A whole year has passed since I saw the positive sign on that pregnancy test, but if I close my eyes I can take myself right back to that snowy January morning. I still remember the way my husband and I looked into each other’s eyes, wondering: “Now what?”
In addition to facing all of the joys and challenges that come with the miraculous feat of growing a baby inside of you, I was about to immerse myself in a wealth of community resources I had no idea existed prior to seeing the results of that highly anticipated test. And now that I’ve “been there, done that,” I’m thrilled to be in a position to shed knowledge on the local services available to support women and families through the pre and post-natal journey.
The Benefits of Midwifery
For the majority of newly pregnant women, the familiar next step after a quick check up with your family doctor is to make an appointment with a local obstetrician. However, midwifery has experienced a re-birth of its own in recent decades. Midwives are not only highly capable, they are also fully trained to be the primary caregiver throughout pregnancy and postpartum. In fact, many doctors and nurses select midwifery for their own births and recommend it for their patients.
So, why choose midwifery? Midwives are able to provide more intensive care than doctors, from an hour-long initial visit at 10 weeks to intimate home visits just days after birth. The care looks much the same as that provided by an obstetrician; midwives perform identical medical tests, with the added benefit of extensive health education and community-based referrals.
The Midwives of York Region work on teams of two or three, ensuring there is someone you know and trust available 24/7 to answer your questions, calm your nerves, and of course, deliver your baby. “Women who experience midwifery care receive such wonderful support the whole way through their pregnancy and beyond,” explains Sally Morgan, registered midwife with the Midwives of York Region. “They feel like someone has their back and is there for them even at 11 o’clock at night when their water breaks.”
Perhaps the most notable benefit to midwifery care is the awareness of all the choices and resources available to parents. Each appointment includes in-depth discussions surrounding topics such as diet, birth wishes, delayed cord clamping, cord blood banking, skin-to-skin, infant care and feeding. “It’s all about choice,” says Morgan.
Of course, answering questions and providing support leading up to the birth of your baby is just the beginning. After all, labour typically lasts 24 to 48 hours – but those initial weeks after baby is born are some of the most trying times for parents. Having a midwife on call to monitor baby’s weight gain and help with breastfeeding can make the world of a difference for many couples.
Breastfeeding and Beyond
York Region Public Health is another incredible resource for new and experienced parents. From telephone counseling to peer support, the public service offers vital support from pre-conception to postpartum. One of its most valued amenities is the free breastfeeding clinic, which is offered in five different locations throughout York Region, including Newmarket, Georgina, Markham, Vaughan and Richmond Hill.
“We want families to achieve their breastfeeding goals,” explains Ann Ciniglio, public health nurse with York Region Public Health. “But, while it’s a natural process, it takes practice.”
The public health nurses are thoroughly trained to offer hands-on support designed to help families achieve their version of breastfeeding success. “We tend to see moms in the first six weeks after birth, but we’re really there for mom’s entire breastfeeding journey,” Ciniglio says. “They’re welcome at any point and can come as many times as they want, and it’s a free service.”
York Region Public Health also offers free online prenatal courses, as well as evening and weekend classes. Parents are also encouraged to check out the postpartum programs designed to provide families with information, support and connections to community resources.
There’s no doubt your first glimpse at that positive pregnancy test opens the doors to a whole new world of possibility for you and your family. But it turns out it also acts as the key to some incredible community resources designed to support you and your family through the months and years ahead. The best part is, you don’t have to do it alone.
Midwives of York Region
York Region Public Healthcc