Samantha Young-Finch and her eight-month old son Prentice. Young-Finch had to drive several times to Smithers during her pregnancy due to the lack of a maternity program in Burns Lake.

Lack of maternity program presents risks for future mothers

"No matter what, you're taking some sort of risk when you're going that far to have a baby," says mother

In the next few months, Lakes District News will be showcasing stories of women having babies, or who’ve had babies and what obstacles they’ve encountered.

Burns Lake resident Samantha Young-Finch has had two boys – the oldest one is almost three years old, and the youngest is 10 months old. Both babies were delivered in Smithers due to the lack of a maternity program in the Lake District Hospital in Burns Lake.

Young-Finch chose to have consultations with the same doctor throughout both pregnancies, and the only way to do that was to drive to Smithers for all her appointments.

With her second pregnancy, some complications appeared that required weekly doctor appointments close to the end of the nine months.

“It’s expensive to drive to Smithers, and both my pregnancies were over the winter, so it’s dangerous,” she said. “It ticks you off, you just want to have your kids close to home.”

Each trip to Smithers cost approximately $60 including food and gas. Although Young-Finch wasn’t working during her pregnancies, her husband, who is a camp worker, missed out on work every time he had to drive her to Smithers.

Prior to the labour of her first child, the doctor recommended her to stay at a hotel in Smithers during the last days of pregnancy, but the Burns Lake mother said she could not afford it.

“That’s crazy expensive,” she said.

So she waited until she was in labour to make the two-hour drive during winter time to the hospital.

Although there were no complications during her first pregnancy, Young-Finch was in labour for over 40 hours, and the Smithers’ hospital does not allow mothers to stay there unless their cervix has dilated over four centimetres. What this meant was that Young-Finch had to pay for a hotel room for two nights.

The Burns Lake mother said that relying on a maternity program out of town is not only an inconvenience, but it also presents many risks for mothers and their babies.

“There could have been an accident on the road, labour could have progressed extremely fast and I could have delivered a baby on the road,” she said. “No matter what, you’re taking some sort of risk when you’re going that far to have a baby.”

Just like many other mothers in Burns Lake, Young-Finch does not understand why the hospital in Burns Lake does not offer a maternity program.

“There’s enough people having babies here that there has got to be someway to fund it,” she said.

According to Marie Hunter, health services administrator for Northern Health, in order for Burns Lake to implement a maternity program, a surgical services team of 10 to 15 professionals would be required. Currently, there are three.

Although the new Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre will include a labour delivery suite, it will only be used for emergency deliveries.