There were moms with babies snuggled against their chests, fathers wearing signs and children enthusiastically waving placards — all in support of increased midwifery care in Salmon Arm.
A group gathered in front of Shuswap Park Mall Saturday for a rally and petition drive, and to call attention to a birth option they would like to see embraced as a choice for pregnant women in this area.
The initiative has generated approximately 250 signatures to submit to Interior Health.
Midwifery is an accepted practice in B.C., with costs covered under the province’s medical services plan.
“We just want women to have the right to choose,” said rally organizer Holly Malashewsky. “The main argument against accrediting midwives from out-of-town is the distance they have to travel, but women in labour from Clearwater, Ashcroft and Merritt have to travel an hour or more to deliver their babies in hospital, so I’m not sure why a midwife having to travel 45 minutes is such a barrier?”
Midwives operate in many hospitals in the Interior including Royal Jubilee Hospital in Vernon and Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops; however, there are no midwives offering the services of a hospital birth at Shuswap Lake General. One midwife from Vernon and one from Kamloops will currently travel to Salmon Arm for home births only. A Vernon midwife is accredited with Shuswap Lake General, which would permit her to attend a hospital birth in Salmon Arm, but has told clients she would prefer them to give birth at the Vernon hospital where she is welcomed.
Malashewsky says Interior Health also denied issuing hospital privileges to a second Vernon-based midwife who requested them.
Becky Kuczwal came to show her support after giving birth to her first son with a doctor and her second with a midwife in the Vernon hospital.
“Having experienced both, I can say how much more personal the experience was with a midwife and how connected and caring the whole process was. I never felt rushed or not listened to.”
Feeling as though their birth experience was not satisfying was another reason women chose to attend the rally.
Megan Brooke says she wishes she had midwifery as an option, as midwives attend a client’s birth from pre-natal care, through labour, birth and after care.
At the birth of her second child, Brooke ended up being attended by an on-call resident doctor.
“She was rude to me and even got into an argument with my husband and doula when they tried to advocate for me.”
“Things went from bad to worse when I nearly bled to death following an emergency c-section,” she says.
“It took me months to recover physically after the birth and I would say that even after almost three years, I am still recovering emotionally. If I had the chance to do it again I would choose a midwife so that my chosen care provider could be with me when I needed her.”
Interior Health officials have previously told the Observer they are looking at options for midwifery care in the Shuswap. Peter DuToit, area director of acute care services, says meetings about the issue are ongoing.
A petition designed to demonstrate the desire for midwifery care options in Salmon Arm and calling for increased access to the option of Midwifery care at Shuswap Lake General Hospital is still available at the following locations in Salmon Arm: Growth Spurts – Gear for Kids, Snuggle Bugz Consignments, Dakshina Hot Yoga.
The petition can also be accessed online at http://www.petitiononlinecanada.com/petition/families-for-midwifery-care-in-the-shuswap/524.