May 5, 2015 4:12 pm
Updated: May 5, 2015 4:52 pm

No plans for New Brunswick midwifery program despite promise from province

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Above watch: In 2008 New Brunswick government made a commitment to implement a publically funded midwifery program, and the government has yet to follow through. Shelley Steeves reports.

OROMOCTO, N.B. – Tuesday marked the International Day of the Midwife, meant to celebrate the important role midwives play in the health of mothers and babies, but families in New Brunswick have little reason to celebrate.

The province made a commitment to implement a publicly funded midwifery program in 2008, but has yet to follow through on it.

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Sarah Rodgers moved to Oromocto from Ontario last September when she was eight months pregnant and said the birth of her daughter Emma didn’t go as planned.

“It was a bit of a nightmare in terms of what we had hoped for in our birth plan,” she said.

In Ontario, she was being cared for by a midwife and offered a choice of where Emma would be born — at home or in the hospital. In New Brunswick, however, she had to be followed by an obstetrician.

“In my experience, obstetricians were there for really high risk pregnancies and only followed women who were sick or had huge risk factors,” she said. “I had none of those.”

Family advocate Sonya Burrill said the fact that New Brunswick still doesn’t have a publicly funded midwifery program is shameful.

“The legislation was passed in 2010, the regulations were passed in 2012. Everything has been done, yet nothing has changed on the ground for moms and babies,” she said.

She said midwifery care has been proven to cost less and improve pre-natal and post-natal outcomes.

“This is going to solve some of our problems and we need to make some efforts to get it implemented.”

She added that studies show midwifery care can reduce healthcare costs by as much as $1200 per birth. For New Brunswick, that would mean if 10 per cent of pregnant women were followed by a midwife, the province could potentially save $1 million per year.

However, the Midwives Association of New Brunswick said it still has no commitment from the province for funding.

Brian Gallant’s Liberal government says it is committed to maximizing healthcare service in the province, including the use of midwives, but won’t say if there are plans to develop a publicly funded program similar to those funded by 10 other provinces and territories.

Rodgers said she is grateful her daughter was born happy and healthy, but her birthing experience in New Brunswick felt cold and impersonal.

“Not having midwifery care is enough to make us consider moving out of the province before we have more children,” she said.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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