The government had pledged to create 12 birth centers by 2022, but none have seen the light of day. The user midwives of the Doumaïa birth center in Castres in the Tarn have therefore mobilized with an urgent call for signatures to relaunch the project.
“There is always something that blocks…”, loose Juliette Dassonville-Leroy, user midwife at Doumaïa, who for a few days, has been fighting for the future of birth centers in France.
As a reminder, the Castrese structure, a pioneer in the region, was created and authorized in 2015 on an experimental basis before obtaining, in May 2022, official authorization from the Regional Health Agency (ARS) to practice for a period of 7 years old. An agreement has also been signed with the Intercommunal Hospital Center of Castres-Mazamet.
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So if all goes well for Doumaïa, Juliette Dassonville-Leroy wants future birth centers to have the same chance. Because after the success of the experiment conducted between 2015 and 2020, the government had set the objective of opening 12 new birth centers by the end of 2022. “But no new center has opened in the context of sustainability, regrets the midwife. And those who could open do not have the necessary funding. So the law, which has been passed, should be applied once and for all and that existing projects can succeed”.
“We won’t stop there”
In this sense, to “challenge the Ministry of Health” and “alert” the mayors, deputies and senators of Occitanie on the “alarming” situation of these structures, the Collective of French birth centers, of which Doumaïa is a part, has decided to launch an urgent call for signatures to obtain a national consultation with all health actors and thus relaunch the development of birth centres.
“We are asking for a strong political commitment in supporting new projects as well as facilitating contact with partner maternity hospitals”, adds Juliette Dassonville-Leroy, who in this “fight”, succeeded with her colleagues in gathering more than 350 signatures. “And we won’t stop there. With this backpedaling on the birth center development project, France is thus depriving itself of a care offer which, by opening up an alternative in complete safety to many low-risk patients, also allows, thanks to less medicalized follow-up pregnancy, to optimize medical time by freeing up more time for patients”, continues the health professional.
Declining activity at Doumaïa
According to INSEE, which published French demographic figures last January, the number of births reached a historically low level in 2022. As a result, this drop in the birth rate has had an impact on Doumaïa. But according to Juliette Dassonville-Leroy, this drop in activity may be due to a lack of communication. “Half of our patients are outside the Castres sector, so we wonder if the pool is really aware of the existence of this birth center,” she explains. “I also have the impression that during the Covid, women looked for an alternative to the hospital because it was difficult to give birth there but today suddenly, this is no longer the case” , adds the midwife who affirms that to date, Doumaïa can accommodate more patients “and that the house is open to all people who have an obstetrical risk”.
“We exist, we are here and we are able to welcome new mothers. This is our message!”, She concludes. To date, the Castres birth center has given birth to 290 babies.