It’s one of those professions you were always curious about. Who uses them? Is it legal? And where can you learn how to do it?
Midwifery is a healthcare profession which offers care to women during pregnancy, labour and birth, and during the postpartum period. Among assisting in the actual birth, midwives also have tasks such as giving injections, setting up IVs, suturing perineal tears, and conducting physical examinations of women and newborn babies. Communication, cultural sensitivity, and counseling are essential for midwives. In contrast to medical doctors, midwives build non-authoritarian relationships with women and their families so they can provide individualized care and minimize much of the anxiety often associated with pregnancy and childbirth.
Midwifery is still a relatively new profession in Canada since becoming legalized, and their numbers remain small. It has become so popular since the 90‘s that many women (of all walks of life) who request midwifery services are placed on long waiting lists. Provincial healthcare officials are getting on board too: with the shortage of doctors to provide care to pregnant women, midwives are taking up the slack. Midwives also save the healthcare system, on average, $1200 per birth (due to fewer C-sections, episiotomies, and shorter hospital stays). Because it is now funded by various healthcare systems, midwifery services are free to women living in midwifery-regulated provinces and territories.
So why choose midwifery as a profession? Most midwives say they want to spend time with expectant mothers without having to go through the process of becoming a medical doctor or nurse (although many midwives are also nurses). Others feel the environment of midwifery allows for a more natural and less medicalized way to give birth, since expectant mothers can choose to give birth at home, in a birthing center, or in a traditional hospital (where midwives often have privileges equivalent to medical doctors).
Whatever the reason, prospective midwives undertake a 4-year program available at six schools in Canada, combining classroom study with a hands-on clinical component. During their program students learn the normal conditions affecting pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum care of women and the newborn. They also learn how to counsel mothers and their families on infant care. Because midwifery involves a very intimate relationship with other people, topics such as ethics, when is medical intervention warranted, and confidentiality issues are also discussed at length. Upon completion with a Bachelor’s degree, midwives are ready to enter the workforce. Skilled midwives are very much sought-after, so choosing this as a profession is sure to be very rewarding, both for you, and for all the families you will be helping.
Image source: eyeliam from flickr
|Nicole McLearn studied at Saint Mary’s University (BSc in biology), followed by a stint at the University of British Columbia (MSc in oceanography/microbiology). She currently works in Vancouver, BC doing freelance research and writing. In her spare time she writes about her experiences as a paraglider pilot at www.nicolemclearn.com.|