The Squamish General Hospital has announced a new midwifery program, giving moms-to-be another birthing option in town.
Registered midwife Lydia Szymanski is available to see patients immediately. The program will be expanded gradually; two more midwives will start their practice in town next year. When the program is fully established, the midwives will be able to offer the option of childbirth at home or in hospital.
Szymanski is registered with the College of Midwives of B.C. Her services will be covered by B.C. Medical.
Szymanski said midwives offer more time to the patient and rely on a more holistic, natural way for childbirth than the traditional way of birth in a hospital.
Midwives, she added, offer an on-call continuity of care, both before, during and after the birth of the child.
Midwifery is holistic by nature, combining an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, psychological and physical impacts of a woman's reproductive health experience. It also recognizes women as primary decision makers in births.
Midwives spend more time with the pregnant woman than general practioners. For instance, pre-natal appointment to see a midwife is often 45 minutes, while those at the hospital might not last more than 10 minutes.
"Women have the option of birthing at home and we provide care during active labour, which can even stretch to 12 hours," Szymanski said.
Since they also do home visits after the birth, they help new mothers with breastfeeding and adjusting to life with a new baby.
"It's about having a choice," Szymanski said. "Those women who have wanted to go to midwives have had to travel to Vancouver, but now this service is available in Squamish."
An expectant mother, Wendy Howarth of Squamish, said she had her first child in North Vancouver. She is excited that she could have her second child in Squamish, now that the midwifery service is being offered.
"You have longer appointments, and they really let you talk about it (pregnancy)," Howarth said. "Doctors at the hospital can be quite busy, but you build a rapport with your midwife, she comes to your home, she talks to you, and she becomes your friend. "
Another would-be-mom, Julie Jensen, said had spent "ten times more" time with her midwife than a doctor could afford to give her.
"It's about giving child birth naturally," Jensen said. "She does home visits and you get more time with her. I think this is better health care," she said.
More than 200 babies are born in Squamish every year. As many as 70 births are expected with a midwife in Squamish by the end of next year.