Relaxed and respectful

While birth is a normal process, it is far from routine. Births at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre, however, share several similarities and some important differences from births at home or in a hospital. All of our stories, for instance, begin when a woman goes into labour at or after 37 weeks of gestation. The woman then calls or pages her midwife, who assesses her labour over the phone or in person.

Once the woman is in active labour, her midwife informs her it’s time to go to the birth centre. Upon arrival, a Birth Centre Aide greets the woman, shows her to a birth suite, and familiarizes her with the facility and the comfort and pain-relief options available to her.

A home away from home

As the woman settles into her space, she may play music, eat homemade food, and incorporate traditions that are meaningful to her. Her contractions are now frequent and intense, and she is unable to walk or talk through them. She may labour in the spacious birth tub available in each suite.

Between contractions, the woman may move about the room and usher the baby downward with the help of a birth ball, stool or sling. She may choose to relax in the shower or birth tub, and she may even take advantage of the Centre's outdoor space to get some fresh air. All the while, her midwife monitors her pulse, blood pressure and other vital signs, and continually oversees the health of her and her baby.

The time of transition

The woman’s labour is now truly intense. Her contractions have become strong waves crashing one upon the other, leaving her little time to collect her energy. Mentally and physically tired, she may curse or call into question her ability to deliver her baby. But she can. The woman’s midwife reassures her: the woman is doing wonderfully and her baby is nearly here.

The woman’s second midwife arrives, and together both professionals help the woman push and deliver her baby. Meanwhile, from a respectful distance, the Birth Centre Aide ensures the midwives have all of the supplies they need at the ready.

A natural beginning

When baby arrives, the midwives note the exact time of birth and give the woman the opportunity to cuddle her little one skin-to-skin. One minute later, the midwife checks the appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration (Apgar) of the newborn baby.

After the umbilical cord stops pulsing, the midwives clamp it and invite the woman’s partner or other loved one to cut it. One midwife then weighs the baby and rechecks his or her Apgar, while the other helps the woman deliver the placenta and tends to any tearing she experienced.

Soon the baby is back in the mother’s arms and rooting around for the breast. The primary midwife helps the little one latch on and gives the family room to celebrate these early moments together. The woman then takes time to rest, visit with family and even enjoy a delicious warm meal prepared by a Birth Centre Aide.

Within four hours of the baby’s birth, the woman and her newborn leave the centre and head home. There, the family rests, recovers and gets acquainted in even greater comfort.