Despite delays, interest grows for new Ontario birthing centre

Watch the video above: Global News gets a sneak peek at a new birth centre under construction in Toronto. Carey Marsden reports.

TORONTO – Logistical delays at one of Ontario’s new birthing centres are forcing some expectant mothers to alter their birth plans.

When it does open however, the Toronto Birth Centre will break new ground in the province, giving mothers-to-be another delivery option, in addition to a hospital or home birth.

In December 2012, the government of Ontario announced a new birthing centre for the Greater Toronto Area as part of a pilot project. The Toronto Birth Centre was slated to open this summer, but has faced numerous logistical delays.

The provincially-funded centre, along with a similar centre opening soon in Ottawa, represents a new model of childbirth options in Ontario.

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Both centres will be run by midwives in a community setting.

The Toronto centre is expected to assist with 450 to 500 births every year. The province said in addition to giving women greater choice, the centre will free up hospital beds for higher-risk pregnancies.

Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto (SGMT) – a group of midwives offering maternity care in the GTA – will move its entire practice to the new centre for prenatal and postnatal care. The birthing centre will also be open to all other midwifery groups.

Patients will have the choice of having a centre, hospital or home birth.  Those who choose to deliver in the centre will notice marked differences between the birthing rooms and a traditional hospital setting.

“The hospital system wasn’t set up to work with the model of midwifery care,” said Cheryllee Bourgeois, a midwife at SGMT.

“I think the most exciting thing for me would be having a facility that is set up for midwives to work in,” said Bourgeois.

The location of the downtown Toronto Birth Centre has not been released yet, however it is expected to open by the end of this year.

According to government figures, up to 22,000 babies are delivered in Ontario by midwives every year. The demand for midwife services is growing – four in 10 women in the province who want a midwife can’t get one.

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Watch the related video below: More expectant mothers consider midwives

A recent British report compared midwife-led and medical-led models of care across 13 studies, involving more than 16,000 women.

Researchers found that mothers who received midwife-led care experienced numerous health benefits, including a fewer epidurals, and fewer births requiring instruments such as forceps and surgical incisions.

The women receiving midwife-led care were also less likely to give birth before 37 weeks.

Yet in Canada, only 4.3 per cent of women give birth attended by a midwife, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s 2006 Maternity Experiences Survey (MES).

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