Residents of Akinsdale might soon have a birthing centre based in their neighbourhood, if a proposed rezoning is approved.
St. Albert Community Midwives have proposed the project. The centre would be based out of an otherwise residential home located at 32 Akins Dr., right across the street from the Appleyard Square strip mall that includes a 7/11 and LB's Pub.
Megan Davies is a childbirth educator who lives in Akinsdale, and a proponent of the concept.
"I am so excited about this idea. I strongly support any venture that gives birthing people choice in their care provider and place of birth. A birth centre is a wonderful option for people who want to have an out-of-hospital birth, but would rather not choose a home birth," she began.
"I have no issues with the location that is suggested. I think having a birth centre in a home is perfect for creating a comfortable and safe atmosphere The house is right across the street from a commercial strip mall, so I can’t imagine traffic or parking being a problem for the neighborhood. In short, two big thumbs up from me."
St. Albert Community Midwives were not available for comment on the proposal. If accepted, this would be the first birthing centre in the city, and only the second in the Edmonton area. According to the Alberta Association of Midwives, birthing centres are "community-based health care facilities that offer a safe, home-like atmosphere and family-centred space to labour and birth." To give birth at a birth centre, the organization's website notes, you must be in the care of a registered midwife.
"There has been a significant increase in interest for out of hospital births during the pandemic," Davies added.
"I think a lot of people have concerns about going into the hospital with COVID around, not to mention the constantly changing restrictions around support people are impacting a lot of people’s hopes and plans for their births. Additionally, if there’s anything that can be done to ease the load on hospitals, such as people having another place to go for birth, obviously that’s a good thing. We currently only have one birth centre in the Edmonton area and it was busy even before COVID was a factor. I think there are a lot of people who may not be 100 per cent comfortable with the idea of a home birth but would like to avoid the hospital if possible. A birth centre is a great option for them."
A virtual open house has been scheduled for next week. Residents in the area are invited to join to share their thoughts on the proposal and learn more about the project.
The online Zoom meeting will run from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Representatives from the city, the St. Albert Community Midwives and the contractor will be available to discuss and to field questions. You can register for the event by visiting bit.ly/32AkinsDriveJan12.
Those who require more information in advance should contact Chuck McNutt with WSP at 780-423-8252 or via email at [email protected].