Nuu-chah-nulth nursing partners with Port Alberni midwife

Denise Titian, May 9, 2019

Lucas Boyes was part of a baby welcoming ceremony held by the Tseshaht First Nation in March 2018. The use of traditional practices is supported by the NTC nursing program. (Shayne Morrow photo)

Port Alberni, BC — 

Midwifery is making a comeback in the province of British Columbia, and with more and more families wanting to deliver their newborns closer to home, the news that there is a licensed midwife practising in Port Alberni is very welcome.

A midwife is a trained healthcare professional that assists women in child birth. The midwife usually helps to deliver babies in private homes or at a hospital.

Sarah Bjorgan is a midwife at the Port Alberni Midwifery Clinic. Trained at the University of British Columbia, Bjorgan has both observed and assisted obstetricians, general physicians and nurses working with maternity patients. She offers maternity care for healthy, low-risk women during pregnancy and postpartum care up to six weeks following birth for mother and infant.

The Nuu-chah-nulth nursing program has reached out to Bjorgan in an effort to develop a collaboration that would be beneficial for expectant mothers and infants.

NTC nurse Robyn Clarke noted that some Nuu-chah-nulth communities are remote, forcing expectant mothers to travel to urban centres, sometimes for weeks at a time, in order to give birth at the hospital. For some, a midwife would allow them to give birth closer to home, if not at home.

The cost of the service is covered by the provincial government and includes all regular tests. Ultrasounds can be ordered by your midwife and she may prescribe some medications, including pain drugs for labour and delivery. If there are complications during the pregnancy or labor and delivery, the midwife can consult a doctor. Service with a midwife typically ends when the infant reaches six weeks old.

The NTC nursing program not only offers services early in pregnancy but also for babies older than six weeks.

“We want to create awareness and cross-referrals; we want to help increase the maternal/child skill set,” said Clarke.

Women can choose to have a home birth with a nurse and a midwife.

According to the Midwives Association of British Columbia, Vancouver Island leads the province in the number of home births at 35 percent.

Midwifery has been regulated as a profession in B.C. under the Heath Profession Act since 1998.

For more information about Sarah Bjorgan and the Port Alberni Midwifery Clinic, visit http://portalbernimidwifery.ca/ or call Bjorgan at 250-724-2535.

For prenatal, labor and delivery, postnatal or infant care services, visit https://nuuchahnulth.org/services/community-health-nursing where you will find information about the uniquely Nuu-chah-nulth cultural care offered to mothers, babies and families.

NTC community health nurses can support you and your family through pregnancy, birth and with raising your child through home visits, groups and/or clinic visits. In addition, they offer health and cultural support services to the newborn, including welcoming ceremonies.

Call your NTC Nurses at 250-724-5757 or Toll free at 1-877-677-1131.