Amber Weisgerber, 36, said the birth of her third baby was extra special for a few reasons – he was born on Mother’s Day and in the comfort of their own home.
“It’s just an amazing opportunity to have your midwife there with you throughout the process. It’s pretty awesome. Not being in a car while you’re having contractions is pretty amazing.” Wiesgerber laughed.
She also knows just how lucky she and her family were to receive midwifery care after moving back to Saskatoon.
“I was pretty excited I knew it was challenging to get accepted but I didn’t know how difficult.”
Despite having one of the largest midwifery programs in the province, it appears the healthcare team is having a hard time keeping up.
“Half the women that request midwifery services we aren’t able to accommodate,” said Leanne Smith, director of maternal services with the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR).
Here’s the exact breakdown showing that as demand grows, the number of women who are also declined for this type of care does too:
According to Smith, some women can’t receive the care because their medical needs put them outside of the scope of the practice of midwifery.
However, the vast majority of women that are declined aren’t accepted as clients because there’s just not enough midwives to go around, says Smith.
“What we look at when a patient puts their name forward for midwifery services is what’s their expected due date and what midwives are available during that particular week,” Smith said.
In total, 5,600 babies are born on average in the SHR every year.
The number of babies born with the assistance of a midwife are a small percentage of that said Smith, and those numbers don’t equate to savings to the health care system like some people might think – for example: not tying up a bed by having the baby at home.
“By adding additional midwifery services, it’s not like you’re saving enough to reduce even one nurse from the hospital system,” Smith said.
At this time, the healthcare team consists of six midwives, and while SHR is always striving to meet patient demand said Smith, at this point adding a seventh midwife just isn’t in the cards.
“We always advocate for additional midwifery services given that there’s a great patient demand. But the Ministry of Health and others have to balance that with all of the competing priorities,” Smith said.
Smith also confirmed that clients who have already had the opportunity to use the midwifery services aren’t necessary prioritized over those desiring to use the service for the first time – but that the midwifery model of care values continuity of care and assisting patients with any pregnancies to follow once they become a client.
“The midwives also try to balance how many first time moms you have with how many moms who have had more babies – because typically the labors are different, they’re shorter and it’s easier to balance.”
Women are also encouraged to call as early into their pregnancy as possible and Amber says don’t give up even though it can be discouraging.
“I think always apply, you know it’s always worth trying and if you don’t get in it’s plan B.”