It’s 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, I’m still getting comments on it)!
There are a few new things around town to report on, so I thought it would be fun to write a follow-up post to share some of them, plus a few notes from the trenches of my own experience. As always, I’d love to hear any suggestions/recommendations you have for resources and services around town. Here we go…
Winnipeg is now home to a wonderful new Birth Centre, run by registered midwives and the Women’s Health Clinic. It is the first of its kind in our province and one of only a few in Canada! For those of you not familiar with this marvelous new facility, it offers a wide range of maternity-related services, including pregnancy, birthing, and post-partum care services along with counseling and education services.
I had the pleasure of attending the Birth Centre’s grand opening last October and it is an absolutely gorgeous, peaceful, and well-planned space that any family would be lucky to use. (Check out photos here.)
There is tons of info available on the Birth Centre at the Women’s Health Clinic website – be sure to check it out! But be aware that there is a severe shortage of midwives in Manitoba. If you’re hoping to get a midwife so that you can use the Birth Centre – or have a home or hospital birth – contact one of the local midwifery practices as soon as you know you’re pregnant. If you don’t get in right away, you can ask to be put on a waiting list.
St. Boniface Virtual Tour
Last month, St. B launched an online “virtual tour” of their maternity ward. Video segments show footage of the hospital’s maternity ward facilities including LDRP rooms, hydrotherapy tubs, and showers, along with the process of getting saline water injections and discussion of medication options such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas), narcotics, and epidurals.
This virtual tour is a good complement to the monthly in-person information session offered at the hospital, because it uses actual footage of the hospital facilities, showing a patient arriving at the hospital, going to maternity triage, and labouring**/recovering in an LDRP room. They also show scenes from the NICU and L&D rooms, as well as explain what happens during a more complicated birth such as forceps or C-section delivery. The videos are actually really informative, and I commend St. B on giving women and their families a chance to really get a feel for the actual environment they’ll be in during labour and birth. Here’s the first in the series:
While I’m talking about St. B’s maternity ward, I’d also like to mention how valuable it was to have access to a lactation consultant while in hospital. While it would have been beneficial to see her sooner in my stay (we were told the policy was not to put in a request until 24 hours post-partum, so we didn’t see her until a full two days in), it was tremendously helpful and reassuring to have consultations with such a tender, knowledgeable, and caring lactation consultant (thanks, Susan!). I hope St. Boniface will do all they can to employ more LCs; they provide a much-needed, critical service to any new mother having difficulties with nursing.
Public Health Services: Postpartum Home Visits, Breastfeeding Support, Infant Nutrition Classes
After leaving the hospital, what I didn’t really understand was that we weren’t being left to our own devices, dazed, confused, and sleep deprived. The Winnipeg Health Authority has a truly amazing team of public health nurses who do home visits to new parents in the days following discharge from the hospital. We had the pleasure of visits from two different nurses who were outstanding in their gentle, patient, knowledgeable homecare of both me and my son.
When we left the hospital, the LC I’d been working with said “It breaks my heart that I can’t tell you to call me with questions or concerns” – she only works with hospital patients – but she gave me a sheet listing breastfeeding support clinics across the city, hosted through the WRHA. You can either sit in on a support group meeting – where breastfeeding mothers and their babies meet for socializing and peer support – or book a time to have a consultation with a lactation consultant. I did both of these things and they were absolutely critical in surviving some of the major nursing challenges my little one and I faced. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful these services (totally free, by the way) are.
Through the WRHA I was also invited to attend a class on “starting solids” at Access Transcona. This was a really helpful session that cleared up a lot of confusing advice regarding first foods, allergies, and breast & formula feeding. The class was taught by a nutritionist who gave us tons of tips and instructions and dispelled a lot of myths. I’d highly recommend this class to any new parent!
When we took prenatal classes, one of our instructors was Becky Heather, who has since gone on to open Purely Baby, a centre offering prenatal education, fitness, massage, craniosacral and herbal treatments, and a variety of other programming including breastfeeding support groups, playgroups, etc. The centre is located on south St. Anne’s Road. I haven’t had the chance to visit or attend any of the programming yet (I’ve got my eye on the Moms Renewal Group!), but am thrilled to see more services being offered to expecting women and their families.
