Northeast B.C. women trek hours to give birth
Many pregnant residents of Fort Nelson are being forced out of their community to give birth because of a doctor shortage.
As many as 50 women a year must leave the northeastern B.C. city and make the 380-kilometre road trip south to Fort St. John to deliver their children, according to the Northern Health Authority.
It can be a long and dangerous trip for a woman in labour, so many take the trip ahead of their due date.
Fort Nelson resident Diana Peddle said she spent weeks in a Fort St. John hotel room waiting for contractions to begin.
"I delivered her in 23 minutes," Peddle said about the birth of her daughter, Madison. "I wouldn't have gotten very far ... before I probably would have delivered on the highway."
Improvement not expected
Full maternity care is frequently suspended in Fort Nelson when the staff who have to be on hand to perform emergency caesarean sections are unavailable, said Chris Morey, spokeswoman for Northern Health.
The situation has been dire for years, said Morey. Since 2007, 133 of 247 pregnant women have had to make the journey south for deliveries.
"We have to provide safe and ethical care," said Morey. "When we can't provide that, they need to access those services elsewhere."
Peddle fears that things won't change until there's a tragedy.
"It's going to take a family to get killed on that highway, before something's going to get done."
With files from the CBC's Betsy Trumpener