Whether you've known since you were sixteen that you wanted to have a midwife attend your birth, or whether you're seven months along with baby #3 and this is the first time the possibility's crossed your mind, here are five common myths we hear about midwifery care in Calgary and the truth behind them.
If I have a midwife, I have to give birth at home.
False. In Calgary, midwives have hospital privileges. When you are under the care of a midwife, you have the choice of birthing at home, at the Arbor Birth Center, or in hospital. Your midwife will counsel you on your options and support your choice of birth place. Occasionally, your midwife may recommend a particular birth place over another based on your obstetric history or due to complications that may arise during your pregnancy.
While midwives currently have privileges at each of the four Calgary hospitals, they usually have a primary hospital where they will attend most of their clients who choose hospital birth. For logistical reasons, this is usually the hospital which is geographically closest to where the majority of their clients live.
If I have a midwife, I cannot use pain medication during labour.
False. If you choose to birth in hospital, you will have the same access to pain medications as anyone else. Your midwife will counsel you on your options for pain medications, including the benefits and risks of each, and support your choices.
If you are birthing at home, you will not have access to pain medications. If you are birthing at the Arbor Birth Centre, you will have access to nitrous oxide (laughing gas). However, should you decide during labour that you would like to use other pain medications, you can choose to transfer into the hospital.
My midwife cannot provide requisitions for screenings and tests. I will need to see a doctor as well.
False. In Alberta, midwives are primary health care professionals. As such, they can provide you with requisitions for all standard maternity screenings and tests, as well as ultrasounds, and can consult with, and refer you to, other health care providers as needed. Same goes for your newborn baby.
It’s hard to get a midwife.
True. Currently there is limited funding available for midwifery care which means that only a certain number of pregnant people in Alberta are able to access midwifery care each year.
If you are interested in midwifery care, here are some tips to increase your likelihood of being accepted into care:
- Complete your Request For Care as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test. A home test is adequate. You do not need to have bloodwork done to confirm your pregnancy before requesting care.
- Request care even if you aren’t 100% sure you want a midwife. If you are accepted into care and ultimately decide it isn’t the right choice for you, you can always transfer care to a doctor. Transferring from a doctor to a midwife later in pregnancy is nearly impossible to do though, as midwifery practices fill up quickly.
- The request for care includes a space to share why you are interested in midwifery care. Make sure to let your personality shine through. Focus on the positive benefits you are looking for from midwifery care.
If I have a midwife, I don’t need a doula.
False. While there is absolutely overlap in the emotional support that midwives and doulas provide to their clients, there are also essential differences in our roles.
A midwife is medically responsible for you and baby. That means that there are medical tasks and charting that they need to complete at regular intervals throughout your labor. In the event of complications, your midwife will be focused on providing the best and safest medical care for you and your baby.
A doula’s sole responsibility is you. Whether that means double hip squeezes with every single contraction, continuous encouragement and reassurance, or supporting your partner in supporting you, your doula is there to do that and nothing else. Doulas often also provide support early on, before active labour is established (which is usually when your midwife will join you).
Want to know how a doula can support you during labour, birth, and beyond, whether you are birthing with a midwife or a doctor, at home, the birth centre, or in hospital? >> LEARN MORE
Options for midwifery care in Calgary
More information about midwifery in Alberta
What myths have you heard about midwifery care? If you have had midwifery care, was there anything that surprised you about their scope of practice?
Rachel is a DONA International Certified Birth Doula, Birthing From Within mentor, and mother of three. She is passionate about helping women and their partners discover their own inner strength and wisdom so that they can begin their parenting journey with confidence. With a focus on supporting her clients as they determine what their own priorities and preferences are for their birth while giving them the tools they need to realize those priorities, she feels fortunate to witness her clients come into their own and become their own best advocates.