Irnisursiriartutuq nunaringngitamini - Birthing Outside the Community

Indigenous women living in northern and remote regions of Canada are routinely evacuated to southern hospitals for childbirth. While it was intended to improve perinatal outcomes by increasing access to obstetric and maternity healthcare services, childbirth evacuation has resulted in unintended, negative consequences. Previous studies have examined and critiqued Canada’s childbirth evacuation policies through qualitative accounts of how birthing outside the community adversely affects Indigenous women, their families, and communities. Yet, most of these studies are based primarily on the experiences of First Nations and Métis women in the Prairie provinces and British Columbia. Except for a handful of studies that documented the movement to keep childbirth in the community for Nunavik Inuit, there is a knowledge gap about contemporary childbirth evacuation among Inuit and more importantly, how it affects Inuit mothers’ well-being while they await childbirth in the south and subsequently, postpartum maternal-infant health when they return to their communities in Nunavik.

The goal of the current, mixed methods, longitudinal observational study is to better understand and determine the associations among childbirth evacuation, perinatal mental health, and infant growth/development for Inuit mother-infant pairs in Nunavik.

Specifically, the Irnisursiriartutuq Nunaringngitamini project (i) investigates whether and how childbirth evacuation affects stress and depression during pregnancy; (ii) assesses the association between both prenatal and postpartum depression and infant growth/development; and (iii) implements an integrated knowledge transfer (iKT) plan with community members and organizational partners to raise awareness of perinatal depression, promote healthy pregnancies, and improve support for Inuit women and their families. The study results will have direct relevance to healthcare policy and service delivery in Nunavik and will also be pertinent to Inuit communities in other parts of Inuit Nunangat and the circumpolar north (e.g., Greenland, Alaska, and Russia).

Research Team: PI Z. Vang; co-PI R. Gagnon; CIs E.Chachamovich, E. Labranche, L. Kirmayer; Collaborators K. Bertrand, A. Navickas.

Partners: Nunavik Regional Board of Health & Social Services, Inuulitsivik Health Center, Ungava Tulattavik Health Center

Funding source: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)


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