The Midwives Association of British Columbia (MABC), with babies in tow, made a visit to the B.C. Legislature on Thursday.
The association is calling on the provincial government to increase funding and investment in midwifery services. An increase in funding would allow for an increase in access to maternity care and would support better health outcomes for newborns and parents throughout B.C., according to the MABC.
“More provincial funding and investment in midwifery services is needed to improve access to pregnancy and birth services, and deliver better health outcomes for newborns and families,” MABC CEO Ganga Jolicoeur said.
“Many British Columbians still don’t have reasonable access to maternity care where and when they need it.”
More than 280 registered midwives were involved in the births of 10,227 babies, or 23 per cent of all births last year. The association estimates the use of midwives has freed up approximately $145 million in savings for other healthcare priorities.
“There are communities that have no access to a midwife’s care. These are communities like Lillooet, Kitimat, Port Hardy. Then there are other communities that have no access to maternity care at all. These are places like Tofino and McBride,” MABC president Alix Bacon said.
“We are hoping for increased supports and investments so we can grow our workforce.”
Midwives specialize in pregnancies, birth and postpartum care for newborns. The training for midwives in B.C. consists of a four-year program at UBC, and the industry is regulated by the province.
In New Zealand and the United Kingdom midwives are involved in up to 70 per cent of births. Bacon says midwives do far more than just attend births, including providing access to medication and ultrasounds.
“As midwives we know of numerous cases where parents and their families were required to travel hundreds of kilometres to access maternity care. This puts incredible strain on expectant parents,” said Bacon.
The number of obstetricians and family physicians practicing obstetrics has been declining over the past decade, leading to a maternity care gap. Teejay Keepance came to the legislature on Thursday with her infant son Tommy.
Keepance has used a midwife and hopes the province will increase the funding.
“If you want someone to share that experience with you, that hard moment of pushing something out living, you probably want a midwife and not your doctor,” Keepence said.
“I would like them to get more money so they can do more aftercare. So they can get the time to do more home visits or just text to check how things are going.”