#ABmidwives campaign has Albertans asking province to change midwife funding model

Alberta mothers who delivered babies with the help of a midwife are speaking out on social media calling for the government to change its funding model.

Mothers and midwives are pressuring the government to change funding and contract terms

Mothers have taken to social calling for better access to midwives in Alberta. (Twitter)

Alberta mothers who delivered babies with the help of a midwife are turning to social media calling to ask the province to change how it funds midwives.

The campaign has women, children and even some men write their experience on a note and post a photo using the hashtags #ABmidwives and #mybabymybirth.

The Alberta Association of Midwives negotiates its contract with Alberta Health Services every year, whereas obstetricians and gynecologists work under long-term contracts. The current contract expires March 31, 2016.

Nicole Matheson, president of the association representing midwives says AHS has not given them a budget.

"It's ridiculous. They need a long-term contract. They need to know what their funding covers for several years," said Michelle Maisonville, president of Maternity Care Consumers of Alberta.

"For example, if a woman contacts a midwife and she's expecting in August, her midwife may take her on at this point, but she doesn't know if she's going to get paid for that birth because it takes place following the end of their contract in March." 

Maisonville argues the current system creates barriers between mothers and midwives. She says there are 1,300 pregnant women on a waiting list.

"You call the midwife before you call the dad as soon as you find out you're expecting because it's that difficult to get midwifery care," said Maisonville.

Midwives are given a maximum of 40 mothers to look after through pregnancy, labour, and postnatal care, while other birth professionals may see closer to 100 patients a year. 

In September, the provincial government announced additional funding of $1.8 million for 400 more midwife-supported births, bringing the total to 2,774. 

Alberta currently employs 105 midwives.

Maisonville also says midwives take pressure off the hospital system, freeing staff and saving money.

The Alberta Association of Midwives plans to meet with the government to discuss changing the funding model. Negotiations are currently underway, with the next meeting set for early February.

As for the social media campaign, Matheson says, "It's wonderful we love our consumers and love that they are helping to bring awareness toward midwifery and the issue."


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