Maternity Matters
Submitted by Dr. Jane Fleet

Well, it’s that time again.  What time is that, you are asking?  Maternity Matters time.

A couple of years ago, the Invermere maternity team wrote a series of articles dealing with obstetrics and newborn care in Invermere.  It was very positively received.  We decided it was time for a refresher.  There are lots of new faces in the valley who might not know how things work here.

The maternity team in Invermere is made up of myself, Dr. Jane Fleet, Joanne Gillies (registered midwife), Dr. Shannon Page, Dr. Edward Schaffer and Kyra Warren (registered midwife), along with many experienced nurses at the Invermere and district hospital.

If you have a positive pregnancy test, your regular family doctor will refer you to one of the people in the group for ongoing prenatal care. We are a team, and we cover for each other when we are away. If you do not have a regular family doctor, phone either of the medical clinics (Invermere medical clinic or Chisel Peak) or Sweet Pea Midwifery, and you will be able to book your first prenatal appointment. 

During a pregnancy, most women who have a low-risk pregnancy will get two ultrasounds – one early one to date the pregnancy and another around 20 weeks to get a detailed look at the anatomy. These ultrasounds are done in Golden or Cranbrook.

As your pregnancy goes along, there will come a time (usually around 25 weeks) when you will have a discussion about where you would like to deliver. Yes, you have a choice!  Invermere and district hospital is a wonderful and safe place to deliver for women who have low-risk pregnancies. We have a highly trained staff, well-supported by regular obstetrical CME, that are very capable of managing your labour as it progresses, as well as dealing with a variety of emergencies if they were to arise.  

“But there are no epidural services and no cesarean section capabilities at Invermere hospital. How can you do deliveries? And I hear the numbers are very low.” This is correct. However, there is well-documented evidence that continuing to offer low-risk maternity services in areas without surgical back-up is safe, in fact, safer than transferring out all of these patients; safer for mothers and babies. Having no epidurals does not mean no pain control options. Your labour support person will be your best help for pain control, and other options will be discussed with you.  If your labour is not following a normal course, we work in close connection with the obstetricians in Cranbrook, and if necessary, you will be transferred, via ambulance, with a nurse or physician escort.  

If you prefer to deliver in a setting that has epidurals and surgical services available, then the most common place would be East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook. Our team GPs, due to other obligations, only do deliveries in Invermere, but they can follow you for the majority of your pregnancy and then refer you on to a family doctor in Cranbrook for the delivery, or alternatively refer you to Kyra and Joanne who are able to travel for deliveries.  If your pregnancy is at high risk or becomes higher risk along the way, you will be followed by one of us, in conjunction with one of the specialists in Cranbrook.  

Post delivery, your care, along with your new baby’s, will be managed by your delivery practitioner for the first six weeks.  After that, if you have a family doctor, they will take over care.  If not, a family physician will be found for you.

This may have just started you on a path to more questions with regards to prenatal, postnatal and newborn care. We hope the up-and-coming articles can help you find the answers you need.  

Maternity Matters is a semi-regular column promoting maternity services in the Valley.