A Nova Scotia couple is calling on the provincial government to reverse its decision to temporarily suspend home births during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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On March 30, the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre announced home births would be suspended until at least April 30.
The statement on the IWK Health Centre website reads in part: “the decision to suspend all home care including homebirth was made within the context of high level pandemic planning.”
The statement goes on to say the ultimate goal of pandemic planning is to slow community spread.
Ward doesn’t feel that decision is what’s best for her family.
She’s due to deliver her first child in May and has chosen to have a home birth with the support of a midwife.
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She says she and her partner have been isolating for weeks on end and have had no contact with other people, leading her to question why going into a hospital to give birth to her first child would be considered safer than delivering her baby at home.
“To me, the home birth option is the safest for everybody. So, I was really surprised to hear it,” Ward said.
“I think protecting our health-care workers is really important but there’s nobody that’s taking self-isolating more serious than pregnant women.”
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There are 13 registered midwives in the province and home birth requests have been increasing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a joint statement from the Midwifery Regulatory Council of Nova Scotia and the Association of Nova Scotia Midwives.
According to the Nova Scotia Health Authority, it is predicted that up to 35 per cent of health-care workers could become ill and unable to work due to the virus.
That information comes from an email sent to Ward in response to her concerns.
“The potential for 35% of our midwives to be in that situation would mean we simply couldn’t safely support the mothers who hoped to give birth at home over the next few weeks. That is why we want mothers-to-be to make alternate plans now before a last minute, unsettling decision is necessary,” wrote Debbie LeLievre, the NSHA lead of patient experience.
“We know that two IWK workers tested positive for COVID last week, so I recognize that any exposure to other people is going to increase my likelihood of getting it,” Ward said.
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