Friday, February 4, 2011

Doula Services in Whitehorse

In the absence of funded midwifery in the Yukon, midwives are only available in their full professional capacity for homebirths.

For some women, this is exactly what they want and they are willing to pay for it. For others, the lack of funding or homebirth-only option, or both, prevent them from hiring one of the excellent midwives who work here in the Yukon.

Doulas are a good compromise for those looking for one-on-one care supporting natural birth, like that provided by a midwife, but planning a hospital birth. Doulas are birthing support professionals, who offer emotional and physical care for the mother and her partner. Doulas are not health care providers, and do not offer medical services or advice. Doula services are less expensive than midwifery services, which may be more affordable for some families.
Research has shown that using a privately hired doula (not a doula or nurse employed by the hospital) has many benefits, including:
  • reducing the mother's experience of pain
  • reducing the use of epidurals
  • reducing interventions and Cesarean births
  • shortening the length of the birthing process
  • increasing the mother's satisfaction with her experience.
A doula will typically come to the mother's home at the beginning of the birthing process and support her at home until the mother is ready to travel to the hospital. The doula will continue to support the mother and her partner at the hospital, providing one-on-one care and natural pain relief methods, such as massage, position suggestions, aromatherapy, encouraging breathing for relaxation, positive messages, visualization, and emotional support.

I maintain a list on this website of doulas currently offering services in Whitehorse, and I am now also taking clients.

I am available to support women who are planning to birth at the Whitehorse hospital and who are hoping for a natural birth with minimal interventions.
If you are interested in finding out more about my services, please contact me, Asheya Hennessey, at 867.456.7711 or


Kane Augustus said...

Respectfully, doesn't a lack of regulated midwifery in the Yukon give women complete freedom to choose their birth experiences? Or am I looking at this the wrong way?

I ask my question not to be combative or rude, but just becuase it is my experience that not regulating something means leaving all possible choices open. Once something is regulated, there are only limited choices that can be made.

In any case, I am glad there are conscientious women in Whitehorse who are helping other women to have the best possible experience in giving birth. Such services are, without a doubt, invaluable and sorely needed.


Fawn said...

You're right, of course. When we started on this journey, our goal was to have midwifery services funded so as to make it more accessible to women. We also hoped that we could draw midwives into the circle of "legitimate" health practitioners, in the sense that they could operate in the hospital and/or order tests. In our initial discussions with government, we were told that in order to have funding, midwifery would have to be regulated; the government would not even consider providing funding unregulated practitioners. We hoped that by participating in the regulatory process, we could shape the regulations to be as open and flexible as possible.

As we progressed, however, we became less and less satisfied with the possible outcomes. We were very wary of removing freedoms that are currently available. We've also lost a midwife at the moment, so we are down to one who practices part-time. Perhaps not surprising, the process to regulate midwifery in the Yukon has stalled, at the moment. But there is still an active group of women who are working on woman-centred birth and health issues. (Check out

Anything I've missed, Asheya? :)

Thanks for your comment!


Asheya said...

Of course, midwives cannot 'operate' in the hospital whether regulated or not, ha ha. But we know there are many women in Whitehorse who would choose a hospital birth with a midwife as their primary caregiver if that was a healthcare option, as it is in other places such as BC.

Those of use who have used midwifery services in the Yukon the way they exist now are very aware of how precious and amazing those services (and our wonderful midwives!) are.

The issue of regulation and funding is a tricky business, and there are a lot of different opinions on the subject. We believe that whether consumers are involved or not, eventually midwifery will be regulated here, although we don't know when that would happen. It is happening all across Canada, however. We want to make sure that when it happens here it happens in the best way possible, giving women as much choice as they currently have, and more.

Our current goal with regulation (if it happens, which still has to be decided by cabinet), is to make sure that midwives who do not want to practice as regulated midwives and be funded by the government are legally allowed to provide midwifery services with a private fee for service (the same services that are available now). We believe that having this option will give women the full range of choices they currently have, as well as opening up new choices, specifically hospital birth and funding.

I would love to see a birth center in Whitehorse run by midwives, which would have suites for families from the communities to stay at and birth in, avoiding large hotel costs and the craziness that's involved with being in a tiny hotel room.

I would also love to see midwives travelling to the communities to offer prenatal care, and offer homebirth in the communities with appropriate emergency backup in place.

These things are more likely to be possible in a regulated, funded system.

The thing right now is for us as consumers to work towards making sure we don't make the same mistakes as other regions have in designing regulations (if cabinet decides to regulate midwifery).

Thanks for commenting!