Birth Transitions prenatal classes | Links to useful pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding sites


Books to Browse

    So many pregnancy books,
    so little time.
    Can't decide what to read?

    We can help you narrow it down.
    See our reading list (PDF format)

Free government publication
    "Baby's Best Chance" is a handbook for new parents, produced by B.C.'s Ministry for Children and Families. It contains information on pregnancy, birth and baby-care, and is up-to-date, well-organized and easy-to-read. Ask your midwife or doctor for your free copy, or click here to get a PDF version or view it as an online video series.

Links to Look at

Calculating your Due-date
Finding a Caregiver
"Morning Sickness"
Prenatal Genetic Screening
Naming your Baby
Pregnancy and Labour
Cord Blood Banking
Newborn Screening
Male Circumcision
Maternity benefits
For Fathers
Depression: during pregnancy, and after birth

Due-date Calculator:

Your 'due-date' means the date your baby is expected to be born. Your due-date is an estimation, based on...

  1. the date of conception (aassumed to be the first day of your last menstrual period plus 14 days)
  2. the assumption that all pregnancies are 38 weeks long (from date of conception, or 40 weeks from date of last menstrual period).
  3. data from any prenatal ultrasounds you've had (baby's gestational age corresponds to measurements of key parts of his/her body, such as the head and femur).

Only 5% of babies are born on their actual due-date, with a majority of first babies born after their due-date.

Due-date Calculator – A lot of sites will calculate your due-date, but this one is superior because it takes into account the length of your cycle as well as the date of your last menstrual period (thus calculating a more accurate due-date). By the U.S. National Women's Health Information Center. Also gives a summary of the 3 trimesters of pregnancy.
[back to top]

Finding a Primary Caregiver:

Birthing women in B.C. normally receive their pregnancy care from either a:

  1. Registered Midwife
  2. GP (General Practitioner, i.e. family doctor) or
  3. Obstetrician (OB)
All of the above caregivers are covered through our province's Medical Services Plan (MSP). MSP provides coverage for one caregiver only, as they consider care from a second provider to be redundant.

Registered Midwives:

Registered Midwives normally work in pairs, where they take turns a) being on call and b) seeing women at their appointments. The pregnant woman usually has ample time to get to know each of her midwives, as each visit is at least a half hour long. Registered Midwives attend your labour as well as your birth, whether it is at home or in hospital; for a hospital birth it is usual for them to attend you at your home for the labour and then transfer with you to the hospital for the birth.

After the birth your midwife will see you in your home, to guide you in your recovery from the birth and help you establish successful breastfeeding. Your final visit with her is at 6 weeks, normally in her clinic, where she will do a final physical check-up of you and your baby.

There are not enough Registered Midwives in B.C. for all the women who would like their services. If you would like to receive midwifery care for your pregnancy, birth and post-partum, contact one soon; to preserve the quality of the care they provide they limit the number of clients they take.

Midwives Association of B.C. – locate a midwife
GP's (General Practitioners):

If you are fortunate enough to have a family doctor (GP) you may receive at least part of your pregnancy care from a medical professional that you already know. Many GP's do not attend births, however; they may see the pregnant woman only for the first part of her pregnancy, and then refer her to maternity clinics run by GP's who do attend births. These GP's are normally part of a large 'call-group' (as many as 8 physicians), meaning they take turns being on-call. You might see mostly one GP at a clinic throughout your pregnancy, but have another GP (the one 'on-call' at the time) whom you haven't met attend your birth.

GP's do not attend labours or home-births; nor do they provide any 'in-home' or post-partum (after the birth) care. The nurse attending you at your hospital birth will call your GP to attend when you are close to pushing your baby out. After the birth your GP normally advises you to book a follow-up appointment at his/her clinic for 6 weeks after the birth, where both you and your baby receive a 6-week physical check-up. Of course your GP is available for appointments before then should you need one.

