Sunday, 13 March 2016 05:25

People rally to ask for more midwives in Sask.

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Rally on March 5 in front of Brad Wall's office. Rally on March 5 in front of Brad Wall's office.

A rally to raise awareness about the need for more midwives in Saskatchewan took place in downtown Swift Current on March 5.

Similar events took place on the same day in North Battleford, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon to emphasize the need for more choice for birthing women.
The Swift Current rally took place across the street from the office of Brad Wall. The writ was dropped  this week.
Megz Reynolds, who was the organizer of the rally in Swift Current, said the participants were  concerned citizens from the area. Some of them are mothers who have used a midwife and others are on a waiting list to have a midwife.
“As far as we’re concerned it should be our right to have choices as to where, how and with who we give birth and right now we don’t feel the province is fully supporting that,” she mentioned.
Currently, there are 13 registered midwives in the province who are licensed to practise midwifery.
Six are in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region, six are in the Saskatoon Health Region and one is practising in Swift Current in the Cypress Health Region.
“I think part of the problem Saskatchewan is having is that if you are a midwife in Canada, there are better options for places to practise,” she said. “Provincially, Alberta and B.C. support midwifery a little bit more. So I think we’re losing some of our potential midwives to other provinces, because they rather practise there because it’s more supported.”
Reynolds has lived in Vancouver for a while and is therefore familiar with the options available to women in that province.
“There is a lot of birth centres, there are midwives that practise privately that are supported by the province, there are midwives that practise in hospitals or at the birth centres,” she said. “There are just more options and that is all supported by the province.”
She feels the situation in Saskatchewan makes it difficult for a midwife to have a private practice in the province.
“Right now you could technically be a private midwife in Saskatchewan, but you have to cover your own insurance and the health care will not cover me going to that midwife,” she said. “They will only cover me going through one of their designated midwives. There are not many people that are going to pay $6,000-$8,000 or whatever that cost is, because provincially the healthcare system won’t cover it.”
The purpose of these rallies was therefore to call on the provincial government to make more funding available for midwifery in Saskatchewan.
“We would like to see more funding put into midwifery over all the province and we would also like to see more areas that are supporting and opening up midwifery services,” she said. “So right now you can only get a midwife in Swift Current, Regina or Saskatoon, but there are other places obviously in the province where you can give birth and we would like to see that midwifery options are available at those places as well.”
She noted that the greater availability of midwifery services in Saskatchewan can result in a significant cost saving for the province and health regions because there will be less birthing interventions, fewer cesarean sections and more home births.
“Birth is something that is totally natural and that our bodies are made to do,” she said. “There are definitely times when we do need a doctor and there are things that go wrong or women that are high-risk during their pregnancies, but for someone that isn’t high-risk, pregnancy is a natural beautiful thing that our bodies are made to do and it doesn’t need to be managed like a disease is managed.”
Midwives tend to spend more time with their clients and they are there for a longer period during the delivery of a baby.
“They support the mum a little bit more than just showing up at the end,” she said. “They’re also usually open to more natural options. They don’t push interventions the same way that can happen with a doctor and they usually aren’t on the same clock schedule.”
Reynolds has been able to use the services of a midwife during the birth of both her children and she enjoyed the experience. She had a doctor during her first pregnancy, but a midwife was present during the water birth, and she had a midwife for her second pregnancy.
“My experience was amazing, especially with my second child,” she said. “I’m a trained doula, so I knew what I want going into it. I had a birth plan and she supported that. We created it together.”
She had a slow labour, but her midwife was patient and provided her with the support to have a natural birth.
“I think that with a doctor I would have been put on a more regimented time clock, there probably would have been an oxytocin drip to stimulate labour faster and there is a chance that I could have ended up with a C-section,” she said.
She emphasized that the purpose of the rally was not only to ask for more support for women who want to use a midwife during pregnancy.
“This is about supporting women as a whole so that they have options when it comes to birth,” she said. “We just want more options out there. So you can be someone who never wants a midwife or doesn’t want your spouse to have a midwife, but I think it is important to support someone’s right to have that choice.”
Petitions were available at the different rallies for people to sign in support of a call for more midwives in the provinces. These petitions will be submitted to the provincial government. More information about the campaign for maternity care options is available on the Facebook page Saskatchewan needs more Midwives.

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