New Brunswick is opening its doors to registered midwives, and proponents of the centuries-old profession say it's about time.

Health minister Victor Boudreau announced Thursday in departmental estimates that a team of four midwives would be hired by the province in a pilot project.

"We have trained midwives in the province of New Brunswick, but they aren't licensed to practice their profession and we want to put an end to that," Boudreau told Moncton's Information Morning radio audience. "The idea is to introduce midwives in to the health care system for the first time."

The news was welcomed by Robin Walker, but she also feels a little left out. Her son Miles was just born.


Robin Walker would have liked to have had midwives in the province for her births, but she's glad for other families. (CBC)

"My initial reaction is that's great, but also that I missed the boat by ten days," said Walker.

Miles is Walker's third son, and all three of her pregnancies were low risk, so she would have been a prime candidate to work with a midwife.

"I would have really, really liked to have midwifery care for any or all my children, but knowing that it came now, this close after my third son was born is disappointing, but really exciting for New Brunswick," she said.

"When you want to have a natural childbirth and when that's something that's really important to you and really going through that whole process midwives are trained in those areas to be able to provide that support that people need to get through the labour and delivery which is a difficult thing in and of itself," Walker said.

One-year pilot project

Four registered midwives will be hired to help deliver babies in the one-year pilot project.

The region that will receive the service hasn't been decided yet.

Its success will be based partly on how many families choose a midwife-assisted birth.

Kate LeBlanc of the New Brunswick Midwives Association feels there will be no lack of enthusiasm.


Miles missed the midwife announcement by just ten days. (CBC)

"We probably get a handful of requests every week and so this is a service that women are really wanting," said LeBlanc.

"Actually this has been a really consumer-driven movement with women and families in New Brunswick asking for this service."

LeBlanc feels families in New Brunswick will benefit from having another birthing option.

And she says it's good news for the midwives too. She's in Kamloops, B.C., but now hopes to make her living in New Brunswick.

"Our association consists of several women working and studying in other provinces and we're really excited to come home," she said.

It's the return of a time-honoured profession in the province, too.

"My great-great-grandmother and her sister were midwives in New Brunswick," said LeBlanc. "They travelled by horse and sleigh to attend women in rural New Brunswick at their births."