College of Physicians & Surgeons of B.C. – locate a physician accepting new patients

Ridge-Meadows Maternity Clinic, Maple Ridge (no website) - serving pregnant women in Maple-Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Privileges at Ridge Meadows Hospital. Self-referrals accepted. Phone: 604-460-4444

Able Care Medical Clinic, Coquitlam Centre, Coquitlam (no website) - serving pregnant women in the Tri-Cities area. Privileges at Royal Columbian Hospital. Self-referrals accepted. Phone: 604-945-7819

Community Maternity Centre, Newport Village, Port Moody (no website) - serving pregnant women in the Tri-Cities area. Privileges at Royal Columbian Hospital. Self-referrals accepted. Phone: 604-949-7248

Primary Care Obstetrical Clinic, New Westminster (no website) - serving pregnant women in the Tri-Cities, Burnaby and New Westminster areas. Privileges at Royal Columbian Hospital. Self-referrals accepted. Phone: 604-520-6263

Obstetricians (OB's):

In B.C. an obstetrician (OB) only becomes involved in a woman's pregnancy if there are medical complications that require his/her specialized skills. Your midwife or GP would identify a condition that needed further investigation, and would refer you to an OB for a consultation. A transfer of care would be done if you needed to see an OB throughout your pregnancy. Examples of such a complications are twin or multiple pregnancy, pre-eclampsia or a fetal anomaly that requires intervention immediately after the birth.

Other practitioners:

Many women benefit from additional forms of care to help them have a happy and healthy pregnancy, birth and post-partum period.

Doulas (Labour Support Persons):

Some women and their partners choose to have a doula (labour support person) also attend their labour and birth, to provide emotional and physical support. Doula services are not covered by MSP; a professional doula charges anywhere from $300 to $800, depending on her skills and experience.

Doula Services Association - locate a birth or postpartum doula

Some women find that chiropractic care during their pregnancy keeps them pain-free and more energetic, as well as helping them prepare for a straightforward labour and birth. Some chiropractors specialize in caring for the pregnant and post-partum woman:

Café of Life Chiropractic, Port Moody - professional chiropractic care for pregnant women, newborns, children and families.

[back to top]

"Morning Sickness":

About 80% of all pregnant women experience some degree of nausea and vomiting (NVP) during their pregnancy. The common term for NVP is 'Morning Sickness', because usually the nausea is most severe first thing in the morning - for many women, it is the first sign of pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting occur most commonly during the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy), but for some women these unpleasant symptoms are present throughout the entire nine months.

NVP does not have to be something you just endure. There are ways, both natural and pharmacological, of relieving or sometimes even eliminating it.

Some websites on Morning Sickness:

Motherisk NVP (Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy) - compilation of research and other information on nausea in pregnancy, including a forum on "Morning Sickness". Created by Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
Tips and treatments for NVP - Lists ideas/techniques for relieving nausea and vomiting. Describes medical treatments available if symptoms are severe/debilitating. By the SOGC (Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada).

[back to top]

Prenatal Genetic Screening:

Our province's Medical Services Plan (MSP) funds a variety of tests during the first trimester of pregnancy, to screen for genetic disorders in the growing fetus. See your physician or midwife to get information on the tests, to discuss the risks and benefits, and to get a requisition or referral should you choose to be tested.

B.C. Children's Hospital page for Pregnant Women - discusses the referral process, what to expect at a Medical Genetics appointment, and the various tests available.

B.C. Prenatal Genetic Screening Program - information on tests available in pregnancy, and their risks and benefits. Includes an educational online video on testing.

B.C. Women's Hospital Prenatal Genetic Screening - Discusses the nature of the various genetic tests available during pregnancy.

[back to top]

Naming your baby:

Choosing a name for your baby is a big responsibility, and most parents-to-be take the task very seriously. Here are some sites to help you with the process:

B.C. Vital Statistics Agency - An annual list of names chosen for children born in B.C., created to identify current trends. Organized by gender and year, with data going back to 2007. Includes a helpful link to FAQ's as well as a link for asking questions via email.

Vancouver Sun baby name registry - a searchable database of actual baby-names used in B.C., with data going back to 1900. Includes a function for sur-names.

My - Search for baby names by meaning, origin, or popularity. Can create a 'short-list' of favourites that you can return to.

In B.C., parent(s) are required to register their baby's name within 30 days after the birth. If you give birth in hospital, when you are discharged you will receive the appropriate form to do this; if you give birth at home, your midwife will provide you with the form. Through a partnering agreement between B.C. Vital Statistics and the Canada Revenue Agency you can also apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit using the same form. For information on completing and submitting the form, and how to order a birth certificate for your child, see B.C. Vital Statistics' "How to Register a Birth".

[back to top]

Pregnancy and Labour: - Canadian source for reliable, evidence-based and up-to-date information on women's health, including pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care. - a non-profit association based in the U.S. Evidence-based information on the safety and effectiveness of specific tests, treatments, and interventions. Designed to help you make informed decisions.

