Bringing home baby

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo Emily Leblanc, left, holds Jacob Eric Ryan Leblanc, the first child born in Hay River in the new widwife program.

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo
Emily Leblanc, left, holds Jacob Eric Ryan Leblanc, the first child born in Hay River in the new widwife program.

Jacob Eric Ryan Leblanc became the first baby intentionally born in town in more than a decade on Feb. 25, according to the Hay River Health Authority, and the mother is pretty happy about it.

“Everything happened so fast,” said mother Emily Leblanc. “Staying in the community, having that support, was amazing.”

Midwives Heather Heinrichs and Toni Fehr have been working together here since the fall, but this was the first Hay River baby they helped bring into the world. Although there have regularly been accidental births in town, they only happened when a mother wasn’t able to get to Yellowknife in time and periodically resulted in medevacs for mom, baby or both afterwards.

“I highly recommend going with the midwives to anyone as long as your pregnancy is healthy,” said Leblanc. “I was originally going to go to Edmonton but I heard about the midwifery program and it was a saving grace.”

Jacob’s older brother Joseph was born in a hospital and Leblanc said she preferred the midwife experience.

“For me, I felt like the hospital intervened too much,” she said. “The midwives were there to support me in the process but they let things happen the way they were supposed to.”

Fehr and Heinrichs were nearly as excited about the new arrival as the family, saying that the staff at the health clinic joined in their anticipation.

“When the phone rang, everything stopped and everyone was watching me to see what was going to happen,” said Heinrichs, speaking of the direct line — dubbed the baby-phone – expectant parents are given to the midwives. “It went really well. You can’t really have a more straightforward birth than that.”

Fehr agreed saying it was good to see the family together in their own environment.

“The new mum came in with a beautiful bouquet of flowers earlier this week,” she said. “She said how different it was to her first experience.”

Currently, Fehr and Heinrichs have about 25 pre-natal clients under their care, a number that grows by one or two mothers every week. They expect to see about 50 pregnancies in the year, a number that they said was typical for a community of this size. The number of births, however, is less predictable.

“It’s probably one of those things that will grow when people hear about it and see that it works for other families,’ said Heinrichs, adding that they were expecting another birth within the next few weeks. “Having had the birth happen and have been a good experience is a great thing.”

Fehr said not having to be the first would also hopefully encourage other mothers to make use of the services.

“We’re really looking forward to the next one,” she said.

–Sarah Ladik