Midwives are trained to care for women who are experiencing a normal pregnancy, and for their healthy newborns. They work closely with the prenatal clinic, family physicians, nurse practitioners, obstetricians, nurses and other care providers.
Midwives order and interpret routine tests including blood work, ultrasounds and referrals to other services; they prescribe medications and treatments as appropriate; and provide ongoing counseling and education to their clients. They provide assessment, monitoring and support during the labour, and they deliver the baby whether at home or in the hospital.
Following the birth, midwives continue to provide care to the mother and baby for up to six weeks including newborn exams, breastfeeding support and frequent home visits.
Please note, if you are located in the HRM, the IWK offers midwifery services.
Find more information and patient resources on our pregnancy and parenting education guide. (external site)
Midwifery Q and A
What is a midwife?
Midwives are health care professionals who provide government-funded primary care to pregnant people and their newborns. Through pregnancy, labour, birth and the first six weeks after birth, you will be cared for by a small group of midwives. This continuity of care means that you will know the midwife who is at your birth.
You can choose to have a midwife or a doctor, not both. As midwives are experts in low-risk pregnancy and birth, midwifery clients will not see a physician unless there are concerns or complications. If complications arise, midwives can consult with physicians or, if necessary, transfer a client’s care to a physician. If care is transferred, midwives continue to support their clients and resume primary care when it is possible. You don't need a referral from a doctor to have a midwife, you can contact your local midwifery team directly (contact information can be found above).
A midwife is not a doula. A birth doula is a trained labour support person who provides emotional and physical support to those giving birth and their families. While not medical professionals, doulas can offer a wide range of comfort measures. If you are considering having a doula at your birth, talk about it with your midwife. Doula services are private-pay, meaning their fee is not covered by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.
Do I have to pay for a midwife?
No. Midwifery care in Nova Scotia is paid for by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. There is no cost for clients seeking midwifery care.
Where are midwives located in Nova Scotia?
There are three midwifery practice sites in Nova Scotia:
Highland Community Midwives - Antigonish
IWK Community Midwives - Halifax
South Shore Community Midwives - Lunenburg
Pregnant people planning to deliver at Saint Martha’s Regional Hospital, the IWK Women’s Health Centre, or the South Shore Regional Hospital are eligible to receive midwifery care. At this time, midwifery care is not offered at other sites.
How do I get midwifery care?
A physician’s referral to midwifery care is NOT required. You can directly contact your local midwifery team and ask to become a client. It is best to do this as soon as you know you are pregnant. Please see our contact information in the Location, contact information and hours tab above.
Will I be offered blood tests and ultrasounds in pregnancy?
Yes. Clients in midwifery care are offered all routine prenatal testing, including genetic testing and ultrasound. During appointments, midwives will talk to you about what each test looks for, how it is performed, possible advantages and disadvantages, and any risks involved. It is your choice to either accept or decline each of these tests and ultrasounds.
Can I give birth in the hospital?
Yes. Midwives are trained to attend birth in both the hospital and home setting. Most midwifery births take place in the hospital.
Can I have an epidural?
Yes. Midwifery clients who choose to labor in the hospital have access to the same range of pharmacological pain management options.
Where can I learn more about midwives?
Midwifery Regulator Council of Nova Scotia
Canadian Midwives Association