The Nanaimo Division of Family Practice is collecting surveys on maternity care from new mothers. STOCK PHOTO

New survey asks mid Island women about maternity care

Nanaimo Division of Family Practice conducts survey as part of greater provincial initiative

Mid Island maternity care services are getting a checkup.

A new survey is examining maternity care across Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Oceanside with the help of new mothers and family doctors.

It’s part of a larger provincial maternity initiative led by the Shared Care Committee, a partnership of Doctors of B.C., the B.C. Government with Perinatal Services B.C., and is being conducted through the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice. The survey will look at where gaps are, what can be improved for pregnant and new mothers and if collaboration between midwives, obstetricians, family doctors and labour and delivery nurses is making a difference.

“I think that patients will help to inform where our gaps of care are. If we don’t ask the questions we’re making assumptions and that’s not the way to help to inform the situation,” said Nanaimo’s Dr. Sheila Findlay, who told the News Bulletin the survey is an opportunity to take a careful look at obstetrical care, see if the work of the collaboration is making a difference and if there are ways to improve.

Obsetricians, family doctors and midwives joined forces two years ago in a moment of crisis, according to Findlay, who said there was a lack of obstetrician coverage with two retiring and another two having babies.

When providers came together, she said they realized there were a number of areas where they weren’t collaborating and there was interest in working on those relationships, recognizing they needed to understand how they each practised and how to “seamlessly integrate” care around women, their partners and newborn babies. Nanaimo’s Obstetric Collaborative is supported by the local division of family practice.

Findlay said they work differently now, pointing out that there’s a larger sense of involving the primary care provider and working together to support each other.

The survey launched in early December and is available online and in hard copy from family doctors, obstetricians and midwives.

So far, 20 care providers have filled out surveys, which look at how women access obstetrical care and if there are any knowledge gaps in the family physician community, such as the kinds of tests that need to be done. More than 100 surveys have been filled out. Questions range from asking women about their experience of maternity care to how difficult it was to find a maternity care provider and if they have a family doctor.

The local collaborative also added its own questions around mental health and substance use which project leader Brenda Kent said are issues of increasing concern in the region and across the province.

“Maternity care providers in Nanaimo wanted to make sure this maternity needs assessment included questions around [mental health and substance use] to better understand how existing programs and resources are being used by women in the perinatal period and to identify opportunities/gaps that may be unique to pregnant women and new moms,” she said in an e-mail, adding the results will provide baseline data for the province around maternity care and collaborative practice, as well as identify key issues in maternity care in Nanaimo that would benefit from further collaboration between various maternity care providers.

The survey can be found at and responses are anonymous. People who fill out the survey can enter to win a $200 gift certificate to Huckleberry Baby Shop.

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