When I was pregnant Tim and I had thrown around the idea of a home birth or one at a birthing centre. I had not had the best hospital experiences and was worried this was going to be another thing that I dreaded. Due to price and availability we decided against doing a natural birth at home or a birthing centre. In the end it was good that we had decided to go with our Dr. and at a hospital as there were some minor complications (never mind having to be induced 2 weeks past my due date).
Ruth was born a year ago with the help of a midwife. She and her mother joined supporters of midwifery in a rally Monday in Calgary. (CBC)
Hundreds of midwives and parents marked the International Day of the Midwife on Monday with rallies across Alberta calling for the province to pay for their services.
In Calgary, a sign-toting group accompanied by children branded with $3,500 price tags — the cost of a midwife delivery — gathered at MacDougall Centre.
Midwives said they cannot understand why Alberta is one of the few provinces not funding their service.
British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have midwifery legislation. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are both moving toward regulation.
Dozens of people gathered at the Alberta legislature Monday over the lunch hour to call for the government to pay to fund midwives. (CBC)
"This is a guaranteed service under the Canada Health Act," Nadine Mitchell told CBC News. "And basically, the Alberta government has decided that it doesn't matter. They are going to have women, and families, paying for essential health-care services."
Dozens of midwives also gathered at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton over lunch hour.
Jade Dodd, who has two daughters, called having her second assisted by a midwife "the most phenomenal, empowering experience."
She said when she had her first daughter, in an Edmonton hospital, "I told my doctor I wanted to have a natural birth and he said, 'I don't know why you want to walk when you can drive.' So that's the kind of attitude many women are faced with."
Midwives in the province face several obstacles, including a two-year licensing period and the necessity of maintaining a private practice.
Cost of a delivery frustrating: midwife
Midwives and supporters of midwifery rallied Monday in Calgary to call on Alberta to fund the service. (CBC)
Midwife Luba Butska came to Calgary about a year ago from Ontario, where midwifery is funded. "Everyone in Ontario thought I was crazy," she said.
The lack of funding in Alberta and the steep price tag for the births are a constant source of frustration, she said.
"You know midwives have in Alberta been fighting for funding for a really long time. I know that the association that represents midwives in Alberta has regular meetings with politicians at, you know, the highest levels. Those meetings always go really well," she said.
"It's clear that midwifery could really eliminate a lot of the burden also that right now is being experienced on labour and delivery floors. Just funding never actually happens."
Midwives estimate that by funding midwife-assisted births, the province could save between $1,100 and $1,700 per birth and free up hospital beds.
Health Minister Ron Liepert said the province already helps midwives by subsidizing their liability insurance, and more support will be coming soon.
"What we want to do is ensure we integrate midwifery services into our delivery model, so that it becomes no cost to the patient," he said.
I hope that one day soon women in Alberta will be able to choose where they have their babies and with what kind of medical/support team they chose, not with what is dictated by the government.
*DISCLAIMER* This does NOT mean that I encourge women to have their babies at home. I think that all women should choose which is best for them.