A boost in the number of midwives in northern British Columbia would not only improve maternity care in rural communities, but would save British Columbia millions of dollars according to the Midwives Association of British Columbia (MABC).
This information comes from a report put out by the association, Our New Vision for Midwifery and Maternity Care, which contains a series of recommendations.
Recommendations include increasing the number of midwives by 16 per cent above the current situation. The association believes increasing the number of midwife-assisted births in the province to 35 per cent by 2020, as well as fully incorporating midwifery services into the British Columbian health care system, would greatly increase the quality of maternity care, especially in rural, northern and First Nations communities.
Kelly Hayes, registered midwife and vice-president of the Midwives Association of British Columbia, said there are currently about 200 midwives in the province, one of which is located in Haida Gwaii.
"It's a fantastic example of a midwife that is working collaboratively with a family physician. Because of that, Haida Gwaii has managed to keep birth in communities," said Hayes.
"Northern B.C. is one of the areas that has the biggest challenges in terms of women having to travel for hours to access care ... when women have to leave their communities it increases the rate of bad outcomes."
However, there are no midwives in Prince Rupert.
"The office gets a number of calls on a regular basis from women up in the Prince Rupert area ... that are saying 'we want to access a midwife'," she said.
The MABC believes a way to grow the number of British Columbian midwives would be to fund a credentialing program to allow internationally-trained midwives to practice in the province.
Our New Vision for Midwifery and Maternity Care says to perform these recommendations a $3 million per year investment would be needed, or $225 per birth per year. The total cost would reach approximately $21 million by 2020/21. If funded, the MABC believes this would translate into a net cost savings of about $60 million that could go toward other health care priorities.
"We have midwives that are willing and wanting to work in the rural environments, we just need those supports in place in order to grow our numbers and get them there," Hayes said.