In the next few months the Lakes District News will be showcasing stories of women having babies, or who’ve had babies and what obstacles they’ve encountered.
The Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre in Burns Lake is not a designated maternity site, which means soon-to-be mothers have no other option than to find a different location to have their babies.
Not having a maternity program in the area also implies several trips out of town for doctor appointments, and, in some cases, even staying in a different city for several weeks.
Burns Lake mother Marlee Wilson is one the many women in the area that struggled with the lack of a maternity program. The Francois Lake teacher gave birth to identical twins on Jan. 22, 2014. Due to the diagnose of a high-risk pregnancy, Wilson’s safest option was to have her babies in Prince George. The doctor advised her to move to the city after the eighth month of pregnancy in case of a premature labour.
In the beginning of December 2013, Wilson moved to Prince George and rented a partially-furnished apartment. She brought her two-year-old daughter to stay with her, and ended up bringing her to all doctor appointments. Wilson’s other son, a four-year-old boy, stayed in Burns Lake and was looked after by family. She was able to see her son every two weeks when her family brought him over to Prince George for a visit.
Half way through December, Wilson’s landlord notified her that a long-term renter had offered to take over the apartment, so Wilson was told to find another place to stay by the end of the month. Her brother, who lives in the city, was able to take her in. While living in Prince George for almost two months, Wilson received no financial support. Apart from the $600 rent she paid in December, Wilson said she spent a lot of money on food since she didn’t have any condiments to cook with.
“The grocery bills were twice the price because I didn’t have any staples there [in Prince George],” she said. “It ended up being quite expensive. You have to either eat out or buy stuff all the time.”
Prior to living in Prince George for almost two months, Wilson also had to drive to the city every two weeks for doctors appointments. Each trip accounted for approximately $100 in fuel, parking and eating out. Staying in Prince George during Christmas time also meant she had to spend the holidays away from home.
“It was specially stressful because I was gone for so long, and gone during Christmas and the holidays,” she said. “It was really frustrating, but there was no other option – you either do it or you don’t have kids.”
When Wilson gave birth to her other daughter in 2011, she also had no option but to stay in Prince George for seven days prior to labour. At that time, she stayed in her travel trailer, but said the experience was just as stressful.
“You are always waiting, and you just want to go home,” she said. “It would really be nice if you could stay around home and labour in your own area.”
Northern Health did not provide any comments on this issue by press time.