Save The Children Partners With The National Aboriginal Council Of Midwives To Bring Birth Home
August 29, 2017…Save the Children and the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM) announce a new program to transform the experience of birth for Indigenous families across Canada.
Bringing Birth Home is an innovative project that will leverage NACM’s cross-Canada network of Indigenous midwives to take meaningful steps toward bringing birth back to Indigenous communities while also supporting improved sexual, reproductive and child health outcomes. Over the next year, we will reach 15,000 people from 10 diverse, Indigenous communities via culturally-based health and education workshops. The project will also support 110 Indigenous midwives and midwifery students with a cultural mentorship program and will provide 40 communities with a toolkit to advocate for the establishment of midwifery practices within their communities.
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. For families with other children at home, this oftentimes includes lengthy and difficult separation from their young children. 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 most powerful medicine we have as Indigenous Midwives,” says NACM member Carol Couchie, “is to help restore and strengthen that sacred bond between babies and families.”
Save the Children and NACM first began collaborating in 2015 with an examination of Indigenous midwifery in Canada. Building on the information shared by Indigenous midwives, community members and stakeholders, the Bringing Birth Home program is the next step on this path towards realizing NACM’s vision of an Indigenous midwife in every Indigenous community in Canada. Bringing Birth Homealso contributes to the 22nd Call to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, wherein the healthcare system must recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices. “At Save the Children, having programs at home in Canada as well as internationally is extremely important to all of us. This is why we are all very proud of our partnership with NACM and our Bringing Birth Home collaboration. We look forward to seeing the positive results it will have for Indigenous children, families, and communities in Canada,” stated Patricia Erb, President and CEO of Save the Children in Canada.
Save the Children and NACM were encouraged by the announcement in June of a new federal government initiative that will improve access to midwifery services in First Nation and Inuit communities across Canada. The allocation of $6 million over five years to fund Indigenous, community-based midwifery projects is a positive first step to support the resurrection of this vital profession and aligns with NACM’s vision of Indigenous midwives working in every Indigenous community in Canada.
- Couche, C. & Sanderson, S. (2007). A Report on Best Practices for Returning Birth to Rural and Remote Aboriginal Communities. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada, Number 188. 250-254.
- The National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM) exists to promote excellence in reproductive health care for Inuit, First Nations and Metis women. We advocate for the restoration of midwifery education, the provision of midwifery services, and choice of birthplace for all Aboriginal communities, consistent with the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As active members of the Canadian Association of Midwives, we represent the professional development and practice needs of Aboriginal midwives to the responsible health authorities in Canada and the global community. Learn more here: http://aboriginalmidwives.ca/
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About Save the ChildrenSave the Children is the world’s leading independent organization for children, delivering programs and improving children’s lives in more than 120 countries worldwide. We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential. We believe that all children have the right to survive, learn, and be protected, and we will do whatever it takes to reach every last child. Our programs reached more than 157 million children in 2016. Learn more here: www.savethechildren.ca