Yukon women and families deserve birth choices

Most people agree women should have choices regarding their birth process. Most mothers across Canada can choose our birth attendant and where we will plan to have our birth.

Most people agree women should have choices regarding their birth process. Most mothers across Canada can choose our birth attendant and where we will plan to have our birth. Most can do so in a regulated and publicly-funded health care system.

Families in the Yukon do not have this choice.

Midwifery and home births are not illegal in the Yukon, but are not regulated or funded by the government. There are no regulations guiding this process. Midwifery needs to be integrated into our medical system to ensure all women and their babies are safe and have immediate medical support if needed.

Now, individuals choosing this path must pay their own way. If you wish to have a home birth in the Yukon, you only have the option of hiring an unregistered midwife. This is agreeable for some families but it doesn’t offer choice of birth place and the safety standards offered in the rest of Canada.

Fees for midwifery services are not covered in the Yukon, meaning those who do not have the means to pay do not have equal access to this option. Almost all other jurisdictions in Canada allow families the option of birth attendants including registered midwives. Women and families can choose to give birth with a registered midwife in their home, a birth centre or a hospital.

The Community Midwifery Association of Yukon (CMAY) wants women and families in the Yukon to have equal access to birth options. We recommend the following:

—Regulating midwifery services in the territory ensuring clear standards to keep mothers and babies safe;

—Implementing a publicly funded model for midwifery services: Yukon families deserve a choice in how to best spend their healthcare dollars;

—Integrating sustainable and safe midwifery services with registered midwives as primary care providers. This includes hospital privileges so midwives can practice collaboratively with other healthcare practitioners as they do in the rest of the country;

—Authorizing the full scope of registered midwives. Allow midwives to be autonomous professionals who provide normal- and low-risk maternity care. They are experts;

—Letting families choose their birth place, either in a hospital, clinic or home, with a registered midwife as the primary care provider;

—Developing and implementing a Yukon specific pilot project based on the same model of midwifery care that exists in other Canadian jurisdictions;

—Creating a Midwifery Advisory and Implementation Committee to oversee drafting of legislation and establishment of licensing authorities.

All parties have promised to regulate and fund midwifery. If candidates knock on your door before election day, ask them how soon their party will implement these promises.

Kathleen Cranfield, President Community Midwifery Association Yukon

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