One of the many decisions that must be made during pregnancy is where and how to deliver the baby. Today in Canada, there are a few options to select from that ensure the expectant mother can give birth in an environment where she feels comfortable and secure.
In Canada, births typically take place in a hospital. This is probably the appropriate option for expectant mothers who are anxious or who want the assurance of pain relief readily available to them. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, giving birth in a hospital is the safest bet, as immediate access to specialists and the latest medical technology are available. Hospital deliveries can be done with the assistance of a midwife if the mother chooses. Many hospitals have done away with separate rooms for each stage of labour and delivery, and have begun to change to LBRs (labor, birth, recovery rooms).
Birthing centres are beginning to gain in popularity in Canada, although there aren’t very many of them yet. It was just announced in March 2012 that the Ontario provincial government would open two birthing centres as a pilot project. The centres offer an alternative to the sterile environment of the hospital that is very home-like. They are usually run by midwives or midwives and obstetricians and are in proximity to a hospital in case of emergency. In fact, some hospitals have even created birthing suites or centres. The comfort level of the birthing centres is very appealing to some expectant moms, as access to larger beds, relaxing lighting and music and, in some cases, facilities for water births are available. In a birthing centre, the delivering woman is also allowed to move around and get into whatever position is most comfortable and beneficial to giving birth, as opposed to being relegated to the stirrups.
For low-risk pregnancies of very relaxed expectant moms — whether first-timers or seasoned — giving birth in the comfort of home can be a wonderful option. Most provinces have legislated midwives to attend at-home births, and for some moms-to-be, the idea of being surrounded with familiar things and loved ones while giving birth just seems right. The home birth experience is a very natural and relaxed one, with no worries about noise in the hospital ward, nurses poking and prodding, fluorescent lights or packing up and making the trip home.