The obstetrical circus that surrounded Bailey’s birth was a tipping point for me, and seeing firsthand the care a friend received from her midwife after her son was born opened my eyes to a model of care I hadn’t known existed. I began reading everything I could about natural childbirth and midwifery, and became convinced that if I had another baby I wanted to give birth at home with a midwife.

Registered midwives in Canada are trained medical professionals. They have university educations that have equipped them with the knowledge and skills that make them experts in normal, low-risk pregnancy and birth. Like a doctor, they order routine blood work and ultrasound, and can prescribe medications throughout pregnancy and postpartum. Patients under their care receive personal and holistic attention, with prenatal visits that allow time not just for answering your questions, but really getting to know you and your family as well. Midwives allow you to make informed decisions regarding your prenatal care, which includes whether you will give birth in hospital or at home. If you choose to give birth at home, they come prepared with the same medical equipment found in a hospital delivery room. In short, they know what they’re doing. Should complications arise, they know how to respond and when to transfer care to someone with expertise in higher-risk situations.

The demand for midwives in Saskatchewan far outweighs the number of midwives available to provide care to mothers in this province: about half of the women who want a midwife in the Saskatoon area are unable to receive midwifery care. So when I found out I was pregnant with Deacon, I was probably on the phone with the midwives’ office minutes after sharing the news with Clay! I was on pins and needles for weeks, waiting to find out if I “got in”. I did, and it was a wonderful experience. One I was eager to repeat with this baby!

Over the past 8 months I have been blessed to be under the care of two amazing midwives. When the time comes, they will both come to our home to attend the birth of our fifth baby. I realize that home birth is far outside the scope of normal for a lot of people, and I wanted to clear away some of the mystery surrounding it.

Why give birth at home?

A big part of what makes birth progress normally and without complication is the labouring woman’s comfort and feeling of safety. In the hospital, everything is foreign: I did what I was told when I was told to by nurses I had never met, and was routinely monitored by an unfamiliar obstetrical intern until my doctor arrived (if they did at all). Plus it smells weird. It can prompt a defensive posture, rather than one that is relaxed and able to give in to the work of birthing a baby. At home in a familiar environment, I am able to relax and surrender to the process of labour: I’m able to move where and how I want, manage pain how I want, under the care of women I am comfortable with because I have gotten to know them over the past 9 months (longer in this case, as my primary midwife is the same woman who was with me for Deacon’s birth).

Is it safe?

Yes. Under the care of a registered midwife, giving birth at home is no more or less safe than giving birth in a hospital.

What if something goes wrong?

A lot of complications are within the realm of a midwife’s ability to care for. If something is outside of her scope of expertise, she knows, and is able to transfer care when needed. If we need to get to the hospital, we will. We’re not here taking dumb risks and avoiding the hospital at all costs: if that’s where we need to go, we will.

What about your other kids?

Our kids will be home during the birth. My mom will be here to support them, and they are welcome to be present during labour and birth, and welcome to not be. We talk openly about what to expect. They know that it’s going to be hard work for me, but that it’s good and a normal part of life, not something to fear. Bailey is so eager to help that I’m thinking I may have a future doula on my hands! The boys are not. They might just hang out in the basement playing Minecraft until baby arrives. They’re all comfortable with what to expect and are looking forward to being at home to welcome their new baby sibling!

What do you need to have for a home birth?

The midwives bring all the medical equipment required for birth, and supply a list of other items for me to put together. I’ve been slowly acquiring what’s necessary:
-wash cloths
-garbage bags (for laundry and garbage)
-incontinence chair pads (those lovely disposable pads they put on beds in the hospital)
-large plastic bowl for the placenta after it’s delivered
-shower curtain to put between bedsheet and mattress, to protect bed
-clean sheets
-snacks and drinks of my preference
-for water birth: shower curtain to protect floor, new garden hose with adaptor for attaching to indoor tap, bucket (the midwives supply the birth pool)
-a bag packed for the hospital in case of transfer
-all the normal stuff you’d need to get ready for a new baby regardless of where they were born, like diapers, receiving blankets, baby clothes, pads


It’s easy to be afraid of something you don’t understand, and I hope this opens up the lines of communication on a topic that might be foreign for a lot of people. Midwifery is safe. Women who choose home birth have done their homework and are not making a careless decision. If someone makes decisions about something you are not informed on, be willing to ask them questions rather than make assumptions. You just might learn something new!

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