In celebration of Penticton’s Willow Community Midwives’ 10 years of success, International Day of the Midwife and B.C. Midwives Day, a family-friendly event free to the public will be held at Gyro Park this Sunday.
From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the public is invited to enjoy cake, drinks and a variety of local entertainment including Get Bent Belly Dancing and Yanti ukulele.
Co-owner Christy Raynolds founded Willow Community Midwives alongside friend Alyson Jones. Both Raynolds and Jones connected during their Midwifery degree at the University of British Columbia.
“(Jones) recognized there was a lack of choice in childbirth for women in the South Okanagan, and so she invited me to join her and start the practice,” said Raynolds.
Willow Community Midwives work as a team of four, with patients given the opportunity to meet all members during their pregnancy. Two midwives would be on call when the patient begins labour.
Raynolds was inspired to study the practice by her own experience of giving birth with a midwife.
In 2017, midwives attended 23% of births in B.C. Willow Community Midwives has attended 1,430 since its inception in 2009.
“There’s been a real shift over the last decade,” said Raynolds. “It’s a very different kind of health-care experience. It’s a very patient-centred model of care, and it’s a very empowering model of care for women.”
Midwives work with patients before and after birth and will come to a patient’s home to weigh the baby and check in on it.
Raynolds also addressed common misconceptions, explaining that midwifery medical expenses are covered under the B.C. medical plan, midwives are university trained and the birthing location doesn’t just have to be in the home, but can take place also in the hospital.
Midwives are also present during a cesarean section, offering continuous support to the mother and ensuring skin-to-skin contact is made. They also order epidurals to be administered by an anesthesiologist.
“There’s a lot of good research in Canada showing excellent outcomes for women who have had midwifery care for their births,” said Raynolds.