Women and Girls’ Health
Inuit maternal care faces many challenges. The availability and quality of maternal health care services in the North is not the same as in southern Canada.
Common concerns about maternal care in the North are:
- the lack of fully equipped facilities and services in most communities;
- the lack of staff; and,
- the inability to retain those with medical training.
Provincial and territorial government health systems vary between the four Inuit regions. Because of this, there is a lack of co-ordinated and consistent health and maternity services available to all Inuit.
Inuit Women’s Needs Assessment on Quality Maternity Care
In 2004 the Ajunnginiq Centre (now known as Inuit Tuttarvingat) conducted a needs assessment of maternity care in the North.
A focus group of 10 Inuit women was assembled in June 2004 in Iqaluit, Nunavut. To supplement the focus group discussions, a questionnaire was distributed to those participants who had given birth within the last three years. In addition, the results of nine telephone interviews of health care professionals — doctors, midwives, nurses, and a prenatal-worker — are included in this analysis.
A full report has been published in Inuktitut and English: “Exploring Models for Quality Maternity Care in First Nations and Inuit Communities: Final Report of the Inuit Women’s Needs Assessment”.
Inuit share a unique birthing heritage.
Birthing has a cultural context that is often disrupted when mothers are removed from their home communities — often to southern cities — for routine births. This can be a highly alienating experience that removes the mother from her family and network of support.
Inuit traditional birthing practices are different from southern techniques. Traditionally, the midwife or birthing assistant played an important role in the naming of the newborn for instance.
Inuit have a rich cultural heritage and knowledge about pregnancy and birthing that has the potential of being lost.
Inuit Tuttarvingat has created “Irnisuksiiniq – Inuit Midwifery Network” , a virtual information-sharing network for Inuit midwives and maternity care workers. It seeks to advance the cause of returning birthing to Inuit communities.
Inuit Tuttarvingat resources on women and girls’ health: