CARDSTON: They are health professionals who have been regulated in the province since
1998 but, there hasn't been any mid-wives offering services near Lethbridge
during that time. The situation changed last October when a trio of mid-wives,
from Birth Partnership Midwifery Services, set up shop in Cardston.
Eve Verdon, Rebecca Lessard and Terri Demers are all RM's, or Registered
Midwives. They operate a satellite office of Birth Partnership Midwives out of
Calgary, which has several teams and the Cardston team is one of them.
The Cardston team is able to serve prospective mothers in a one hour radius
from Cardston, which encompasses Pincher Creek, Lethbridge, Fort Macleod,
Raymond, and Magrath. They can also serve mothers from other areas, who are willing
to use a birthing room that the team has in their Cardston clinic.
Why Cardston? That's where their families decided they wanted to live. Since
they began last October, the ladies have attended about 15 home births
The three ladies are what is known as "Direct Entry" entry into the
profession. They all have bachelor degree educations in midwifery from the U-S
and then completed "bridging" components which allowed them to practice in
Canada. Terri and Eve completed their bridging training at Ryerson University
and Rebecca completed hers in Quebec. It is also possible to become a Registered
Nurse and then take widwifery training as a specialization.
As for why they entered this field, Rebecca Lessard explained, "I was made
aware that women needed and wanted choices in child birth and wanted to have
choices in their care, and that they want to feel empowered when they give birth
and not just feel like they're being told what to do and there's no
options". Rebecca also said, "I really want to see women come away from the
experience strong and enjoying having gone through that process".
When a woman approaches the Cardston group for midwifery services, they can
expect a very close relationship with the midwives. Eve Verdon runs down the services, "We offer prenatal care, so we do the same schedules an O.B.
(obstetrician) would do, which is a visit a month for the first 28-weeks, and
then its every two weeks until 36-weeks, and then its every week - we follow the
woman throughout her labour and birth and then we are her, and the baby's,
primary care provider - postpartum, to six weeks".
Terri Demers, says they rigorously screen women interested in having a
midwife deliver their baby, to make sure the mom is a good candidate, "Its our
job to make sure that as the pregnancy is progressing, that it continues to
remain in a low risk category and if it stretches outside of that category, we
do refer to obstetricians and change our role to a supportive care
For birth and labour, the mother's care occurs at home. Right now the
three-midwives have hospital privileges in Calgary but have yet to receive the
same privileges in the zone they currently serve.
Rebecca notes, "Four years ago, the province of Alberta decided how midwifery
would look throughout the entire province and so, the most appropriate response
for every individual zone, is to see how best and how quickly they can implement
Eve added, "Currently, it's a priority, I think, for Alberta Health Services
to get midwifery into the rural areas. Right now, the majority of midwifery is
available in Calgary, second is Edmonton, and then there are some services sprouting
up in Red Deer as well but, besides that, we're the most rural".
In June, Alberta Health signed a new agreement to fund midwifery services to
the end of March, 2015.
For those who wonder about the safety of midwifery and home births, Eve says
there is research data to back their profession, "There have been several very
good studies done in recent years reflecting the safety of home births. There
are three components for safety - one is that there is a trained attendant; two,
is that they have good access to emergent care, meaning good transportation times
and people to transport and number three; that the woman is low risk." She went
on to say, "If they find that those three components are present in a scenario, women are equally as safe at home as in the hospital and their baby's out
come is the same, in fact, the out-comes for mothers are better at
home - less morbidity".
Expectant moms who may be interested in the services of a mid-wife can
contact the ladies on-line. You will have to fill out an in-take form. More
information on Cardston Birth Partnership Midwifery Services can be found here:
General information on midwifery can be found on the Government of Alberta