Registered Midwives & Traditional Birth Attendants

When you hire a Registered Midwife, you are hiring a medical professional to manage your low-risk birth.

When you hire a Traditional Birth Attendant, you are hiring an experienced woman to support you during your normal, physiological birth process
Jessica Austin

I’ve been wanting to write a post outlining all of the options women in Vancouver have in terms of who they invite to their births. There are a lot of options to consider between birthing without hired support, traditional birth attendants, registered midwives, family doctors and obstetricians, and possibly also having a doula join the team. Instead of continuing to put off this big project, I thought I might as well start somewhere by explaining, in a nutshell, what I see as the difference between a registered midwife and a traditional birth attendant:

When you hire a traditional birth attendant, you are hiring an experienced woman to provide you with support during your normal,physiological birth process.

When you hire a registered midwife in Vancouver, you are hiring a medical professional to manage your low-risk birth (according to the definition of a midwife from the Canadian Association of Midwives).

Explore your options and consider who is the best fit for you and your birth philosphy as part of your birthing team. Questions? Comments? Contact me, or leave a comment in the discussion section below.

Added December 20/12: The definition of RM in the post is drawn  from the Canadian Association of Midwives definition of midwifery. Some people want to have their births managed by medically-trained  professionals, and I am glad there are some amazing RMs who do their best to respect birthing women’s informed choices and honour physiological birth to the best of their ability within their scope of practice and regulatory guidielines. Some women, on the other hand, do not want to have a medically-trained attendant at their births as they do not see birth as a medical event that inherently or prophylacticly requires medically-trained support people.  Many women do not want to choose attendants who are bound by the procedures set out by the college of midwives of BC. I often hear from women how surprised they were at how medical their midwifery care was after choosing an RM team for their birth. This post is meant to highlight a distinction between the two (TBAs are NOT medical professionals, they are there to support a woman’s own process, while RMs ARE medical professionals, and by the CAMs own definition are in place to manage low risk births), not to create a divide, but to help people understand the difference and be better able to make the best choice for them and their philosophy.

Jessica Austin, Birth Doula: Childbirth Services in Vancouver, BC Go to home page

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  2 comments for “Registered Midwives & Traditional Birth Attendants

  1. Sky
    December 20, 2012 at 2:04 am

    CAM uses the term health professional.We are all poorly represented went we fall to te temptation of over simplification, and inflammatory and dismissive language. Neither the CAM site, nor the international definitions of a midwife include the term “medical professional”. As a a full time RM of ten years, I see my job as holding space for women, the real experts in normal birth, to birth in peace, and a provide research based options of monitoring and clinical skills if this the health or well being of her or her baby is concerning, consulting to access further assistance as indicated and desired by the woman.

    • December 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Great to hear that this is how you practice, Sky! I’m curious about what you are interpreting as inflammatory or dismissive language? I think RMs offer a specific service, and I know many women who are very happy to have RMs as an option and who were satisfied with their choice. I know other women who feel like they didn’t quite understand the role/scope/guidelines associated with the way RMs practice before choosing them. This post is meant to highlight that TBAs are not medically-trained, while RMs are (trained in the Faculty of Medicine here in BC, where this post is targeted to), and that RMs offer within an institutionalized scope of practice meant for low-risk pregnancies and births, while TBAs do not operate within an institution. There does not have to be any connotation negative or positive associated with either; which is a better match for a birthing woman is up to her and her own philosophy. Thanks for commenting!

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