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I want to be a midwife. What will my salary be?

You need to love newborns and be ready to be on call at all times

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This story is part of the Globe Careers’ series looking at specific jobs, with their qualifications, descriptions, responsibilities and current salaries. For more, see our Salaries Series.

Job: Midwife

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Salary:
Average take-home pay is between $60,000 to $80,000 and depends the province where they practice.

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Education:
A four-year bachelor degree in midwifery, which is offered at seven universities across Canada, including the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. Tuition is about $25,000 for the four-year program, depending on location. There also a handful of community-based programs offered by aboriginal communities in Canada.

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The job:
A health care professional who provides care for women during the full duration of a pregnancy, including the birth and for about two months afterward. In Canada, midwives are independent practitioners, unlike in other countries where they work under supervision, according to Joanna Nemrava, president of the Canadian Association of Midwives.

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Midwives work in homes and hospitals, and often in conjunction with other health care professionals such as doctors and nurses. Midwives are regulated by provincial health authorities.

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By the numbers:
The profession is almost exclusively women, but the first male midwife (Otis Kryzanauskas is pictured here in 2012 with a child he delivered) graduated from McMaster in 2012.

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Job prospects:
“It’s a very rapidly growing profession,” says Ms. Nemrava, and universities have expanded their programs to accommodate the growing demand across the country.

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Midwifery is not yet completely recognized by other medical professionals, according to the federal government. “Although midwives are legally permitted to practise in hospitals, until now, only some hospitals had signed an agreement to that effect,” says Service Canada.

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Challenges:
Given the unpredictable nature of the profession, midwives are always on call. This means midwives can work odd hours, need to be flexible and have understanding families. They also handle a lot of stress and need to be calm when the mothers they are working with – and their husbands or families – aren’t.

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Why they do it:
“A lot of women who chose midwifery are interesting in advocacy, women’s rights, social justice,” said Ms. Nemrava. Some have gone through their own childbirth experience and haven’t been satisfied with the care, including the short hospital stays and busy clinics, she says. “Others are just really interested in babies, love newborns and want to be part of that.”

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Misconceptions:
People think midwives have a “hippie” approach to health care and only perform at-home births. That’s not true, says Ms. Nemrava, citing the hospital births that are part of the profession.

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Many people also don’t realize the service is covered by provincial health plans. Another misconception is that midwives only do natural childbirths and dismiss use of drugs to ease pain. Ms. Nemrava says pain relief can be used in hospitals if the patient wants it.

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Give us the real scoop:

Are you a midwife in Canada?

Write a note in the comments area or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and tell us what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Click here.

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