The Association of Ontario Midwives

The Association of Ontario Midwives

Choice of birthplace

Your midwife is trained in home, birth centre and hospital births. 

As experts in normal birth, midwives provide care to clients during labour and birth in the client's home, in a birth centre or in a hospital. It’s up to you. 

Which setting is right for you?

  • Your midwife will answer questions about where you would like to have your baby.
  • You can discuss with your midwife where you think you might be most comfortable having your baby.
  • At home or at a hospital, your midwife will be the person who delivers your baby, unless a complication happens.
  • Births at home and hospitals in Ontario with a midwife can both be safe.
  • Your midwife will make recommendations based on safety.

Whether you give birth at home, in hospital or in a birth centre, you will: 

  • typically have two midwives attending your birth: one to focus on you and the other to focus on your baby.
  • have access to a variety of methods of coping with labour. Midwives provide non-medical pain relief in both settings, but there are some drugs that you will only be able to access in hospital, such as an epidural.
  • be able to be admitted to or discharged from the hospital by your midwife.
  • have a midwife who is trained to manage emergencies. If needed, she can work together with doctors and nurses; if needed, your care can be transferred to a doctor. If this happens, your midwife will typically stay with you. 
  • have a reduced chance of having interventions such as a C-section, forceps or vacuum, episiotomy, epidural or induction of labour. 
  • receive six weeks of postpartum care. Some postpartum appointments with your midwife will take place at home, and some will take place at her clinic. She will monitor you and your baby and provide breastfeeding support.

Midwifery clients who give birth at home: 

  • May feel safer and more relaxed than at the hospital.
  • Have the lowest likelihood of needing medical interventions such as C-section, epidural or episiotomy.
  • May find it advantageous not to travel before or after giving birth.
  • May enjoy the familiarity and intimacy of being at home.

Midwifery clients who give birth in a birth centre:

  • May feel safer and more relaxed than at a hospital.
  • Will have a low likelihood of receiving medical interventions such as C-section, epidural or episiotomy.
  • May enjoy the comfortable, intimate setting of a birth centre.
  • Will be able to go home within hours of giving birth.

Midwifery clients who give birth in hospital:

  • May feel safer and more relaxed than at home.
  • May be able to go home within hours of giving birth.

Is home birth safe? Points to consider when making your decision: 

  • Studies show that planned home birth attended by midwives in a jurisdiction where home birth is well-integrated into the health-care system is at least as safe as hospital birth.
  • The equipment that a midwife brings to a home birth is similar to the equipment in a community hospital, including oxygen, medications to stop bleeding, and sterile instruments.
  • Women who plan a home birth can choose to move to hospital during labour. About 25% of women who plan home birth transfer to hospital, most often because of a long labour. If it becomes medically necessary to go to the hospital during your labour, your midwife is trained to make this decision.
  • A home birth is not appropriate for all women. Your health during pregnancy and labour and your personal circumstances are considerations to discuss with your midwife when making this decision.
  • Hospital birth, as a back-up for home births, is part of what makes home birth safe.

Quick facts about choosing your birthplace 

  • Your midwife will assess your health needs and provide information to ensure you can make a safe and informed decision about where to have your baby.
  • At your prenatal visits, you and your midwife will make a plan and talk about what would happen in an emergency in either a home, birth centre or hospital birth.
  • If you have planned a home birth, you can change your mind and move to a hospital once you are in labour.
  • If you have planned a hospital birth, ask your midwife what she would advise if you decide you would prefer to stay home. 
  • Your midwife may offer a home visit prior to the birth to discuss steps you can take to prepare for your labour, particularly if you are planning to give birth at home.
  • Because home birth is not as common as a hospital birth in Ontario, many women and their families have questions about choice of birthplace. Ask questions and get the information you need to make a decision that feels right for you.

Clients Say: 

“Having my baby in hospital was the right choice for me. I stayed at home with my midwife until I was well along in labour and then we moved into the hospital. I was relaxed, my birth went smoothly and I was able to go home again a few hours later.” 

“I wanted to experience birth within the comfort of my own home.  My midwives were confident and experienced in home birth.  Having my baby at home was the safe and right choice for me.” 

Aboriginal women living on the Six Nations territory or in outlying areas have the option of accessing the birthing centre Tsi Non:we Ionnakeratstha Ona:grahsta’ Maternal and Child Centre on Six Nations of the Grand River territory.

This information is also available in these languages: Arabic, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Urdu.