Giving birth at home is generally nothing like the dramatic, unplanned excitement you see on TV shows! For many people who choose it, home birth provides the comfort of being in familiar surroundings, allowing labouring clients to feel more confident and relaxed when they are able to access their own food, bed and bathroom. Home birth also means you don't have to travel to hospital while you're in labour or leave your own bed with your new baby until you want to. In fact, about a quarter of midwifery clients in Ontario consistently plan a home birth every year--that means that last year, about 4,000 babies were safely born at home. (And about 48,000 babies in Ontario have been born at home since 1994!).
When it comes time to discuss your choice of birthplace options, your midwife will provide you with evidence-based information about home birth. Together you will discuss whether you are a good candidate for having your baby at home.
Research demonstrates that home birth is at least as safe as hospital birth, in large part because of the skills and education midwives bring with them.
Midwives are the only health-care providers who are trained to provide all the necessary care that you and your baby will need at your home birth. The equipment midwives bring along with them to home births is equivalent to what would be found in a community hospital, including oxygen, medications to stop bleeding and sterile instruments.
If you decide to have a home birth, you midwife will visit you at home prior to the birth to discuss the logistics, explain the equipment she or he will bring to the birth and tell you what you can expect during labour and delivery. Discuss with your midwife the range of pain relief options available to you, including things such as massage, shower/bathing, and sterile water injections. (You can only access an epidural in hospital.) When your labour begins, your primary midwife will monitorboth you and your baby during your labour, and a second midwife will arrive close to the end of your labour to take care of your baby once she or he is born. After your baby is born and both your and your baby's health is assessed, your midwife will leave you alone to rest. Within 24 hours, your midwife will return to your home for your first postpartum appointment.
During a home birth, if you and your midwife determine that it would be best for you to move to a hospital, she or he will accompany you to hospital and continue to care for you while you’re there. All midwives have admitting privileges at hospitals which means they can get you into the hospital and access any hospital resources clients may need, including a consultation from a doctor if there is a concern or complication.
Where you decide to have your baby is your choice. Your midwife is there to help you reach your decision.
Want to know more about what it's like to have a home birth? Check out our video below and our winter holiday home birth series.