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Know your birthing options

Midwifery Awareness evening to help pregnant moms explore alternatives

Midwives have been part of the birth process for centuries, and a local group wants local moms-to-be to know the benefits of their use, and of other birthing options during the Midwifery Awareness evening.

Kazuko Hiroe, co-founder of Midwives Now, said pregnant women in Squamish should know their options when it comes to giving birth, and they are invited to find out during regular birthing awareness evenings, beginning Saturday (March 28) at Gelato Carina from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"We want to create a support network so we are going to host an event every three months. I will have guest speakers coming from the city," Hiroe said. "The goal is to let people know what their options are so they can make informed decisions about what they want."

Hiroe said the evening will include a host of guest speakers including a local doctor, a registered midwife and a student midwife. Local doulas will also be introduced followed by a short question period.

The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and after birth.

"A couple of moms have also volunteered to talk about their homebirth experiences with doulas and midwives," said Hiroe, a doula herself.

It was her own experience with a midwife that drove Hiroe to create Midwives Now. Last year the group collected more than 1,000 signatures to bring midwives into the Squamish General Hospital.

Hiroe, who had her first child at Squamish General Hospital and her second with the help of a midwife in Vancouver, described the comfort of a midwife as incredible.

"They're very professional but also like your best friends," she said.

According to Vancouver Coastal Health, it would require $850,000 to ensure an obstetrician is available round-the-clock at Squamish General Hospital, along with nurses trained in childbirth, a requirement for midwives to offer services.

While midwives handle much of the birthing process and have been integrated into BC Medical Services Plan since 1998, additional experts must be on hand in case of complications.

"Midwives take pressure off the healthcare system by doing house calls after childbirth and offering choice of at-home delivery," Hiroe said. "Despite the support, we didn't get the funding we needed."

Rather than call it quits, Hiroe launched the Midwifery Awareness evenings, saying Squamish is a growing hot spot for young families.

According to Vancouver Coastal Health, there were 259 births in 2007/2008. Hiroe said a midwife is a great service through the health care system provided the funding is in place.

The official campaign to bring midwives into Squamish General Hospital ended last year but Hiroe is still looking for support. For more information on Midwives Now check out or join the birthright-Squamish Facebook group.

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