Home births to resume in N.S. after COVID-19 forced a suspension

Just in time for Mother's Day, Nova Scotia is resuming home-based midwifery services after the practice was suspended on March 30 due to COVID-19.

The IWK Health Centre released a statement on Friday that said those services, including home births, will be resumed in phases.

The IWK's midwifery team resumed on Friday while the Nova Scotia Health Authority's team will start back up this week.

The decision couldn't have come at a better time for expectant mother Ashley Ward,. Ward and her husband are expecting their first child May 16.

Candace Berry
Candace Berry

She said they were "ecstatic" to hear the news.

'We just felt really heard'

"[Home birth] was always something that we were hoping for, and to have it reinstated in a way that midwives feel comfortable feels fantastic … there were tears of joy in our house last night," she said.

The couple wrote a letter to public health officials in April expressing their concern about the suspension of home births.

Ward said they received a written response from the NSHA. They have also had conversations with both the NSHA and staff at the IWK, who give them weekly updates.

Candace Berry
Candace Berry

"We just felt really heard, and really cared about, and came to a better understanding about how difficult these decisions were for the IWK," she said.

Patients still limited to one support person

The "missing puzzle piece" for Ward and her husband is what support, virtual or otherwise, they'll be able to get from their doula. Patients in labour either in the hospital or at home are limited to one support person.

"There's still some things about our birth plan that are quite different than pre-COVID, but this is definitely a huge step in the right direction," Ward said.

Ward expects to have most of her questions answered in her next appointment with her midwife this Wednesday.

In an email on Saturday, a spokesperson for the hospital said midwives will be contacting their clients to discuss next steps.

Submitted by CJ Blennerhassett
Submitted by CJ Blennerhassett

CJ Blennerhassett, the president of the Association of Nova Scotia Midwives, said she's happy the NSHA made the decision to reinstate home births.

"We very much look forward to continuing to care for our clients in the way we always have, which includes providing them care in their homes where appropriate," she said.