What Happens at a Home Birth?

When will my midwife come?

Your midwife will tell you when to page or call them once you are in labour. They will assess your labour over the phone to determine when they need to come. They will stay at your home to monitor you and your baby once you are 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.

Labour and birth

Once your midwife arrives, you and your baby will be closely monitored to make sure there are no complications developing. A second midwife (or second attendant) In some places where there aren’t many midwives, births are attended by a midwife and a second attendant instead of a second midwife. For example, in some remote communities nurses act as the second care provider at births with midwives.1Ontario C of M of. Second Birth Attendant Standard [Internet]. Canada: Web; 2018. will arrive when you are close to giving birth to help care for you and your baby.

Midwives bring medical equipment and medications to all home births similar to those available in Ontario birth centres and hospitals where Level I The level of a hospital outlines: the complexity of care it can provide to birthing people and their babies the medical staff and services they must have to meet the needs of their patients care is provided.

After the birth

After the birth, your midwives will monitor and assess you and your baby to ensure that you are recovering well. They will perform a head-to-toe physical exam on your baby and help you with feeding.

Once you are both considered healthy and well, your midwives will leave so you can rest. This usually happens within 4 hours of the birth. Before they leave, they will talk to you about what to expectNewborn babies act differently than older babies. Find out more about  what normal newborn breathing, colour, temperature, feeding, poops and pees look like in this hand-out made for new parents. within the next 24 hours.

If you and/or your baby need closer observation or monitoring after the birth, your midwife will recommend moving to the hospital for extra support. Depending on why you or your baby need closer monitoring, you may need to go to hospital by car or by ambulance.

A midwife is always available to you by phone at any time, day or night, if you have questions or concerns after giving birth.

The day after the birth, your midwife will visit you at home (or in the hospital, if applicable) for your first follow-up visit.

Midwives provide all the early post-birth care you and your baby need in the comfort of your own home, including:

  • routine newborn screening tests All newborns in Ontario are offered “screening” tests soon after they are born. These tests look for diseases that can: be invisible in newborns cause serious health problems be treated if caught early
  • physical and mental health assessments
  • parenting support and teaching
  • feeding support 


Hear three midwifery clients talk about their home births