The Association of Ontario Midwives

The Association of Ontario Midwives

Birth Centres - Ottawa, Toronto and Six Nations

There are three birth centres in Ontario: the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre, the Toronto Birth Centre and Tsi Non:we Ionnakeratstha Ona:grahsta’ Maternal and Child Centre on Six Nations of the Grand River territory is currently available to Aboriginal women living on the Six Nations territory and outlying areas.

Birth centres are available to midwifery clients and support out-of-hospital birth. Talk to your midwife about planning your labour and birth at home, in a birth centre, or in a hospital.

In spring 2016, BORN Ontario released an evaluation of the Ottawa and Toronto birth centres.

Additional information and resources about the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre:

Dowload the handout About the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre

Visit the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre website
Visit the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre Facebook page

Additional information and resources about the Toronto Birth Centre:

Visit the Toronto Birth Centre website
Visit the Toronto Birth Centre Facebook page

Download Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care brochures about the birth centres for more information:

Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre
Toronto Birth Centre (coming soon)

Birth centres will improve outcomes for Ontario women and families
The healthiest birth for the majority of women is a normal birth. However, in Ontario today, nearly one in three women delivers her newborn by c-section. This is at an all-time high – almost double the rate of 15% recommended by the World Health Organization. The increased rate of c-sections has been indexed to poorer outcomes. Data from the U.S.indicates that providing more c-sections has not resulted in any improvements in perinatal mortality rates.

The rate of c-sections for women in midwifery care is half the provincial average. Midwives are skilled at supporting normal, physiological birth and use these skills to try to ensure the most normal birth possible for all women in their care. Midwifery clients are diverse in age, cultural background and ethnicity, socio-economic status and health status. Midwifery-led birth centres will optimize care for normal birth for all women in midwifery care.

Safe, community-based care
Safe, normal birth is increased and unnecessary interventions, such as c-sections, are reduced in birth centres, when compared to hospital. The safety of birth centres has been well established. Community-based care in birth centres enables women and newborns to reduce their exposure to hospital-based infections and to outbreaks of the flu. Birth centres provide a place to labour and birth that are set apart from institutions that care for people with infectious diseases. Birth centres can help to make midwifery more accessible and help women and their families realize their goal of a normal and healthy childbirth.

Cost-effective care from midwives
C-sections are costing the Ontario health care system over $100 million every year. Midwifery-led birth centres will help decrease these costs by reducing interventions and supporting normal birth. The birth centre model has been proven to work in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries. Closer to home, in Quebec, there is a well-established system of midwifery-led birth centres, and Manitoba opened a birth centre in December 2011.

On March 20, 2012, the provincial Government announced funding for two additional free-standing, midwifery-led birth centres in Ontario. (Read our press release.)

This announcement was the culmination of an almost year-long campaign by the Association of Ontario Midwives to bring birth centres to the province. The campaign garnered the support of more than 10,000 Ontarians, who sent messages of support to MPPs and Premier Dalton McGuinty.

In July 2012, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced a Request for Applications process to create two midwifery-led birth centres in the province. In December 2012, Toronto was named as one site and in January 2013, Ottawa was named as the other site.