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

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Over 2,000 people used the pool in the first 2-weeks

Lifeguard training course needs a minimum of six people to register before Feb. 21

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Let’s talk about mental health

Jordan Marshall Memorial Hockey tournament to be held Feb. 22 - Feb. 24

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

Most Read