What to Expect When You’re Expecting in Winnipeg

May 28th, 2010 by Emma Durand-Wood

Things on my to-do-once-I-move-to-Manitoba list:

Get married? Check.

Buy a house? Done.

Have a baby…  any time now!

Yep, my husband and I will welcome our first child very shortly, and since pregnancy is such a major life event, the last nine months have given me a real education in expectation. Reflecting on it all  has inspired me to share a bit about what I’ve discovered – I hope it will be of some use to fellow expectant parents in the city.  I’m certainly no pro, but I have managed to figure some things out!

Update: I’ve written a follow-up to this post: What (Else) To Expect When You’re Expecting in Winnipeg (May 2012)

Doctors, Obstetricians & Midwives

One of the most frustrating things about moving to a new city is getting yourself set up with new healthcare providers.  When I found out I was pregnant, I hadn’t yet found a family doctor, and that was pretty stressful (as if there aren’t other things on your mind when you’re in your first trimester, like not throwing up!). The Family Doctor Connection did not prove to be particularly helpful – I wound up just searching the internet for Winnipeg medical clinics accepting new patients and eventually did get into one.

Eventually I was referred to an obstetrician who think is great, but when I found out that pregnant women in Manitoba can choose to work with a doctor or a midwife, I was disappointed that I hadn’t pursued the latter option. Fortunately, we’ve been able to somewhat bridge the differing styles of prenatal care by hiring a doula who has been meeting with us regularly over the last few months, and who will be with us when our baby is born.

Midwives are funded through the province of Manitoba and can generally attend hospital and home births. Be forewarned, though: there’s a shortage of midwives in the province. According to this Free Press item, the province funds about 40, but needs more like 200.  Apparently, the College of Midwives is turning away more than half the people who want a midwifery birth. You can see a list of all midwife practices here. (Midwives support low-risk home and hospital births – pretty cool.)

Hospital Births

In Winnipeg, only St. Boniface Hospital and the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) have maternity wards.  I’ll be delivering at St. B,  which is made up of private, LDRP (labour/delivery/recovery/postpartum) rooms, and semi-private rooms. You can take a monthly “virtual tour” of the St. B maternity ward every 2nd Thursday of the month. The first half hour/45 minutes is a powerpoint presentation by an anaesthesiologist, addressing drug options for labour. The second half is a slide show and presentation by a labour & delivery nurse, and for me, this part of the presentation was much more valuable. The nurse shared when to come to the hospital, and what to bring, and answered the question that everyone wants to know: how do I get a private LDRP room? (The answer is sort of complicated, but I was relieved to know that even if you don’t get an LDRP room, you still have your own room for labour, delivery, and recovery. It’s only after the delivery that you’ll be sharing a room.)

Also of great interest to me is the construction of a free-standing birthing centre (“Women’s Health Clinic”) that is scheduled to begin by Spring of 2011. It’s expected to handle 500 births per year, and “will include a primary-care clinic and four birthing rooms, and facilities for education and counselling.” (CBC News item)


Sorry ladies, this ain’t the United States, where if you believe what you see on A Baby Story, you’d get a whole bunch of chances to see your little one in utero. In Manitoba, I’ve been told, and it was my experience, that unless you’re high risk, you’ll probably get one ultrasound at around 20 weeks. And it’s for medical purposes, not to determine the sex of the baby. (Don’t bother to ask if it’s a boy or a girl, because apparently they won’t tell you! At St. B, anyway. I’m not sure about HSC.) At St. Boniface, you can order a DVD of your ultrasound for $50 (allow  weeks for processing). This was a hard reality for me to learn, since all I wanted was one snapshot to show family and friends, and tuck into a baby book. In the end we opted save some money (am I becoming a frugal Winnipegger, or what??) and to forego the ultrasound DVD. If you’re willing to pay, BabyMoon and UC Baby are private ultrasound clinics that offer a variety of photo/DVD/etc. packages.

Doulas (a.k.a. labour coaches)

As I mentioned earlier, we found a wonderful doula through Birth Roots Doula Collective who has been meeting with us over the last few months and will be with us when I go into labour. She has been an excellent source of information, reassurance, and support and we feel very lucky to be working with her. While doulas (personal labour coaches) aren’t paid for by the province, most have a sliding scale fee policy… we are paying the full Birth Roots price at $575+tax. Other organizations such as MACFE (a non-profit) charge less.

Incidentally, word on the street is that doula services in Manitoba are way underpriced. A friend of mine in Calgary who is also expecting looked into getting a doula, and the least expensive service they found cost $900. I have heard that doulas in Toronto often charge $1000. We’ve had such a positive experience with our doula so far that I’m sure we would happily pay a higher rate, if it were required.

