Midwife funding ‘very positive’ announcement for the province

Access to midwifery care is getting a little easier in Alberta— not so much in Red Deer.

Access to midwifery care is getting a little easier in Alberta— not so much in Red Deer.

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman announced this week an additional $1.8 million to fund up to 400 more midwife-supported births, bringing the total to as many as 2,774 this fiscal year.

Government funding pays for the full course of midwifery care — pre-natal, birth, labour and post-natal support.

Nicole Matheseon, president of the Alberta Association of Midwives, said not all midwives are working at capacity and the funding will allow each of Alberta’s 94 midwives to provide 40 courses of care.

“Currently Prairie Midwives, the Red Deer midwives, are working at capacity, so they won’t be taking on any additional clients for this current funding year,” Matheseon said on Wednesday.

“But it’s certainly helping province-wide.”

Prairie Midwives has three midwives who serve Red Deer and area.

She said the funding will pay for midwifery services for women due to give birth before March 31, 2016, so there isn’t enough time to bring in more midwives.

But it’s not too late for some of the 700 women in Alberta on the wait-list for a midwife to get service, she said.

“There are women who chose to transfer their care from a physician to a midwife.”

Matheseon called the provincial funding a great short-term solution.

“The government was very, very responsive and we’re so happy. We did go to them in the spring of this year and talk to them about what the additional needs for midwives in Alberta, and women in Alberta, are for this year.

“Everyone should know that this is a very positive announcement. It means we have a government that’s supportive of women’s choice and midwifery and growing that. It’s a good first step,” Matheseon said.

She said Alberta Association of Midwives will meet with provincial officials next week to discuss long-term planning for midwifery growth in Alberta.

Alberta has publicly funded midwifery care since 2009. In the past five years, the number of midwives practising in Alberta increased 163 per cent.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com