Nothing in Victoria has changed with respect to a woman's access to medically neccessary care during labour and delivery. I used to think that I was an unfortunate one-off having my personal autonomy violated and a natural birth forced on me due to the inavailability of an anaesthesiologist. That was until August 17, 2011 - when I read the very tragic report of another mom in Victoria who gave birth, but her baby didn't live - potentially because she could not get access to a c-section fast enough. It through me off kilter, and brought me back to my own experience, just over a year ago. Being out of control and terrified that something might go sideways and knowing that an anaesthesiologist wasn't available...
The news report angered me...how is it that in Victoria, at a hospital that is a level 3 hospital (handles high risk pregnancies), that does more than 3,000 deliveries a year that women do not have access to anaesthesiologists?
I've done more research, and am shocked to find that the rate of epidural use in 2009-2010 is around 34% for vaginal deliveries on South Vancouver Island compared to 49% in Vancouver campared to 56% for Canada as a whole. Among first time moms the rates of epidural use are 43.9% on South Vancouver Island compared to 59.6% in Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. So what's the difference? There is no Dedicated Obstetrical Anaesthesiology available at Victoria General Hospital, whereas there is at BC Women's and Children's hospital. Actually BC women's and children's hospital is the only level 3 hospital in BC to have dedicated obstetric anaesthesiology - even though the national standard is for level 3 hospitals to have this resources.
Are women being denied access to epidurals do to shortages of staff/anaesthesiologists? I know I was. I also know other women who were (actually it's shocking when you begin to talk about it with other moms). I am further aware of women who had to wait a long time to get access to an epidural. I am aware of delayed csections.
If women on South Vancouver Island want epidurals at a rate similar to the rest of the province - there are more than 350 women a year being denied access to them!