Midwifery access should be increased


By Lindsay Advocate

Local midwives provide personalized care to women throughout their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. Photo: Lisa Hart.

Those who have experienced or witnessed a hospital birth with doctors and nurses and a birth using midwives understand the difference. The first is usually hectic and acute care oriented. The second is calm, reassuring, and comforting.

This is not to disparage doctors and nurses, who provide quality care. It’s just a reflection of how busy they are in a hospital setting. Midwives have the time and mandate to help women have the most supportive birth experience possible.

According to the Association of Ontario Midwives, approximately 18 per cent of all births in the province are attended by midwives. This is a significant number that highlights the importance of midwifery services in Ontario – and it’s a number that deserves to grow.

Midwifery services are provided by trained professionals who offer personalized care to women throughout their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. They not only work in collaboration with other healthcare providers, they also provide support for breastfeeding, mental health, and other issues that may arise during pregnancy and childbirth.

Expanding midwifery services across Ontario would have several benefits, such as increasing access to care for women in rural and remote areas. Currently, midwives practice in clinics in 100 communities across Ontario, including Kawartha Lakes. However, there are still many areas where midwifery services are not available.

We should also be graduating more midwives. As our feature story highlights, only 60 students are accepted annually by the two universities offering training in Ontario. These numbers need to grow.

The expansion of midwifery services would also help reduce healthcare costs. According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, midwifery care is associated with lower costs compared to physician care. This is because midwives provide care focused on prevention and early intervention, which can help to reduce the need for more expensive medical interventions.

According to the Association of Ontario Midwives, midwifery care is associated with lower rates of interventions such as caesarean sections, inductions, and epidurals.

Women, their newborns and essentially the Ontario healthcare system as a whole would benefit from expanding midwifery services across the province.

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