Friday, August 01, 2008

Midwifery becoming mainstream in Canada


Immediately after delivering baby Benjamin, Melissa Boraski's midwife knew something was wrong.

The newborn's colour was quite dusky, his breathing too shallow. An hour after birth into the comfort of his mother's home, he was whisked off to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children -- the place Boraski had least expected to be.

Little Benjamin underwent open heart surgery and his mother didn't hold him again for two weeks. Two years have gone by and now, he's a healthy toddler. And Boraski is swaddling a second babe, seven-month-old Alice.

Despite the shock that accompanied the arrival of her first-born, she used a midwife again and said she'd recommend it to anyone.

"I felt having a baby wasn't something I wanted to be treated like a medical emergency," Boraski said, acknowledging she did have initial reservations the second time.

"It went really smoothly," she said. "It kind of redeemed the (first) experience. I had a lot of hope for that ideal of having a baby at home. I knew it could be a great experience."

Boraski, 28, is among a growing number of Canadian women turning to a midwife during pregnancy instead of a doctor or obstetrician. She said the more intimate, personalized care, plus the fact it's funded by the Ontario government, made it an obvious choice.

She found her midwife at a practice called Riverdale Community Midwives in Toronto.

"I feel like every midwife I met at the practice was really compassionate and they really loved women and loved the care of women," she said. "Just the idea of birth being a family thing, it can happen in the home, it's safe, it can be a spiritual experience. I felt like the midwives honoured that tradition."

Midwifery's proponents say it's no longer a fringe option. It's also necessary, as a looming maternity care crisis has cropped up in Canada because many family physicians don't deliver babies and there is only a finite number of practising obstetricians -- many nearing retirement age.

There are approximately 700 midwives practising in Canada.

More than half of them are in Ontario, the province that led the charge to install midwifery as a regulated profession.

Regulations took effect on Dec. 31, 1993 and about 60 women were officially recognized as midwives. Seven provinces and two territories have since followed suit.

1 comment:

Paper Raisins said...

I had a midwife in Manitoba, also provincially funded for the birth of my daughter. I truly feel that I received the best possible care. And 3 years later, I am still awed by the experience.

The problem we're facing is that although we have midwives and they are part of our funded healthcare there are nowhere near enough of them. A large portion of women that apply for midwifery care are rejected.

I was rejected by 3 of the 4 midwifery groups in my city and I phoned as soon as I knew I was pregnant!!

We need more midwives!!!!!! :)