Who are your clients?
The Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre (OBWC) will provide services to women of childbearing age and their families within the Ottawa region.
We will be looking to promote and facilitate access to the birth centre for vulnerable pregnant women, including adolescents, single women, Aboriginal women and new immigrants.
The OBWC is a wonderful option for healthy women who have normal, uncomplicated pregnancies and are planning a non-medicated, out-of-hospital birth.
Can anyone come to the OBWC to give birth?
A woman can give birth at the OBWC if she:
• has received adequate prenatal care from a registered midwife who has an appointment to the Birth Centre;
• is in good health;
• has had a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy;
• is carrying one baby; and,
• goes into labour at term (after 37 weeks gestation).
Giving birth at the OBWC is not appropriate for all midwifery clients. Midwives will assess the health of clients throughout their pregnancy, labour and birth to determine whether an out-of-hospital birth remains an appropriate option.
What can clients expect?
Clients can expect a comfortable and safe environment in which to labour and give birth.
Our beautiful fully stocked birthing suites are sound-proofed with natural lighting. Each suite has all the necessary equipment and supplies for a natural birth including a birthing tub, shower, birthing balls, stools, slings, and floor mats.
Clients will have the freedom to eat, drink and walk around in labour as well as have access to outdoor space. There will be a comfortable lounge area for those who are supporting the client.
What services will be at the birth centre?
Labour, birth and post-partum care provided under the direction of a midwife.
The OBWC will also be providing a variety of wellness services for the benefit of moms, babies and the local community, including information and support about pregnancy, pre-natal yoga, nutritional counselling, lactation consulting, and various educational programs.
Services will be offered in English and French.
The equipment and technology available at a Birth Centre are equivalent to what would be available at a home birth.
How many beds do you have? What happens if you are full?
The OBWC has three beautiful birthing suites. Availability is on a first come, first served basis so a woman should always have a back-up birth plan with their midwife.
How many births will the OBWC have per year?
Approximately 450 births per year, which will account for about 3% of births in Eastern Ontario.
What type of pain relief is offered?
Comfort measures in the OBWC include:
• A private, secure comfortable environment where you can feel safe, respected, supported and undisturbed.
• Support of partners, family, doulas, friends as desired.
• Freedom to move and to change positions throughout your labour and birth.
• Use of birth stools, birth balls, floor mats and slings to help with mobility.
• Hydrotherapy: use of water (shower or tub) in labour or birth.
• Sterile water injections (for back pain).
• TENS machines.
• Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas).
Many hospital interventions are not available at the Birth Centre, including induction and augmentation of labour, electronic fetal monitoring, instrumental delivery (forceps and vacuum) and C-section. Epidurals and narcotics are hospital-based pain relief options and not available at the Birth Centre.
Are staff at the birth centre 24:7?
No. We are open regular business hours and staff are either scheduled or on-call on evenings or weekends and will come in when a midwife is on their way in with a client. The Centre, however, is available for births 24/7.
A registered client must call their midwife prior to leaving for the OBWC.
Are there physicians or obstetricians at the OBWC?
There are no doctors or nurses at the Birth Centre. The Birth Centre is set up for normal, uncomplicated births guided by midwives.
Midwives provide primary care to women during pregnancy, labour and birth as well as to both the mother and the baby for up to six weeks following the birth. Midwives are experts in normal birth and avoid the use of medical interventions wherever possible.
How do I find a midwife?
A registered midwife is a member of the College of Midwives of Ontario. There are over 660 registered midwives in Ontario and approximately 45 midwives in the Ottawa area.
To become a client of a midwife you would contact the midwifery practices directly. The Association of Ontario Midwives has a list of all midwives practicing in the Ottawa area – the link to their website is https://www.aommembersonly.ca/find_a_midwife_iframe/Search.aspx
The practices that have sought appointment at the OBWC are:
• Midwifery Collective of Ottawa,
• Ottawa South Midwifes,
• Midwifery Group of Ottawa
• Generations Midwifery Care
• East Ottawa Midwives
Are you associated with the hospitals?
As a separate not-for-profit organization, the OBWC is governed by its own Board of Directors but has established good working relationships with the local hospitals.
What happens if complications arise?
When you give birth at the Birth Centre, your midwife has access to equipment and supplies needed for many common emergencies, including oxygen, drugs to stop bleeding, and sterile instruments.
Birth Centres are an appropriate setting for normal, uncomplicated births. If complications arise in your pregnancy or during your labour, the midwife will recommend transfer to a hospital.
The birth centre has worked closely with local hospitals and emergency services to develop a transfer policy so that such transfers can take place safely and efficiently.
The Ottawa Hospital, General Campus and CHEO will serve as our transfer hospitals in the case of the need to transfer a mom or baby urgently.
How many transfers to hospital might you expect to see?
Research on birth centres indicates that there is about a 30% non-urgent transfer rate where moms would like additional pain relief. Most of these still end up as normal spontaneous vaginal births.
Research also indicates that we might expect to see a 3% rate for urgent transfers (including mom and baby).
Will the opening of the Birth Centre have an impact on hospitals?
There will continue to be women who want to give birth in a hospital by choice as well as those women who need to give birth in the hospital because of higher risk factors.
Potentially some hospital beds might be freed up but many mothers will continue to give birth in the hospital.
How many births do midwives attend to now?
About 142,000 babies are born in Ontario every year and up to 22,000 are delivered by midwives in a home or hospital setting – up from 8,000 in 2003.
The birth centre will offer a safe third option for women who are low risk and want a birth with no medical interventions.
Is there a fee for using the birth centre?
Labour and delivery services provided by the OBWC are free for women who live in Ontario. Wellness services such as pre-natal yoga and other classes will be provided for a fee.
How are you funded?
The OBWC is as a regulated, community-based health care facility funded by the Ontario government as a two-year pilot project.
Ontario is investing about $1.2 million annually to operate the OBWC.
Are birth centres common in other jurisdictions?
There are successful birth centres in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. Quebec has a well-established system of birth centres led by midwives and Manitoba opened a birth centre in October 2011.
What do you hope to achieve over the next two years?
Our goal is to be a centre of excellence for natural childbirth and wellness and to be viewed as a safe and desirable option for the majority of normal births in Eastern Ontario.
We anticipate that the pilot birth centre will be a great success and that this becomes a model for natural birth that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will wish to replicate across the province.