Relocating to a new country is one thing, relocating while pregnant is another. Above all else, you are likely to be concerned about the quality of health care and support that are available to you. In this post, we will go through the resources available to pregnant newcomers in Canada.
What to do when you find out you are pregnant in Canada?
Once pregnant newcomers in Canada find out that they are pregnant, the first thing that is recommended is to get a health practitioner. If you were already pregnant before landing in Canada, it is good to get a healthcare practitioner as soon as you land in Canada. Before landing, it is recommended to do the following:
Get a letter or note from your current medical practitioner in your home country before you land in Canada. It should show your pregnancy history:
- Your medical history(including tests done, etc)
- Your vaccinations
- Your routine medications
- Any other requirements listed by the province you are going to
Types of Health Practitioners Available
- Family Doctors: A search on Google “family doctor near me” should give you a list of the doctors in your area. Be sure to call them to inquire if they are accepting new patients. You can ask friends and family for recommendations too. Be sure to do the proper research and checks before choosing a family doctor.
- Obstetrician(OB): These are specialised doctors who give prenatal care to both low risk and high-risk pregnancies. They also care for you during your pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. You can read more about them here
- Midwives: These registered midwives provide primary care to you during your pregnancy and after you have your baby. Their care includes the following:
- Prenatal Care: including regular visits, bloodwork, diagnostic tests, etc. Some midwives centres have direct phone lines that you can call when ill or in labour.
- Care during your birth: They also help to deliver your baby either at home or at the hospital. When necessary, they collaborate with other health professionals to help you with your birth.
- Postnatal Care: After you have your baby, the midwives will also be there for you for at least six weeks after birth. They will visit your home a few times to provide care to you and your newborn.
How Pregnant Newcomers in Canada can get access to a midwife: You can call a midwife as soon as you know you are pregnant to request care; you do not need a referral from a doctor. Click to see more details of midwifery across Canada
My Personal Experience with Midwives
I will like to share with you my own experience with the midwives who cared for me during my pregnancy.
- Getting a midwife: I searched online for “midwives near me”. I called two of the options that were the closest to me. I finally got a placement with one of them.
- Prenatal care: I was assigned to three midwives. On my checkup days, I was attended to by any of the three of them. Routine bloodwork was also done at the midwives’ centre.
- Contact lines: Apart from my prenatal schedules, I was given an email and some phone numbers that I could call in case I had to reach any of the midwives. There was always a midwife on duty to speak with 24/7
- In case of an incident: In my third trimester, I had a degenerating fibroid and was in excruciating pain. One of the midwives arranged a meet up with me at the hospital. She gave me dedicated care and even brought in a specialist to run a scan and examine me.
- During labour: I was given the option to either choose to give birth at home or the hospital. I chose the hospital. When my contractions started, one of the midwives assigned to me came to meet me at my house to check my dilations before we then went to the hospital. During the labour when the placenta was not coming out, the midwife also brought in a specialist to take care of it.
- Post Baby Care: The midwives came to my house to follow up with me and my baby a few times. They checked my stitches, taught me how to breastfeed, and did the usual routine checks. Once the baby is six weeks old, you will be advised to get a family doctor as midwifery care ends at 6 weeks postpartum.
- Did I pay any fees? With my Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), I did not make any payment for any of the services that were rendered to me.
You’ve read my personal experience, however, the choice you make on your health practitioner totally lies with you. You can check out OMama, an online resource supported by eHealth Ontario, which has tons of information concerning pregnancy, birth and early parenting. This will guide you in making your choice.
How does maternity leave work in Canada?
In Canada, depending on the length of employment history and the number of hours worked, new parents can take up to 63 weeks of leave from their jobs. The government offers paid leave for either one or both parents through the employment insurance plan. Popularly known as EI.
There are two types of benefits under this plan:
1. Maternity Benefits: These benefits are only available to the person who is away from work because they are either pregnant or have recently given birth. This person can receive up to 15 weeks of these benefits. The amount paid for maternity benefits is up to $595 CAD per week. The benefit rate here is 55%.
2. Parental Benefits: Unlike maternity benefits that are available to only the person pregnant or recently had a baby, parental benefits are available to both parents. There are two types of parental benefits:
a. Standard parental benefits: Here, a parent can receive the benefits for up to 40 weeks, but one parent cannot receive more than 35 weeks. The weekly amount paid here is up to $595 CAD. The benefit rate here is 55%.
b. Extended parental benefits: Here, a parent can receive the benefits up to 69 weeks, but one parent cannot receive more than 61 weeks. The weekly amount paid here is up to $357 CAD. The benefit rate here is 33%.
Be sure to get the latest information from the Government of Canada’s website as they would share any changes or updates on their website. If you have any questions on which one to take, you can call Service Canada to get the latest information or visit their website here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.