Some pregnant women in Alberta have launched a social media campaign to get the provincial government to fund more midwives.
They are showing up on various feeds holding up signs that say things like: “Every woman should be able to freely choose where/how she gives birth.”
The campaign mainly focuses on women’s experiences with midwives, and how they believe that the midwifery option should be more widely available to all women.
In September 2015, the NDP government announced that it would add $1.8 million in funding this fiscal year to support another 400 births through midwifery across the province. That funding ends March 31, 2016.
According to the president of the Alberta Association of Midwives, Nicole Matheson, that additional funding still does not meet the demand coming in from soon-to-be mothers.
She says that money will bring the number of Alberta Health Services (AHS) midwifery births in our province to 2,774, which leaves 1,300 requests not granted.
Matheson says there are enough midwives available, but the funding is not keeping up with the demand.
Midwifery is a field that has grown considerably in the province in recent years. The Alberta government first started to fund care for midwifery births in 2009. At that time Matheson says there were 32 midwives in Alberta. Currently there are 105 licensed midwives working with more set to graduate from Mount Royal University in the spring.
Matheson says that the Alberta Association of Midwives is in negotiations with Alberta Health Services in anticipation of their latest contract ending soon. And she wants to be clear that they “are looking forward to sitting down with Alberta Health Services and the Alberta government to look at the funding model and see how midwives can help save obstetric dollars in Alberta.”
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman responded to our request for comment with the following: “We want to make sure parents in our province have access to the right supports and choices, both as they prepare to welcome their babies into the world and in the days and weeks to follow. As Health Minister, I will continue to review the best available evidence about how we can help ensure Albertans have the right care at the right time in the right place for the right investment.”