The Push For Midwifery in Newfoundland and Labrador

Midwives will assist with births at a hospital, a health clinic, or in the mother’s own home. They will also visit mothers and newborn babies in their home after the birth and continue offer care for up to six weeks.

On May 16th, the Minister of Health and Community Services, John Haggie, announced that a midwifery consultant has been recruited to help implement regulated midwifery into the provincial health care system. Gisela Becker will begin work as the Provincial Midwifery Consultant in September of 2017.

Regulations around midwifery in Canada vary according to province and territory. In British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba midwifery has been regulated for close to twenty years, whereas in P.E.I. midwifery remains unregulated.

Implementing regulated midwifery into the provincial health care system will give more mothers access to licensed professionals who provide care and advice during pregnancy, labour, and postpartum. This advice can cover everything from antenatal care to preparation for parenthood, and sometimes touches on the mother’s sexual or reproductive health.

Midwives will assist with births at a hospital, a health clinic, or in the mother’s own home. They will also visit mothers and newborn babies in their home after the birth and continue offer care for up to six weeks.

Newfoundland and Labrador began implementing regulated midwifery into the provincial health care system in April 2016 and some people are frustrated by how long the process is taking.

On May 5th2017, several women marked International day of Midwifery by posting photos of their newborn babies with the caption “I support midwifery in NL” and the hashtag #isupportmidwiferynl. Many tagged Minister Haggie in the posts on Facebook and Twitter. This social media campaign was meant to put pressure on the provincial government to speed up the implementation process.

Newfoundland-based doula, Hope Jamieson Baggs posted a photo of her daughter on International Day of Midwifery with a caption explaining that for her, the need to implement midwifery into the provincial healthcare system is about giving women more agency over their birthing experiences.

“I gave birth in hospital; it is not, given options, what I would have chosen to do, and the experience was not what I had hoped for. As a doula and a feminist, I want families, and in particular birthing people, to have agency over where and how they bring their babies into the world, ” Jamieson Baggs wrote.

“Our government needs to take action to implement access to midwifery care in this province for so many reasons, but chief among them is the deep need to birth with a feeling of security and trust, whatever model of care they choose.”

As Provincial Midwifery Consultant, Gisela Becker will be working with government this fall to begin designing a service delivery model and to develop policies. Becker is a practicing midwife who has worked internationally and in several locations across Canada including Nunavut, Alberta, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories.

Her research focuses on rural and remote midwifery care, maternity services for vulnerable populations, and midwifery in Canada. She has extensive experience working in rural and remote areas and working with collaborative maternity care.

“My ministerial mandate includes the implementation of regulated midwifery in the public health care system. I am pleased to announce Ms. Becker will guide our province in this regard. She possesses extensive experience and insight; I look forward to working with her as we move towards bringing the valuable practice of midwifery to Newfoundland and Labrador families,” Minister Haggie said.

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