Canadian women deserve quality care during pregnancy and birth no matter where they live. Unfortunately, access to rural maternity care in Canada has been reduced in recent years. Budget cuts, reduced availability of qualified personnel, and perception of risks of delivery in remote places have all contributed to closures of rural maternity care centres.
Some rural communities still do provide maternity services, allowing women to access care and give birth relatively close to where they live. In other areas, rural women need to travel long distances to access prenatal care and deliver their babies. If the distance is very great, women may be away from their homes from 36 weeks gestation until after delivery. This can be a very stressful time for family members left at home and for the travelling woman who may not have any support people near her. It can also be expensive to be away from home. Improving access to maternity care is an important issue that needs to be supported by government initiatives. If you live rurally, talk to your family doctor to explore your options.