Choice of Birthplace
Midwives support clients to give birth where they feel most comfortable - whether that be in their own home or in hospital. In fact, midwives are the only health care providers who offer clients this choice of birthplace, and are the only primary care providers in Ontario trained to attend deliveries outside of hospital. At CMOH we understand that every client is different and respected as the person who makes informed choices about their care. Together, we will talk with you about your preferences for where you want to give birth and work with you to develop your birth plan.
Choosing a Hospital Birth
Approximately 80% of midwifery-attended births in Ontario happen in hospital. At CMOH, we maintain admitting privileges at both of our community obstetric hospitals which means you can choose to give birth at either McMaster University Medical Centre (Hamilton Health Sciences) or St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. We are well integrated into the hospital team and work closely with our physician and nursing colleagues at both sites.
Why choose a hospital birth? There are many reasons why clients choose a hospital birth with a midwife, including feeling more comfortable in a hospital setting, feeling that the hospital is the safest option in case of an emergency, or wanting to access hospital-based services such as pain medication (eg. epidural). If you are at increased risk for certain complications, hospital birth is often recommended. All of the midwives at CMOH have priviledges at McMaster University Medical Center and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. If you are planning a hospital birth, we recommend you check out the following websites in order to determine which location is best suited to you:
McMaster University Medical Centre (Hamilton Health Sciences)
St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
Midwifery Care Unit
In May 2021, the McMaster Midwifery Care Unit opened it's doors, offering an in-hospital location for for low-risk midwifery clients to birth. This unit is located on the same floor as Labour and Delivery, and is exclusively for midwifery clients. For more information, talk to your midwife or visit the Midwifery Care Unit webpage
What do I need to know about planning a hospital birth? Early on in the pregnancy, we will discuss with you where you plan to give birth. If you are choosing a hospital birth, we will have you pre-register at the hospital of your choice using a mail-in package. When you are in labour, your midwife will meet you at the hospital and remain with you throughout your labour and birth. Following a hospital birth, you will have the option of either being discharged home approximately three hours after the birth of your baby, or being admitted to the postpartum unit for 24-48 hours depending on your comfort level. Your midwifery team will talk to you about your options after your delivery and you can decide what is best for you.
“I honestly cannot say enough good things about my hospital birth experience! The birthing rooms are very spacious, comfortable, and have lots of lighting. They also have the rooms equipped with everything the midwife may need.
My midwife was excellent, and provided me with the best care anyone could ever ask for. I had to have an obstetrician involved at one point as I started to have some complications but they were very supportive of me having my birth as naturally as I could, if possible.
After giving birth to my daughter I was transferred to a room in which the nurses then started taking care of me. The nurses were very helpful with things like washing my baby and helping with breastfeeding, and so many more things. I will definitely be going back to have my second child at this hospital as my experience was beyond incredible.”
- Cindy VM
Choosing a Home Birth
In Ontario, approximately 20% of midwifery clients plan to have give birth at home. Studies have show that hospital birth and home birth are equally safe options when your pregnancy has been healthy and normal. Midwives are trained to provide all the necessary care and support you will need to support a safe delivery at home. The equipment we bring with us to home births is the equivalent to what would be found in a community hospital setting, including oxygen, resuscitation equipment, routine medications, and sterile instruments.
Why choose a home birth? There are many reasons why clients choose a home birth with a midwife, including feeling more comfortable in their own environment, feeling that home birth is a safe and responsible choice given the health of their pregnancy, wanting to birth in water, or wanting avoid medical interventions (if not needed).
What do I need to know about planning a home birth? When planning a home birth, you will be asked to choose a back-up hospital where you will be registered should your birth plan change and you need to go to the hospital. At approximately 36 weeks, your midwifery team will conduct a home visit in order to provide you with some home birth supplies from our clinic and talk through your birth plan. When you are in labour, your midwife will meet you at your home and remain with you throughout your labour and birth. A second midwife will be called to attend when the birth is close and assist in the hours following. Your midwife will stay with you for approximately three hours after the birth and will visit again within 24 hours to conduct your first postpartum and newborn visit.
Thinking about a home birth? Consider attending one of our monthly Home Birth Information Nights. During these information group sessions, one of our midwives will walk you through what to expect at a home birth, what equipment is brought, the safety of home birth, reasons for transfer into hospital, and how emergencies are handled. We also invite a previous client to come and talk about their experience and answer your questions. These sessions are open to current clients and their families. If you are interested in attending, please talk to your midwife during one of your appointments or our administrative staff to sign up.
The Association of Ontario Midwives has many excellent resources about homebirth.
Homebirth Equipment and Medications
What Happens If Things Don't Go As Planned?
“From the time I started thinking about having kids, I imagined having a home birth. My husband was less sure about this choice (as a physician, he's very comfortable in a hospital setting). Once we educated ourselves more (attended a home birth info session, spoke to experienced midwives, read journal articles), we were very keen and sure that a home birth suited us well.
In preparation, we rented a birthing tub and collected the supplies we'd need (extra towels, sheets, etc). We had just moved into our new home a couple of weeks earlier, so there was conveniently not much furniture on our first floor. This meant there was lots of room for the pool to be set up, and for an extra mattress to be placed in the dining room (so going up and down stairs wouldn't be an issue).
My water broke at 11pm a week after my due date. My husband called the midwife and our doula because I appeared to be having very regular and frequent contractions (which just felt like braxton hicks, so I hadn’t noticed them). Since I felt totally fine, I went to bed. Woke up at 1am with what was unmistakable labour pains. It seemed that my labour started fast and hard!
Our doula and midwives arrived a bit later. I laboured upstairs for awhile, walking around at first, and then in our bed. Things progressed pretty speedily, so we went downstairs to the birth tub, which Erick had filled. I got in the water, and definitely liked labouring there more. I didn’t get out of the tub until baby Juniper was born at 5:30am! It was so great being at home for the whole process. Our doula made us breakfast from what we had in the fridge, tidied up the house then we went upstairs and napped in our own bed with the baby for most of the rest of the day. Thumbs up to home births!”
- Kate H