Online Guide for Newcomers to Prince Edward Island - Canada
Having a Baby
If you are expecting a child, plan ahead, and remember the PEI health care system is there to help you. The cost of prenatal (before birth) and postnatal (after birth) care is covered if you have the PEI Health Card. [See Related Resources]
If you think you are pregnant, you should contact your family doctor. Your doctor can give you information on how to take care of yourself and your baby during the pregnancy, and can also refer you to an obstetrician. An obstetrician is a doctor who specializes in pregnancy and childbirth.
Before the Baby is Born
Ideally, prenatal care begins even before you become pregnant. If you are planning to become pregnant, it is wise to discuss your plans with your family doctor and to have a complete medical check-up.
During the pregnancy you should have regular medical check-ups. At these appointments the doctor will recommend some tests to help ensure that both you and your baby stay healthy.
Prenatal Assessment and Classes
When you are pregnant, your doctor can refer you to Public Health Nursing for a prenatal assessment and classes. A prenatal assessment is a one-on-one meeting with a nurse. The nurse can review your prenatal and postnatal needs and give you information on supports available to you in your community.
The nurse can also book you for prenatal classes, which cover such things such as nutrition, childbirth preparation, hospital preview, breastfeeding, etc. Husbands or partners are welcome to attend those classes as well.
Midwives and doulas are trained and experienced professionals that assist new parents during labour, delivery, and after-birth care. Doulas provide non-medical physical and emotional support.
Doula comes from Ancient Greek δούλη (doulē) meaning 'female slave'. Because of the negative connotations, Greek labour supporters call themselves 'labour companions' or 'birthworkers'.
The only option for women in PEI to give birth with doctors and nurses attending to them is in a hospital. Husbands or partners are welcome to be present at childbirth to support the mother.
The Province is currently working towards integration of midwife services and care into our health care system. Doula care is presently available in PEI, but you have to pay for the services yourself.
Contact the Women's Network PEI for more information on birthing alternatives in PEI.
[See Related Resources]
After the Baby is Born
When your baby is born you will need to:
- register the birth
- get a birth certificate
- apply for a Social Insurance Number (optional)
- apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) and/or Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB)
While a child is not officially required to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN), you may wish to apply for one for your baby in order to save and invest towards the child's education in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and to be eligible for government programs such as the Canada Education Savings Grant.
At the same time you can apply for child tax benefits.
Within 30 days of the birth of a child in PEI, the birth must be registered with Vital Statistics. This is usually done in the hospital after your baby is born.
While filling in the registration of birth form you will name your newborn by providing the baby's first, middle and last name (surname). It is very important that you fill out the form correctly. If you need help, ask the hospital staff for assistance. As a parent, you must also provide your full birth name (first, middle and last name) and the place where you were born.
The birth certificate is the official document that contains information from the birth registration. It can be obtained after the birth registration has been processed and registered by Vital Statistics in person, or ordered by mail or online. [See Related Resources]
Public Health Nurses
Public Health Nurses will visit or call all new mothers when they return home from the hospital. They are available to help parents with healthy child care practices. If a problem develops, a nurse will assist the family to find help.
In PEI it is the law that newborns, when travelling by car, must be placed in a rear-facing car seat until they weigh a minimum of 10 kg (22 lb). Keep that in mind, and make sure to have a car seat ready when you are leaving the hospital after birth.
Family Resource Centres
Family Resource Centres across PEI offer programs for parents, parents-to-be, infants, children, and their families. These programs provide parent education and support groups, parenting resources, prenatal programs, drop-in play times, toy-lending libraries and outreach for smaller Island communities.
Families that want information about adopting a child, or birth parents who are thinking about giving a child up for adoption, may contact the government department in charge of the Adoption Program (in May 2014 it is the Department of Community Services and Seniors), or a licensed adoption agent.
The family adopting a child must undergo a family assessment, and a social and medical history on the child to be adopted must be completed by an authorized social worker. If giving a child up for adoption, the birth parents must receive counselling.
If you and your partner or spouse are experiencing difficulty conceiving a child, you can consult your doctor. If either of you are found to have infertility problems, your doctor can refer you to specialists in this area. However, you should be aware that the PEI Health Card does not cover the costs of fertility specialists or treatments.
Couples who are sexually active, and do not wish to have a child, should consider birth control. Talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner about the birth control options that best suit your life style. Condoms and some other birth control products are available at most drug stores in the 'Family Planning' section.
Abortions are not meant to be used as a regular form of birth control. Sexually active partners who do not want to have a child should consult a doctor on using a reliable form of contraceptives.
Deciding to terminate an unwanted pregnancy can be extremely difficult, whether the pregnant woman is considering it for medical or other reasons. This is a very controversial and sensitive issue for many people.
Canada is one of only a few countries with no legal restrictions on abortion. However, regulations and accessibility vary from province to province. PEI has no facilities that perform abortions, and women who wish to have one have to travel off Island at their own expense. For more information on this matter, contact Women's Network PEI. [See Related Resources]