If you are expecting a child, plan ahead, and remember the NL 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 MCP Card.
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—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 pregnancy, you should have regular medical check-ups. The doctor will conduct or recommend 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 as nutrition, childbirth preparation, hospital preview, breastfeeding, etc. 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.
Hospitals are the only option for women in NL to give birth with doctors and nurses attending to them. Partners are welcome to be present at childbirth to support the mother.
Midwives and doula care are presently available in NL, but you have to pay for the services yourself. 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.
After the Baby is Born
When your baby is born you will need to:
- Register the birth and apply for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
- Get a birth certificate
- Apply for a Social Insurance Number (optional)
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.
While filling in the registration of birth form you will name your newborn. 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 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.
In NL, it is the law that newborns 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.
Families who 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, or a licensed adoption agent.
The family adopting a child must undergo a family assessment, and the social and medical history of 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 is found to have infertility problems, your doctor can refer you to specialists in this area. However, you should be aware that the NL MCP Card does not cover all of the costs of fertility specialists or treatments. MCP does however cover appointments and testing with specialists at the fertility clinic and the majority of the cost of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) treatments. Please check with MCP on the exact coverage that is offered.
Deciding to terminate an unwanted pregnancy can be extremely difficult, whether the pregnant woman is considering it for medical or other reasons. Sexually active partners who do not want to have a child should consult a doctor on using a reliable form of contraceptives.
There are several supports available if you would like to discuss family planning, sexual health and types of contraception available. You can speak to your family doctor/nurse practitioner or reach out to Planned Parenthood at (709) 579-1009 or 1 (877) 666-9847.
Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Health Center is a non-profit charitable organization that promotes positive sexual health and 2SLGBTQ1A+ inclusion through education, community partnership, information and services within an environment that supports and respects individual choice. Condoms and some other types of birth control are also available in most drug stores.
In Canada there are no legal restrictions on abortion. Regulations and accessibility vary from province to province.
In NL, surgical and medical abortions are available with or without a doctor’s referral through Athena Health Centre. Athena Health Centre offers many supports and services and can be reached at (709) 754-3572 or toll free 1 (800) 755-2044.
- Prenatal and Postnatal Resources, Services & Benefits
- What to Expect: Pregnancy
- Guide to Healthy Pregnancy
- Having a Baby
- Registering a Birth
- Canadian Association of Midwives
- Child Safety Link
- Child Car Seat Safety
- Sleep Safety for Babies, Infants and Children
- Baby Product Safety
- Toy Safety
Family Planning / Women’s Reproductive Health
- Women’s Health Matters: Birth Control
- Planned Parenthood: NL Sexual Health Centre
- Therapeutic Abortion in NL
Related Topics in this Guide
- Important Canadian Documents: Social Insurance Number
- Important Canadian Documents: NL MCP Card
- Money and Finances: Tax Benefits
We have made every effort to ensure that the information in this Guide is accurate and up-to-date. If you find any errors or omissions, please contact us.