Midwifery & Maternal Health


Photo of a baby's feet.

Established in September 2021, the Research Exchange Group on Midwifery and Maternal Health is a forum that connects midwives, doulas, researchers, community partners, clinicians, health system decision makers, pregnant people and their families, and all those with an interest midwifery and maternal health to discuss to research, policy and programming.

See Group Activities and Presentations

Group Conveners
  • Dr. Ann Noseworthy, Retired Faculty, Memorial University School of Nursing and Retired Midwife, Association of Midwives of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Sarah Harnum, Registered Midwife, Central Health Regional Health Authority 


Join Us 

NLCAHR’s Research Exchange Group on Midwifery & Maternal Health welcomes anyone with an interest in midwifery and maternal health to join us. See our calendar of meetings for information about upcoming webinars or email rochelle.baker@med.mun.ca for more details.


Group Activities & Presentations

Fall 2022

October 18, 2022 |  A discussion about the state of midwifery in Atlantic Canada.  In this panel discussion, we looked at midwifery in Atlantic Canada: past, present, and future:   

  1. PearI Herbert, retired midwife provided the history of midwifery in NL
  2. Thea Penashue of the Innu Roundtable Secretariat, updated the group on the Innu Midwifery Project.
  3. Vanessa Webb, a nurse midwife in Nain outlined the status of Inuit  midwifery practice in Nunatsiavut.
  4. Sarah Harnum, Chair of the College of Midwives of NL, provided insights on the regulatory issues and barriers midwives face in NL and an update on the status of midwifery in Central Health.
  5. Brianna Thompson talked about her role as Chief Midwife for Newfoundland and Labrador
  6. Ann Noseworthy spoke about the Association of Midwives of NL
  7. Brittany Stairs of MANB (Midwives Assoc of NB) gave an update on midwifery in New Brunswick
  8. Joyce England, President of the PEI Midwives’ Association told us about midwifery on Prince Edward Island
  9. Jessica MacDonald of the Association of Nova Scotia Midwives spoke about midwifery in Nova Scotia.


December 2, 2022 at 3:30pm: Cecilia Benoit, University of Victoria : The Regulatory Amalgamation for Nursing and Midwifery in British Columbia: Benefits & Challenges.


January 21, 2022 at 1:00pm NST | Martha Traverso-Yepez, PhD (Universidad Complutense, Madrid) Honorary Research Professor, Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland | Dr. Traverso-Yepez will discuss research related to maternal health.  Her past projects include a study entitled: Engaging Mothers to Make Mental Health a Critical Item in Primary Health Care Assessment and The effectiveness of wraparound supports for young mothers experiencing at risk environments.

February 25, 2022 at 1:00pm NST | Dr. Cristina Mattison, Assistant Professor (Part-Time), Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Adjunct Scientist, Obstetrics and Gynecology, McMaster University is a reseacher in the areas of fertility and maternal health.

March 18, 2022 at 1:00pm NST | The Newfoundland and Labrador Context for Obstetrics Services: A Focus Group Discussion| Researchers at NLCAHR's Contextualized Health Research Synthesis Program (CHRSP) are working on an Evidence in Context report on the use of Patient Decision Aids in decision-making during the childbearing year. The team has already gathered and synthesized the scientific evidence— all they need to do now is to place that evidence in context for Newfoundland and Labrador – to support relevant local decision making. This is where you, as a member of our Research Exchange Group on Midwifery and Maternal Health, will come in! Please join us for an important conversation with CHRSP Research Officers Colin Walsh and Christie Warren as we explore key themes iin obstetrics service delivery.

March 25, 2022 at 1:00PM NST | The Innu Midwifery Project:Restoring Midwifery and Community Birth Thea Penashue, Gisela Becker, June Fry, Kathleen Cranfield
This presentation will tell the progress made to reintroduce midwifery to Sheshatshiu and Natuashish in Labrador, drawing on Innu Elders’ knowledge of Innu birthing practices, to support the training of Innu midwives using a culturally specific, hands-on, and individually paced learning approach. We will describe how restoring midwifery to the Innu communities would result in Innu babies being born into Innu hands on Innu lands, fostering a greater connection to the land and culture, continuation of cultural practices and culturally safe care, and empowering women in the context of their childbearing experience. About our presenters: Thea Penashue is the Health Manager with the Innu Round Table Secretariat (IRT). Thea is also the Co-chair of the IRT Midwifery Steering Committee and advocates for the return of midwifery to the Innu communities of Labrador. She lives with her husband and two daughters in North West River, Labrador. Thea gave birth to her second daughter in a traditional Innu tent. Gisela Becker is a registered midwife and midwifery consultant with the Innu Round Table Secretariat in Labrador, and Chief Advisor for midwifery implementation with the Government of Prince Edward Island. Gisela is a past president of the Canadian Association of Midwives from 2009 to 2010 and represented Canadian midwifery at the International Confederation of Midwives Council in 2008 in Glasgow, Scotland, and 2011 in Durban, South Africa. Gisela held the position of the first Alberta Health Services Director of Midwifery Services and is a former Assistant Professor in the Midwifery Education Program at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. Gisela was the Provincial Chief Midwife with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador from 2017 to 2020 and became the first registered midwife under the NL Health Profession Act. Gisela has many years of experience working in Indigenous and northern communities and a strong interest in research, data collection and program evaluation. June Fry is a BN, RN and in her 38th year of her nursing career. June has worked in a variety of positions from a staff nurse, Public Health Nurse, Head Nurse, Regional Nurse to Director of Nursing, Coordinating Instructor in Licensed Nursing programs, curriculum development for the Integrated Nursing Access Program for the Inuit of Labrador, Maternal Child Health Nurse with Health Canada, and the last 6 years working with the Innu Round Table Secretariat in Labrador, as the Innu Child Health Coordinator. June truly has loved all her nursing career positions, all came with their challenges and great satisfaction. June received the Excellence of Nursing Award in 2010 from First Nations and Inuit Health Branch for her work with the two Innu communities in Labrador. Kathleen Cranfield is a registered midwife in Fort Smith, NWT and a midwifery consultant with the Innu Round Table Secretariat in Labrador. Kathleen has been instrumental in bringing regulated midwifery services to the Yukon.

