospital if birthing there which means you get to be comfortable at home for as long as you like.
If at some point in your pregnancy or birth, you become higher risk, then you may either have to do a full transfer, or shared care with an Obstetrician. The great thing is, the midwives will always be involved in one way or another, even if all they are able to do is be there to support you emotionally.
4. Postpartum Support
In the first week after the birth of your baby, the last thing that you will want to have to worry about doing is putting clothes on and heading to the doctors office to check up on you. Not only do midwifery clients get to leave the hospital sooner if they prefer (as short as 6 hours after birth), but your midwife will come to your home 2-3 times in the first week to make sure your family is okay, baby is healthy and breastfeeding is going well. Having that in home support leads families to feeling more confident and relaxed as they learn this new role of parent. After the first week, the postpartum support continues on until 6 weeks postpartum. That last meeting often ends with tears because the bond that is often built is so deep and profound, it is hard to say goodbye.
5. Informed Choice
Many doctors are great at supporting informed choice, but more generally speaking, informed choice is the backbone of midwifery care. One of the reasons why the prenatal appointments take so much longer is because the discussions where they go over common choices / procedures and the risks and benefits of each are laid out very clearly. This allows you to get a clear understanding of your options and build an idea of what you want and what is important to you and your family.
Did you have a midwife at your birth? Let us know about your experience!
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