The Hospital for Sick Children - Motherisk program: information on reproductive risk or safety of drugs, chemicals and maternal disease in pregnancy

Birth Plans – create a customized birth-plan online

[back to top]


Rates of breastfeeding have improved greatly since the 60's and 70's, when they were at an all-time low in Canada. The short-term health benefits of breastfeeding are now fairly well-known (e.g. fewer ear infections, colds and allergies). The long-term benefits for both mother and baby are well-researched, but not as well-known: women who have breastfed experience a lower rate of breast cancer, and in adulthood, their breastfed children enjoy a much lower rate of Crohn's disease, colitis and diabetes.

It is important to receive good support and information when starting breastfeeding, to help you successfully overcome any challenges you may encounter. Here are some good organizations that can help:

La Leche League - breastfeeding support and information. Based on 'mother-to-mother' information and support through monthly meetings in your community, as well as telephone contact with Group Leaders.

Newman Breastfeeding Clinic - free online breastfeeding resources. Will respond to email help requests. - free information and resources.

Professional Help:

If you need one-on-one professional advice and support, a certified Lactation Consultant can visit you in your home to help you with latch, positioning, sore nipples and milk supply issues. Sometimes one visit will identify the source of the problem:

Mercedes McLean, IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) phone: 604-945-7401

Donating Breast-milk

If you are fortunate enough to have an oversupply of breast-milk, you can donate it for mothers and babies in need:

Breast Milk Bank – See listing at bottom of page for info. on Breast Milk Bank at Children's & Women's Hospital in Vancouver.

[back to top]

Cord Blood Banking:

Cord blood is blood collected by your midwife or physician from your baby's umbilical cord shortly after the birth. The stem cells contained in cord blood are used for transplantation in individuals threatened by cancer, lethal congenital anemias and other disorders that can be treated with bone marrow transplantation.

Collection of cord blood is not routine - if parents choose this option they must arrange for it privately, well before the birth. The agency they choose (see links below) will provide a collection kit to the parents, who must inform their midwife or physician some time before the birth that they would like cord blood collected.

CBC Marketplace investigated the cord blood banking industry in March 2010, and cautioned that the possible benefits are 'oversold' by companies that offer the service.

There are several organizations that receive, store and distribute cord blood:

Alberta Cord Blood Bank  - a Canadian, non-profit organization located in Edmonton. They are dedicated to the collection and preservation of umbilical cord blood stem cells for public use.

This organization carefully screens all prospective donors, so in order to donate you must register with them before the end of your 34th week of pregnancy. Registration forms are online, on their website.

LifeBank, Insception and Health Cord - are private (profit-based) companies that store your baby's cord blood specifically for your family. They charge an initial collection fee of approximately $1,000.00 followed by annual fees of approx. $125.00 to store the blood until your child is 18 years old. They also accept lump-sum payment, normally just over $3,000.00.

[back to top]

Newborn Screening:

'Newborn Screening' for various disorders such as cystic fibrosis is routine (but optional) in B.C., and is funded by MSP. When your baby is one or two days old, your caregiver (hospital nurse, midwife or physician) will take blood samples from your baby's heel using a special blotting card (<--pictured in the image to the left). The card is sent to the Newborn Screening Lab at Children's Hospital in Vancouver, where your baby's blood will be analysed for a variety of blood, metabolic and endocrine disorders, and for cystic fibrosis. Results are available within about 3 weeks. Disorders are rare, but when detected early, serious effects on your child's health can be prevented.

For more information on the blood collection procedure, and the benefits of testing, see Newborn Screening at Children's Hospital. For descriptions of the disorders tested for, see Disorders Screened at Children's Hospital.

[back to top]

Male Circumcision:

Circumcision of baby boys is a surgical procedure to remove the layer of skin (called the foreskin or the prepuce) that covers the head (glans) of the penis and part of the shaft. It is most often done during the first few weeks after birth.

Circumcision is a “non-therapeutic” procedure, which means it is not medically necessary. Since 1996 this surgery has not been recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society or by the Canadian Medical Association. It is also not funded by MSP, who classifies it as cosmetic surgery. Physicians still performing circumcisions in B.C. charge from $250 to $450 for the procedure, which is normally done without any anaesthetic for your newborn.

Now that circumcisions are not performed in hospitals, precise statistics are difficult to obtain, but it is clear that rates have been dropping for several decades, and continue to do so. According to the Association for Genital Integrity, circumcision rates in B.C. were 58% in 1976, but only 30% in 2007.

