Only six women have given birth at Winnipeg's birth centre since it officially opened last month, in large part because of a shortage of midwives.

There are currently just 22 midwives in the city and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority admits that almost 75 per cent of expectant mothers who want a midwife cannot get one.


Winnipeg's new birth centre is expected to handle upwards of 500 births a year, but it has only had six births since it opened late last year. (CBC)

Tamara Fleming, 37, told CBC News she has wanted to deliver her baby at the $3.5-million birth centre, which opened late last year on St. Anne's Road.

However, Fleming learned that she needs to have a midwife in order to deliver her child at the birth centre.

Problem is, she has been rejected by multiple midwifery practices in the city because they don't have space.

"We regret to inform you that this midwifery practice group is unable to take you into care, as the practice group is full at the time of your due date," Fleming said, reading one of the rejection letters on Monday.

Not being able to get a midwife is "very, very sad … it's sort of painful," she said.

"We drive by [the birth centre] occasionally and I think, 'Aw man, you know, it's a beautiful centre and they spent all this money, and I can't use it.'"

More midwives are in training, said Lori Lamont of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

"I think, as well, we will see in the next six to nine months a significant increase in the number of births there," Lamont said.

The College of Midwives of Manitoba told CBC News it would like to see at least 80 midwives in Manitoba, but it will take years for that to happen.

Winnipeg health authority officials said they give teenage mothers, as well as women from "underserviced populations" like the North, priority for midwifery services.

Fleming said while she is pleased those mothers are at the top of the list, she added that all Manitoba mothers should be offered access to a midwife.

"I would hope that all women who actually want to have a birth that's midwife-assisted [can do so]. Really, I think it should be accessible for all of us," she said.