On July 9th the Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) opened the Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU), the very first of its kind in Canada. Our Birth Doula and Co-Owner Kristi Clements had the pleasure of assisting with the first baby born in the unit, on opening day. Now that’s a birthday party! One week later we had the pleasure of officially touring the brand new AMU and learned more about this ground breaking facility. The event was organized by fellow Doula and childbirth educator Teresa Maskery and led by Executive Director Carol Cameron. Here’s a quick overview of what we learned during the behind-the-scenes tour.
How the AMU Came About
The midwives at MSH wanted to have a facility that was run by midwives for midwives that gave their clients more options. It sounds like this was quite a labour of love and we are grateful to all involved for making it happen.
Why the Midwives Like It
- The Unit is staffed with a Hospitalist Midwife that is there 24/7. Her tasks are of triaging clients as they come in, starting inductions, paperwork, being a liaison between the Obstetricians and Community Midwives and many other tasks. This allows the community midwife who is known to the client to be involved when the time is right and focus on their direct care and not extra administration work.
- The Community midwife can arrive in active labour to allow for more management of rest and allow for an increase of client load. This gives the community more access to midwives.
- They get to work in a beautifully comfortable environment that is focused on their clients care only.
- Equipment is designed for their comfort as well. There are stools for their instruments and for them to sit on when the labouring mom is in the birthing pool, in the squatting chair, the bed or on a floor mat. We are sure their backs are grateful for this.
Why Hospitals Like It
‘With the AMU, midwives can care for more women in the community — from the current level of 600 per year to 1,100 — with the same number of midwives. This is done without increasing costs; in fact, midwifery services save a significant amount of money.’ Says executive director Carol Cameron. Obstetricians can focus on their clients without overseeing the midwives uncomplicated births. Midwives work with a large turnover of students due to the nature of the midwifery course. With the new unit, OB’s are also not put into a mentorship role. The AMU allows midwives to work alongside other more seasoned midwives while building their experience.
Why Midwifery Clients Like It
Clients love that they are able to birth their babies in a ‘birth-centre’ like environment with all medical interventions literally down the hall. This gives a sense of security and is also a wonderful fusion of medical and natural philosophies. They have the option to birth their baby in the water with no medication or have an epidural all in the same room. They also love all the comfort measures available to them such as:
- Mobile Hanging Sling
- Birth and peanut balls
- Mats for the floor
- Customizable lighting and sounds with Bluetooth
- Squatting chair
- Birthing pools
- Cozy birth rooms
Why Doulas love it
We love that the options for labouring women is growing. It makes us so happy that in one room a mom can have so many tools available to her. The AMU has created an amazingly warm and inclusive environment for families to welcome their babies. We can’t wait to have more birthday parties there in the near future.