Every year the Midwives Association of BC (MABC) honours a BC midwife with the Midwifery Access Award. This year our own Cora Beitel, a founding member of the Strathcona Midwifery Collective, was given the award for distinguished service to BC families. She wrote the following about our work at the Collective for the MABC newsletter.
The Strathcona Midwifery Collective was founded in 2011 as a Downtown Eastside (DTES) Vancouver midwifery practice. Our vision was to create a community space that was accessible and nourishing to both our clients and families and to the midwives. It is an honour for us to receive the UBC Access award and have our clinic and work publicly acknowledged.
At the Strathcona Midwifery Collective we strive to build community in an environment that nurtures and supports families and babies through community participation. Many people face barriers to appropriate health care, including prenatal and midwifery care. By centering our care in the community, creating a welcoming and accessible clinical space, and providing clinical care in a non-hierarchical way we collaborate with the people in our care to overcome some of those barriers.
The clinic has changed a lot over the past few years, today we are group of seven midwives who work together making decisions as a collective and all have different specialties and ways of caring for our community. One team focuses their care on Spanish speaking and Aboriginal families offering prenatal clinics through UNYA, the Urban Native Youth Association. One team has expertise in care for transgender clients. And the third team offers home visits for all prenatal and postpartum care for families who prefer home care or who face barriers in coming to the clinic space. All teams do outreach in the DTES to care for clients who face barriers to accessing midwifery care. We are always looking for ways to connect and make partnerships with other individuals or organizations doing complementary work!
The Strathcona Midwifery Collective was established as the clinical arm of the Maternal Health and Empowerment Society. At the clinic, all of our midwives donate 3% of our monthly earnings to the MHES fund. This fund is then used to support community projects geared towards growing families in the Downtown Eastside.
We are dedicated to affordable and accessible care; therefore our community gatherings and groups are free or by donation to ensure equal participation from all in the communities we serve. Some examples of our groups are a “prenatal in a day” class, a breastfeeding social, a parenting drop-in and a queer and trans pregnancy and parenting group (QTPP).
I co-facilitate the QTPP group that offers support and community building to folks on the parenting journey who identify as queer or transgender. It has been a very successful group that has met a need in the LGBTQ community for a gathering space to share social time, engage in dialogue, and share resources.
The midwives at the Strathcona Midwifery Collective are growing along with the needs of the communities we serve and aim to engage in meaningful ways with our families, honouring the parenting journey as central in growing a healthy world.
Cora Beitel RM, co-founder of the Strathcona Midwifery Collective.