Two groups are joining forces to transform the experience of birth for Indigenous families across Canada.
Save the Children and the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives have announced a project that will create a cross-Canada network of Indigenous midwives to help take steps towards bringing birth back to Indigenous communities.
This program will also focus on supporting improved sexual, reproductive and child health.
Throughout the next year they will be conducting culturally-based health and education workshops in 10 communities, with an outreach of over 15,000 people.
The project will support 110 Indigenous midwives and midwifery students with a cultural mentorship program. 40 communities will be provided a toolkit to advocate for the establishment of midwifery practices within their communities as well.
“Once a cornerstone of Indigenous communities, Indigenous midwifery services have declined significantly across the country over the last several decades. This has had a devastating impact both on the preservation of Indigenous culture and on sexual, reproductive and newborn health outcomes in Indigenous communities across Canada.
“Today, the majority of people about to give birth in isolated regions are forced to leave their communities to give birth in larger, centralized hospitals. This lack of community-based birthing services forces Indigenous people to spend at least the last four weeks of pregnancy outside their communities, often alone and without extended families for support”, according to NACM.
According to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada, distance from these fundamental support systems, combined with reproductive healthcare that does not address the unique cultural needs of Indigenous people, have been linked to a range of negative health outcomes, ranging from low birth weight, to newborn, pregnancy and birth-related complications, including postpartum depression.
The Bringing Birth Home program is the next step for NACM and Save the Children’s vision of having an Indigenous midwife in every community across Canada.
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