ICA Interview with Heather Nelson of Access Midwifery & Family Care
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born and grew up in Victoria and am so glad to still call this city home. I share a house with my husband, my two children (ages 4 & 6), and my mom. I work as a Registered Midwife at Access Midwifery & Family Care, where we provide maternity care to women and their families. I love to spend time in my garden, growing vegetables and flowers. Being outside with my kids is also one of the highlights of my life so we spend lots of time camping, hiking, and biking as a family.
What made you reach out to ICA to support Syrian refugees?
I had the privilege of working at ICA many years ago as a Volunteer Coordinator for some wonderful community festivals. Hearing about the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Canada has been a catalyst for me to reach out to my former colleagues at ICA to see if we can cooperate to provide maternity care to Syrian and other refugee families settling in Victoria.
What services can you offer?
Registered Midwives are regulated health professionals in BC. We offer full-scope maternity care to women. We order routine lab work and ultrasounds, conduct regular prenatal check-ups, provide clinical, physical, and emotional support during labour, and we care for mother and baby for about 6 weeks after baby is born. Our model of care promotes continuity of care, informed choice decision making, and choice of birth place (hospital or home). Cost for services for refugees are covered by the Interim Federal Health Benefits program or MSP. There are about 30 Registered Midwives working in Greater Victoria and we presently conduct more than 30% of the births in the region.
What motivates you to offer your services?
I would hope that as a midwife, I can help to provide compassionate, trauma-informed, flexible care to refugees arriving in our city. These families are arriving carrying the heavy weight of grief, loss, injury, and trauma. I want to help them have as positive an experience as possible as they welcome a baby into their family.
What type of takeaway or insights do you expect from this experience?
It will be a privilege to meet the people behind the photos and headlines that have recently been in the news. Babies are such a point of connection for people and I love how quickly cross-cultural barriers drop when people are anticipating or celebrating a birth together.
Do you have previous experience with refugees and this client group?
My colleagues and I have provided maternity care to several refugee and new immigrant families here in Victoria during the past 10 years.
How would you encourage other professionals who have specific skills and expertise to support refugees?
I would encourage any skilled professional to be generous with their time as refugees arrive in our city. Please consider how you might be able to address the unique needs of these newcomers by liaising with staff at ICA to find out what supports are most needed.