Calgary Herald

Doctors, midwives work together at High River Hospital

- SARAH MCGINNIS SMCGINNIS@CALGARYHER­ALD.COM

First-time mother Alisha Bassett never liked hospitals and feared her anxiety would make delivering her daughter even more challengin­g.

But when little Drea made her appearance at the High River Hospital on Oct. 9, her mother was calm.

After 15 hours of labour, Bassett gave birth in the rural hospital with the help of a local midwife.

“It was fantastic. It was great,” Bassett said, as three-month-old Drea sat on her knee Thursday.

The province began funding midwifery services in 2009.

Now the low-risk pregnancy clinic at High River Hospital has become a model in Alberta of how traditiona­l medicine and midwives can work side by side successful­ly, said Marie Wilkinson, a midwife with nearly 20 years experience.

“People didn’t understand what we were, and that included physicians as well,” said Wilkinson.

Since she began working in the hospital pregnancy clinic, Wilkinson said she’s seen family doctors suggest women change positions during labour and other practices they might not have considered before.

Working with doctors means if she has a medical question, Wilkinson can walk down the hall and get a consultati­on.

“Here, it is the whole team and we work together. When we do find things, we meet together and we talk about it,” she said.

The High River clinic was created almost five years ago when a string of rural hospitals closed obstetrics units because there weren’t enough doctors willing to deliver babies.

Twelve physicians and two midwives work together in High River to care for women throughout their pregnancy and deliver up to 700 babies a year.

The partnershi­p ensures a better quality of life for both the medical practition­ers and the patients, said Dr. Sarah Makhdoom.

High-risk pregnancie­s are still sent to Calgary for treatment, but the lowrisk clinic means many women can have their babies closer to home while relieving stress on crowded city hospitals, said Makhdoom.

Bassett had hoped for a midwife to see her through pregnancy but encountere­d long waiting lists when she inquired in Calgary.

Living in Nanton, she was surprised to learn there were midwives available in High River.

“I really wanted a midwife. I wanted to get to know the person who birthed my baby. I wanted to feel comfortabl­e with them and have all my fears and questions answered,” said Bassett.

“The relationsh­ip was the best part of the experience,” she said.

 ?? Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald ?? Alisha Bassett, middle, with her three-month-old daughter Drea, was assisted by midwife Marie Wilkinson, right, during the birth of her child. They are pictured with Dr. Sarah Makhdoom.
Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald Alisha Bassett, middle, with her three-month-old daughter Drea, was assisted by midwife Marie Wilkinson, right, during the birth of her child. They are pictured with Dr. Sarah Makhdoom.

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