What Happens at a Hospital Birth?

Arrival at the hospital

Your midwife will tell you when to page or call once you are in labour. They will assess your labour over the phone or in person. Your first in-person assessment(s) usually happens at home. Sometimes, your midwife will ask you to meet them at the hospital in a place called obstetrical triage for your first in-person assessment. Regardless of where your first in-person assessment(s) happens, you will be admitted to a birthing room 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

At the hospital, your midwife will continue to closely monitor you and your baby to make sure there are no complications developing and that you and your baby are coping well. When the birth is close, 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 come to help care for you and your baby. Depending on the hospital, sometimes the second attendant is a nurse or a doctor.

After the birth

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

Healthy birthing parents and babies who have midwives usually go home within four hours of birth.  Before you leave the hospital, your midwife 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. They will also provide you with written instructions about when and how to contact them if you have any concerns. If you need to stay at the hospital, the nurses there will look after you once your midwife leaves.

A midwife is always available to you by phone at any time, day or night, if you have any questions or concerns after giving birth. The day after the birth, your midwife will visit you where you live (or in the hospital, if you stayed) 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 hospital births: