At least one Winnipeg couple is disappointed they cannot access a midwife to help with the upcoming birth of their child.
Rachelle and Aaron Ladd say their first three children were delivered with the help of a midwife, but they have been told no midwives are available to help them with the birth of their fourth child, due in August.
"I thought that because I had called so early that I would've been kind of first in the queue, but no," Rachelle Ladd told CBC News.
"It just was like a punch in the gut when they said, 'Sorry, but we have no room for you.'"
There are currently 44 midwives practising in the entire province, according to the Midwives Association of Manitoba.
Aaron Ladd said more are needed not just to deal with current demand, but to help train future generations of midwives as well.
"If you don't have midwives in Manitoba, you have no one to mentor the new people coming in," he said.
"If you have nobody to mentor the new people coming in, you don't have midwives in Manitoba. It's a vicious cycle."
Can't deliver at Birth Centre
The fact that the Ladds can't get a midwife this time around means they cannot deliver their baby at the Birth Centre in Winnipeg.
"I really feel like in hindsight maybe they should have trained more midwives first before they built this beautiful building that not a lot of people can use," Rachelle said.
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More than 300 births have taken place at the centre since it opened in late 2011, according to numbers provided by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority:
- 2011 – 6
- 2012 – 120
- 2013 – 126
- 2014 – 52 (as of May 12)
Health officials have said the centre can support up to 500 births a year.
A provincial government spokesperson says the Birth Centre has also had more than 8,500 pre-natal and post-natal appointments between parents and midwives.
As for how it plans to boost the number of midwives, the government says it's working on it.
Six midwifery students at the University College of the North are expected to graduate later this year and the school is working with the University of Manitoba to launch a new bachelor of midwifery program next year, according to the province.
Of the 902 babies born in Manitoba during the 2012-13 fiscal year, 230 were born outside of hospital, accounting for about 25 per cent of all births in that period. The province says that number includes births at home and at other facilities such as the Birth Centre.
Aaron Ladd, a respiratory therapist, said he was initially apprehensive about relying on midwives.
"I always thought it was hokey," he said, but added that their previous midwife changed his mind by allowing him to help deliver his own children.
"I personally feel that it created a little bit more of a bond with my kids," he said. "I would never have been able to do that in hospital."