This blog was written by Next Stop Canada volunteer, Lucy Schmidt.
When traveling to a new country your emotional and physical health are very important, especially when you are pregnant. You’ll be happy to know that Canada’s health care is provincially funded and that there are various services that offer support for new mothers. Learning how to navigate these resources will help ensure a smooth transition in Canada for you and your new baby.
In Canada doctors, midwives, and nurse practitioners are qualified to perform births and do pre-natal checkups. It may be necessary to use online resources to locate a doctor in your area as many are not accepting new patients.
In Canada, many people choose an Obstetrician (OB) over a family doctor but this requires a referral from a family doctor. The advantage of choosing an OB is that most are linked with a hospital and also trained for high-risk pregnancies. Midwives are becoming a more popular choice for new mothers in Canada and you can get a referral from a hospital or the province’s union of midwives.
When seeking a health practitioner, decide what is important to you: someone who can be sensitive to your cultural needs? Someone who can communicate with you in your native language? Think of all of the questions that you wish to ask beforehand. Consider all the needs that may or may not be met with each health practitioner, and if you are not satisfied with your current practitioner you may seek out another.
Getting the recommended number of prenatal check-ups is important for you and your baby. Before you come to Canada, learn all you can about the healthcare plan specific to your province. Health care in Canada is publicly funded, however, there may be a wait time of up to three months for permanent residents. Get the facts first! If you will not have health care for a period of time, the following options for prenatal checkups are available to you:
- Pay for each visit to the hospital (Very expensive-$$$)
- Purchase an insurance plan which makes at least partial payments towards birth or prenatal care (Ranges in pricing – $$)
- Access services from Community Health Centres (free) or midwives (often free or low-cost – $)
Apply for health care as soon as you arrive. Many newcomers find that the Canadian Health Care system can be difficult to navigate through. Prepare yourself before you arrive by visiting the Ministry of Health specific to the province/territory you are immigrating to. Register with Next Stop Canada today to know more!
Learn about all of the resources in your community that are available for expecting mothers. Some of these services may be free and some of them may be offered at reduced rates for low-income families. These may include:
- Prenatal education classes
- Prenatal yoga or exercise classes
- Educational programs for moms and young children
- Food and clothing banks
- Volunteer translation services
- Cultural centres
- Child care centres (waitlists can be several years long)
- Pregnancy Resource and Wellness centres
By attending educational classes you can learn about topics such as emotional well-being during pregnancy and post-partum depression. You can meet other mothers living in Canada and build a support system within your community.