Ottawa midwives hope to land local birthing centre

Midwives in Ottawa are pushing to have their city selected as the site of one of two new birthing centres slated to open next summer.

Proposed centre could help midwives deliver about 300 babies a year

Midwives in Ottawa are pushing to have their city selected as the site of one of two new birthing centres slated to open next summer. 
Leah Hackett, seen here weighing a newborn, is optimistic about Ottawa's chances of landing a birthing centre. (Jennifer Beard/CBC)

The Ontario government in March announced plans to open two birth centres as part of a provincial pilot project.

The pilot project aims to give expectant mothers more choice in how they deliver their baby and move more routine procedures into the community.

Five midwifery groups from across the Ottawa region are teaming up to apply to have one of the two birth centres placed in Ottawa.

Midwives would deliver about 300 babies a year at the proposed centre.

Middle ground between hospital and home birth

Leah Hackett, a midwife with the Midwifery Collective of Ottawa, sees it as a middle ground between the hospital and a home birth.

"[It's] an area where they feel comfortable, where they can walk around with big tubs and hopefully a green space that women can labour as well...just really holistic and family centred," said Hackett.

A poll of midwifery clients in Ottawa found 40 per cent would choose a birth centre, said Hackett.

She said based on Ottawa's population and strong midwifery community, she is optimistic the city will get a birthing centre and is excited about the prospect. 
Melissa Ferland is hoping to have a home birth for her fourth child, but is open to the idea of using a birthing centre. (Jennifer Beard/CBC)

"We have a great team working on this and I am feeling really hopeful that we will win this proposal," said Hackett.

Parents open to birthing centre option

Ottawa resident Melissa Ferland is pregnant with her fourth child and would consider using a birthing centre.

She used a midwife for each of her first three children, having two births at the Montfort Hospital and one home birth.

Though she plans on having her fourth child at home, she said the birthing centre option would appeal to her husband.

"He always wished we had access to a birth centre," said Ferland. "He understands that for our family a hospital is not the best place to have a baby but he was a little bit nervous about the home birth, I think."

The Ottawa midwives are still looking for a central location for the proposed centre.

The applications to take part in the provincial pilot project are due September 4th.  The province said birth centres can be expected to be operational by July 2013.