Midwifery for all Yukoners

3 Jan
About four and a half years ago, I was still living in Ottawa.  A good friend of mine had a baby, which to me was a big deal because she was the first in my close circle of friends to have a child.
Like many women, she delivered at a hospital.  And while it wasn’t a horrible experience, it left a lot to be desired.  She had had to be induced and had laboured for about 12 hours without progressing and without respite.  She didn’t know she could ask to have the hormone drip turned off or turned down, to give herself a break.  Although she had wanted to have a drug-free delivery, after 12 hours, a nurse convinced her to get an epidural because "this could go on for another 12 hours, dear."  They turned the pitocin down when she got the epidural.  Strangely, her body took over from there and she had the baby within an hour or two.  When I talked to her about her experiences last year (trying to mentally prepare for my looming labour and delivery) she emphasized that I didn’t have to let this happen to me; I could be more proactive and be more in control of the experience.
However, the amount of control you can have really depends on who you’re working with.  Luckily for me, I found that my doctor and the maternity staff at Whitehorse General Hospital were philosophically on the same page as me, and I never felt that I couldn’t change what was happening if I didn’t like it.  In fact, I had a great experience at the hospital.  But not everyone is that lucky.
For my friend, she opted not to return to that same hospital for her next baby.  She decided to use a midwife instead, and she delivered at a birthing centre.  She has nothing but good things to say about that experience (according to her, getting into a bath to labour is better than getting an epidural!) and she ended up using the midwife for her third pregnancy, as well.
Her experience with her midwife got me interested.  But I had heard a friend here in Whitehorse say that it cost $2,500 to have a midwife.  When I mentioned to my friend in Ottawa that we would never be able to afford a midwife, I was surprised to learn that midwifery services are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.  I have sinced learned that the cost of midwifery services is also covered in British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
Given the fact that there is a shortage of doctors everywhere in Canada (including the Yukon) and that fewer and fewer doctors are willing to do time-consuming maternity care, doesn’t it make sense to make midwifery services an option for all women?  (And not just those who have $2,500 to spare?)
I recently joined the Yukon Midwifery Lobby Group to ask the Yukon government to legislate and fund midwifery services.  We’re just getting started but so far we’ve been getting a lot of support.  If you’re interested in having a say, leave your comment here, or contact Asheya Hennessey by e-mail: asheya (at) alumni.sfu.ca.

What is a midwife? 
A midwife is an alternative health care provider who is trained in the art of childbirth.  Working with a midwife means having the opportunity to develop a strong relationship, as appointments throughout pregnancy are often an hour or more.  The midwife becomes the primary caregiver throughout the pregnancy and also provides support after the birth of the baby.  In addition, midwives are skilled in the use of natural methods to help with pain management.  In many provinces, midwives can attend births at a hospital, which is important for women who aren’t comfortable with the idea of having a homebirth.  Using a midwife is also safe: studies have shown that low-risk mothers and their babies who are cared for by midwives fare as well as those cared for by doctors.

One Response to “Midwifery for all Yukoners”

  1. Kristin March 4, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    New group trying again to regulate and fund midwifery in Yukon. Facebook group: Community Midwives Association of Yukon.

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