Expanding in-hospital midwifery services

The Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) will be the first hospital in Canada to offer a midwifery services unit, giving expectant families more choice.

As part of a province-wide expansion of midwifery care, the Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU) at MSH will receive $690,000 in provincial funding this year. To be located alongside the obstetrical unit, it will give women who choose to have a midwife for their childbirth experience at the hospital access to diagnostic services and such medical treatment as obstetrical, neonatal and anesthetic care if needed during labour and birth.

The AMU will also offer in-hospital postpartum support for new mothers and their babies. Over the next five years, the AMU is expected to support 1,000-plus more deliveries by allowing midwives to care for a greater number of expectant families in the region. That’s an increase from about 37 to 60 clients a year once the AMU is fully operational.

Midwives have been successfully integrated into the childbirth care team at MSH since 1994.

“This hospital has a longstanding history of our obstetricians and staff working closely with their midwifery colleagues,” says Jo-anne Marr, MSH president and CEO. “This takes our partnership to a whole new level. This model is truly transformational and puts the patient at the centre of their care.”

The provincial government has pledged $166 million in midwifery care this year.

“Our government recognizes the tremendous contributions midwives make to families and our health care system,” says Dr. Helena Jaczek, health and long-term care minister. “Supporting expectant families in Markham Stouffville with more options for their care is part of our government’s commitment to make life easier for families across Ontario.”

In 2016-17, midwives supported about 24,066 births, representing 16 per cent of all births in Ontario. More than 850 midwives are registered and regulated by the College of Midwives of Ontario, with more than 700 active members practising in 92 midwifery practice groups.

“These streams of funding for midwifery create new opportunities for midwives to meet the needs of communities across the province,” says Elizabeth Brandeis, Association of Ontario Midwives chair and president. “Now, more Ontarians will be able to access the benefits of midwifery care, including the excellent health outcomes that come from client-centered, evidence-informed care.”

In total, 30,000 expectant families in Ontario will have access to midwifery care this year, the provincial government reports.

 

Photo: Dr. Deepa Grewal, Chief, Department Of Paediatrics; Dr. George Arnold, Chief, Department Of Obstetrics & Gynaecology; Cheryl Osborne, Patient Care Director, Childbirth and Children’s Services; Carol Cameron, Executive Director, Alongside Midwifery Unit; Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Health & Long-Term Care; Jo-anne Marr, President and CEO; Elizabeth Brandeis, Chair, President, Association of Ontario Midwives; Ranjeet Wallia, Past Chair, MSH Board of Directors.

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