Increasing demand at local birth centre


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/12/2018 (1558 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Birth Centre in St. Vital is the only facility in Manitoba that provides maternity and birthing services for women in the care of a midwife and who are healthy and who are experiencing a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy.

This beautiful building in St. Vital is home to a valuable women’s health services provider, with a number of programs and activities of which many people may not be aware.

In addition to being available for prenatal and postnatal care for mothers and babies, the Birth Centre is home to a wide range of services and supports, including a post-partum depression program, Coping with Change. The centre offers the only free prenatal program in the city, healthy family programs, parenting education, newborn hearing screening, and the only milk bank in Manitoba, supporting NICU babies.

Despite offering such valuable and vital services, the Province has recently announced plans to review funding for the centre, as the initial target of 500 births a year, set in 2010, has not been met. As 2018 ends, there have been 270 admissions and 200 births. In addition to actual admissions and births, the Birth Centre was busy with 6,500 midwifery appointments this past year, averaging about 150 appointments a week.

The Province may have overly optimistic targets for the centre, but Nadine Sookermany, the executive director of the Women’s Health Clinic notes that although the centre may not be meeting the targets initially set, births and admissions at the Birth Centre have been steadily increasing.

The centre’s growth has also provided them with expertise in the birthing experience and the ability to meet the needs of expectant mothers. There is also an increasing need for midwifery services in populations, such as low-income families, and young and rural mothers.

In the past, midwifery fell out of fashion and midwifery training institutions closed, but there is a renewed interest in this field. Midwifery is a valuable service with increasing demand.

Currently, there are not enough midwives working in Winnipeg, with long wait lists for both midwives and doulas, and as Sookermany said, “We need more midwives, period.”

In 2019, the University of Manitoba will partner with McMaster to deliver a midwifery program in Manitoba. The new cohort of midwives, starting at the University of Manitoba in 2019 will be a start, but they need employment to stay in Manitoba.

As Winnipeg grows, and ages, so do the demands on our provincial health care system, particularly hospitals. Many young mothers may not want a traditional hospital delivery, but are not able, or willing, to deliver at home, so the centre is a natural and comfortable setting for prenatal care and delivery.

Creating more options of care for expecting mothers and families may help improve health services overall, with quality medical services and care offered outside of the hospital. In addition to being a beautiful landmark in St. Vital, The Birth Centre has been a worthwhile investment, with dividends to society and to the provincial health care system that are just beginning to be paid.

Abigail Byle is a community correspondent for St Vital. Follow her on Twitter, @abbyinitio or email her,

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