Fort McMurray’s first midwife has been working for only a week, and she’s already met with 14 expecting mothers and has a growing waitlist.
Debbie Mpofu, a registered midwife, has been in the field for 25 years.
“I think the community here has wanted and needed a midwife for a long time,” Mpofu said. “The fact that you’ve never had a midwife actually attracts me.”
Women in the community have been vocal about their need for a midwife for years.
Mpofu typically takes on about 40 pregnancies every year.
“My first few appointments, the women were excited. Some of the women were crying during their prenatal visit,” she said.
“Just the fact that they felt they were being heard. They also felt they had time to talk to me about their desires. Really overwhelmed.”
She said many women prefer using a midwife because it’s a holistic approach to birth, including consultations about exercise, relaxation and mental health during pregnancy.
Alberta Health Services is working on hiring a second midwife to keep up with the demand, Mpofu said.
Expectant mother Linsay Cromwell, 35, met with Mpofu Tuesday morning. She had her first baby at the Northern Lights Hospital in Fort McMurray, but wanted to try using a midwife for her second birth.
“I’m finding she just tailors your birth experience and what you want for your labour,” said Cromwell, who is 22 weeks pregnant.
She said midwives can take some of the pressure off the community’s obstetricians who would be better used for high-risk pregnancies.
Fort McMurray mother Maddie Amyotte wished a midwife had come earlier. Amyotte drove hours to Lac La Biche to meet with a midwife.
“It was about a four to five hour round trip drive for each of our appointments, but it was worth it to us because we got to have each of our appointments tailored for our needs.”
Amyotte is a registered nurse and lactation coach and is training to become a midwife through a master’s program.
She will be assisting Mpofu as a nurse until she becomes a certified midwife in about one year.
Amyotte would like to see a greater focus on mothers in surrounding Wood Buffalo communities who must travel to Fort McMurray to give birth.
“We’re hoping now that once we do get more midwives, we’ll be able to provide those services in the surrounding communities so we can keep birth at home.”