Big demand for Alberta midwives leads to long waits

High demand for midwives in Alberta is exceeding their supply and leading to long wait lists, a Calgary instructor says.

Province should increase funding for midwifery services, university instructor says

Many women are on long waiting lists because there are not enough midwives in Alberta, and because of that there are not enough midwives to help train students going through Mount Royal University's bachelor of midwifery program. (Andrew Shurtleff/Associated Press)

High demand for midwives in Alberta is exceeding their supply and leading to long wait lists, a Calgary instructor says. 

It is also leading to a shortage of midwives to help train students enrolled in Mount Royal University's Bachelor of Midwifery program in Calgary, said co-ordinator Debbie Duran-Snell.

“Essentially it's just the demand is increasing, the ability to get trained midwives to be able to provide the service,” she said.

Mount Royal students spend 3,600 hours in clinical practicums as a part of their four-year degree, Duran-Snell said.

"So we need to have the midwives out there willing and able to teach our students in a clinical setting." 

Mount Royal University is only able train 52 midwives over a four-year program, Duran-Snell said.

Increased provincial funding for midwifery services and permitting internationally-trained midwives to practice in Alberta would help the situation, she said.

Demand rising since 2009

Registered midwives have been funded in the province under Alberta Health Services since 2009. Since then demand has been on the rise.

Rallies were held in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Fort McMurray in 2013 to call on the province to increase funding for midwives.

Mothers of Change, the advocacy group behind the rallies, said there was a shortage of midwives in the province then. The group said that British Columbia, which has a million more people, has two and a half times as many midwives.

Midwives provide care to women throughout pregnancy and during the birth, and for six weeks after. They visit mothers at home or in the hospital to provide support and care for the newborn.

Many women in low-risk pregnancies choose midwives for a deeper personal relationship, and hope that there will be fewer medical interventions than in conventional deliveries.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story quoted Duran-Snell as saying students spend 36 hours in clinical practicums. She misspoke, they actually spend 3,600 hours as part of their four-year degrees.
    May 21, 2014 12:58 PM MT

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.