September 27, 2019
LETHBRIDGE – Full midwifery services will be available at Chinook Regional Hospital starting next month, giving local and area residents increased choice for maternity care.
Starting Oct. 7, five registered midwives will join the hospital’s maternal health care team, giving women with low-risk pregnancies the option of choosing a registered midwife as their care provider for prenatal, birthing and postnatal care.
“More and more, Alberta families are turning to midwives for maternal and prenatal care,” says Tyler Shandro, Alberta Minister of Health. “That’s why we are committed to working with AHS to increase access to midwifery services and choice for families across the province. I’m thrilled that moms in Lethbridge will now have the option to give birth at the Chinook Regional Hospital with the support of a midwife. This is great news for growing families in southern Alberta.”
Currently, 145 registered midwives are working with AHS sites and programs across the province.
Local and area women with low-risk pregnancies will also have the opportunity to choose a birth location close to home, including a planned hospital birth or a planned home birth, when appropriate.
“AHS remains focused on increasing the number of midwives working with AHS across the province, particularly in Indigenous, underserved and rural areas,” says Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS President and CEO. “We have made significant strides in improving access to midwifery services in recent years, both in South Zone as well as other parts of the province. Patients have more choice than ever when it comes to maternal and newborn care, and this expansion will continue.”
Patients, families and members of the public are invited to an information session next week regarding the expansion of midwifery services:
Registered midwives provide primary care to Albertan families and their babies during pregnancy, antepartum, labour, birth and post-partum period up to six weeks. Registered midwives in Alberta are regulated by the College of Midwives of Alberta, and provide a full spectrum of maternal and newborn care, from prenatal to labour and delivery, until six weeks post-partum.
About 3,500 Alberta families used midwifery services over the past year, a 50 per cent increase since 2014-15.
“The expansion of midwifery services in Lethbridge will support informed choice for patients and families when it comes to care provider and birth place, and will also support collaboration between South Zone’s registered midwives and the maternity care team,” says Danica Sharp, Program Director, Provincial Midwifery Services.
Chinook Regional Hospital is the fourth site in AHS South Zone to add registered midwives to its maternal care team. Cardston Health Centre added midwifery services in 2016, Medicine Hat Regional Hospital in 2017, and Brooks Health Centre in 2018. Across the province, midwifery services have also expanded in Grande Prairie, Okotoks, and Indigenous programs in Calgary and Edmonton.
Planning is now underway to improve access to midwifery services in AHS North Zone and in more Indigenous communities.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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