More families in the Northwest Territories could soon have the option of going to a midwife.
Right now, the only midwives work in Fort Smith, N.W.T.
A new consultant’s report recommends that the territorial government start a program with two midwives each in Inuvik, Hay River, Behchoko and Yellowknife.
The report, which was commissioned by the Department of Health, says women would benefit from being able to give birth in their own communities. That option would cut down on the cost of flying expectant mothers to Yellowknife and housing them there, but could also have mental and social benefits.
The report found research which says spending the final weeks of a pregnancy alone can contribute to postpartum depression, and can even increase rates of complications for the mother and baby.
Another possibility the report outlines is to allow women from the communities to travel to a birthing centre in their region staffed by midwives. For example, women from the Sahtu could give birth in Norman Wells, N.W.T., which is a regional hub, and mothers in the Beaufort Delta would give birth in Inuvik.
That model requires more midwives, and it would cost millions more.
The report suggests starting with midwives in the larger communities and expanding the program to include the regional centres when there is money available.
It’s now up to the Department of Health to decide which model is best for the territory.
There are no plans to include money for new midwives in this year’s budget, so any new program is still years away.
Last year, families protested when the midwife program in Yellowknife was suspended.