Expectant mothers across the Valley can now rely on the support of a midwife to carry them throughout their pregnancy, whether they decide to give birth at home or in a hospital environment.
The Centre intégré de santé et services sociaux de la Montérégie-Ouest (CISSSMO) ceremoniously launched its Services de sage-femme de la Vallée midwifery program in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield on February 2.
CISSSMO president and CEO Philippe Gribeauval pointed out that the service meets a need within the area: a survey conducted in 2022 showed that 70 per cent of respondents were interested in improving the availability of midwives in the region. Prior to Friday’s announcement, Richelieu and Pointe Claire were the two closest cities offering these services.
A team of midwives is already supporting a dozen area women, with a first delivery expected early this spring. The service will expand gradually, taking on up to four new clients per month. The CISSSMO anticipates that within a year, midwives will be monitoring over 130 pregnancies and will assist with around 85 deliveries, either at home or in hospital.
Gribeauval explained that there was a certain coherence between the project and the Centre Mère-Enfant birthing centre at the Hôpital du Suroît in Valleyfield, before confirming the CISSSMO is hoping to open a separate birthing house that could support up to 400 pregnancies within the next few years. He acknowledged it could take between a year and 18 months for this type of infrastructure to be established, while admitting there were many elements beyond his control.
In the meantime, Gribeauval insisted on describing the current location on Victoria Street for the Services de sage-femme de la Vallée as temporary. He estimates the new program alone will cost just over a million dollars to fully implement.
Complete and accessible services
Services are offered in French and English and include complete pregnancy follow-up with all the associated tests and analyses, preparation for childbirth and parenting, clinical responsibility for deliveries, breastfeeding support, and post-natal follow-up for up to six weeks for both mother and baby.
Beauharnois MNA Claude Reid, who spoke during the inauguration on behalf of Health Minister Christian Dubé, highlighted the importance of improving access to such essential services. “It is excellent news for our community!” he exclaimed, while pointing out that women will be able to enjoy a more intimate and personalized approach within a reassuring framework of high-quality care.
Reid saluted the work of the CISSSMO and the team of midwives led by Cynthia Perreault, who have worked over the past four years on this initiative. A parent committee has also been involved with the project throughout its development.
Perreault was intrigued by the profession after becoming a mother herself at the age of 18. A year later, she enrolled at university, where she graduated as part of the first cohort of licensed midwives in Quebec in 2003. She has been working in the profession ever since.
She explained that midwifery offers a more holistic and compassionate approach that is focused on the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of both mother and baby. “Most who come looking for this service are interested in the opportunity to deliver at home,” she said, while confirming the program is available to all women.
Perreault currently works with a team of two midwives and an administrative assistant at the Valleyfield location. Three additional midwives as well as four birth assistants are expected to join the Services de sage-femme de la Vallée this year.