The Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU) at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital opened in 2018 and is the FIRST of its kind in Canada. The AMU is a centre of excellence for physiological birth with a midwife in a relaxed, comfortable, and friendly environment.

What to expect on the AMU

Our focus of care is the well-being of pregnant patients and their families. The AMU offers:

  • Accessible, responsive care provided in partnership with women, respecting their diverse needs and choices
  • Midwives in the community and hospital working closely together to deliver high-quality midwifery care that supports normal birth with confidence and competence
  • Encouragement of patients to be involved in all aspects of their care

While every birth is different and you are unique, here are some things to know about birth.

The AMU is a separate birthing area located beside an Obstetrical Unit with access to operating rooms and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Physicians and other staff needed in emergencies are close by to assist if needed; however, the majority of birthing people admitted to the AMU will deliver on the AMU, and there is a low rate of transfer to the Obstetrical Unit and/or for C-section.

Patients select a community midwife clinic from one of our three partners: Midwifery Services of Durham, Uxbridge Community Midwives, or New Life Midwives.

About the AMU

In the AMU, specially designed birthing rooms provide a welcoming space for families with furnishings and equipment to support physiological birth, such as birth chairs, floor mats, hanging slings, and tubs suitable for water immersion and waterbirth. A double-sized Murphy bed is readily available after birth so that the new family can relax and enjoy skin-to-skin bonding time with baby.

Who can use the AMU?

The majority of birthing people under the care of a midwife are eligible to give birth on the AMU. If you are planning a hospital birth and are a client of Midwifery Services of Durham, or Uxbridge Midwives, and remain low-risk at the time of labour, you will be booked to birth on the AMU.

If your care is transferred to an obstetrician during your pregnancy, you will be booked to deliver on the Obstetrical Unit. A midwife can provide supportive care to you while there. Please speak to your midwife about any situation that could rule out an AMU birth (e.g., the need for a C-section birth, twins, or diabetes requiring insulin).

Water birth

As you prepare for the upcoming birth of your baby, you may want to consider taking advantage of water immersion and/or water birth. Water birth is a safe approach to childbirth that has been practised in many other countries for more than 30 years; it is gaining in popularity in North America.

If you are interested in labouring or giving birth in water, please discuss it with your midwife. Together you can determine if a water birth is a good option for you.

Virtual tour

Take a virtual tour to learn which entrances and elevators to take to the Alongside Midwifery Unit.

Alternatively, you can view the Youtube video below.