Birth Centre FAQ

Who can give birth at a birth centre?

To give birth at a birth centre, you must:

  • have a healthy, low risk (uncomplicated) pregnancy
  • have a midwife who works there
  • be in good general health, without long-term health conditions like heart disease or bleeding disorders

Your midwife will help determine if having your baby at the birth centre is a suitable option for you and your baby.

Midwifery groups affiliated with the birth centres:

How much does it cost to give birth at a birth centre?

Midwives provide free care to residents of Ontario whether they have Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIPOHIP is the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. It is run by the government and “pays for many of the health services you may need”) or not. If your midwife is affiliated with one of the birth centres, you do not have to pay to have your baby there.

Find out more about how midwives provide care to people without Ontario health coverage.

How can I find out what it’s like to give birth at the birth centre in my community?

Some people find it helpful to visit the space where they plan to give birth ahead of time. You can take a tour of the birth centre in your community or check them out online.

What do I need to bring to my birth centre birth?

Birth centres are equipped with all the necessary equipment, medications and disposable items needed for your birth. You may still want, or need, to bring some other things with you. Use our handy packing for the birth centre checklist to help you plan.

What happens if the birth centre is full?

Birthing rooms in birth centres are available to clients in active labourActive labour is when contractions are: around five minutes apart or less so strong most people can’t talk through them strong enough to open the cervix so the baby can move into the birth canal on a first come, first served basis. It is important to discuss and prepare a back-up plan with your midwife for a home birth or hospital birth  in the rare event the birth centre is full when you are in labour.

What are my options for pain relief at the birth centre?

Midwives are skilled in providing comfort measures to support you in labour. Giving birth at a birth centre does not mean you are without pain relief options.

Comfort measures and pain relief options available to you at the birth centre may include:

  • massage
  • relaxation and breathing techniques
  • birth balls
  • birth slings
  • hydrotherapy (large birthing tubs and showers)
  • sterile water injections
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) 
  • nitrous oxide (laughing gas)

The different birth centres may provide different options for comfort and pain relief. Ask your midwife about what options are available in your community.

What if I want an epidural?

Pain relieving medications such as epidural are only available in the hospital. If you need, or choose, to have an epidural during labour, you and your midwife will make a plan to move to the appropriate hospital to access it.   

It is important to talk to your midwife before your birth about whether your local hospital has any restrictions on the care they can provide. Some Ontario hospitals have policies that require midwives to transfer care to a doctor for things they are trained to do, like caring for a person with an epidural. If this is the case, your midwife will continue to provide supportive care, comfort and information. They will resume primary care again after you give birth.

What about visitors?

There is no limit on the number of people who can visit you at the birth centre. It is up to you to decide how many support people, family members (including children) and/or friends you want to join you at your birth centre birth.

If you wish for privacy during labour, there are community spaces for your visitors to enjoy. Some of the amenities available include:  

  • a comfortable lounge area with chairs, couches and tables
  • a children’s play area 
  • a fully functioning kitchen
  • washrooms

Birth centres also have their own visitor policies in place to ensure your privacy, safety and health. It is important to let your midwife know who you want, or don’t want, present while you are at the birth centre. People who have a fever or illnesses such as a cold or flu should not come to visit you. This is to help prevent the spread of infections and keep birthing parents and their babies healthy!

What about germs and infection control?

Birth centres are regulated health care facilities.Regulated health care facilities are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and are governed by the Independent Health Facilities Act They follow the standards established by the Provincial Infectious Diseases CommitteePIDAC is a committee of Public Health Ontario (PHO) made up of specialists in infection prevention and control. of Public Health Ontario to minimize the risk of infection. All birth centre staff are also thoroughly trained on Routine Practices and Additional Precautions in All Health Care Settings.Routine Practices and Additional Precautions refers to best practices in infection prevention and control developed by Public Health Ontario’s (PHO) Provincial Infections Diseases Committee (PIDAC).