The practice of midwifery is as old as time, but the profession of midwifery is still in its infancy. In 1995 the government of British Columbia created the Midwives Regulation within the Health Professions Act (HPA), which allowed for the establishment of our college, the College of Midwives of British Columbia (CMBC) (Practicing Midwifery in BC, 2015). Three years after the creation of the Midwives Regulation, and shortly after the stroke of midnight on January 1st, 1998, one of the grand-mothered midwives caught the first baby as a Registered Midwife (Perkins, 2018).
Registered Midwives are required to be a member of both the college and the professional association. The CMBC serves to protect the public, and the title of “Midwife” (“About Us,” 2015). They are responsible for licensing, scope, disciplinary action, and practice guidelines. The Midwives Association of British Columbia (MABC) serves to protect the interest to midwives. They negotiate our billing fee schedule with the government, provide liability insurance, promote our growing profession (“About,” 2018). While these two bodies serve distinct stakeholders, they are both critical to the profession.
A midwife may spend most days interacting with other professions exclusively. In fact, it is uncommon for midwives to interact with other midwives in a day-to-day care capacity. This makes relationships with other care providers integral to the fledgling practice of midwifery. These relationships include our collegial relationships with physicians, nurses, lab staff, and service providers; to consultation relationship with obstetrics, radiology, pediatrics, pharmacy, and anesthesiology. In smaller communities there may only be a few Registered Midwives. I believe that midwives in all communities should be conscientious in their professional interactions. They are ambassadors for the profession, and consultation requests as primary care are unfamiliar to some colleagues. Midwives should seize these interactions as an opportunity to explain the midwife’s role in the healthcare system, dispel misconceptions about midwifery care, and take time to better understand the roles of colleagues.
With the prolific growth of social media, it is unsurprising that professionals and institutions are quickly navigating the development and monitoring of their online identity. The CMBC has written a Guideline for Participating in Social Media. In it, the CMBC states that midwives must “consider the professional, legal and ethical risks and liabilities of using the rapidly evolving social media and online networking technologies that allow individuals to connect, interact and share information over the internet through such portals” (CMBC, 2017).
Midwives, like all professionals, find themselves facing duality. When not at work, they are members of the public. They must find the balance between the recommendations of the college and their personal desires to be present members of the community. Personally, I have chosen to approach this by keeping some separation between professional and personal identities online; a challenging task for midwives who work closely with families throughout their childbearing year. When care reaches it’s inevitable close at six weeks postpartum, many patients, and admittedly midwives, are not ready to end their relationship in totality. Connecting online can allow for the fostering of genuine relationships, but can also easily deviate into inappropriate care interactions. The CMBC has provided guidance on this by stating that midwives should not accept, nor extend, invitations of clients currently in care (“Policy on Appropriate Client-Midwife Relationships”, 2018).
The duality midwives face in engaging in social media can be further illustrated when the midwife is both a patient and a provider. As an expectant mother myself, I hesitate to engage in parenting forums online, for fear of supplying misconstrued medical advice, being “outed” as a care provider, or no longer being seen as a peer. Ultimately, in order to protect my professional identity, the fullness of my personal identity is compromised. Nonetheless, one area that I do feel comfortable and motivated to speak up online is matters relating to promotion of the midwifery profession as a whole. When I contribute in this capacity as a professional online, I aim to keep the content collegial, evidence based, and lighthearted. For a young profession like midwifery social media can be slippery slope, but when applied appropriately, it can be a bridge into maturation.
Canadian Association of Midwives. (2017). Midwifery across Canada. Retrieved from https://canadianmidwives.org/midwifery-across-canada/#1467634074483-f50b550d-db87
College of Midwives of British Columbia. (2015). About Us. Retrieved from http://cmbc.bc.ca/about-cmbc/about-us/
College of Midwives of British Columbia. (2017). Guideline for Participating in Social Media [Press release]. Retrieved from http://cmbc.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Guideline-for-Participating-in-Social-Media.pdf
College of Midwives of British Columbia. (2018, May 4). Policy on Appropriate Client-Midwife Relationships [Press release]. Retrieved from http://cmbc.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Policy-on-Appropriate-Client-Midwife-Relationships.pdf
College of Midwives of British Columbia. (2015). Practicing Midwifery in BC. Retrieved from http://cmbc.bc.ca/registration/general-information-faq/career-as-a-midwife/
Midwives Association of British Columbia. (2018). About. Retrieved from https://www.bcmidwives.com/
Perkins, M. (2017, December 21). 1998’s New Year’s baby at B.C. Women’s Hospital a first on two counts. Retrieved from http://www.vancourier.com/news/1998-s-new-year-s-baby-at-b-c-women-s-hospital-a-first-on-two-counts-1.23123139