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Bringing birthing options home

Forum examines how to get moms to give birth in town

It did not take long for the Sea to Sky Maternity Care Forum to reach participant capacity. Just one week after Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) announced an invitation to the consultation session, the forum is full of attendees who appear eager to voice their opinion.

"The public was invited and we invited maternity providers, first nations, pregnancy outreach programs, doctors, midwives, everybody," said Anna Marie D'Angelo, Senior Relations Media Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health.

The event is a "café table" style forum where participants sit in a relaxed setting to discuss how hospital and community maternity services in the Sea to Sky Corridor can be enhanced, said D'Angelo.

"About 40 per cent of women in the Sea to Sky are delivering in Vancouver, so we want to know why that is," she said.

D'Angelo hopes the forum will provide the VCH with insight into how people view the maternity care services in the corridor and what people expect out of total maternity care.

Beth Ebers is a midwife at Pomegranate Midwifery Community Centre in Vancouver, and grew up in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Since returning to the area she has been trying to get midwives into Squamish.

"We, as the midwives, are frustrated and so are the women seeking out our care," said Ebers.

"During these past number of years, we have had a steady stream of women from Sea to Sky area drive to Vancouver for appointments and to have their babies because they are that motivated to have a midwife. The disadvantage to that is that people have to leave their own communities."

D'Angelo said the use of midwives in the corridor is being looked at, but the overarching goal of local birthing must be part of that equation.

"I know that the midwives want to be in the Squamish Hospital and there is support for that, but if we do take the steps to do this and shift our resources, we want to know that the number of women from the Sea to Sky who are delivering in Vancouver will drop," said D'Angelo.

Jess Robichaud, who will be attending the forum, is an expecting mother. She will be delivering at Squamish General Hospital and said she'd like to see more options for women in the future.

"I was really wishing I had the time and energy and gas money to go down to North Vancouver to see a midwife so that I could get that extra support," said Robichaud.

The Sea to Sky Maternity Care Forum takes place Friday (Oct. 9) at Quest University from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

A facilitator will use the forum's discussion points to put together a presentation to the senior executive team at VCH.

People who are not attending but wish to voice their opinion on the state of maternity care in the Sea to Sky Corridor can email the patient care quality office [email protected] or call the VCH feedback line at 1 877 993-9199.

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