Family Health

I Don’t Want Midwife Cuts to Rob Women of the Kind of Pregnancy I Had

Jun 20, 2019

I’ve had midwives for each of my pregnancies, and each time it was my intention to attempt a drug-free childbirth.

I also totally accepted that that may not happen.

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But I’m worried, given the Ford government’s recent cuts to midwifery care and the Ontario College of Midwives, that this kind of care provided by highly skilled, incredible people is at risk. And that’s a shame, because without these services, I wouldn’t have had the best birth experience of my life. Canada, not just Ontario, needs access to midwives.

With my first two, I debated a home birth or a birth centre environment, and ultimately chose a hospital because the thought of having to be transferred due to complications just scared me too much.

My ideal birth would be calm, candlelit and all-natural.

I’m an anxious person, and I didn’t feel comfortable taking any risks birthing at home. I ended up getting an epidural for my first two pregnancies, which I think is totally fine — but it’s not what I had envisioned for myself.

My ideal birth would be calm, candlelit and all-natural.

For my third birth, I was lucky to have the amazing and magical place that is the Alongside Midwifery Unit at Markham-Stouffville Hospital available to me. It’s the first AMU in Canada (and hopefully not the last).

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The AMU is more like a birth centre atmosphere, but with all the access to medical intervention if needed. This is where I gave birth to my third baby, and it made all the difference in the world to my peace of mind and overall birth experience.

It was a much more peaceful and accessible environment to give birth in. I was in the “water room,” which is exactly what it sounds like. A huge mural of waterfalls covers one wall, while calming music and water sounds play from the room’s iPad, accompanied by the sounds of real water running as my midwives filled the tub for me to labour in.

There was a birth swing hanging from the ceiling, a cozy double bed (totally not your standard uncomfortable single hospital bed) and an option for a birthing pool and my BFF, the birthing stool (where I ultimately ended up for the pushing stage of my labour).

The AMU is more like a birth centre atmosphere, but with all the access to medical intervention if needed.

Thanks to the atmosphere in the AMU and the support of my amazing midwives and husband, I was finally able to have the unmedicated birth I had hoped for — without worrying for a single second that I couldn’t get access to medical intervention if I needed or wanted it.

I want all women to experience this, if they want it.

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But women are disproportionately affected by these cuts in Ontario, and would be elsewhere should cuts continue on a national scale. Whether it’s the hard-working midwives who are diligently working to protect women’s health, or the mothers that rely on them. We need midwives and more places like the AMU so all women have the option for the type of birth experience they want.

Midwives add so much value to the lives of mothers, and their funding and salaries should reflect that.

Article Author Katharine Reid
Katharine Reid

Katharine is a freelance writer and editor who loves libraries and nature. The former editor of a health website, she now spends her days with her three adorable young kiddos. A big believer in the power of unstructured free play, she can usually be found either going on outdoor adventures with her kids, setting up invitations to play and create, snuggling up to read or escaping the chaos to head to a yoga class.

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