There are approximately 140 Registered Midwives currently providing care for families in BC. While this number is slowly growing, there are presently not enough midwives available for the number of BC residents who would like their services.
Depending on the number of midwives in a practice, each group may have up to 200 women in their care at any one time. Midwifery care includes 24 hour availability, prenatal care from the beginning of pregnancy, labour and birth care at home or in hospital, and regardless of birth place, home visiting for the first week and then postpartum care up until six weeks.
Hospitals usually require that a midwife is within a reasonable distance to access the hospital when she is on call. When midwives are attending homebirths they also must be able to access hospital services in case an urgent need arises. Consequently a midwife must limit her geographical area, so that she may provide safe and reasonable care to all the other clients in her practice.
There are midwifery practices in the province who may accept clients from out of area. Many rural midwives serve large geographical regions and therefore you should call and speak to them personally if you are located near them. In these situations there may be stipulations that out-of-town clients are required to meet (such as traveling to the midwife's office for antenatal and postnatal care, arranging to give birth either in the hospital a midwife has privileges in, or in an alternate home close by). Some rural midwives and physicians may also share care in smaller communities.
Until the profession grows large enough in BC to be able to offer a midwife for every woman having a healthy pregnancy, we encourage expectant parents to take time to create the best care team for you. For a healthy, low-risk woman, this often includes finding a supportive family physician in your community who offers obstetrical services. Obstetricians are also available in many communities, offering specialist care most useful for high-risk patients. In addition, you may wish to hire a doula as part of your labour support team.
A doula is a professional labour support person who supports the childbearing family throughout your pregnancy, birth, and early parenting experience.
Doulas help by providing continuous care in the form of emotional, physical, and information support during labour and birth.
Doulas work with you and your medical caregiver, whether a physician/nurse team or midwives. Please note that doulas provide support and information only. They do not provide medical care or deliver babies, nor do they replace having a primary caregiver such as doctor or midwife.
More information about doulas can be found by calling the Doula Services Association of BC at 604-515-5588 or visiting their website.
An important part of being able to bring more midwives to BC, and train new midwives here, is an ongoing show of BC residents' support for midwifery services. Please take a few minutes to read our page on Supporting Midwifery.
Best wishes for a positive childbearing experience!