Ontario’s three midwife-led birth centres offer a safe, comfortable and convenient place to give birth in the community. Birth centres provide a comfortable and safe place for families, keep healthy parents and babies out of hospital, and help normalize attitudes about birth. The birth centres were designed by midwives to support clients’ birth plans.
More than 80% of birth centre clients surveyed stated that should they become pregnant again, they would choose to give birth in a birth centre. (Source: BORN evaluation)
Research shows that giving birth in a midwife-led birth centre is just as safe as giving birth at home or in hospital. BORN Ontario (Better Outcomes Registry and Network) conducted an evaluation of the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre and the Toronto Birth Centre in 2016 and concluded that care at the birth centres was low in intervention, safe, well-integrated into the maternal child health system and satisfactory to women. Since then, more than 1,000 healthy babies have been born at both centres!
If you're interested in having your baby at a birth centre, talk to your midwife (don't have a midwife yet? Use our Find a Midwife tool to find your closest clinics). She will give you all the information you need to make an informed choice.
If you choose a birth centre, you would labour in a private birth suite, furnished with supplies and equipment that facilitate a natural birth, such as a birthing tub, shower, birthing balls, stools, slings and floor mats. Your partner, family members and other support people that you identify are welcome to be part of the labour and birth; when they aren’t with you, they can socialize in common areas such as lounges and kitchens.
Hospital-based services such as epidurals, inductions and augmentation of labour, electronic fetal monitoring, instrument delivery (forceps and vacuum) and C-section aren’t available at birth centres. During labour and delivery, midwives can manage pain by using hydrotherapy (in the shower or tub), sterile water injections (for back pain) and other techniques. Birth centres are equipped with the same equipment that a midwife would bring to a home birth. Should an urgent situation arise, the midwife has access to oxygen, drugs to stop bleeding and sterile supplies. In the unlikely event of an emergency, midwives can efficiently and safely transfer a client to hospital.
Midwives are the only health-care providers who attend births in these regulated health-care facilities. When your labour begins, you meet your midwife at the birth centre (if she hasn't already met you at home), give birth at the centre and return to your own home with your new baby soon after birth. Throughout your pregnancy and labour, your midwife will assess your health to determine whether a birth centre birth remains an appropriate choice.
There is no charge for giving birth at a birth centre; the services are free for midwifery clients who live in Ontario.
Why do people love delivering their babies in a birth centre? Click below to find out!