Association of Ontario Midwives

Association of Ontario Midwives

January 23, 2012 08:30 ET

Ontario Women Want Cost-Saving, Midwife-Led Birth Centres in the 2012 Budget

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 23, 2012) - Ontario women are optimistic that the groundswell of support for midwife-led birth centres will persuade the Liberal government to include funding for a birth centre pilot project in their 2012 budget.

Birth centre supporters from Sarnia to Sioux Lookout are actively engaged in a social media campaign being led by the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM). To date, over 6,500 Ontarians have sent Premier Dalton McGuinty e-postcards advocating for birth centres. Hundreds of others are using Facebook to promote the benefits of birth centres. Ontario moms and babies who are clients of midwives have even lent their faces to a video promoting birth centres that has been viewed over 4,300 times. http://bit.ly/BC_video

"We hope the overwhelming response to our Birth Centres Campaign sends a clear message to Premier McGuinty that Ontario women and families want birth centres and our province needs them. Establishing free-standing, midwifery-led birth centres would cut health care costs by giving women with healthy pregnancy and birth another option for community-based care," says Katrina Kilroy, President of AOM.

Ontario's 550 registered midwives currently attend births in hospitals and women's homes. Giving birth is the main reason Ontario women are hospitalized, yet there is no medical reason to be hospitalized for a healthy labour and delivery. Research has shown that a planned out-of-hospital birth is at least as safe as a hospital birth for healthy women. For women who aren't comfortable (or aren't able) to give birth in their own homes, but who don't require the medical interventions available in hospitals, birth centres are an excellent option.

According to the AOM, introducing birth centres in the province would lead to significant cuts to the following health care costs:

  • Operating costs. Unlike hospitals, birth centres wouldn't need to be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They would only operate when midwives' clients are in labour.
  • Medical/surgical expenses. Midwives are experts in normal birth, helping to reduce high rates of interventions, such as c-sections and inductions. Reducing Ontario's rate of caesarean section to 15% for example, the level recommended by the World Health Organization, could save $50 million a year.
  • Hospital-based infections. Women who deliver in birth centres may have a lower risk of serious infections, particularly hospital-based infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and may avoid unnecessary exposure to viruses like the flu.

The Birth Centres Campaign has struck a powerful chord with women across the province.

"Ontario needs birth centres as they offer a middle ground for people who do not feel comfortable with home birth, but are not sick and, therefore, should not be at a hospital. Birth centres would offer women the security of a hospital with the comforts of home. It's a step in making normal birth normal again," says Amie Ivany of Kemptville, ON.

"By offering services exclusively for pregnancy and labour, birth centres would drastically cut down on health care costs by avoiding unnecessary, costly interventions," says Holly Burkhardt of Kitchener, ON.

The birth centre model has been proven to work in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries. Closer to home, in Quebec, there is a well-established system of midwifery-led birth centres and Manitoba officially opened a birth centre in December 2011.

About Midwifery in Ontario

There are more than 550 registered midwives in Ontario, serving communities in 90 clinics across the province. Midwives have privileges at most Ontario hospitals. Since midwifery became a regulated health profession in 1994, almost 130,000 babies have been born under midwifery care, including more than almost 30,000 births at home.

A midwife is a registered health care professional who provides primary care to women with low-risk pregnancies. Midwives provide care throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and provide care to both mother and baby during the first six weeks following the birth.

The Association of Ontario Midwives is the professional organization representing midwives and the profession of midwifery in Ontario.

For more information about AOM, visit our website at www.aom.on.ca. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter (Facebook.com/OntarioMidwives; Twitter.com/OntarioMidwives).

Contact Information

  • For more information, or to set up interviews with midwives,
    please contact:
    Catharine Tunnacliffe
    Acting Manager, Communications
    416-425-9974 x2261
    commsmanager@aom.on.ca