Alberta's first midwifery students graduate from Mount Royal University

Mount Royal University's first midwifery students have crossed the stage today in cap and gown amid high expectations.

Inaugural class expected to help meet growing demand for midwives in Alberta

Eight students graduated from Mount Royal University's bachelor of midwifery program.

Alberta's first midwifery students have crossed the stage today in cap and gown amid high expectations.

In what's being touted as a milestone day for Mount Royal University, and an important step for Alberta's healthcare system, the inaugural class of the bachelor of midwifery has been granted degrees. There are only eight graduates.

After four years of intense studying, Stephanie Martens is ready to put her skills into practise.

"Midwifery just really marries the the art and the science of health care," said Martens, who has a passion for helping women. "So we get to provide a holistic experience to mothers and to whole families really."

Marten, who already has a job lined up for September, has graduated at a time when more and more women are looking for alternatives to a physician-led birth.

Demand grows in Alberta

Expectant mother, Kim Goodman, has always wanted to have a home birth. She put her name on a waiting list as soon as she found out she was pregnant. But she's had no luck securing a midwife.

"It's actually kind of heartbreaking for me," said Goodman. "I always expected that I would have a midwife and I'm really quite sad that that isn't the care I'm receiving."

Goodman is not alone, according to Chad London, dean of the faculty of health and community studies at Mount Royal University. "Demand is exceeding the supply that's currently out there. So graduating this cohort from this program is going to help meet that need."

According to the Alberta Association of Midwives, the number of babies delivered by midwives in the province more than doubled between 2009 and 2012. There were 80 midwives practising in Alberta in 2013. Forty-five of them are working in Calgary.