Ontario's freestanding birth centres

Leah remembers how much she wanted a midwife when she was pregnant

By Leah Rumack
Ontario's freestanding birth centres

Photo by damircudic/

I’m no touchy-feely hippie sort, but I did try to get a midwife for the birth of my son Ben. I really, really tried. I put myself on all the lists, I kissed all the right bums, I called in every Facebook favour and referral, but still — zip. I had heard nothing but good things from all my friends about the kind of care they got from their midwives. I thought jealously of their hour-long midwife consultations every time I had to wait for up to two hours (no, really! In the middle of the workday!) to see my OB/GYN, only to be hustled out the door after a 10-minute appointment while literally chasing her down the hall to try and get a couple more questions in. Not to mention the fact that there was only a slim chance she would be the one who would actually deliver my baby.

In a hospital setting (or at least in the hospital I was associated with) you’re stuck with whatever doctor and nurses are on duty, meaning you’re possibly sharing one of the most intimate moments of your life with people you’ve never even met before. So I say anything that makes a midwife-assisted birth more accessible is a good thing — and with the announcement that Ontario is launching two freestanding birth centres run by midwives, we’re one step closer to that goal.

A birth centre seems like the perfect compromise between a hospital setting — where there is a higher rate of C-sections and exposure to infections (not to mention exposure to hospital food) — and a home birth, where you may never look at your bed the same way after witnessing the not-exactly tidy process of bringing a baby into the world. Of course, you still won’t be able to get an epidural at a birth centre, so if you end up screaming: “Give me the drugs. Give me the F-IN DRUGS you STUPID HIPPIES!!!” you may still find yourself on the way to the hospital, but at least you won’t be chasing your OB down the hall.

Learn more about Ontario’s new birth centres and the Canadian Association of Midwives.

This article was originally published on Mar 21, 2012

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