What if things don’t go as planned?

Most healthy people have healthy pregnancies and uncomplicated births. However, sometimes birth does not go as planned and midwives are prepared for this.

Midwives have the training and skills to:

  • identify when a complication is developing early on
  • correct many developing complications
  • know when to involve specialists (e.g. obstetrician, pediatrician) to help treat complications and achieve the best health outcomes possible for you and your baby

Although most people who plan to have their baby in the birth centre do have their baby in the birth centre, there are a number of reasons a planned birth centre birth could end up happening in the hospital.

Non-urgent transfer to hospital

Most people move from the birth centre into the hospital for non-urgent reasons. The most common reasons are:

  • to access pain relief options not available at the birth centre (e.g., an epidural)
  • to access an IV drip that contains the drug oxytocin to help speed up labour that is progressing very slowly

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

Emergency transport to hospital

In the very rare event that you need to get to the hospital quickly, your midwife will call 911 and an ambulance will transport you to the nearest hospital.

The most common emergencies that require ambulance transport are:

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

Birth centres have pre-established protocols that direct the birth centre staff, Emergency Medical Services and hospital staff when responding to potential emergencies at the birth centre. This ensures quick and safe transport.

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

Find out about how midwives are training Ontario paramedics in out-of-hospital emergency childbirth skills.

Transferring from the birth centre to hospital: At the hospital

Midwives work with a wide range of other healthcare providers in hospitals to make sure that you receive safe, excellent care.

Sometimes it is recommended that a doctor takes over parts of your or your baby’s clinical care.  If this is the case, your midwife will continue to provide supportive care, comfort and information.  They will take over clinical care once your or your baby’s condition has improved.