Nova Scotia

Pregnant woman says Cape Breton desperate for midwives

A pregnant woman in North River says she is frustrated by the lack of midwives in Cape Breton.

Midwife program came under provincial regulation in 2009

Cassandra Yonder and her two children Seth and Naomi on their North River farm in Cape Breton where there are no midwife options. (CBC)

A pregnant woman in North River says she’s frustrated by the lack of midwives in Cape Breton.

Cassandra Yonder's first two children were delivered at home with a midwife, but Nova Scotia's midwifery program has changed over the past five years.

She said she wants her third child to be delivered at home on her farm, but "very quickly it became evident and quite disappointing and distressing to find that there really isn't midwifery care for home birthing anymore in Nova Scotia," she said.

Regulated midwifery was introduced in Nova Scotia in 2009.

Ian Bower, the province’s executive director of primary care, said there are nine midwives in the province. Five are in Halifax, two in Lunenburg and two in Antigonish.

Bower said there could be more once the existing programs are maintained.

"It is not eminent, but we do know areas where the population have expressed interest and we know in Cape Breton that they are one of those areas where the interest has been identified," he said.

Yonder chose the Antigonish midwife program, but she’s not guaranteed a midwife when she goes into labour since they are on rotational call with obstetricians.

She and her husband have made a detailed birthing plan to cover all eventualities.

"I'm feeling really confident now. Everybody that we've met with there, including the obstetricians have been really wonderful and they've done everything they could do to assure me that my wishes will be met," said Yonder.

A 2011 report on Nova Scotia's midwifery program raised serious concerns about the program's future.

It says there are too few members to meet the increasing requests for midwifery care and provide services safely and effectively. The report recommended the government stabilize and strengthen its existing midwifery services.

The midwifery program was suspended at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax in December 2010.

The hospital recently hired two more midwives, but it needs to fill another 1.5 positions.

While some midwifery services have been restored, home births still aren't happening. The hospital said that will be allowed when they fill the vacancies.