Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

NEW ARRIVAL DOING WELL – The first baby of the New Year is Adam vandenHoek. He is seen here Friday with his parents, Andrea and Craig.

Decade’s first Yukon baby born at home

The first Yukon baby of 2020 was born on Jan. 2 to Andrea and Craig vandenHoek in their Crestview home.

By Gabrielle Plonka on January 6, 2020

The first Yukon baby of 2020 was born on Jan. 2 to Andrea and Craig vandenHoek in their Crestview home.

“I was kind of hoping (it would be a 2020 baby),” Andrea told the Star Friday.

Adam Douglas vandenHoek was born around midday last Thursday, a few days after his due date, with midwife Christina Kaiser. He shares the birthday of Jan. 2 with his great-grandfather Douglas, now his middle namesake.

Andrea said Douglas was excited to share a birthday and name with his great-grandson.

“He was very emotional when I called him (Thursday),” Andrea said.

Adam is Andrea’s and Craig’s fourth child, all delivered at home with Kaiser.

Matthew Davidson of the Yukon Hospital Corp. told the Star this is likely the first New Year’s baby born outside Whitehorse General Hospital in at least a decade.

Kaiser’s assistance in the delivery of the year’s first Yukon baby is fitting, because the World Health Organization recently declared 2020 as the year of the nurse and midwife.

This is also the year that long-awaited midwifery regulations could be implemented in the Yukon. The new regulations will introduce midwifery into the territory’s health care system.

The Yukon does not provide midwifery as a publicly funded option for expectant mothers, rendering the service prohibitively expensive.

Andrea said her home births with Kaiser have allowed her to be surrounded by familiar faces in a home environment during delivery.

“It’s a lot more comfortable and a lot more intimate,” Andrea said.

She is hopeful other families might be allowed the same alternative.

“I think it should be a more open option, because right now it’s upwards of $2,000 every time you have a midwife,” she said.

“I think it should be a lot more accessible, and a lot more promoted, too, because I think a lot of people are eligible for home birth and would like it–– but they don’t know about it, or they can’t afford it.”

She said Adam needed resuscitation immediately following birth, but otherwise the delivery went smoothly.

“Christina had all the tools she needed to do that, and he was breathing on his own within a couple minutes and everything is good now.”

Kaiser told the Star she was happy to see the vandenHoek family so excited about their New Year’s baby.

She has been practising midwifery in the Yukon for 20 years and is anxious to see regulations in place that will allow her to perform her job more comprehensively.

As things stand, she is not part of the medical system, and practises as a private entity. This means she is not allowed to accompany expectant mothers to the hospital as a primary care provider, if the situation requires it or the family prefers it.

Kaiser received her certification in her home country of Germany, where she says midwifery is “the standard, and not the exception.”

While she is frustrated with the limitations of practising in the Yukon, she is bolstered by her love for the territory and her occupation.

“Midwifery has been an option in the Yukon, but it’s not really, truly an option if you have to pay for it yourself and elsewhere in the country you don’t,” Kaiser said.

“Everywhere else, midwives earn a pretty good living; here, we don’t. Midwifery itself is more important to me … I still believe we can change it here, and it is in the process of being changed.”

Kathleen Cranfield is the president of the Community Midwifery Association Yukon. She said she was excited to see the decade’s first child born with a midwife while she awaits an update from the Yukon government on the regulations.

“The birth is incredible; it’s awesome the baby was born at home,” Cranfield told the Star.

“I think this is a good catalyst for this government to start really moving.”

Cranfield was one of a handful of midwifery experts and stakeholders to participate in the government’s midwifery advisory committee, which was initiated in October 2017.

In September 2018, the government issued a press release announcing the search for public feedback on midwifery regulations, with plans to introduce regulated and funded midwifery by the end of 2019.

Cranfield said the committee was promised a draft of the new regulations “very soon,” but she is unsure of the timeline.

“I do know there’s been a lot of really good work, a lot of productive work put towards the regulations, and now basically we are waiting on a decision as to what the model will be,” Cranfield said.

“There definitely are obstacles. We definitely are so far behind the rest of the country and the world.”

Cranfield noted that when Ontario regulated midwifery nearly 30 years ago, Canada became the last country in the world other than the United States to implement the service.

“That shows how far behind the Yukon is,” Cranfield said.

The Yukon and P.E.I. will be the last Canadian jurisdictions to regulate midwifery. The P.E.I. government has promised to regulate midwifery in 2020, potentially leaving the territory behind as the last place in Canada expectant mothers can’t receive the service through the public system.

Odile Nelson, a communications analyst for the Department of Community Services, told the Star in an email this morning that regulations are currently being drafted, with completion expected early this year.

The regulations will come into effect once the model of care is determined based on the regulations with guidance from the advisory committee, hospital corporation, health care providers and the government.

“We are committed to regulating and funding midwifery so that Yukoners can have another safe health care option that supports healthy pregnancies, childbirth and post-natal care,” Nelson said.

Comments (6)

Up 5 Down 1

Matthew on Jan 8, 2020 at 7:42 am

Oh no.. I misread.. but no one touched the fact that it costs $2000 to give birth at home..

Up 1 Down 1

Echo on Jan 8, 2020 at 7:25 am

So Matthew, did you get that???

Up 5 Down 1

Reading comprehension on Jan 7, 2020 at 8:32 am

Hey Matthew, read the article again. The first time in 10 years the New Years baby has been born outside of WGH. NOT the first time in 10 years a baby has been born at home. EYE ROLL.

Up 8 Down 0

Amdrea on Jan 6, 2020 at 9:30 pm

Matthew - it's the first time the New Year's baby was born outside the hospital, not the first time any baby has been born outside the hospital. There was almost one a few years ago but it was born at 11:30 or something on the 31st.

Up 12 Down 1

Christina on Jan 6, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Matthew: It hasn't been 10 years that someone has given birth at home it just hasn't happened for a long time that the New Year's Baby was born at home! Home births happen in the Yukon all the time under the care of midwives. We have been here, just not part of the system.

Up 6 Down 12

Matthew on Jan 6, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Cool. But shocking that it's been over 10 years someone has given birth at home... like she says, I'm sure it's so much more comfortable at home and women have been doing so for eons.. didn't think it was so rare these days.. even if 25% of the 400 babies/year were home born, that's only $200k, I mean we're spending 500K on art..

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