Midwifery Fact Sheet

from the CPHA Position Paper on Midwifery by Janis Wood Catano

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For most of human history, the midwife has been the primary, and is most cases, only, attendant available to birthing women. The “medicalization” of childbirth, that is, the belief that childbirth is `a potentially diseased condition that routinely required the arts of medicine to overcome the processes of nature' has occurred principally during the last century, resulting in the current system in which, for most Canadian women, a physician is the only attendant available.

Over the past 25 years, the women's health movement has begun to define birth as a natural process and to advocate for more control over the process by women. They have questioned whether medically managed, hospital based birth is the most appropriate option for all women, and have advocated for more choices in both place of birth and birth attendant.

Midwifery care bridges the gap between these two divergent philosophies of childbearing, one in which pregnancy and birth are viewed as medical events, requiring expert management and control by physicians, and another in which birth is considered to be a social event, a part of ordinary life experience. Midwives are highly trained specialists in the care of normal pregnancy and birth. They work in partnership with mothers and families to offer comprehensive health based on respect for pregnancy as a state of health and childbirth as a normal healthy process. They practice as part of a health care team and refer clients to other practitioners should problems arise or more specialized care be required.

Midwifery has been recognized internationally for its:





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