Prenatal classes, activities & networking

One of the downsides of moving away from your old friends is that once “baby fever” hits your gang, you may find, as I did, that you want to be around other expectant mothers but don’t know any! Fortunately I’ve been able to meet some other pregnant women through prenatal classes and prenatal yoga, both of which are held at Birth Roots. I’ve especially enjoyed the 8-week yoga class, as we generally had group discussions both before and after the class. Moksha Yoga also offers prenatal yoga, and the Winnipeg Leisure Guide lists several pre-and postnatal (and pre-/postnatal friendly) classes including yoga, aquafit, exercise, etc.

Two online forums have been somewhat useful, too: Baby Center’s Parents in Manitoba board and What to Expect’s Canadian Parents board.

Maternity & baby clothing and gear

I’ve had a lot of luck finding gently worn maternity clothes at Mom’s and Children’s Paradise, got my winter coat at Motherhood Maternity, and almost never left Thyme without something cute! As for baby gear, a colleague told me early on to watch the Zellers flyers because they routinely have big sales in the baby department… and it’s true, they do! E-Children is a smaller chain whose Winnipeg store in located in the Exchange, and they have really lovely cribs, bassinets, bedding, furniture, etc. there. We purchased cloth diapers from a local mother/daughter team who runs Canada’s Diaper Ladies. I’ve also heard good things about AMP Diapers.

And again, I wouldn’t be a thrifty Winnipegger if I didn’t scope out a bunch of garage sales a couple weekends back, and score a bunch of barely-used clothes, a Snugli, and a diaper bag for a fraction of what they would have cost new. (On a related note, this year I discovered that there are somewhat regular “community garage sales” where entire neighbourhoods plan their sales on the same weekend… I visited the Whyte Ridge sales on May 8, and the Linden Woods sale is right around the corner on June 5.)

I’ve also made excellent use of Winnipeg Public Library‘s extensive collection of pregnancy and baby name books. I’m looking forward to taking the little one to some WPL programming eventually, too!

Anyway, that’s about it (I know, this was a novel) from me on this topic. I’d love to hear about others’ experiences, tips, and comments about preparing for a baby in Manitoba… it can be an overwhelming and anxious time of life, so the more we can share with each other, the better 🙂

25 Responses to “What to Expect When You’re Expecting in Winnipeg”

  1. mrchristian says:

    No kids so I can’t give you any tips on that front but congrats ! A new addition to the family ! Now there will be 138 people over for family dinners 😉

  2. Emma says:

    Ha ha, no kidding! Christmas will be insane! Thanks for your kind wishes 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    If you’re stressed about installing your car seat, you can take it to select Winnipeg firehalls to have it inspected after you’ve put it in. You can’t show up with it in the box, and expect the firehalls to do it… but they’ll check to make sure you’ve put it in right, and teach you.

    Go to http://www.mpi.mb.ca for a list of firehalls that do the inspections.

  4. Emma says:

    Thanks, Jennifer. I had heard about this service but forgotten about it until your comment, so today we dropped into the Kimberly firehall and had them check our installation. They tightened the carseat up nicely and gave us lots of information and tips. I’m really glad we went!

    Here’s the direct link to the MPI page with the list of firehalls and hours for drop-in:

  5. Melissa says:

    Hi! I enjoyed reading your post. I just wanted to mention that you could have requested to have your ultrasound at another hospital (such as Victoria) and then purchased pictures there of your baby. I did that with my third child – I paid $20 and got a few printed pictures, and then I asked for the film – which is a big X-Ray sheet with all of the shots that the technician took. And if you go for fetal assessment at St. B, you can find out the sex and they will print off a lot of pictures for you at no cost. I am expecting our fourth child and am happy that I have pictures of all my babies when they were growing inside me!

  6. Emma says:

    Thanks for the tip! That’s really good to know – I will keep that in mind for the next time around! Congratulations and good luck with your little bundle of joy 🙂

  7. kristin says:

    I was just wondering if at St.b anyone knows if I am allowed to have my boyfriend and mom in the room while i give birth?

  8. Emma says:

    When I was there in June 2010, you were allowed two support people; I had my husband and my doula. So it should be no problem to have you mom and boyfriend with you. However if you have to have a c-section or possibly other surgical measures, it’s up to the anaesthesiologist to say how many people can be in the room. Good luck!

  9. May says:

    thanks!!! this is extremely helpful information as I too, have moved from BC to Winnipeg and do not have a family physician. Great to know that I have the option of midwife as well.

  10. Devina says:

    Hi Emma,
    First of all, congratulation! Im glad I found this post… I just moved 2 weeks to Winnipeg when I found out Im pregnant (my first time). Now im 17 weeks… and going to have my ultrasound in St B as well in the next 3 weeks. So, my question is, the tech will not tell you the gender of the baby and will not give any pictures?!?!?! 🙁 My ObGyn also at Boyd Med Clinic.

