In Canada, expecting mothers are given the choice to either have an obstetrician look after them during the pregnancy or midwives. However, the existence of midwives is not as widespread. If someone doesn’t recommend midwife care (a friend, a family member, a colleague etc..) it’s impossible to know having a midwife is an option. Midwives are primary care health professionals who provide expecting mothers with clinical care and support throughout their pregnancy, with the option of a home or hospital birth, and home visits up to six weeks postpartum. After giving birth, new mothers are usually in a whirlwind of recovery, sleepless nights, breastfeeding issues, and other unspoken discomforts that come with having new babies , therefore having the luxury of seeing your healthcare provider come to your home up to check up and your health as a new mom and your baby up to six weeks after your baby’s birth is a lifesaver , which is an option completely unavailable with obstetricians. Many expecting mothers are not aware of this information so it’s time to spread the word.

Aside from providing a much more caring level of care to expecting mothers, a typical consultation at a midwife clinic takes much longer than a typical obstetrician consultation. Long waiting times is something that simply never happens at a midwife clinic, who usually sees patients immediately at the set appointment time. If you live in a large city in Ontario like Toronto or Mississauga, it’s not uncommon to wait a minimum of 40 minutes to see an OB: meaning if your appointment is at 2pm, expect to see your doctor at 2.40pm.. One of the few disadvantages of public healthcare are the insane wait times, just like most family doctors.  Imagine having that wait time cut in a half, even a third when you see a midwife: you will be seen almost immediately. Not only do midwives see patients faster, but the consultations all so much more thorough, caring and informative, as they make all your concerns are addressed and nothing is ever rushed.

 

How do midwifes support homebirths?

Midwives believe that each expecting mother should be able to decide where she stands to give birth. Sometimes, loved ones or family members can pressure expecting moms to give birth where they feel safer, but ultimately, it is the mother’s decision to choose her place of birth. Midwifes help women throughout those choices, by taking the time to explain all options thoroughly, while listening to questions and concerns, providing clear evidence-based information about the benefits and disadvantages of each birth location, so mothers can make an informed decision.  Additionally, every midwife is trained to provide all the necessary care and support needed during the home birth. They essentially carry the same equipment used at the hospital at home, and to maintain their certification, they are required to attend a minimum number of home births every year to fully demonstrate they have the skills needed to provide safe care at home. Of all the regulated healthcare providers in Ontario such as doctors, nurses etc.… midwives are the only providers who routinely attend home births.

This undeniably demonstrates how highly skilled and highly trained midwives are. Mothers with second pregnancies are usually the best candidates for home births, provided the pregnancy is uncomplicated. It’s not uncommon to see a higher number of second births carried out at home rather than in the hospital. Usually mothers who give birth for the second time and prefer to explore the other alternatives available rather than going to the hospital.

 

The benefits of home birth

There are multiple studies showing that that giving birth at home promotes a much more relaxing environment than being in the hospital. Women giving birth at home are less likely to need medically assisted interventions during labor such as induction, augmentation, epidural etc… Women who have experienced both home and hospital birth tend to reveal that their experience in the hospital was different and felt somewhat rushed into a C-section. Women who give birth at home are also likely to breastfeed and do so longer. Though, it’s normal to feel safer psychologically when you’re in a hospital environment thinking that all the equipment, expecting mothers should rest assured that midwives also bring the same equipment found at the hospital with them while delivering at home.

There have been more than 25,000 home births in Ontario since 2010 from the moment the profession was finally regulated. This number has been increasing every year. It’s estimated that of all the births happening in Ontario, approximately 10% happen at home. This simply means that means there are women out there that are wanting to have to seek other alternatives than the traditional hospital environment, even though the thought of giving birth at home can be frowned upon by family members and friends. In fact, anyone wanting to give birth at home is considered a “unicorn” or “hippie” since it’s still out of the box even today. It’s time for provincial governments to take measures to deliberately make home birth as normal as possible, thereby encouraging mothers to enjoy the luxury of bringing their child to the world in a comfortable and stress-free setting.

The safety of home birth

When attending a midwife consultation, expecting mothers will realize quickly during the conversation that there’s virtually no difference in the level of safety between giving birth at home and giving birth in the hospital. In fact, midwifes update their training so frequently to maintain their certification, that they seem to take far more courses on a regular basis than other healthcare practitioners delivering babies. Besides, midwives are fully capable of dealing with any emergency in the event of a labor not going as planned: if there is an immediate need for the mother to go into the hospital, they ensure the mother is pre-registered and have paramedic on call to get the expecting mother to the hospital within 30 minutes to complete the C-section (if necessary). Having two highly skilled professionals attending your every needs by your bedside should be enough to make anyone feel at ease: in the hospital, no one usually get s the luxury of have 2 obstetricians attending them unless their case is extremely special.

 

In conclusion, giving home at birth should be considered a viable option for expecting mothers in Canada, given then numerous benefits, and we truly hope the practice and choice becomes widespread nationwide, encouraging women to explore other birthing locations than the traditional hospital setting.

 

*Source: The College of Midwives of Ontario

 

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