What is a midwife?
Midwives are trained primary health care professionals who are experts in normal low-risk pregnancy, birth and newborn care. Midwives provide a complete package of prenatal, birth and postpartum care and address the medical and non-medical needs of women and their newborns. Midwives promote a natural approach to childbirth and empower women and their families to make informed choices throughout their pregnancy and birth. Midwives focus on the prevention and early detection of complications and use medical technology as needed. Midwives have been fully funded and regulated as part of the Ontario health care system since 1994. The College of Midwives of Ontario licenses midwives and ensures the ongoing quality and safety of midwifery care.

What do midwives do?
According to the Ontario Midwifery Act, 1991, "the practice of midwifery is the assessment and monitoring of women during pregnancy, labour and the post-partum period and of their newborn babies, the provision of care during normal pregnancy, labour and post-partum period and the conducting of spontaneous normal vaginal deliveries".

What are the advantages of midwifery care?
Many women enjoy the personalized care that midwives provide. During your pregnancy you will meet a small number of midwives and develop a trusting relationship with them. Midwifery clients benefit from the comfort of having the same health care provider for their pregnancy, birth and postpartum care and also appreciate continuous access to their midwife by pager 24/7 for urgent concerns. Midwifery clients also benefit from longer prenatal appointments and are encouraged to make "informed choices" about their pregnancy and birth. A recent study from the Ministry of Health found a 98.7% satisfaction rate for women who received midwifery care.

Women under midwifery care also experience less interventions during birth. For example: midwifery clients have a 38% lower c-section rate and 62% lower rate of forceps and vacuum deliveries than women delivering with family physicians. Midwifery clients are also much more likely to be successfully breastfeeding 6 weeks after the birth.

What area do you serve?
Midwives of Headwater Hills serves families in Orangeville and surrounding area. Our area is bordered to the west by HWY 25, to the north by HWY 89, to the east by HWYs 18, 9, and 50 and to the south by the communities of Belfountain, Erin, Hillsburgh, Orton and Belwood. Our area also includes: Grand Valley, Shelburne, Primrose, Violet Hill, Mono Mills, Palgrave, Bolton, Caledon East, Caledon Village, Cataract, Marsville, Alton, Waldemar, Laurel, Camilla, Mono Centre and of course, Orangeville. Please consult our map or contact us for more details.

When should I contact a midwife?
As the demand for midwives is larger than the number of midwives available, it is best to contact a midwife as soon as you find out you're pregnant. Sometimes we can accommodate women late in pregnancy too, so contact us to see if we have a spot available.

Do I need a referral to make an appointment with a midwife?
No. If you wish to use the services of a midwife, you may call the midwifery clinic directly to arrange your first appointment. There is no need for a referral.

What kind of training do midwives have?
Midwives in Ontario qualify for registration by graduating from the Ontario Midwifery Education Programme, which is a Bachelor of Health Science in Midwifery (four-year university degree). Internationally trained midwives must successfully complete the International Midwifery Pre-registration Program offered through Ryerson University.

Is there a charge for midwifery care?
There is no fee for midwifery care. Midwifery care, (including prenatal, birth and postpartum care) is fully funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For those without OHIP, midwifery services are still covered, however you may encounter charges for laboratory fees, ultrasounds or for your hospital stay if you plan a hospital birth.

Where can I have my baby?
Midwives offer the choice of a home or hospital birth. Whichever setting you choose, you and your baby will receive comprehensive and safe care.

Can I have pain medication during the labour?
Yes. Women receiving midwifery care have the same options for pain relief as any other woman. Generally we find that midwifery clients use pain medication less often than the general population. Feeling well informed, prepared and supported during the birth experience can help women to cope better with contractions. Your midwife will discuss all options and techniques for pain relief with you during the pregnancy. The midwife is licensed to administer some pain medications on her own, while others require a consultation with a physician during labour.

How often do I see a midwife?
Midwives work collaboratively in group practices. A woman receives care from a small number of midwives. Visits to a midwifery practice occur on a regular basis, during which time midwives provide clinical examinations, counseling and education. Appointments are 30 - 45 minutes long to allow enough time for information sharing and questions. The appointment schedule for prenatal care (before the baby is born) follows the standard obstetric care model. Prenatal visits are once a month for the first 28 weeks, every two weeks until 36 weeks and then once a week until your baby is born. Midwives are on call for emergencies 24 hours a day.

What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A birth doula is a trained labour support person who provides emotional and physical support to a labouring woman and her partner. While she is not a medical professional, she can offer a wide range of comfort measures during labour - from massage to aromatherapy to continuous reassurance and coping techniques.

A midwife, on the other hand, is a trained primary caregiver who provides care to women throughout their low risk pregnancy, labour and birth, and provides care to both mother and baby during the first six weeks following the birth. Like a doula, she too provides emotional and physical support to a labouring woman and her partner, but also is able to tend to the low risk medical needs of healthy pregnant woman. When you choose a midwife, you have the choice of giving birth in either a home or hospital setting.

Can I have a midwife and a doctor?
You can have either a midwife or a doctor for your pregnancy, birth and newborn care. Midwives, obstetricians and family physicians are all considered primary caregivers. A primary caregiver takes sole responsibility for your care. Having two caregivers is viewed as a duplication of health care services.

I've been told that I'm "high-risk". Can I still have midwifery care?
Women with serious medical conditions and pregnancy complications are best cared for by a physician. Midwives have clear guidelines to help determine which women can be safely cared for by a midwife. The best way to find out if you are appropriate for midwifery care is to contact us to discuss your situation. Many of the reasons people believe they are "high risk" do not exclude them from midwifery care, for example being over 35 years old, having had a previous c-section, being overweight or having had a previous miscarriage.

What kind of diagnostic tests can a midwife order?
There is a wide range of tests that a midwife can order. For example, a midwife can arrange for appropriate ultrasounds and genetic screening, as well as standard blood tests in pregnancy. Midwives can also prescribe commonly used medications.

What happens if something goes wrong?
If a health concern arises beyond the scope of midwifery practice, your midwife would consult with the appropriate health care professional. Occasionally, this may result in a transfer of your care to an obstetrician, or for your baby to a pediatrician. If your care is transferred, your midwife remains with you in a supportive role.

How long do I continue to see a midwife after the baby is born?
The midwife provides care for you and your baby until six weeks after the birth. The midwife will visit you at home (or in hospital) within 24 hours of the baby's birth and come for an additional three or more visits within the first two weeks postpartum, to support and assist you with infant feeding and newborn care and to monitor your health and your baby's health. Visits then continue at the clinic until the final visit at six weeks following birth.