Q: Bridget, what first made you think of becoming a midwife?
BL: It was the birth of my own children that stimulated my interest in childbirth and midwifery. My first baby was born in hospital. I had an episiotomy and a forceps delivery, then she was taken away from me overnight. The interventions and lack of control bothered me immensely. So I chose to give birth to my second baby at home. That was in 1975, and home birth was extremely unusual. I was attended by a doctor, as Canada only had midwives working in remote communities at that time. By the time my third baby was born in 1978, also at home, the rates of intervention and Caesarean delivery were escalating. I became extremely concerned that this threatened women's ability to believe in birth as a normal physiological event. I realised that I must become involved in creating alternative options for pregnant and birthing women or my daughters would not have the choices in birth that I did.
Q: How did midwifery get established in Canada?
BL: During the 1970s there were grassroots groups of people across Canada who became politically involved in demanding the right to home birth. Only a few doctors supported this choice and they were not always available. But a number of women started to study midwifery and train with these doctors to assist in home births--I was one of them.
Gradually the home birth movement became a movement to recognise and regulate midwifery in Canada. Health services are organised on a provincial basis in Canada and these grassroots groups worked with their provincial governments to establish midwifery, one province at a time. I live in the province of Ontario, where the Association of Ontario Midwives was established in 1983. This group took on the huge task of trying to convince the provincial government to recognise and to finance an independent midwifery profession. Eventually midwifery legislation was implemented on January 1, 1994, and I became one of the first 60 midwives regulated in Ontario.
Since that time midwifery legislation has been implemented in four other provinces and one territory. The remaining five provinces and two territories are in various stages of implementing midwifery legislation. All of these provinces have supported midwifery as an independent, self regulating profession and midwives across Canada today are regulated to attend women giving birth al home, in birthing centres and in hospital.
Today there are approximately 500 regulated...