Midwives provide primary care to clients throughout pregnancy and up to 6 weeks postpartum. They are also primary care providers for the newborn from birth to 6 weeks. Midwives must offer choice of home or hospital birth and obtain hospital privileges. Midwives are members of an inter-professional team and work closely with family physicians, obstetricians, and maternity and public health nurses.
A day in the life of a midwife may include completing physical exams on clients and newborns, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, counseling on health and lifestyle choices, educating and informing on options for care, attending labours where we might start IVs, give medications, draw blood, deliver babies, suture tissue, assist with breastfeeding, consult with physicians and nurses, drive around completing home visits to help new parents and their newborn babies, and dealing with normal healthy outcomes as well as emergencies. Midwives may do some of this in the middle of the night after having worked a full day. The profession of midwifery carries significant responsibility and demands important lifestyle commitments.
In British Columbia, the practice of midwifery is regulated by the College of Midwives of British Columbia (CMBC) whose mandate is public protection. The entry to practice is a university degree in midwifery or equivalent from a recognized program of study. In Canada this is a four year undergraduate degree. See Midwifery Education Programs below.
Midwives are also members of the Midwives Association of British Columbia (MABC). The MABC is the professional association for registered midwives in BC. Midwives practice as independent contractors and bill the BC Ministry of Health for services they provide. The contract that determines the fee structure is negotiated through the MABC on behalf of all midwives in BC. This contract stipulates the reimbursement schedule for midwifery services on a fee for service model. Clients with BC Personal Health Numbers receive midwifery care at no additional cost.
For more details on the model of care in BC please see the CMBC's document entitled "Exploring Midwifery as a Career"