Pregnant women in the Portage la Prairie area are being forced to travel to Winnipeg to deliver their babies because the Portage Hospital obstetrics ward is closed.

A nursing shortage has forced intermittent closures. Right now the ward is closed for a week.

If travelling to Winnipeg is not possible, the Portage hospital won't turn them away, said Kathy McPhail of the Southern Health Authority.

Some babies are being born in the hospital's emergency room and plans are in place for other priority cases, she said.

"If someone did need to go for a transfer by ambulance, we'd have obstetrics-trained staff to go with them and the proper equipment … in the event a birth happen in the ambulance," she said.

By September, the hospital should have nine new nurses to keep the obstetrics ward open, McPhail said.