Pregnancy and Labor are words that can be somehow scary for a first time mother but if you add “being a foreigner” to the mix then these words are definitely terrifying. With this post and other ones in these series I hope I can help you, foreign mama, in the process of having a baby in Canada.
When I first learned that I was pregnant it was an extremely happy moment for me; however, being a mother in North America was a complete challenge that I was (at that moment) not ready for. As soon as I saw the blue cross in the pregnancy stick I had way too many questions pounding in my head: How many times do I have to go to the doctor and when, who is going to see me now: a family doctor or an OB? who will deliver the baby and where, is there any type of paperwork that I have to fill in if I want to have the baby in a specific location? Will there be a midwife with me?…. To give you an idea of how lost I was I actually didn’t know how to say “matrona” (midwife) in English at that point!!
And the thing is when you grow up in a specific country by the time that you decide having kids you know how the pregnancy and labor is managed there but, believe me, having a baby in a different country is a whole different story no matter if the culture is somewhat similar and let alone if the culture is completely different. Basically, I had a question that needed an answer: And now what?
The first thing that you have to do is to call your family doctor (or get a new one in case you still don’t have one) and book your first appointment as soon as possible. In my case, I didn’t even have a family doctor so I had to research and look for a good one accepting new patients. Keep in mind that having a good supportive doctor during your pregnancy is crucial so make sure that you research a bit and look for someone with good credentials. This website is excellent to read feedback about a specific doctor; it will help you determine if that is what you are looking for. Believe me, you don’t want to be stuck with a mediocre physician while you are pregnant! In my case I have to say that I was extremely lucky because I was able to get an amazing family doctor that patiently helped me, answered all my questions and guided me throughout the pregnancy and now with the baby.
In your first pregnancy appointment the doctor will indicate what are the next steps, what tests you need to take and when to take them, will indicate when you need to get your first ultrasound and will suggest what are the supplements you need to take (i.e. folic acid, DHA and/or your prenatal vitamins). Make sure that you ask your family doctor all the questions you may have at that point and he/she will be able to answer most of them or at least point you in the right direction. If your doctor is not properly clarifying the process/next steps or you feel that is not providing you with clear answers about your pregnancy, the DOs and DONTs, etc. then I suggest you look for a different physician. As I said before, a good caregiver makes a huge difference in your pregnancy so don’t hesitate to switch your doctor if you are not happy. And get ready to give tons of blood and urine samples moving forward… the plastic cup and you are going to be best friends for a good portion of your pregnancy!
Next step: Prenatal clases