Pool Party Rally News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 3, 2016 – Alberta Midwifery Advocates Plan Rally at the Legislature to Celebrate Midwives and Urge Government to Better Fund Midwifery Care

At noon on March 9, 2016, the Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (ASAC) is holding a rally in front of the Alberta Legislature to celebrate the province’s midwives, and to ask the government to better fund midwifery care.

Former MLA and longtime champion of midwifery Laurie Blakeman will be on hand to speak about the history and importance of strong public funding for midwifery in our health care system. Families will set up inflatable birth pools at the Legislature; these pools symbolize choices that are available to midwifery consumers and should be available to all women. ASAC has nearly 8,000 signatures on an online petition urging the government to improve access to midwives in Alberta.

Midwives are highly-trained health professionals who mainly work independently with the women in their care, but they also collaborate well with other care providers. Several Alberta obstretricians spoke highly of midwives in ASAC’s “What is Midwifery?” video. Dr. Venu Jain, a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist at the Lois Hole Hospital, said “The majority of women are low-risk women; the majority of women should qualify to be under the care of midwifery.”

The Alberta Association of Midwives (AAM) waitlist database currently has over 1,800 women wanting midwifery care; these women will not get that care under the current funding model. Midwifery consumers and the AAM are asking the government to change the funding model.

Women desiring midwives in rural and remote areas such as Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Peace River, and Jasper have been clamouring for years to have midwifery care, but they remain without choice locally. “I traveled from Jasper to Edmonton for all of my prenatal and postnatal appointments, and I moved to Edmonton for two weeks for my delivery, all so that I could have a midwife,” said Jasper resident Jenna McGrath.

One region that has been successful in integrating midwives into their multidisciplinary teams is around Rocky Mountain House, where midwives deliver approximately 50% of babies, significantly higher than the provincial average of 4%. In nearby aboriginal communities served by midwives, infant mortality rates and other outcomes have shown great improvement since the integration of midwifery care there. The Rocky Mountain House model is highlighted in several episodes of the “Transformation to Parenthood” TV series, sponsored by ASAC.

Midwives can save money for the health care budget; ASAC is working on a cost analysis report that demonstrates these savings. Past cost comparison studies, comparing midwifery and physician costs, were completed before midwifery was publicly funded in Alberta. ASAC is working on a cost comparison report that reflects the public funding situation and will be releasing its report soon. ASAC has met with officials at Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services to ensure that current data is included. ASAC is hopeful that this report will assist in the creation of a sustainable funding model.

The Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (ASAC) was formed in Edmonton in 1979. For decades now, women in this province have been asking for choice in maternity care.

“What is Midwifery?” video created by ASAC: http://tinyurl.com/What-is-midwifery

“Transformation to Parenthood” TV series, sponsored by ASAC: https://vimeo.com/148677696

Contact: ASAC VP External Dana Weatherhead, 780-887-0725, vp_external@asac.ab.ca