Unbiased information on circumcision is hard to find, but here are some fairly good sites:

Canadian Paediatric Society - Circumcision information for parents
"Neonatal Circumcision Revisited" - Canadian Paediatric Society's position paper on circumcision
American Academy of Family Physicians - "Circumcision: Position Paper on Neonatal Circumcision"
"UpToDate for Patients - Circumcision in male infants" - written and edited by MD's. Includes references.

Myths abound about the intact (uncircumcised) penis, including the mistaken but pervasive belief that the baby's foreskin must be retracted (pulled back) daily and cleaned in order to prevent infection. It is rare for the foreskin to be completely retractable at birth - usually it is still attached to the glans (the head of the penis). The two parts develop as one tissue in utero, and will separate and become retractable by about the age of 5. So it is not necessary to clean daily until a boy reaches puberty, when it can become part of a daily hygiene routine. In fact, retracting the foreskin before it has naturally detached from the glans can create lesions (small wounds) that then heal into scar tissue. This scar tissue can later prevent the foreskin from retracting easily.

"Care of the Uncircumcised Penis" - by the American Academy of Pediatrics
[back to top]

Maternity benefits:

All women who give birth in Canada and are Canadian citizens are entitled to paid time off of work, and the security of returning to their job after their leave is over.
Canada Employment  - Information on maternity benefits (qualification, length of leave and calculation of benefits).

Employment Standards B.C. - Information on your rights to a leave of absence from your work.
See also A Guide to the Employment Standards Act

Medical Services Plan B.C. (MSP)  - Pays for your pregnancy care from a midwife, physician or specialist. To receive coverage for your baby apply within 60 days after the birth.

[back to top]

For Fathers:

Baby Center - Advice for Dads - Blogs, articles, links

National Center for Fathering - Articles, blogs, forums for fathers

Fathers Forum - Online resource for expectant and new fathers

Interactive Dad Magazine - Parenting and finance magazine for dads

Postpartum Dads - for fathers whose partners are suffering from postpartum depression

Dads Adventure - Books, blogs, links for dads - Articles for dads

Mother-2-Mother - information for fathers on bonding, breastfeeding and infant care

[back to top]


Depression During Pregnancy:
Symptoms of Depression in Pregnancy - Online article by '' (U.S.A.). Includes list of symptoms.

National Review of Medicine article, January 2007 - Discusses depression in pregnancy: rates, diagnosis, causes and treatment.
Post-partum Depression:
B.C. Women's Hospital 'Reproductive Mental Health Program' - information on getting a referral from your physician or midwife, plus a free extensive 'Self-Help Guide' (PDF).

Reproductive Psychiatry Program at St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver - this program does not have a website. The link shown brings you to their contact information on 'healthlink'.

Public Health Agency of Canada - information and statistics on postpartum depression.

[back to top]


Community Resources:

Music for Young Children - a program designed to encourage young children to develop the happy habit of learning music. In a playful, positive environment, children are empowered to set goals in their musical learning. You can use the search function on this site to locate a qualified teacher in your area.

Westcoast Family Resources Society - provide a variety of services and educational programs to parents in the Tri-Cities area. Their goal is to contribute to the healthy development of children by strengthening the relationships between children and families, and between families and their communities.

Parent-Child Mother Goose Program - a group experience for parents and their babies and young children, which focuses on the pleasure and power of using rhymes, songs, and stories together. Free to all participants. Funded by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Families.

Toddler's First Steps: A Best Chance Guide to Parenting Your 6- to 36-Month-Old Child - a free publication from the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport.

Online Resources:

AskDrSears - Author and physician William Sears answers questions on pregnancy, birth, baby care, parenting and breastfeeding, with Kathy Lynn - articles on infant care and parenting your infant - articles on pregnancy, parenting and infant care

Information Children (SFU) - Phone and email support for parenting. Written material also available.

Dial-a-Dietician - food and nutrition information and resources

[back to top]


Monkey Business Kid's Boutique - brand-name, quality clothing and products for children. Retail storefront in Maple Ridge.

Tiny Fingers Tiny Toes Nursing Wear & Maternity - Extensive selection of stylish maternity and nursing-wear items. Retail storefront in Maple Ridge.

New & Green Baby Co. - reusable cloth diapering options and workshops, with a focus on Canadian and small-business-made products. Based in Vancouver, online ordering available.

[back to top]