Mid­wifery gain­ing in pop­u­lar­ity in south­ern Al­berta

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Health - BY GIL­LIAN SLADE SOUTH­ERN AL­BERTA NEWS­PA­PERS

The num­ber of mid­wives in Medicine Hat has in­creased, while hospi­tal priv­i­leges to give birth with a mid­wife now ex­tend to Brooks, it has been an­nounced.

Carissa Mur­ray has just joined the team at Medicine Hat Mid­wives, and Brooks is the third hospi­tal on stream with mid­wifery hospi­tal priv­i­leges in south­ern Al­berta fol­low­ing Medicine Hat and Card­ston.

Brooks will be a sis­ter clinic to Medicine Hat, called Prairie Rose Mid­wifery, said mid­wife Cherry Ma­cla­gan. All three mid­wives, in­clud­ing Ter­rie Shaw who has many years ex­pe­ri­ence, will cover the whole area. Mid­wifery ser­vices have been fully cov­ered by Al­berta Health Ser­vices since 2009. Pre­vi­ously, clients paid about $4,000 for mid­wifery ser­vices, said Shaw.

AHS fund­ing cov­ers about 40 de­liv­er­ies a year, per mid­wife, but that does not meet the de­mand, said Shaw.

With Mur­ray re­cently join­ing Medicine Hat Mid­wives, there is ad­di­tional fund­ing now and so there is ca­pac­ity to take on more clients, said Shaw.

There was a time when mid­wifery was not reg­u­lated in the province but Mount Royal Univer­sity of­fers a four-year de­gree in mid­wifery, said Shaw.

Some­times there is still some con­fu­sion about the dif­fer­ence be­tween the ser­vices of a mid­wife and that of a doula.

A doula does not need to have spe­cific clin­i­cal/med­i­cal train­ing, and pri­mar­ily plays a sup­port­ing role in help­ing a mother through the phys­i­cal dis­com­fort of giv­ing birth, said Shaw.

Mid­wives are re­quired to have spe­cific rec­og­nized train­ing and are pri­mary health-care providers through­out the preg­nancy, labour and birth, in­clud­ing con­sult­ing with ob­ste­tri­cians when needed. Mid­wives can or­der lab work and tests such as ul­tra­sounds.

They ad­mit their pa­tients to hospi­tal and dis­charge them. They have limited pre­scrib­ing author­ity and they care for the mother and baby up to six weeks af­ter the birth.

Shaw calls it “a full course of care,” pro­vid­ing con­ti­nu­ity of care in a re­la­tion­ship of trust and con­fi­dence.

Choos­ing the ser­vices of a mid­wife no longer means au­to­mat­i­cally hav­ing a home birth, there is a choice be­cause mid­wives have had hospi­tal priv­i­leges since Jan­uary 2017. How­ever, if you want a home birth you will need a mid­wife, as doc­tors do not of­fer this.

Mid­wives pro­vide in­for­ma­tion and rec­om­men­da­tions so women can make an in­formed choice, said Shaw.

“Women are the pri­mary de­ci­sion mak­ers, and mid­wives sup­port them in their choices,” she ex­plained.

For some women, choos­ing a mid­wife is about the ex­tra time they re­ceive, build­ing a re­la­tion­ship through­out the preg­nancy, said Ma­cla­gan.

Al­though mid­wifery ser­vices are only for “low-risk preg­nan­cies,” some­times they are able to pro­vide care in con­junc­tion with an ob­ste­tri­cian and a hospi­tal birth, said Shaw.

When clients choose a home birth, mid­wives are equipped with items such as an IV, suc­tion and med­i­ca­tion that is taken to the home. If dur­ing the de­liv­ery the mid­wife con­sid­ers it pru­dent to trans­fer the pa­tient to the hospi­tal, this is eas­ily done, she ex­plained.

Shaw says about half the clients choose a home birth, and half pre­fer a hospi­tal birth.

On a per­sonal level, Shaw says home births are her favourite.

“I love the at­mos­phere — a spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence.” The feed­back from clients of Medicine Hat Mid­wives has been pos­i­tive. There is a bin­der full of ap­pre­ci­a­tion ex­pressed in writ­ing.

“My home birth was my dream birth and I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence. I am for­ever grate­ful to the Mid­wives of Medicine Hat for com­ing here and set­ting up prac­tice. I can’t say enough good things about them,” says one.

Mid­wives of Medicine Hat is an in­de­pen­dent prac­tice reg­is­tered though the Col­lege of Mid­wives of Al­berta, un­der the Health Dis­ci­plines Act.

Photo by Gil­lian Slade

Look­ing at a wall of pho­tos and thank-you notes to the Mid­wives of Medicine Hat are, from left, mid­wives Carissa Mur­ray (who has hospi­tal priv­i­leges in Card­ston), Ter­rie Shaw and Cherry Ma­cla­gan.

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