Walking the line for midwifery

Maggie Powter was born at home, assisted by a midwife. Her sister had three homebirths, with midwives. And Powter gave birth to her first two children at home, with midwives.

Maggie Powter was born at home, assisted by a midwife.

Her sister had three homebirths, with midwives.

And Powter gave birth to her first two children at home, with midwives.

She is now 36 weeks pregnant, expecting to give birth next month.

She has planned to have her child at home, with a midwife.

“It was very normalized for me because of my family,” she said. “For a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy, I feel like it is a safer option. I didn’t want any interventions, I wanted a natural birth and, from reading I’ve done, I just know that the minute you walk into the hospital your chances of having interventions increase.” (Interventions can be anything from induction to painkillers to a C-section.)

But midwives in the territory aren’t regulated.

Yukon is one of only two regions in Canada that haven’t regulated the ancient profession, which dates back to biblical times.

Prince Edward Island is the other one. Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador are currently in the process of enacting regulations.

Without such rules, midwives have no hospital rights, meaning they cannot order tests like blood work and ultrasounds.

And, they are not covered by the health-care system.

It costs between $2,500 and $3,000 to hire a midwife in Yukon.

“But that’s nominal compared to the service you get,” said Powter, noting this covers all of the midwife’s supplies and her wage – including 24/7 on-call availability from the time of your first appointment to a minimum six weeks postpartum.

Powter’s midwife also makes homeopathic teas, creams and treatments for things like infections so she doesn’t have to take harsh antibiotics while pregnant.

“I would do whatever it is I’d have to do to be able to afford it,” she said. “For any pregnancy I would always recommend working with a midwife, it’s a different model of care. You spend more time with her, you discuss more with her, it’s not just medical, it’s not just numbers and measurements, it’s also emotions – how you’re feeling, how your partner’s feeling physically and emotionally. It’s just a more holistic model of care”

A relationship develops between the woman and her midwife, said Christina Kaiser, who has been working, unregulated, in the territory since 2000. She is one of only two midwives currently working in Yukon.

She compares the usual five to 15-minute, prenatal appointments with doctors to the hour-long ones with a midwife.

If she were regulated, Kaiser would be a part of the system, not working from outside.

And so she would probably have more ground to stand on, especially when it comes to hospital rights, she said.

But she is worried regulations may restrict her.

There are several regulations midwives in other regions face that Kaiser doesn’t agree with, like the rule against delivering twins at home, she said.

Kaiser has six of her own children, two of whom were twins delivered at home.

“I don’t have to put any restrictions on things,” she said. “I do whatever I’m comfortable with and what my clients are comfortable with and, if I wasn’t comfortable with the situation, then I will say that.”

Kathleen Cranfield is also a midwife.

She has worked in Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and she will soon be working in Quebec, where regulated midwives have their own clinics.

She agrees that midwifery is all about doing what the woman wants, so long as it’s safe.

“Informed choice is a midwife’s motto,” she said.

But Cranfield supports regulations.

“I do not think it will minimize anyone’s choices, but I think it is going to give more women the access to making choices,” she said. “It will expand the clientele. It will document more cases. It will spread knowledge and education. It will make it so that every woman has access to choice.”

There are women in the territory who know what they want and will seek out a midwife, said Cranfield. But there are also many women who may not even know what a midwife is, and may not be able to afford it, but could really benefit from it, she said.

There is no guarantee regulating midwifery will mean funding, but it is a priority in the Yukon, said Cranfield.

At this time last year, the territorial government consulted with the public and stakeholders about regulations.

The department has no idea when a decision will be made, but has confirmed if regulations are drafted, midwives currently working in the territory will have “a lot” of involvement.

Saturday, Cranfield is organizing a walk around millennium trail, starting at the S.S. Klondike at 11 a.m. to raise awareness of midwifery in the territory and is part of a worldwide, walking initiative to show support for midwifery.

Powter isn’t sure if she does, or does not, support regulations, but her No. 1 wish is that more women have access to a midwife, she said.

She will be walking on Saturday, she added.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Medical lab technologist Angela Jantz receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Whitehorse hospital on Jan. 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Online booking system for Moderna vaccine opens as mobile teams prepare to visit communities

“The goal is to protect everyone and stop the spread of COVID-19”

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Jan. 15, 2021

Zhùr, the ancient wolf pup found mummified in permafrost at Last Chance Creek mine in July 2016. (Government of Yukon/Submitted)
‘Mummy’ wolf pup unearthed in permafrost paints a picture of ice age ancestors

Zhùr is the best preserved and most complete mummy of an ancient wolf found to date.

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton won’t be runing for re-election. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mayo-Tatchun MLA won’t run for re-election

Liberal MLA Don Hutton won’t be running for re-election. A former wildland… Continue reading

Large quantities of a substance believed to be cocaine, a large amount of cash, several cells phones and a vehicle were all seized after RCMP searched a Whistle Bend home on Jan. 6. (Photo courtesy RCMP)
Seven arrested after drug trafficking search

RCMP seized drugs, money from Whistle Bend residence on Jan. 6

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read