What Manitoba’s Midwifery Shortage Feels like To One Local Woman

Winnipeg doula Jen Grisim, who blogs at Baby Lady of the Prairies, recently shared her heartbreaking account of how she was unable to get a midwife for her current pregnancy. I wanted to share it here because I think people need to hear first-hand how the province’s midwifery shortage affects women.

Jen writes that although she has a doctor she likes,

“… as my pregnancy progresses and the reality of my birth experience draws closer I am feeling increasingly frustrated and disheartened that I can’t have the care provider and birthplace of my choice. It feels a lot less like numbers and statistics about shortages and under-use of facilities. It feels like I am being denied my rights as a mother.”

They say the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Right now it feels like the people who are being heard are the ones who complain at every opportunity about how the government “wasted money building the birth centre”.  It’s clear that the health region is still working out a lot of kinks, but I really do believe that we are on the right track, and my impression is that they are doing what they can to improve the situation as intelligently and quickly as possible. With waiting lists of 80-90%, I think the province is well aware of the shortage and how urgent the need is. It’s my understanding that they are working at reviving our provincial midwifery program, and proactively hiring as many certified midwives from other locations. My own midwife for my current pregnancy is from Ontario and several of her classmates have also been hired here.

But in the meantime there are women like Jen who simply wait and hope and do the best they can to plan for the birth they need. And that’s really troubling.

There have been several stories lately about women who want to access the birth centre  or get a midwife but can’t (see Shortage of Midwives in Manitoba at mysteinbach.ca and Manitoba Mom-to-be Miffed She Can’t Use Empty Birthing Centre in the Winnipeg Sun). We need to keep hearing these stories. The government knows there is demand, but let’s make sure the public knows it, too.

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