Friday, November 2, 2018

Midwives changing NB healthcare

Its one thing to spot a gap in the system, but it’s quite another to dedicate your career to fixing it.
For Kate LeBlanc, the journey to becoming one of New Brunswick’s first registered midwives and closing a health care gap began while studying at Mount Allison University.
“I discovered midwives in a book while studying for my first degree,” said LeBlanc. “I became fascinated with birth stories, however, in the stories people were sharing with me, I found people weren’t always getting the support they wanted or needed through childbirth.
“Because of that, it may have been a more difficult or traumatic experience than it should have.”
Hearing the stories and understanding the situation facing New Brunswick mothers gave LeBlanc a new goal for her career.
“I decided I really wanted to help create a different story for mothers in New Brunswick,” the Sackville native said.
She and her colleagues – Alisha Julien Reid, Ashley Kaye and Melissa Langlais – have done just that by starting the first midwifery program in New Brunswick based out of Fredericton and working within the Horizon Health Network. Midwives are primary healthcare professionals who care for pregnant women and their babies from the time they find out they’re pregnant until six weeks after they’ve given birth.
People can self-refer to a midwife and the cost of the service is covered by Medicare. Appointments, tests and ultrasounds are all scheduled by the midwife and their clients get to know all members of the team which LeBlanc says is key.
“We really value building relationships and trust with our clients over time,” she said. “All of the time we spend with them allows us to go over all of the routine care, but it also gives us the time to go over the research, community standards and the reasoning behind different options so they can make informed decisions that fit their lives.”
Since the practice got up and running in October of 2017, the team has assisted in 60 births – including 15 home births, which is an option midwives provide – and approximately 100 families have received or are receiving midwifery services since the start of the program.
The care continues immediately after the birth with a midwife staying with the family for the first two hours post-partum and then visiting the family every few days.
“We see new parents every day or two at home for the first few weeks to make sure they’re transitioning well into parenthood and that their babies are thriving,” she said.
After two weeks post-partum, clients book themselves into the clinic for one-on-one visits, but there’s also the option of group post-partum visits so new parents can meet one another. LeBlanc said the work she and her colleagues do is designed to produce the best possible outcomes and experiences for their clients.
“We’re helping build families from the ground up and I really believe that if parents are empowered to make choices about their health and their birth, it really sets the stage for a lifetime of good choices,” LeBlanc said.
As it stands, the clinic in Fredericton is considered a demonstration site which LeBlanc hopes will expand as word of the service continues to grow.
“The majority of people accessing our services are those who wanted midwifery to come to the province,” she said. “Unfortunately, a lot of the time we see people who have had a traumatic first child birth experience and are looking to change that experience for their second birth.”
As word spreads about the service and demand grows, LeBlanc believes the Department of Health will see the benefit and want midwifery to grow throughout the province. She says many of the clients they see who previously lived outside of New Brunswick are used to midwives in the healthcare system.
“Many people come from places where midwifery is the norm and that’s the direction Canada is moving in,” she said. “I anticipate midwifery care will become normalized and available to all parents in New Brunswick one day.”