A midwife is a licensed professional who provides primary care to clients and their babies during pregnancy, labour, birth, and the postpartum period. As primary care providers, midwives may be the first point of entry to maternity services and are fully responsible for clinical decisions and the management of care within their scope of practice. A midwife completes a four-year university program that covers a wide variety of subjects related to midwifery, ethics, and clinical skills. After graduating, and before applying for registration with the MRCNS, a national exam must be successfully completed, and you must have received an offer of employment from the health authorities. In Nova Scotia., only midwives who are registered with Midwifery Regulatory Council of Nova Scotia can call themselves “registered midwives.”
Midwives are experts in healthy pregnancy and birth. The midwifery model of care promotes normal birth, enables clients to make informed choices, offers families the choice of birthplace (in home or in hospital), and provides continuity of care and support throughout the childbearing experience. Midwives care for low-risk prenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care. This care includes physical examinations, screening and diagnostic tests, the assessment of risk and abnormal conditions, and the conduct of normal vaginal deliveries. Midwives work in collaboration with other health professionals and consult with or refer to medical specialists as appropriate.
Registered midwives must renew their registration each year. They must ensure that they maintain certification in neonatal resuscitation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), fetal health surveillance and emergency skills. They must also maintain a certain level of practice to ensure their skills remain up to date.
Your first visit with a midwife will usually be an intake assessment. You will get to know the midwife and the midwife will get to know you and help you determine if you are eligible for midwifery care. Midwives are primary health care providers who generally work in small teams and you may meet several midwives throughout the course of your pregnancy. They will listen, observe, provide education and information about community resources, research, and standards of care, while providing you with clinical care through your pregnancy. They can order and interpret tests. They will screen your physical, psychological, emotional, and social health. They will provide for all your pregnancy related health needs and if you have a health issue beyond their scope can consult other health care providers, such as your family practitioner or an obstetrician.
You do not need a referral to work with a midwife. A midwife may work in any setting including the home, community, and hospitals, clinics. You should contact a midwife as soon as you become pregnant. Practices can become full quickly depending on the community and practice volume. Visit the FIND A MIDWIFE page for a list of registered midwives by map, community, and/or name.
Midwifery care is free in Nova Scotia to residents with a valid Health Card Plan (MSI).
As a client you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your midwife. If you are concerned that has not happened, you may want to make a complaint.