With a developing advocacy for midwifery in northern B.C., Northern Health will examine possibly expanding its maternity services.
While Haida Gwaii is one of the few remote regions in B.C. that offers midwifery services, Prince Rupert and Terrace are still without this type of care. Last November, members of the Prince Rupert Advocates for Midwifery group met with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who is of the opinion that this is a service that can be provided in the northwest.
Since then, Northern Health has commissioned a needs assessment for midwifery in the health authority’s region.
Eryn Collins, media relations for Northern Health, said the midwifery review will be done over the summer months and is expected to be completed this fall.
“We’ll be talking to a variety of stakeholders. The review will look at demographics, demand for service, the need for midwives and other care providers in the perinatal services to work collaboratively and any recruitment planning considerations that we would need to take a look at,” Collins said.
The review will also ensure that any new midwifery and perinatal services are stable and sustainable.
Meanwhile, advocacy for bringing midwifery services in Prince Rupert presses on.
“In the new year we’ve been focusing on continued engagement with the Midwives Association of BC to gather information and figure out the next steps,” said Jessica Hawryshyn, founding member of the Prince Rupert Advocates for Midwifery.
She has also been focusing on community outreach, and stirring interest in the advocacy initiative.
This past Saturday, March 9 from 2-4 p.m., the Prince Rupert Advocates for Midwifery hosted their first event at the regional library.
One of the presenters was Katherine Puchala, a midwife from Terrace who is hoping to receive her privileges through Northern Health soon. Currently, the nearest midwifery service for Rupert residents is in Hazelton.
The Advocates for Midwifery formed in November 2018, and they have since gathered more than 80 members online. The group has started the discussion with local officials and Northern Health on how to expand maternity care services in the Prince Rupert area.
Puchala spoke on what midwifery is, and dispelled some of the common myths.
“A lot of people automatically assume if you have a midwife you’re having a home birth, and many people also conflate midwifes and doulas and they are two very separate practices, both are important and both have an important role to play,” she said.
She also wants people to know that midwives practice evidence-based care.
“People don’t know that midwifery is a regulated profession and that it’s integrated in the existing health care system so that means we are covered by MSP so women don’t have to pay out of pocket. We are like any other health care provider. As long as you have a B.C. care card you can have midwifery care, with some exceptions,” Puchala said.
Midwives care for women who are healthy and low risk. When more care is required, physicians will get involved. But Puchala said women classified as high risk could benefit from midwifery care in the postpartum period.
The event also screened A Mother Is Born, an educational documentary about women-centred care.