a peek inside the fishbowl

31 Jul, 2013

Guest post: Ottawa’s new birthing centre

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Guest postings|Ottawa

It’s guest post week here at the Fishbowl! Today’s post is by Kamerine Gardam, an Ottawa mom of two who blogs over at The Life of K. She’s a runner, a scientist, and a birth doula, and has written a great post for us about Ottawa’s new birthing centre. It’s very useful info for anyone who’s expecting, so please read and share if you can. Thank for your post today Kamerine!

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I have great news for you: Ottawa is getting a birth centre! Why is this great news? Let me tell you.

Right now, if you are pregnant and live in Ottawa, you have two options for where you can labour and give birth: one of the hospitals in town or at your home. You could have the baby at the side of the road, but nobody chooses that.

Most women have an obstetrician as their primary health care provider and have their baby at the hospital. In Ottawa we are fortunate to have a lot of skilled doctors and some really great hospitals. More and more women are choosing to be followed by a midwife during their pregnancy. These women can give birth at the hospital where their midwife has privileges or at home.

Midwives are primary care providers that go to school for four years to study normal pregnancy, labour, and birth. They provide research-based care during pregnancy and for mothers and newborns for the first 6 weeks.

Home birth can be beautiful but it can be a scary prospect, especially for first time mothers. A birth centre is the perfect compromise. Birth centres are stand alone medical facilities run by midwives. They are more comfy than clinical and have a lot of the comforts of home. They often have large private rooms, birth pools, and a relaxed atmosphere.

The Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre is opening at the end of the summer and will be a great option for pregnant women and their families when choosing where to give birth. To qualify, you must be followed by a midwife, have a normal and healthy singleton pregnancy, and deliver no earlier than 37 weeks.

At the birth centre, you will not be able to get an epidural and if any complications arise you will be transferred to the hospital. For a straight-forward vaginal birth however the birth centre has everything you need.

Just like delivering at the hospital or at home with a midwife, when you choose the birth centre, you would contact your midwife at some point during labour (you discuss this ahead of time) and make your way to the birth centre when the time is right. You will have two midwives there: one remains your primary care provider and the other takes over care of your baby. The midwives support you during your labour, helping with pain management and coping techniques, suggesting different positions, and eventually with the birth of your baby.

Once the baby is born, midwives help with breastfeeding (if desired) and with newborn care. Ideally, mother and baby will be sent home pretty quickly, making way for another pregnant mama. The birth centre is expecting to have upwards of 500 births a year.

As a birth doula and someone who is very enthusiastic about pregnancy and birth, I celebrated the news that Ottawa would be getting a birth centre. I am looking forward to having a chance to support clients there. I hope having a birth centre leads to more women choosing midwifery care for their pregnancy and in turn helps to normalize pregnancy and birth. This will lead to fewer interventions, fewer births by cesarean section, and better outcomes for mothers and babies.

In addition to being a place to give birth, the birth centre will also offer the following programs: prenatal and postnatal education, lactation counselling and support, prenatal and infant nutrition advice, exercise programs for pregnant and postnatal women, and reproductive and sexual health education.

Ottawa is lucky to have the birth centre opening, giving women another option when it comes to where to give birth. With more women choose midwifery care, having a birth centre just makes sense.

If you want more information about midwifery care, check out the Ontario Midwives site. And remember, a birth doula is a great addition to your birth team, providing information and support both during pregnancy and throughout your labour. There are so many great doulas in Ottawa and if you’re looking for one, Doula CARE is a great place to start. And you can check out my site – Tiny Feet Doula Services.

A big thanks to Andrea for letting me use her space to share this with you.


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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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