Personal care and hospital safety may be the cause

The very first decision parents need to make in a child’s life happens before they’re even born — who will deliver their baby?

Midwives have been around for centuries. However, due to medical advances in the early 20th century, more women began to opt to use medical doctors instead of the more traditional midwife.

But the tables are beginning to turn.

Midwives began working and delivering babies in Alberta hospitals in 2009. Since then, there has been a noticeable trend of women choosing to use the more personal care of midwives rather than medical doctors. 

Produced by April Lamb

Some women, such as Shaunna Boyd — who recently gave birth via a midwife, say they prefer the care of midwives, but feel more secure knowing that a doctor is nearby in case there is a complication during the birthing process. Boyd says her husband was initially nervous about using a midwife, but after the two of them spoke with both a midwife and a doctor felt confident in their choice of using a midwife. 

With the integration of midwives into hospitals some women now feel as if they are able to get the best of both worlds. Half of the births attended by midwives in the province occur in hospital.

Shaunna Boyd and her husband chose to use a midwife for the birth of their son Connor. The Boyds were initially unsure of the idea but, after speaking with a midwife and doctor they felt confident about their decision. 

Photo courtesy of Shaunna Boyd “We were there [at the hospital], if there was a problem a doctor would come right into the room. If we had gone with a midwife at home… well I don’t think that’s something we would have been comfortable with,” Boyd said.

In Alberta midwives attend only two per cent of births. But this is not due to women opting not to use a midwife. Instead the demand far exceeds the supply. With just over 70 midwives practicing in Alberta, waitlists for patients are approximately 400 people long.

In Jan. 2013, midwives in Alberta were granted a professional college, which will regulate midwives in the province. And in September 2011, Mount Royal University started a four-year bachelor of midwifery degree.

With the recent advances in midwifery in the province, midwives are getting more respect, and increasingly busy.

alamb@cjournal.ca