  11. Emma says:

    Hi Devina, congratulations to you! And welcome to Winnipeg 🙂 When I was at St B for my ultrasound (almost 2 years ago now) the techs would not tell you the baby’s gender; I’m not sure if that has changed but I doubt it. You can purchase pictures but there is a fee (at present, the website says $50 for a CD). However, my sister-in-law’s midwife sent her to a different hospital (Misericordia) for her ultrasound, and they did give her a digital image of her ultrasound at no fee! So if your OB is not picky, maybe he/she would send you to another hospital? Good luck!

  12. Vanessa says:

    Thankfully they’ve changed their policy at St Boniface on telling you the sex of the baby. They were more than happy to point out the little boy-parts when I went for my ultrasound at 23 weeks (I was truly expecting a girl so they had to assure me, multiple times, that that dangly little turtle was a penis.).

  13. anto says:

    I went for mi ultrasound at week 21 (at st boniface) and the technician wont tell my baby gender. she said I may ask my ob as she wrote that in the report. at week 27-29 my ob send me to fetal assesment because he had a concern about my baby size. they were so nice, the tech went all over baby’s face, and body. she told me it was a boy and made 2 pics.
    maybe is a tech thing to tell or not… but in fetal assesment they tell u for sure, and more, they let my dh and ds to stay the hole session.
    I decide to give birth some place close to home, so st boniface it is. and I got referred to a ob who works there. st. b has an all new maternity ward… will check it soon, I’m due on april 18…

  14. […] been almost two years since I wrote a post called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting in Winnipeg” – which is the #3 most popular post I’ve ever written (two years later, […]

  15. ANGELA says:

    I will be 20 weeks in a week and going for my ultrasound at Misericordia, has anyone had an ultrasound there and were they told the baby’s gender?

  16. jenn says:

    your site has been very helpful.. inspiring coz I almost feel the same. this will be my 2nd baby, but my 1st in Canada! so really scared esp my resources are so limited, and no immediate family here. so THANKS BUNCH!

  17. Julie says:

    Being new to Winnipeg can sometimes overwhelming, I was wondering if you or anyone else following this blog is also new to Winnipeg and would be interested in meeting to discuss pregnancy,babies or anything else. Pregnancy is a unique experience and sometime makes it hard to relate to friends who have not yet had that experience. I’ve been in Winnipeg a few years now but looking to expand my circle of friends to include new moms or newly expecting moms.
    cheers and congrats!

  18. Lauren says:

    Hi Julie! I’m new to Winnipeg too; Been here about a year and a half. Would love to meet and discuss all of the above. Wonderful blog Emma!

  19. Amanda says:

    Great Blog! Im due in Feb with my 2nd child. We went to the Grace hospital for our ultrasound with our son and although they asked and told us we could find out the sex, we did not. Now with the second we really do want to find out so hopefully we get a hospital that will tell us! My OB-GYN said yesterday that they cannot specify which hospital we go to as the dr’s just send the request to an “input” and they send you to whichever hospital has openings. Im frugal as well so hoping I dont have to pay for baby moon lol. Also thought I would mention for other people wondering, my cousin went to Seven Oaks and they told her the sex.

  20. leah says:

    Fyi, the general rule in the wrha is to allow the ultrasound Dr to put the gender in the report. only the Dr is allowed to give results. The techs job is to use the time they have with you to screen out abnormalities and make sure your little one is doing okay, not to give you show. If you were feeling frustrated that its not as magical as you were hoping, remind your self this is a medical test, not unlike an xray or blood test. there is always babymoon and uc baby for entertainment, but i’m afraid the taxpayer is not going to be on the hook for that one.

  21. Vanessa says:

    Thanks LEAH for the informative response. I hope for an informative tech but understand the rules now so I won’t get grumpy and huffy if they don’t tell me. Appreciate it!

  22. Dixons says:

    Great to read educative comments on this blog. I m new in Winnipeg and expectant mum. I m 35 weeks gone. I need a mid-wives contact asap. I do not have an insurance yet but willing to pay out of pocket. Please advise.

  23. Emma Durand-Wood says:

    Hi there — you could contact the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority midwifery central intake line at 204-947-2422 ext 307. I think they’ll be able to tell you what to do in your situation. All the best!

  24. Chi says:

    Thanks a bunch for the tips!!!

    I was wondering if you know anything about “out-of-pocket”
    Prices for ultrasounds in the different hospitals here in Winnipeg please!

  25. Emma Durand-Wood says:

    I’m not sure if such a thing exists, to be honest. You’d have to call the hospitals to be sure, but I would imagine they probably don’t do elective ultrasounds even if someone is willing to pay.

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