Stacy Peleskey and Emily West are making a home visit with post-partum client, Eva Bergen.
Peleskey is a midwife whose clinic is located in Taber, while West is a midwifery student on a three-month placement with Peleskey.
It was just amazing. It was the best experience ever. – Eva Bergen, mother or four
Bergen’s son, Kingston, was born a week earlier in her home, and Stacy and Emily were at the birth to “catch” the baby.
“Yeah, we say that we catch the baby,” explained Pelesky “We don’t ever say that we deliver the babies, because it’s the mom that’s delivering the baby, not us.”
Bergen is a mother of four. This is the first time she has used a midwife.
“I loved it,” says Bergen. “Every single minute of it was worth it to have them there. It was just amazing. It was the best experience ever.”
Peleskey visits her post-partum clients for six weeks after they give birth. For Bergen, it’s a relationship that began 10 months ago when she made her first visit to the midwife.
On this visit, West is doing much of the legwork, checking baby for jaundice, taking his temperature, listening to his heartbeat, as well as checking mom’s blood pressure.
West is currently in the third year of the four-year Bachelor of Midwifery Program at Mount Royal University in Calgary. It’s the only midwifery program offered in Alberta. Emily’s mom is also a midwife.
“I think I’m going to get an immense amount of joy from practising,” says West with a smile.
A few years ago, expecting moms in Taber who wanted to see a midwife had to drive an hour away to Brooks. Peleskey used to practise in Brooks, but a few years ago she moved her practice to Taber, where she grew up on a farm just outside of town.
Before becoming a midwife, she was a registered nurse at the Taber Health Centre. That’s where she first discovered her passion for labour and delivery.
“I really loved it,” says Peleskey. “[Expecting moms] would come in in labour and I always volunteered to be the nurse.”
I’ve built up that whole ten months of relationship with our families. We know a lot about them. I know what their hopes are for their birth – Stacy Peleskey
Eventually though, she found herself longing for a deeper connection with expectant moms.
“I would meet people for the very first time and they were eight centimetres dilated sometimes and about to have a baby,” says Peleskey. “And you have 20 minutes to build a rapport. Or you’re with someone all day, then your shift ends and you may, or may not, be there for the delivery.”
After spending time with midwives in Cardston, she discovered that midwifery was her true calling.
“I have such a good relationship with our clients,” says Peleskey. “I like that I’ve built up that whole ten months of relationship with our families. We know a lot about them. I know what their hopes are for their birth.”
Midwives in Alberta are independent practitioners. Instead of seeing a doctor throughout their pregnancy, expecting moms can choose to see a midwife instead. Midwives can order medications, lab-work, ultrasounds, and pretty much anything else mom needs.
I chose a midwife, because it’s a lot more personal care, just more attention to detail – Melissa Dyke, expecting mom
If complications occur, then the midwife consults with an obstetrician or the family physician.
“We do low risk healthy. [That] is the catchment for what our scope would be,” says Peleskey. “Our responsibility is to give clients all the information, the benefits, the risks, of every decision they make. They’re an active participant in making decisions. And we really empower them [because] this is their experience and we’re there to keep them safe.”
Melissa Dyke from Taber will be delivering her baby soon. She decided to use a midwife for her second child and has an appointment at the Coulee Medical Clinic in downtown Taber with Peleskey and West.
Dyke has really enjoyed the midwife experience.
“I chose a midwife, because it’s a lot more personal care, just more attention to detail,” says Dyke. “They’ve been really quick to communicate with me on all my needs.”
Another reason many moms are now choosing to use a midwife instead of a physician is the freedom to choose how and where they can deliver.
Many are choosing a water birth in their own home.
“There’s some benefits to mom [in a water birth], explained Peleskey. “There’s a lower likelihood of having severe tearing. Being submerged in the water is very relieving for the labour pains that moms have. That’s a big [reason] why moms choose [a water birth]. It’s also a very smooth transition for baby. It’s a really gentle transition into the outside world.”
About 60 per cent of Peleskey’s captures are in the home, with the other 40 per cent at the hospital. So far, none have had to occur between home and hospital, but one gets the feeling that it’s only a matter of time.
“We’ve had some very close car deliveries where they’re just about to deliver in the car, but for me personally, we’ve made it wherever we’ve had to go,” says Peleskey. “I‘ve had some almost delivered in the lobby of hospitals.”
Whether it’s in the home or in the hospital, expecting moms can count on Peleskey to be there to catch that baby.