Underused CamBay birthing centre seeks more expectant moms
“We’re inviting women from other Kitikmeot communities”
CAMBRIDGE BAY — A fully-equipped birthing centre still waits for women and their new babies at the Kitikmeot Health Centre.
There, women can find comfy birthing rooms, state-of-the-art medical equipment, as well as birthing devices, such as a large inflatable pool where women can float to ease painful labour contractions or even deliver their babies.
And when women deliver their babies in Cambridge Bay with the two experienced midwives, who are now based in that community, they can be back at home within hours — in contrast with the many weeks that pregnant women spend in Yellowknife or Edmonton.
But the birthing centre, located on the empty second floor of an underused $20-million health centre, is still crying out for women who want to deliver their babies in Cambridge Bay.
Since the centre opened in early 2010, 27 babies have been born at the centre. This year, nine babies have been born there so far.
To increase its number of births, midwives would love to see women from other Kitikmeot communities come to Cambridge Bay to give birth. Increasing the number of births at the centre would be easy, they say, if most of the 100 women who give birth every year in the Kitikmeot region had their babies in Cambridge Bay.
But the big problem is that there is no boarding home for patients in Cambridge Bay.
“We’re inviting women from other Kitikmeot communities to come, but the issue remains accommodations,” said Anessa Maize, the regional acting director of midwifery.
Pregnant women don’t want come to Cambridge Bay to deliver because there’s no place for them to stay, unless it’s with relatives or friends, who generally live in overcrowded housing, or in hotels.
“What’s needed is a boarding home,” Maize said.
That’s a need that Nunavut’s health minister, Cambridge Bay MLA Keith Peterson, also mentioned when he spoke earlier this month about his desire to boost the use of the Kitikmeot Health Centre at the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay.
Ideally, that boarding home would be a real home, Maize said, as well as a place where the community’s programs for pregnant women and new mothers could take place.
“There is interest and the desire to make that happen,” she said.
Right now, about one in three pregnant women in Cambridge Bay chose to deliver at the birth centre.
While pregnant women with high-risk pregnancies must still go south, many pregnant women, who could give birth safely in Cambridge Bay, still decide to deliver their babies in Yellowknife.
“We did a good job telling them that they couldn’t give birth here,” said Maize, referring to the former “100-per-cent evacuation policy,” which saw all women shipped south to deliver.
Some women, who could give birth in Cambridge Bay, also want to go to Yellowknife due to the better shopping there.
But “going shopping isn’t to be taken lightly,” Maize said. “It’s about buying supplies for the babies.”
Yet there’s a concern that the low number of babies born in Cambridge Bay may affects the birth centre’s stability.
Midwives practicing in Cambridge Bay need to assist at more births to keep their licenses.
As it stands now, midwives can’t rack up the 50 births they need over a five-year period to become registered as midwives, and then to keep their licenses.
This will become more of an issue when Nunavut Arctic College’s first crop of midwives finish their three-year maternal care and midwifery program in Cambridge Bay.