B.C. registered midwives Josée Gervais and Ariel Christman are setting up a practice in Salmon Arm which will serve expectant families in the Shuswap with either home births or a hospital birth at Shuswap Lake General Hospital, shown in the background. This will be Salmon Arm’s first midwifery clinic. -Image credit: Tracy Hughes/Salmon Arm Observer

Midwives open practice in Salmon Arm

New practitioners will deliver babies in home or hospital

Mothers-to-be in Salmon Arm have a new choice when it comes to maternity care.

A pair of midwives are setting up a practice in Salmon Arm to serve the Shuswap area, for both home and hospital births at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.

Registered midwives Josée Gervais and Ariel Christman will be opening their Hudson Ave. office in January and, as of Friday, Dec. 8, have been granted maternity care privileges at the local hospital.

Their services have long been sought in this area. Previously, mothers who wanted midwifery care had to use midwives in Vernon or Kamloops. As well, because there was no midwife living within 15 minutes of Shuswap Lake General Hospital, midwifes were not able to have privileges to deliver babies in the local hospital.

Now, with the active practice in Salmon Arm, those impediments have been removed.

Related link: Midwifery advocates call for more choice

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“Living in town was always the main concern, but now, with the opening of our clinic, that has been addressed. It’s been very positive and we’ve been very well received by the maternity GPs (doctors) and the other midwives in the region,” says Gervais.

“And with two of us backing each other up, it will ensure safety for all of our home and hospital births,” adds Christman.

Gervais was trained as a midwife in the U.S. and is registered in B.C., while her partner, Christman, is a graduate of the UBC midwifery program, which is based out of the faculty of medicine. The partners will provide care to their clients with each midwife working with the prospective parents and covering the 24/7 on call shifts.

“We see ourselves as team players in the maternity care model that has existed in Salmon Arm for many, many years. We are a new choice and another option for mothers,” says Christman.

Related link: Midwifery not available

Both note their practice offers the full range of maternity services for healthy pregnancies, including full prenatal care including all the standard genetic screening tests and ultrasounds, labour and delivery care and postpartum follow up, including home visits in the first two weeks postpartum and then checks at four and six weeks after delivery. Breastfeeding support is also a key element of care and education.

Gervais dispels the misconception that women who choose a midwife are opting for home births without pain medication.

Women may choose a home or hospital setting for their birth plan, based on the advice of their practitioner.

“We are well trained in helping families decide on the most suitable options for them, and we are experienced in all forms of pain relief for mothers, be it natural techniques or managing with pharmaceuticals or an epidural,” says Gervais.

“We support family choice, education and empowerment,” adds Christman.

The Shuswap Midwifery clinic office will be located at 204 – 151 Hudson Ave in the Winter building and will be open by the end of January. Prospective clients can find out more and fill out intake forms on their website at Shuswapmidwifery.com or phone (778) 599-0800.


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