Choosing where to give birth

Here is some basic information about home and hospital birth to think about when making the decision about where to have your baby. You may also wish to discuss the Toronto Birth Centre with your care provider.

How do I make my decision?
When planning your birth, think about what might help you to feel comfortable so that you can focus on working through your labour and delivery. Only you can decide whether home or hospital is right for you.

You can change your mind about your decision during pregnancy or sometimes during labour. Just let your midwives know. Your midwives will assess the safety (for you and your baby) of changing your plans.

Is it safe to give birth at home?
Yes. Midwives carry everything they need to help you have a safe birth. Your midwives will also work with ambulances services and the hospital if plans need to change.  It’s common to have questions about homebirth safety.  Your midwives will want to answer any questions you and your support people might have before you go into labour.

Why would someone give birth at home?
Having your baby at home means you are in a place you know and are able to decide how many people you would want to be there.

Being at home makes it easier to include ceremonies in your birth, such as drumming and smudging. If you want to have a water birth, you can rent or borrow a birthing tub that can be set up in your home.

I live in a small apartment. Can I still give birth at home?
Yes. You don’t need to have a big home. One small room with access to a bathroom is enough space for a homebirth.  You just need to be comfortable and have enough space for your midwives to work around you. Your midwife will usually visit your home before your due date to help you decide how to set up your space for the birth.

Do I need to do anything special to prepare for a home birth?
You need to make sure that you have all the supplies and information you need. Your midwife can provide you with a list of supplies. Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto can provide a home birth kit for a donation. Talk to your midwives about the cost.

Is homebirth messy?
Generally, no.  With preparation and a support person, it’s easy to clean up after a homebirth. Your midwives know some tricks to help you with this. A home birth usually creates about one load of laundry and one bag of garbage.

Why would someone give birth at a hospital?
There are many reasons some people plan a hospital birth: having emergency medical resources nearby if necessary; to get pain relief that they can’t at home, such as an epidural; if you have any special conditions that are best monitored at the hospital; how you feel in your home situation; having support people who feel more comfortable in hospital.

If you choose to give birth at the hospital, your midwives can help you to decide when it is time to go. This can depend on things such as: how far away you live; whether it is your first baby; weather and traffic conditions.

Do I need to do anything special to prepare for a hospital birth?
You could take a tour of the labour and delivery floor to get a sense of what it is like, how big the delivery rooms are, and what is available for you to use, such as a birthing ball, shower, mirror, squatting bar, etc. Visiting the hospital helps you figure out how long it takes to get there from your home.

You need to arrange for a car seat and ride to get yourself and your baby home safely.

Can I include traditional ceremonies at the hospital?
Hospitals have policies. Ask questions when touring the hospital and talk with your midwives. They may know if you can get around any rules. Your midwives might be able to help you to smudge or have drumming in the hospital.

For safety reasons, hospitals have rules that limit the number of people who can be there to support you or visit. Talk to your midwives if you are concerned about this.

How long do I have to stay in the hospital?
It depends on the type of birth you have. If you have a normal birth, you can leave just hours after the birth. Some women stay at home for most of their labour and only go to the hospital when it is close to time to deliver. Your midwives can help you make the decision.

After a birth that is more difficult for you or your baby, your midwives may recommend that you stay longer.

This info sheet is funded in part by the Urban Aboriginal Strategy through the Government of Canada.