The Association of Ontario Midwives

The Association of Ontario Midwives

Birth centres are coming to Ontario

“Birth centres can give midwives the opportunity to work to their full scope of practice, give low-risk mothers better access to maternal and newborn care, and enhance health care by making services more readily available and closer to home.”

- Tom Closson, past-president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association

A birthing centre, 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.

On March 20, 2012, the Liberal 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 to create two midwifery-led birth centres in the province.

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.

entranceSafe, 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.

Download the fully-referenced Ontario Needs Birth Centres pamphlet for more information.