By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

In November, two babies were born at the Valemount Health Centre, unplanned deliveries that were supposed to happen elsewhere.

All went well, and it is fortunate no serious complications were involved. But when discussing this issue it’s important to stress this is not a case of Valemount Health Centre vs. Prince George Hospital, or some other major centre. When babies come quickly, the choice is often between the clinic, someone’s bathroom floor or an ambulance at the side of the road.

Someone should really do a thesis on rural birthing and all the ways it can go wrong. But in this editorial I want to talk about one way it can go right – when doctors feel the confidence to keep a labouring mother close and see her through the impending delivery, instead of sending her out into the night on icy roads in the back of an ambulance.

I’ve heard many stories about women who were packed into ambulances (one was actually told “You can’t give birth here”) only to give birth at the side of the road minutes later or as they entered the hospital doors in the city. These are obviously not ideal labouring or birthing conditions and add stress to both mother and baby. In the winter, you have the added threat of icy roads and poor visibility.

It would be easy to overstate the case for local birthing without additional (emergency) supports in place to deal with complications. But these two unplanned births show that sometimes there is a role for our local health team to look after women when births are imminent.

How wonderful, too, to welcome a new local person into the world right where he or she lives? The mother surrounded by people she knows, cared for by the doctor she’s seen throughout her pregnancy? The mother surrounded by her people, the little one caught by its community?