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 continues 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. We have provided frequently asked questions below to help answer some of your questions regarding the College’s role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
Midwives are required to follow the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA) and ensure that your personal health information is kept safe in accordance with the act however you are accessing care.
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.
Can I still give birth at home or in a birth centre?
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
Does the College have a policy around clients wearing masks?
As a health care regulator, the College does not have a policy regarding mask wearing for midwifery clients, as the College does not have any policies dictating client behaviour. Other government bodies, hospitals, and health care providers may have policies related to client behaviour. For instance, the Ontario government currently requires that everyone in the province wear a mask in public indoor places.
The College requires midwives to follow current best practice for infection prevention and control which includes wearing masks during all client interactions during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can read guidance around mask-wearing at the resources listed below:
- Public Health Ontario
- The Public Health Agency of Canada
- Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health (PCMCH)
- Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) FAQ Should clients wear masks or face coverings for their appointments with their midwives or during labour?
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).
Is my midwife required to be vaccinated?
Vaccines play an important role in protecting the most vulnerable—particularly those from communities who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The College strongly encourages all eligible midwives to get vaccinated.
The province is not currently mandating that healthcare providers be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, hospitals are mandated to implement vaccine policies where staff are required to be vaccinated, provide proof of medical exemption, or complete an educational module and receive frequent COVID-19 testing if they choose to not be vaccinated.
Hospitals may choose to adopt their own vaccine policies that go beyond those mandated by the government. Under these policies, disciplinary action may be taken, up to and including loss of hospital privileges or termination, for midwives who do not show proof of vaccination without a valid medical exemption.
If I ask my midwives about their vaccination status as it relates to their role, are they required to disclose?
Disclosing immunization status for COVID-19 is a personal decision, as it is personal health information that is covered under the Personal Health Information Protection Act. However, certain situations may arise where a midwife has a professional obligation to make a disclosure in the interest of client and public safety.
If there is a realistic possibility of COVID-19 transmission to a client that would be mitigated if the midwife were vaccinated, there may be a duty for the midwife to proactively notify the client of their immunization status.
If my midwife is unvaccinated, or will not disclose their vaccination status, may I request a different midwife?
Yes. If a client wishes to have their care transferred either because a midwife declines to disclose their immunization status, or because they disclose that they have not received a vaccination for COVID, the midwife should make an effective, courteous, and prompt referral to another midwife or physician in accordance with the Professional Standards for Midwives.