Perhaps the most frequent questions asked regarding prenatal support and education is how to locate a care provider, where to find prenatal classes and when to sign up for them, and how to find a doula. Many women aren’t aware they have options for the type of care they can receive, and that education and support can differ. The vast majority of women rely on their family physician to refer them to a prenatal care provider and childbirth education classes.
While some family physicians still deliver babies, many do not, which means an expectant mother may need to be referred to another care provider. This may also be an ideal time for an expectant mother to switch care providers, if they were planning to anyway, or if their physician is not accepting new patients and therefore will not be able to be the baby’s physician. For a list of physicians accepting new patients in Nova Scotia, refer to Need a Family Practice Registry
Perinatal Centre (PNC)
Most often, if her own physician does not deliver, an expectant mother will be referred to the Perinatal Centre at the IWK Health Centre, after 16 weeks gestation.
They may also be referred to or choose to be followed by an obstetrician, particularly if they already work with one, or if they fall into a ‘high risk’ group (multiple babies, mother is over 35 years in age, other special conditions).
Some expectant mothers choose to have a midwife as their care provider. Midwives provide primary health care for well women during pregnancy and childbirth, and care for mother and baby for six weeks after birth. Find out more on the Midwifery page on IWK Health Centre website.
Childbirth Education/Prenatal Support:
The IWK Health Centre provides plenty of information online about prenatal classes and preparing for childbirth. Expectant mothers can contact the central booking line at 902 481 5842 to register for prenatal classes, which are taught by registered nurses at the IWK Health Centre, as well as other places in the community.
A number of Family Resource Centres offer prenatal education classes and prenatal support within the community.
Private childbirth educators facilitate classes in a variety of settings such as yoga studios, massage clinics and private studios. These are largely found via word of mouth or signs posted at the individual locations.
Lamaze classes: See www.lamaze.org for a listing of Certified Lamaze Childbirth Educators in Nova Scotia, as well as prenatal information and resources.
Doulas assist women and their families to discover and use strategies to facilitate normal, natural and healthy pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting. Some women choose to access the service of a birth doula for education and support throughout the pregnancy and birth. Nova Scotia has both private and volunteer doulas. For more information on the role of a doula, and to find a private Certified Doula, see www.dona.org.
For more details on volunteer doulas in the Halifax Regional Municipality, contact The Volunteer Doula Program at 902 479 0508.
Prenatal yoga: A relaxing yoga class can be a great way to prepare for childbirth. Prenatal yoga is available at many studios in Nova Scotia. Speak to your family physician before beginning a yoga program during pregnancy.