Midwifery service marks five years on-island

  • Dec. 12, 2014 3:00 p.m.

This month marks the fifth anniversary of Haida Gwaii Midwifery and islanders are gathering in Tlell on Sun. Dec. 14 to celebrate, ask questions, and share their thoughts about the future of pregnancy and birth on-islands.”Midwifery on Haida Gwaii means increased options for women to have the support and experience that they want and need surrounding birth,” said Christine Pansino of Tlell, who had her baby Coen at home almost 2.5 years ago. “It made such a powerful and positive impact on me to have a friend, neighbour, and active member of our community, Celina Laursen, to support me as my midwife.”Over 90 per cent of the 40 to 45 women who are pregnant on-islands each year receive support and care from a registered midwife, said Ms. Laursen. Around 20 of those women deliver their babies on-islands, she said, an option that is available to those with low-risk pregnancies.”Having a registered professional midwife practice on Haida Gwaii and to support women in the birth experience of their choice empowers women…,” said Ms. Pansino.Not so long ago, the pregnancy and birth experience she and her partner chose wasn’t an option for families Haida Gwaii.In Nov. 1994, the Observer reported that the B.C. Ministry of Health would be establishing a college of midwives the following spring, the first step in legalizing midwifery within the province.That same month, the Observer reported that islanders were visited by two experienced women, a midwife and researcher, who spoke about the re-acceptance of midwifery assisted birth and pregnancy care.”With planning in the works for new health facilities to serve the islands, now is the ideal time to make your feelings known about your preferred birth environment,” the article concluded.Significant advances have been made since that time and a collaborative care model has emerged on Haida Gwaii. This has improved care for women and made midwifery on-islands truly sustainable, said Ms. Laursen.”The expansion of services has grown to encompass a midwifery-led shared care model with the physicians in the south end,” said Ms. Laursen, “This model is unique in B.C. and we have earned the attention of Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authorities.”People on-islands work together to create a network, ensuring families here receive exceptional maternity care, she said. These include the Old Massett and Skidegate Health Centres, physicians at both hospitals, nurses, public health workers, administrators, doulas, and family members.This collaborative team extends off-islands as well, and Ms. Laursen acknowledges the support of the referral centre in Prince Rupert and obstetrics specialists as far away as Terrace.”We appreciate everyone who makes our maternity care services successful and hope we can maintain and continue to improve our model,” she said.Sunday’s celebration will provide an opportunity for people to share their experiences over lunch, ask questions, and discuss the future of Haida Gwaii’s maternity care model. It will take place at the Tlell Fall Fairgrounds from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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