News > Midwife Assoc. Pres expects growth

Midwife Assoc. Pres expects growth

posted on October 26, 2016
Coverage of MABC's Progress Report in the North Shore News. "Midwives are present at the birth of one in five B.C. babies."

Midwife Assoc. Pres expects growth

Jeremy Shepherd / North Shore News

OCTOBER 26, 2016 08:05 AM

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At the family home in Northern Ireland, heading to a hospital to have a child was rarely considered and never acted upon.

“My grandmother had all her babies at home,” notes Alix Bacon, president of the Midwives Association of B.C.

That “family influence” was part of what led her to catch babies for a living.

Bacon was in North Vancouver recently ahead of Wednesday’s annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Midwives.

Midwives are present at the birth of one in five B.C. babies, according to Bacon. But despite increasing popularity, the profession is still somewhat misunderstood.

“We’re still fighting to address some misconceptions that have been around for a long time,” Bacon says.

Midwives provide care in hospital as well as in home births, Bacon says, and aren’t as averse to anesthetics as some believe.

“You can certainly have an epidural if you want one,” she says.

With access to maternity wards limited in some of B.C.’s northern climes, Bacon says MABC has a goal of having a midwife assist on 35 per cent of births in the province.

“If we could have midwives doing 35 per cent of the births by 2020 we believe we could really improve maternity care and alleviate stress on the (medical) system overall,” Bacon says.

The rate of death immediately before and after birth was significantly lower in planned home births than in hospital births attended by a physician, according to a five-year study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The rate of death was 0.35 per 1,000 among midwife-attended home births and 0.64 per 1,000 among physician-attended births, according to the study, published in 2009.

Women who planned to have their babies at home were also less likely to require obstetric interventions, suffer perineal tears or postpartum hemorrhaging, according to the study.

More midwives assisting more expectant mothers means shorter hospital stays and a lighter burden on B.C.’s medical system, according to Bacon.

More mothers are also looking for care “close to home” during the birth and immediately thereafter, she says.

“I think (mothers) are also looking for more personalized care,” she says. “They really love that we come see them at home in the first week.”



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B.C. midwives are hoping to attend on third of births - both at homes and in hospitals - by 2020. file photo Mike Wakefi
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