Rallies were held across Saskatchewan Saturday urging the government to improve access to midwives. Many women seeking maternity care from a midwife are on waiting lists.
In Regina, a group of people gathered at the Legislative Building to show their support to more midwives.
Among them was Esther Maeers, a mother of three. She said she was able to have a midwife help her with the birth of two of her children.
"My experience was such a positive, supportive time in my life that I would hope that every woman would have the choice to have a midwife, and right now there aren't enough," Maeers said.
She added she is not against having doctors involved in maternity care but women should have the option of using a midwife.
"I would hope that every woman in Saskatchewan has the choice to either go with a doctor or a midwife," she said.
Maeers said she delivered her first child in a hospital and everything went well.
"It was a fine experience but it wasn't an empowering experience," she explained. "Things were being done to me. I was being told what to do. Whereas if you have a midwife it's very empowering. You're given lots of information so that you can make your own choices about your body and your birth."
In 2008, midwifery became a regulated service in Saskatchewan. However, health regions that offer the service do not have enough midwives available to meet the demand.
According to the people who organized the Saturday rallies (in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert and Swift Current), the use of a midwife can save the healthcare system money. The organizers noted information from other provinces where midwives assisting at a hospital save about $800 in costs for a delivery. A midwife helping out at a home-birth can lead to savings of $1,800.
The rallies were organized by a group called Where's My Midwife? which has created various awareness and social media campaigns in an effort to increase access to midwives in Saskatchewan.
The group says that, in Saskatoon, there are 80 women currently on the midwife waiting list.
Outside the health regions for Saskatoon, Regina and Swift Current women cannot access midwife services at all, they noted.
"Women are demanding midwife care and the care is a cost saving to the government," the group said in a media release. "Having a midwife should not be privileged care. Every woman deserves access to this maternity care."