Calgary

Better access to midwives, home births could save Alberta millions of dollars, report suggests

A new report argues that lowering the number of C-section births performed in Alberta and making it easier for women to choose home birth and midwifery options could save millions of health-care dollars every year.

Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth report says cutting C-section rate would also save money

A report prepared by the the Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth suggests that more access to midwifery could help ease ballooning health-care costs. (Andrew Shurtleff/AP)

A new report argues that lowering the number of C-section births performed in Alberta could save millions of health-care dollars every year.

The report by the Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (ASAC) looked at the state of maternity care in Alberta.

It found that Alberta has a C-section rate of almost 30 per cent and that many of those procedures are repeat caesareans.

Dana Weatherhead is president of the Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth.

"Our key discovery is the biggest costs are the hospital costs," said ASAC president Dana Weatherhead.

According to ASAC's report, a hospital birth with a midwife is $540 cheaper than a vaginal birth with an obstetrician, and costs roughly the same as a birth with a general practitioner.

Home births, or those done at birthing centres with a midwife, are more than $2,000 cheaper than births with an obstetrician.

But funding for midwifery is capped in Alberta and the group is calling for that to be lifted.

"What we're saying is let's just open it up for all care providers and allow the woman to choose who she wants to birth with," Weatherhead said.

"And now that we've shown it's cost effective, it actually won't be more health care spending in the long run if we allow them this choice."

There are 1,900 women on the waiting list for a midwife in Alberta.

Weatherhead said Alberta's health minister has told ASAC there simply isn't enough money to lift the funding cap.

But this report, she said, shows that is not the case.

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