Preparing to welcome your baby
Congratulations on your pregnancy! This is a very exciting time, and we at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre hope to be part of your pregnancy and birth journey. From tours and information sessions, to prenatal classes and services, to trusted resources, we offer many tools to help you during your pregnancy, and in your decision about where to give birth.
What is a midwife?
Midwives are healthcare professionals specializing in birth: they are university-educated, and provide free, trusted, expert primary care to pregnant people and their newborns, through pregnancy, labour, birth, and for the first six weeks after birth.
Pregnant people in Ontario can choose a midwife, a family doctor, or an obstetrician as their primary care provider for their pregnancy and birth. Midwifery care is covered by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and is available free of charge to anyone with a home address in Ontario.
Midwives offer the same routine tests during pregnancy as family doctors and obstetricians, including ultrasound and genetic testing, as well as standard laboratory and diagnostic tests.
How to get a midwife
You do not have to have a referral to see a midwife. It is best to contact a midwife as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, because demand for midwives is high, and also because it is beneficial to access prenatal care early in your pregnancy.
Midwives and doulas
A midwife is not a doula! A birth doula is a trained labour support person who provides emotional and physical support to those giving birth and their families. While not medical professionals, doulas offer a wide range of comfort measures. You would find and pay your doula yourself, as doula services are not covered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. If you are considering having a doula at your birth, talk about it with your midwife.
For more information on midwives, their scope of practice, and the midwifery model of care, visit the Association of Ontario Midwives.
Services for expecting parents
The Wellness Centre offers a range of classes and services for families embarking on the exciting adventure of parenthood. There are services for each stage of the pregnancy process including prenatal, birth and postpartum.
Wellness Centre classes are available to anyone in the community, regardless of care provider or where you are planning to give birth.
Classes in the Wellness Centre are being added all the time – check our calendar often, or contact us with any questions.
The Wellness Centre also offers a free, weekly Parenting and Breastfeeding Drop-In, open to all members of the community.
In addition, the Birth Centre offers tours to potential clients two to three times per week, and a monthly Choice of Birthplace Information Session to any midwifery client looking to find out more about their birthplace options.
When do I come to the Birth Centre?
Clients can be admitted to the Birth Centre once they are in active labour. Your midwife will spend time discussing the labour process with you so that you are prepared for the big day. She will ensure you understand how, and when, to contact her once your labour begins. You must speak with your midwife before coming to the Centre. She will contact the Birth Centre Aide (BCA) working at the Birth Centre to let them know that you’re coming.
What should I bring?
Our birthing suites are well-equipped, and you won’t need to bring many things with you. However, we do have a few suggestions that may make your labour more comfortable. Our “What to Bring” Checklist will help you with your planning. Your midwife may also have a checklist for you.
Where do I go?
The Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre is located at the corner of St. Laurent Blvd and Walkley Road, in the Canon building. The Birth Centre is accessed through its own door, on the east side of the building, under the “Birth Centre” sign. We highly recommend that anyone considering a Birth Centre birth come for a tour during their pregnancy, which allows you to find where we are located before the big day.
Labouring at the Birth Centre
Once you are admitted, you are free to use your birthing suite however you need to support your labour, and to feel comfortable, safe, and at home. Your midwife will be with you the whole time, and will prepare you in advance for what to expect during your labour and birth. You may also decide to take a prenatal class, a range of which are offered in our Wellness Centre.
Families and Guests
There is no limit on the number of people that can join you in your birthing suite. Our spacious rooms allow for larger groups than in other birth settings. We also have a Family Lounge where people can wait comfortably, if you prefer them not to be in the birthing suite during your labour. The Family Lounge features comfortable seating, a kitchenette, a TV with cable, and a children’s play area, as well as access to our outdoor patio.
After your baby is born
After your baby is born, your midwife will provide routine care for you and for your baby, and you will have an opportunity to establish breastfeeding, snuggle as a new family, and take a shower. You will be offered a menu of meal options, and the Birth Centre Aide will prepare a hot meal for you. Once your midwife has completed the routine postpartum care and you have had a chance to rest, you will head home within four hours of birth. Your midwife will give you clear instructions about what to expect and how to cope with any problems, and she will visit you at home within the first 24 hours.
Our Client Information Package provides further details about giving birth at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre. You can also speak with your midwife, who will be able to answer all of your questions.