April 29, 2022 at 1:00PM NT | Dr. Lisa Morgan, University of Ottawa | Experience of Reproductive Healthcare fWith a goal to improve service provision, this study examined the experiences of women in Northern Ontario with respect to their uptake of reproductive healthcare services. As part of this mixed methods study, women in Northern Ontario completed a survey, offered in English and French, about their reproductive healthcare experiences, and a portion of participants were also interviewed. A multimodal recruitment strategy and maximum variation sampling was applied, with a goal of collecting the experiences of a diverse group of women. Analysis was based on 173 completed surveys and 19 semi-structured qualitative interviews. The interview data is grouped under five conceptual constructs, with “gender” as an overarching construct, found to be a factor in the remaining four: the characteristics of good care; the relationship with the provider; the care environment, and administrative practices. Additionally, respondents felt that midwives excelled at providing quality reproductive healthcare and would favour increased access to midwives for reproductive health care throughout their lives. Most survey participants rated their reproductive healthcare experiences as fair to good overall but indicate room for improvement in the relationships with their providers and administrative support. Women residing rurally, without a family physician, and lower socioeconomic statuses are statistically more likely to prefer a midwife for reproductive healthcare. The survey results indicate a preference for female healthcare providers by the majority of interviewees. Changes driven by strong health policy may be required to engage women in recommended reproductive healthcare more fully. Although northern geography will always present challenges that may not be subject to amelioration, other factors preventing women from accessing care are more amenable to change, and as argued here, this is a right of women and an obligation on the part of governments to provide equitable access for all Canadians to healthcare services.


September 17, 2021 at 1:00pm NST | Introductory Meeting

October 15, 2021 at 1:00pm NST | Perinatal Mental Health with Dr. Archana Vidyasankar |In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have one of the highest rates in Canada of anxiety and depression in pregnancy and postpartum and this has motivated psychiatrist Dr. Archana Vidyasankar to create change. She, along with other passionate individuals, helped initiate the Perinatal Mental Health Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador to gather community groups, healthcare providers, interested parties, government, educators and many more amazing, like-minded people to help support our young families. Dr. Vidyasankar enjoys creating awareness and providing education for medical students, residents, physicians in various disciplines on this topic.

November 19, 2021 at 1:00pm NST | Health Before Conception: Research on Fertility & Exercise with Dr. Katie Wadden| During the past three decades, rates of obesity have tripled for women of childbearing age in Newfoundland and Labrador. Unfortunately, women with obesity are three times more likely to experience infertility than women with a normal BMI. For patients with an elevated BMI who are experiencing infertility, weight loss is the first-line recommended therapeutic intervention as it has been shown to have a positive impact on fertility outcomes. However, fertility physicians and nurses have minimal time and resources to evaluate the potentially modifiable risk factors (e.g., diet and physical inactivity) that are associated with obesity. Dr. Wadden’s research program in reproductive health started in direct response to the growing number of patients with obesity and infertility, combined with a gap in healthcare services to support them. Since 2017, her research team has been building partnerships between relevant stakeholders, including women’s health clinicians, patients of the fertility clinic, allied health professionals, and experts from the fields of exercise physiology, endocrinology, clinical epidemiology, health promotion, and exercise psychology. Findings from the work that has been completed by Dr. Wadden and her team with the fertility and exercise group will help to develop innovative interventional research that targets cardiometabolic health before conception. About our presenter: Dr. Katie Wadden is a CIHR post-doctoral fellow in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Katie completed her Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. Over the past several years, academically and professionally, Katie has dedicated her efforts to advocating for the inclusion of Kinesiology in healthcare. In 2017, a fertility physician from the NL Fertility Clinic approached her to develop an exercise program for patients with obesity and infertility. Since this request, Katie has completed an immersive dive into the study of preconception and reproductive health. Her current interests are in cardiorespiratory and metabolic biomarkers related to reproductive health and the psychosocial experiences of women with infertility and obesity.

December 17, 2021 at 1:00pm NST | Presentation TBA