Letter: Support needed for midwives in the Cypress Health Region

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Editor:

The Cypress Health Region has disgraced the mothers of Swift Current and surrounding areas by restricting the professional roles of the midwives, consequentially denying mothers of their rights during the labour and delivery process.

The community of Swift Current has initiated an advocacy group for the Midwifery Program in Swift Current.  Families joined together to advocate when we learned that the Cypress Health Region was restricting the practices of the midwives and as a result the choices that mothers are entitled to.

According to the website of the Cypress Health Region, midwifery programs "support and respect each woman’s right to make choices about her care, caregiver, and place of birth".  The Cypress Health Region also claims to provide "care that respects who you are and what you want during this pregnancy and birth".  While the midwives uphold their values of placing the mothers first, the Cypress Health Region has largely failed to do so.  The Cypress Health Region has restricted midwives from providing mothers the choice of home birth.  

According to a letter from the president of the Canadian Association of Midwives, "Canadian midwives maintain hospital admitting privileges, are well trained to attend women in the setting of their choice, supported by access to emergency services when necessary".  The Cypress Health Region is denying mothers of their right to choose their place of birth and therefore unlawfully restricting the duties of the midwives.  Labour and delivery is supposed to be about the mother, baby and their families and instead it has become a power and money struggle for the Cypress Health Region.

There is no statistical need to restrict home births since "excellent health outcomes for mothers and newborns delivering at home under the care of a registered midwife have been demonstrated in well-designed studies which combined, include more than 20,000 women in a Canadian context" (Hutton et al, 2009; Janssen et al, 2009; Janssen et al, 2002). In addition, "in recent well-designed studies that captured planned place of birth and presence of a trained care provider, there were no differences in five-minute Apgar scores between home and hospital settings (Hutton et al, 2009; Janssen et al, 2009; van der Kooy et al, 2011).

Saskatchewan is largely falling behind the other provinces.  A woman in British Columbia recently published her home birth in the Globe and Mail on Wednesday, Dec. 18 2013, and it states; "Up until 1998, when B.C. legalized midwifery, a home birth such as Ms. Brillon’s would have been illegal. Now, midwives deliver about 14 per cent of the babies born each year in the province, or more than 5,500 infants – and about one-third of those babies are delivered at home."  Her intention was to shed positive light on homebirths.  In Regina, home births were implemented in 2011 and 70 per cent of mothers planning to have home births completed the birth in their home, 15 per cent delivered in hospital by the midwife and 15 per cent delivered in hospital by the OB/physician.  

Swift Current is significantly smaller than Regina and our transportation time to the hospital is significantly less than in a larger city such as Regina.  Yet the Cypress Health Region continues to restrict mothers in their choice to have a home birth.  The mothers of Swift Current are hereby advocating for our right to choose our place of birth.  We recognize home births are only safe for low-risk pregnancies, but we do not understand why a first time mother cannot birth at home if the midwife deems it is safe to do so.  

We please encourage you to take the steps necessary to allow our qualified midwives to determine whether or not the woman can deliver safely in the comfort of her own home.

Kalaane Lemyre, Sarah Kiel and Kendra Dyrland

Organizations: Canadian Association of Midwives

Geographic location: Swift Current, Regina, Saskatchewan British Columbia

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  • Kalaane Lemyre
    May 09, 2014 - 20:33

    Link to the petition to support home births! http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/cypress-health-region-allow-home-birth-for-first-time-mothers-of-swift-current-and-area?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_facebook_mobile&recruiter=89129849