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

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture visits Nass Valley

Nisga’a Nation has great potential for Indigenous tourism, says Minister Lisa Beare

Steller’s jays found in Terrace covered in red paint

Conservation office taking tips in what’s become a three-year mystery

Important to include community in emergency training, says Terrace fire chief

The city and Kitsumkalum were a part of CN Rail’s train derailment seminar

Upper Skeena Recreation Centre evacuated after ammonia leak detected

The leak was related to refrigerators responsible for ice maintenance of the skating rink

Skeena Voices | The perfect fit

Seamstress Elaine Craig opened her own customized dress shop to empower women

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

The Northern View announces inaugural Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

More than $7,000 up for grabs for biggest legal salmon and halibut

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

Most Read