Founder of Prince Rupert Advocates for Midwifery, Jessica Hawryshyn with her daughter. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Advocacy grows for midwifery services in Prince Rupert

Residents in the group say that having access to a midwife should be a mother’s choice

Having available midwifery services is about choice, and an advocacy group from Prince Rupert is calling for just that.

On Nov. 14, the Prince Rupert Advocates for Midwifery formed and in two weeks its membership has grown to more than 60 people.

“I think what prompted me was just some recent conversations with other friends who have had experiences delivering babies in Prince Rupert,” said Jessica Hawryshyn, who is the founding member of the group.

Two and a half years ago, she gave birth to her daughter at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital. Since then, she has heard a growing interest from women who want to have more options when it comes to maternity care in Prince Rupert.

Currently, there are more than 10 midwives practicing and holding privileges across the north, including Haida Gwaii, Smithers, Hazelton, Prince George, and Dawson Creek.

While Terrace has one registered midwife, she doesn’t have privileges through Northern Health to practice at Mills Memorial Hospital. However, she is currently providing prenatal and postpartum care to mothers from the region.

READ MORE: Midwifery care should be a mother’s choice so why is it taking so long?

“Midwives are regulated by the BC College of Midwives, which requires they apply for hospital privileges and make every reasonable effort to obtain privileges in the geographic area in which they intend to provide services,” said Eryn Collins, Northern Health spokesperson, in an email.

“As the number of midwives in northern B.C. increases, Northern Health is continually working to more effectively incorporate midwifery into the continuum of perinatal care services.”

The movement to bring midwifery services to rural communities in northern B.C. is a topic North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is familiar with. In 2016, when the NDP was the official opposition, Rice served as the northern and rural health critic. That year, she toured the province to discover challenges in maternity care.

READ MORE: Haida Gwaii joins forum on sustaining local maternity care

“When this group got interested just recently I got pretty excited. It was my opinion that this is a service that we can provide here in the northwest,” Rice said.

While Prince Rupert has a team of physicians and an OB-GYN that can perform a Cesarean at the hospital, there is a growing desire to have a highly trained midwife, who can also do a lot of the prenatal and postpartum care, and who can help deliver the baby at home instead of at the hospital.

Midwifery services are a billable service under MSP, just as a physician’s services are. They have four years of university training, and once they acquire privileges with Northern Health, they can work with general practitioners, pediatricians, nurse practitioners and obstetricians.

“I did meet with Northern Health recently to convey that there is this movement within Prince Rupert around midwifery services. I know Northern Health is doing some exploratory work on what midwifery work could look like, not necessarily in Prince Rupert but just within the health authority,” Rice said, who then reiterated that the government and health minister fundamentally support midwifery care.

Northern Health said they are not aware of anyone who has applied recently for hospital privileges in Prince Rupert to practice midwifery.

A woman should be able to choose

When Jessica Hawryshyn had her baby she experienced Prince Rupert’s system of maternal care. Physicians are rotated through the maternity clinic that runs every Wednesday. There are routine appointments and mothers deliver at the hospital. There is a program for postnatal care involving a public health nurse who visits the new mother at her home.

While Prince Rupert is not rural enough to have mothers travelling to another community for safe access to emergency Cesarean services, advocates say there is a lack of choice for care.

“A woman should be able to choose. Does she want to give birth in a hospital or at home? Does she want to have a scheduled Cesarean or try for a vaginal delivery? Does she want to have pain relief while she’s delivering or not, and do you want to deliver with a doctor and nurse or with a midwife?” Hawryshyn said.

It’s also the relationship with the midwife that she feels is important. “Midwives spend more time with their patients. I think a lot of times women appreciate having that time to be able to ask questions and just feel like they have that relationship and comfort with the person who ultimately is going to be delivering their baby.”

In early December, the Prince Rupert Advocates for Midwifery are meeting with Mayor Lee Brain and MLA Rice to learn more about what can be done to bring more choice and services to the region.

For anyone who wants to join the conversation they are welcome to join the Prince Rupert Advocates for Midwifery on Facebook.

 

shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com 

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Just Posted

Future of Sandspit Inn hangs in the balance, Transport Canada not renewing lease

Transport Canada and Sandspit Community Society set to discuss options

UPDATED: Ferry cancellations and significant wind warning in effect for Haida Gwaii

Loose objects may be tossed by the wind says Environment Canada, BC Ferries cancels sailings

Adverse weather conditions lead to pair of ferry cancellations

Northern Expedition sailings from Prince Rupert and Skidegate affected

This week in photos | The spirit of giving comes to Haida Gwaii

Masset Lions Telethon, Queen Charlotte’s annual craft fair, Fields store coming along in Skidegate

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Sentencing hearings begin as Prince Rupert man pleads guilty to possession of child pornography

Mike Christopher Hagen charged with possession of child pornography earlier this year

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Most Read