P.E.I. to study midwifery

Prince Edward Island is a step closer to licensing and funding midwives.

Prince Edward Island is one step closer to licensing and funding midwives.

After a recent meeting with midwifery advocates, Health Minister Carolyn Bertram responded with a letter saying she supports licensed midwives and will set up a task force to study how a program would work on Prince Edward Island.

"It's very exciting," said Joyce England, a retired midwife who worked in Northern Canada for more than 30 years.

England is the P.E.I. representative with the Canadian Association of Midwives and works with Birth Options Research Network, BORN, a local group that promotes midwifery. BORN has been pressing the P.E.I. government to adopt a midwifery program for six years.

Women deserve to have a choice about how and where they give birth, England said, adding she's glad the government is getting serious about a publicly funded program.

"Minister Bertram has been, I think, a pro-midwife person, she's been interested in it. She's a woman and knows how important a birth is to a woman today," England said.

Bertram was unavailable for comment Thursday, but an official from the health department confirmed there will be a midwifery task force. It's not known when the study group will be formed or who will serve on it.

In her letter, Bertram says the province will look at licensing midwifes to work in hospitals but not in homes, at least at the beginning.

When Deana Innis found out she was pregnant with her third child, she and her husband knew they wanted a home birth attended by a midwife.

But because the Island doesn't license midwives, the couple went to great lengths to get one.

"I did end up finding a midwife in Ontario and had to fly her out and she had to stay with us, I think it was two weeks," Deana Innis said Thursday.

Innis said it was a great experience and baby Nora was born healthy. But it cost the family $2,000.

Women in the rest of Canada — with the exceptions of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Yukon — have publicly funded midwifery programs.

Innis said that she and her husband are thinking about having another baby and, with or without a program on the Island, they'll use a midwife.

"It's nice and natural and the family can be present. So, those are the things I love about home births," Innis said.