If Things Don't Go as Planned

Birth doesn’t always go as planned, regardless of where you intend to have your baby. Although most people who plan a home birth have a home birth, there are various reasons a planned home birth may end up happening in the hospital.

Non-urgent transfer to hospital

The majority of people move from a home birth into a hospital birth for non-urgent reasons. The most common reasons are:

  • to access pain relief options that aren’t available at home (e.g. epidurals) or
  • to access an IV drip that contains the drug oxytocin to help increase the frequency and strength of contractions during a very slowly progressing labour

In these situations, there is no need to rush to the hospital. Travel can occur by car or taxi.

Emergency transport to hospital

Very few people who plan to have their babies at home are transferred urgently to hospital by ambulance. The most common emergencies requiring ambulance transport include:

  • heavy bleeding after the birth (called post-partum hemorrhage), or
  • concerns about the baby’s heartbeat in labour or breathing after the birth

If an urgent transfer to hospital is required, your midwife or attendant will call 911. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will come to your home, and you and/or your baby will be transported to the hospital by ambulance. Midwives and paramedics work together as a team to ensure that you and/or your baby will receive the safest and best care possible. The hospital will be contacted and notified of your and/or your baby’s condition, allowing staff to appropriately prepare for your arrival and prevent any potential delays in care.

Depending on the situation, your midwife will either accompany you in the ambulance or meet you at the hospital.

Click here to find out more about the ways midwives are training Ontario paramedics in out-of-hospital emergency childbirth skills.

Transferring from the home to hospital: At the hospital

Midwives work with a wide range of other healthcare providers in hospitals to ensure that you receive safe, excellent care. In some circumstances, it may be necessary for a doctor to take over aspects of your or your baby’s hands-on medical care. In this situation, your midwife will continue to provide supportive care, comfort and information and will take over clinical care again once your or your baby’s condition has improved. Watch this video to learn about two families’ personal experiences with heavy bleeding after the birth, and how their midwives handled this emergency.