Birth Roots Doula Collective (which I have had several very positive experiences with) and the Manitoba Association for Childbirth and Family Education are two more options for pre- and postnatal programming and services.
Car Seat Inspections
Someone left a comment on my original post about the local firehalls offering free car seat installation checks. Thanks to that comment, we dropped in to have our seat checked at the Kimberley station, and were really glad we did. The guys who inspected our seat were super-friendly and gave us a lot of helpful tips. For a list of the locations that offer this service, their addresses and hours, check out the MPI Child Car Seat Installation page.
Winnipeg Public Library
I want to give another shout-out to Winnipeg Public Library. I mentioned in my original post that I’d made good use of the library’s extensive collection of pregnancy books, and that use has continued. Since giving birth, I have probably looked at every book on breastfeeding in the library’s holdings, and devoured countless books on infants and sleep, starting solid foods, entering toddlerhood, and of course, motherhood in general. Each new phase of my little guy’s life brings lots of opportunities to read a new book, and I’m so grateful we have such a wonderful library system here in Winnipeg. A couple of points to mention, for those of you who aren’t regular library users:
- Library cards are free and easy to get
- WPL will quickly transfer requested books to your branch of choice (for free), and notify you by email or phone when they arrive
- I have had really good luck with suggesting new purchases – I think they have ordered at least half of the books I have suggested!
- Your library card also gives you access to WPL’s online resources, which includes Consumer Reports – very helpful for researching those big baby-related purchases
We haven’t registered for any library programming yet (there’s something for everyone, from infants to adults) but it’s great to know there are so many offerings in French and in English. See also Nadine’s recent post on Save Money in Winnipeg for more ideas on how to get the most of the library.
Baby Consignment Shops: MCP and Once Upon a Child
You can spend a LOT of money on clothes and gear for your little bundle of joy. Too much money, if you ask me, when so many barely-used items are available to purchase second-hand from one of Winnipeg’s fantastic babies & children consignment shops. My two favourites (mainly because they’re in my neck of the woods) are Mom’s & Children’s Paradise (MCP) at 990 Nairn Ave and Once Upon a Child at 1600 Regent Ave W. I’ve been amazed at the quantity and quality of items available for purchase at these two places. Once, at MCP, I bought a onesie and the next day saw it on clearance at Superstore – so you can imagine how lightly used some of these items are. For those of you in the south end of the city, Bug N Boo is another option for infant & kids’ consignment, though I find their prices higher than those at MCP and Once Upon a Child.
I think that’s it from me for now, but I’d love to hear your comments about what expectant mothers in Winnipeg should know about services that are available to them.
** Although I think these videos are a fantastic idea, having had a less than optimal hospital birth experience with a lot of unwanted (and in my mind, unwarranted) interventions, I am cynical about the portrayal of availability of drug-free labour support. I say this not specifically as a criticism of St. B; I think there are some pretty significant improvements to be made to maternity care system-wide. Every woman’s labour and birth is totally different and totally unpredictable, but there are some universal changes that would benefit everyone.
My advice to anyone preparing for birth – inside or outside the hospital – is to be as informed as you possibly can about labour and birth. I started off with reading all the “standard” pregnancy books like this post’s namesake, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. After coming across Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s book, Your Best Birth, at the library, my eyes were opened to another way of approaching birth – a woman-centered, demedicalized view that emphasizes choice and empowerment through informed consent and understanding. Soon after, I watched The Business of Being Born (available on Netflix!) and read a bunch of other great books. Among those I’d recommend: “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Better Birth” by Henci Goer, anything by Ina May Gaskin, and The Midwifery Option by Miranda Hawkins and Sarah Knox for an excellent Canadian resource (there aren’t many of them…yet!).
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that having a doula was one of the very best decisions we made regarding pregnancy and birth. Our doula was a strong advocate for us when things got crazy during labour. She works out of the Birth Roots collective.