The Midwives Association of B.C. is asking for government help.
Their goal is to increase the number of registered midwives and make midwifery more popular. But they need the money to do it.
A $20-million plan
The MABC has released a $20-million plan to fully integrate midwives into B.C.’s health care system.
The plan also includes raising the number of midwife-assisted births from 17 per cent to 35 per cent by 2020.
In the past, the four-year midwifery program offered at UBC had graduated only 10 midwives at a time.
The program was expanded in 2012 to allow the first graduating class of 20 in 2017.
“Some of the growth is happening naturally, some of it needs to be supported by funding the international stream,” said Ganga Jolicoeur, executive director of the MABC.
She said the province needs to support a program that will allow midwives who have studied abroad to be recognized as practitioners in B.C.
Province pulls funding
A similar pilot program was paid for by the federal government, but ended in B.C. two years ago when the province chose not to continue the funding.
There are currently 220 active midwives in B.C, Jolicoeur said.
She said the association would like to see that number rise by 26 midwives per year from now until 2020.
Midwives could save the province $60-million by 2020, Jolicoeur said.
This because they have a lower caesarean section rate in their births, and free up hospital beds when their clients choose to give birth at home.
Midwifery gives women another option
Judith Donaldson teaches in the integrated energy-healing program at Langara College and worked as a registered midwife for nearly 40 years.
“I just fell in love with the whole process of birthing and the strength women have in doing [midwifery],” she said.
Jolicoeur said midwifery gives women the chance to form a more intimate bond with their care provider while feeling educated and empowered.
“One of the main principles of midwifery care is…making sure that women feel really informed about what their choices are,” she added.
Donaldson said she believes more women are opening themselves up to midwifery, but she said “there’s still a very strong stream of women who want to have the epidural the moment they walk into the hospital.”
Jolicoeur said most women who are against midwifery don’t know that it is covered by B.C. MSP and that births can be scheduled at home or in hospital.
Reported by Megan Bobetsis