Bringing Birth Back to the North
For decades, women went south to give birth. Now midwives bring new life to northern communities
When 25-year-old Jocelyn Merritt gave birth to her first child, Leo, in Rankin Inlet last November, she did what few women in Canada’s far northern communities have done in the past 50 years: she gave birth close to home
On a cold, clear night last November, as most of the 2,400 inhabitants of Rankin Inlet slept in their beds, Jocelyn Merritt was jolted awake by a contraction stronger than all the others. She began timing them on her iPad: 3:54, 3:57, 4:02, 4:13, and listening to her iPhone to help her meditate through the pain. But by 4:46 a.m. she knew “it was time,” and woke her partner, Gavin, to call the midwife.
It took some time to warm up the truck, with the temperature hovering around -15 C, but by 5:30, Merritt, Gavin and Gavin’s mother were bundled up in its warm cabin. Before leaving, Merritt remembered to called her sister to remind her to bring the homemade amauti, a traditional Inuit parka for carrying babies, that Merritt would need for carrying home her first-born. Then, they drove down the hill to have a baby.
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