Midwives bridge gaps in health care
By Jenn Watt
Nov. 22, 2016
Midwives in Ontario spend four years training in low-risk obstetrics. They are registered with the College of Midwives of Ontario and are held to high standards of training and practice. Still, local midwives say, there are misconceptions about what they can provide and questions about how they fit into pregnancy care.
“Some of the misconceptions are we don’t have a university education, that we’re not licensed,” says registered midwife Stephanie Simon, who joined the Midwifery Services of Haliburton-Bancroft in October. “Another misconception is we only do deliveries at home and that we don’t do clinical things.”
While midwives do offer women the option of delivering at home when it is safe to do so, they have permissions at area hospitals and carry with them the same equipment as a Level 1 hospital.
Registered midwife Kathleen Perecko says in the Haliburton and Bancroft communities there’s still a gap in awareness about the work they do.
To address some of the questions and curiosity the public might have about their services, Midwifery Services of Haliburton-Bancroft along with their community support group, Friends of Haliburton-Bancroft Midwives, are hosting a Christmas open house on Friday, Nov. 25 starting at 4:30 p.m. – the same day as the Santa Claus Parade in Haliburton.
Simon says she’d love to see some of the people whose babies were born with the assistance of the midwives as well as others who would like to check out the office, at 64 Victoria St. There will be popcorn, hot chocolate and crafts for the kids.
Using a midwife offers unique benefits for expectant mothers and for postpartum care, Perecko says, and those benefits are amplified in the Highlands.
“We are the only obstetrical care providers in Haliburton County who will … look after people for their entire pregnancy,” she says. The midwives have privileges at Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Ross Memorial Hospital.
The local midwifery clinic serves the incredibly large coverage area from Coe Hill to Maynooth, Kinmount to Carnarvon. Three midwives: Simon, Perecko and Rebecca Weeks see an average of 60 women each year assisted by office administrator Elaine Mahler.
The practice started in 2008 and relocated from below V&S to the Victoria Street location in 2015.
The new location is bright and comfortable with a modern exam rooms and a welcoming living-room-turned-waiting-room.
One of the biggest benefits to using midwives is their proximity. Rather than travel to Peterborough, for instance, six or seven times nearing the end of the pregnancy, women can visit the midwives.
Perecko and Simon both say they try to send women to larger centres only when necessary to reduce time on the road. Following the baby’s birth, the midwives travel to women’s homes for follow-up visits.
“We’re there 24-7 through a pager that people can access us at any time that they need to with any urgent or non-urgent concerns,” says Perecko.
Those who use midwives regularly report shorter labours, less use of analgesics and less significant tearing, Perecko says. After the child is born, the expertise and care given has similar benefits.
“The research that we have shows that this postpartum care that midwives provide [leads to] reduced infection rates in the postpartum period, reduced readmission rates to hospitals for both moms and babies and if people are choosing to breastfeed … the breastfeeding rates are significantly higher than those who want to breastfeed, but don’t go with a care provider who has experience and expertise with breastfeeding support,” Perecko says.
Both Simon and Perecko stress that they can provide information, but their jobs are about supporting the decisions of the client.
“If you want an epidural, I will work my hardest to get you an epidural,” says Perecko, as an example.
The midwives would like to meet with anyone interested in their services or those who just want information.
“If someone is contemplating [using a midwife] they can certainly come to see us,” Simon says.
No referrals are needed and midwives can work with pregnant women at any stage of their pregnancy. For more information, give them a call at 705-457-9992, go to haliburtonbancroftmidwives.ca or check out the open house on Nov. 25 starting at 4:30 p.m. at 64 Victoria St.