COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions for Midwifery Clients
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way care is being provided by midwives, and the College would like to assure you that we will continue to ensure that your safety is prioritized.
We understand that this is a stressful time for everyone and may be particularly stressful for those who are pregnant or caring for a newborn. Our focus is to ensure that you and your midwife have access to the most up to date and accurate information during this time. We have provided frequently asked questions below to help answer some of your questions and we will continue to update this page when new information becomes available.
Why do I have to wear a mask during my midwifery visits? [Updated January 20, 2021]
Research shows that wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Wearing a mask can help you, your family and your midwife stay free of the COVID-19 virus which is why the Ontario government requires that everyone in the province wears a mask in public indoor places.
If you cannot wear a mask for reasons that fall under the Human Rights Code, such as having a disability that makes it difficult to function while wearing a mask, you and your midwife should come up with a plan for your prenatal or postpartum visits so steps can be taken to minimize the risk of transmission.
Do I have to wear a mask during my birth? [Updated January 20, 2021]
There is no recommendation, from the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health (PCMCH), that you must wear a mask during your labour and birth if you are not suspected of having COVID-19. Your midwife and your support person however should wear a face mask. For more information about wearing a mask during labour and birth, please see the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) FAQ Should clients wear masks or face coverings for their appointments with their midwives or during labour?
If you are suspected of having COVID-19, the current recommendation from PCMCH is that you wear a surgical/procedure mask, if you can tolerate it, during all stages of labour. If you cannot wear a mask for reasons that fall under the Human Rights Code, such as having a disability that makes it difficult to function while wearing a mask, you and your midwife should come up with a plan for your labour that does not require you to wear a mask at all times during your labour.
What will happen if I don’t wear a mask? [Updated January 20, 2021]
If you cannot wear a mask due to a health condition, or if you refuse to wear a mask for another reason, your midwife will use the current evidence and their professional judgment to come up with a plan of care that is in your best interest balanced with their own safety and the safety of others. Their professional judgment will be guided by the Professional Misconduct Regulation (O. Reg. 388/09) and the Professional Standards for Midwives which requires that midwives never abandon a client in labour (standard 13).
How will I be protected during in-person visits and when I am in labour?
Midwives have the required knowledge, skills and equipment to use infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures while practising. They will use their judgment to limit direct contact during in-person visits and will use the recommended personal protective equipment (such as gloves and in some cases, masks, goggles and gowns) in order to protect you and your family.
Why has my midwife cancelled some of my appointments?
On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a Directive to all regulated health professionals to stop providing non-essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that midwives are required to cancel any appointments that they deem non-essential. This directive is meant to help you and your midwife stay safe throughout the pandemic by limiting person-to-person exposure. Your midwife has the necessary knowledge and skills to determine what care is essential for you and your newborn to receive at every stage of care. Your midwifery practice will continue to stay on call for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so your questions and concerns will always be addressed.
Can my midwife provide care virtually?
Yes, and the College encourages midwives to provide care remotely when it is acceptable to do so. You can help by paying close attention to your health and report your findings to your midwife. Some questions your midwife may ask you to keep track of are your temperature, the frequency of fetal movements (kicks or rolls) felt within a specific timeframe, or how many times your newborn has fed and passed urine or stool in the past 24 hours. There are many ways midwives can assess your overall wellbeing, and that of your newborn, over the phone or by videoconference.
What if I have just recently returned from travel or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
Can I still give birth at home or in a birth centre? [Updated December 21, 2020]
Your midwife will continuously assess your health and provide evidence-based recommendations regarding your chosen place of birth. Talk to your midwife about your options for giving birth at home or in a birth centre
Frequently Asked Questions about College Operations
Is the College still open during the pandemic?
As of March 16,2020, the College transitioned into a virtual office and the physical office location was temporarily closed. During this time, the College is continuing to provide its services with limited disruptions. To read more about the virtual office, please click here.
Is the College processing complaints during the pandemic?
The College will continue to process complaints and investigate concerns during this time. The College does however recognize that certain timelines may be impacted as a result of the current environment.