About Midwives in Vancouver
We are primary care providers for healthy mothers during normal, low-risk pregnancy and childbirth, and for both mothers and their babies for about six weeks postpartum. We are formally trained, regulated and integrated into the BC health care system.
Safe, comprehensive and individualized care based on the principles of informed choice
We recognize expectant families as primary decision makers. We collaborate with family doctors, obstetricians, pediatricians, psychiatrists, nutritionists and many others to ensure the most thorough care possible.
More general information on Midwifery in British Columbia can be found below in our Frequently Asked Questions section.
OpenWhat do midwives do?
Registered midwives provide primary maternity care to healthy pregnant people and their newborn babies from early pregnancy, through labour and birth, until about six weeks postpartum. Midwives listen, observe, educate, guide, and care. They order and interpret tests and discuss results. They screen for physical, psychological, emotional and social health. They provide relationship-centered care during pregnancy, labour and birth, normal and complicated. They catch babies. They do home visits after the baby is born. They help with breastfeeding and adjusting to life with a new baby. They work together and with other healthcare professionals. They practice evidence-based, patient-centered maternity and newborn care. Midwives are an established part of the BC health care system.
OpenDo I have to pay for a midwife?
No, if you are a BC resident and have a valid Care Card. Midwifery care is free for those covered under the BC Medical Services Plan.
OpenCan I still have a registered midwife if I do not have a BC Care Card?
It is possible to have a midwife if you are not covered under the BC Medical Services Plan. You will need to contact a midwifery clinic and enquire about private payment. Midwives will not charge you more than the amount they are paid by the government. However, in addition to paying for your midwifery care, there will likely be extra costs associated with your care, including hospital costs, anaesthesia and/or physician costs, lab, prescription and ultrasound costs.
OpenAre registered midwives regulated?
Yes. Midwives are registered with and regulated by the College of Midwives of British Columbia according to the BC Health Professions Act, the Midwives Regulation, and the CMBC Bylaws. Midwives have been regulated and legally recognized as autonomous health care practitioners in BC 1998.
OpenDo I need a referral to see a midwife?
No referral is necessary. Simply call a midwifery clinic near you to set up an initial appointment.
OpenWhen should I make my first appointment to see a midwife?
It is ideal to make contact with a midwife as soon as you become pregnant. Practices can fill up quickly so call early to reserve a spot.
OpenI am partway through my pregnancy and I have been seeing my doctor up until now, is it too late to get a midwife?
It is not too late to transfer to midwifery care. Call a clinic near you. If you are unable to find a clinic who can accommodate you, please refer to our centralised wait list. A spot may become available.
OpenCan I choose where I give birth: at home or in the hospital?
Midwives offer choice of birthplace through informed choice decision making. Birth at home is an option when pregnancy has been healthy. On average, 70% of births attended by midwives occur in hospitals. The midwives in Vancouver have medical staff privileges at either B.C. Women’s Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, Burnaby General Hospital, or Richmond Hospital. Some midwives will hold privileges at more than one of these hospitals. For more information on choice of birthplace in BC you may read the CMBC Place of Birth Handbook. Your midwife can also provide you with an annotated guide to the available homebirth literature as compiled by the Division of Midwifery, UBC Faculty of Medicine.
OpenWhat pain relief options are available to me?
You have access to a variety of pain relief options, both natural and pharmaceutical, including an epidural.
OpenHow many midwives will be involved in my care?
There may be up to four midwives involved in your care. Midwives work in small teams and work to ensure that you have the opportunity to meet each member of the team multiple times during your pregnancy.
OpenHow often will I see my midwives?
Midwife visits happen about as often as visits with physicians in pregnancy. Most visits in the first part of pregnancy are scheduled every three to six weeks and last between 30-60 minutes. In the third trimester visits are scheduled more frequently and are often every week during the last month of pregnancy. Longer visits allow for physical, emotional and social health assessments and allow time for informed decision making and the development of a trusting relationship. Postpartum visits usually take place wherever the new family is. This may be in the hospital initially after a hospital birth, and then in the new family’s home once they have returned, or at home after a home birth. After the first week or two, visits usually happen back in the clinic and continue to about six weeks postpartum when your care is transferred back to your family physician. Between visits, midwives provide 24/7 call coverage for urgent care or emergency concerns.
OpenWill I have access to the same tests and prescriptions that I would have had with a doctor?
Midwives offer a complete panel of prenatal laboratory tests, genetic screening and diagnosis options, ultrasound imaging and many other tests and procedures for both expectant mothers and newborns. A midwife’s scope of practice includes the use of many medications that may be indicated in pregnancy and during birth including emergency situations or pain medication, and for mom or baby postpartum. If medication or testing is required outside of this scope of practice, midwives consult with and refer to physicians as indicated for more specialized care.
OpenWhat is the difference between a midwife and a doula?
Doulas provide continuous emotional and physical support to the laboring person and her partner, and are a positive addition to the birth team for families who want extra support. Doulas do not have a clinical role; they do not provide medical care and do not deliver babies. Midwives are trained to provide all the necessary medical care and to monitor the health and well-being of you and your baby. Doulas work as a part of the team, with a midwife or doctor and nurse. For more information about doulas, please see the Doulas of North America Website or the BC Doula Services Association.
OpenAre there age restrictions on who can see a midwife?
No, midwives can care for women of all ages.
OpenWhat is the working relationship between midwives and doctors?
Midwives collaborate and consult with family doctors, obstetricians, pediatricians and other specialists as the need arises. The CMBC guideline lists reasons for discussion, consultation and transfer to a physician or other specialist. Individual hospitals also often have policies on when consultation or transfer may take place.