Pregnancy planning for newcomers to Canada

I am new to Canada, what do I need to know about having a baby here?

Prenatal care, birth practices, and traditions surrounding the birth of a baby differ from country to country. Things may happen quite differently in Canada compared to the country you came from. If you have recently moved to Canada and don’t have any family support, it may be helpful to become part of a new community to help you while you are pregnant and after the baby is born. You can look for cultural groups in your area, join a church or other place of worship, find a drop-in program for pregnant women, or talk to a social worker. Most areas of Canada are serviced by a Public Health Unit; these can be a great source of information and support. It is also useful to make friends with people who have lived in Canada for a long time and can help you navigate the systems and understand local practices. The Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program is a community-based program designed to help pregnant women and is available to newcomers – you can find out if there is a location near you here. Refugees are also eligible for temporary coverage of health-care benefits through the Interim Federal Health Program.

What does prenatal health care in Canada involve?

You will need to choose a health care provider. This may be an obstetrician, family doctor, nurse practitioner, or midwife. You will see your health care provider regularly throughout your pregnancy. You will have many routine tests available to you that can help ensure the health of both you and your baby. These include blood and urine tests, measuring blood pressure, listening to the baby’s heartbeat, and having an ultrasound. You may also choose to have genetic screening conducted. Your health care provider will help you prepare for the birth of your baby. Most women in Canada deliver their babies in a hospital, but depending on your location you may also have an option of a birthing centre or a home delivery with a midwife, providing you have a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. You will be advised to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, take a multivitamin that includes folic acid, and avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs.

Will I need to pay for health services?

Depending on how long you have been in Canada and what health services you require, it is possible that you will have to pay for some of the fees. Each province/territory has their own health insurance plan; find information on your province or territory’s system here.