On July 9, Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) will open Canada's first Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU). This specialized childbirth unit will provide more access to women choosing to have a midwife for their childbirth experience in a hospital setting for normal births for low risk healthy women.
The AMU was made possible through the collaborative work of MSH midwives, obstetricians and patients. It gives patients of midwives access to obstetricians, neonatal and anaesthetic care, and diagnostic imaging on the same floor should they be needed during labour and birth.
"MSH is excited to be a leader in this innovative model of care," says Carol Cameron, Executive Director of the AMU. "It's called a midwifery unit because it's staffed, run and governed by midwives. We're self-regulatory, we're autonomous and we're very well integrated at MSH."
The AMU has six specially equipped birthing rooms outfitted with upright birthing stools, hanging slings and tubs suitable for water births, allowing women to adopt upright positions. The rooms will also have double-sized Murphy beds for rest after giving birth.
"Midwives have been successfully integrated into the childbirth care team at MSH since 1994 and work collaboratively to deliver optimal services to patients in this community," says Cheryl Osborne, Patient Care Director, Childbirth and Children's Services. "This partnership improves access to the right care close to home for our patients and their families."
Both hospital and community midwives will support a patient focused, quality based and integrated approach to healthcare, without sacrificing the high quality and patient-centred care that midwives offer.
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. "The cost to deliver is so much lower, roughly about half," says Cameron.
To find out more about the AMU, visit Markham Stouffville Hospital.