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  • Bethany Geisel

Pregnancy Care Providers in Westman

You have options for who catches your baby, did you know?

As doulas, we have more than 6 years in this area helping parents in #Westman, so we know all your options for birth!

So many people come to Brandon to have their babies - travelling from two hours, sometimes even farther away. We have had clients from Deloraine, Boissevain, Melita, Minnedosa, Rivers, Neepawa, Shilo and even Saskatchewan, in addition to clients right in Brandon, too. What you may not know, however, is what kind of options you have to birth around here. So here is the 411!

When you find out your pregnant, choosing a care provider might be the first thing on your mind or it might be the last. You may just assume that it all falls into place down the road - and yes, to some extent it sure does. If you have been planning and preparing for a baby for a while, you might even have already looked into your options, or maybe you haven't. Either way, the time is here now and you want to know what choices you have!

Fortunately, whether you are here because you are planning ahead or because you want to know your options, we can help explain the choices and their differences to you. As doulas, we have a good relationship with the care providers in the area, and have worked with most of them! They each have positive aspects, for sure.

To start, there is your family doctor. If you have a family doc in Brandon, ask them if they do deliveries, as many of them do (and honestly, many of them enjoy delivering babies as it is an aspect of their job they don't perform as often as they might wish to!). Your family doctor is probably one of the first people who even finds out about your pregnancy, since most of us go there to get a blood test to confirm. You family doc usually orders the initial bloodwork, and may order you an ultrasound to find out how far along you are, if you aren't sure. But please note: not everyone gets a dating scan, it's really only ordered if there is some confusion around your dates! Typically, in Manitoba, most women only have one ultrasound around 20 weeks. One major benefit of choosing your family doctor to follow your whole pregnancy is that you probably already have an established relationship with this person, and they are familiar with your family history. Because of this, you may feel more at ease with a family doctor, and may get in a bit more of a personal experience. Awesome, right? Family doctors will keep you on for uncomplicated, low risk pregnancies, if you ask them to (and if they do deliveries!). If, however, you either don't request them to keep you on, or if there is a medical indication, they transfer care of you and your pregnancy to an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OBGYN) later on in the pregnancy, usually in the second trimester, I believe.

So that leads us to OBs! For most folks out of town (unless you are with the midwives) the OB is the doc you see in town for the remainder of your pregnancy. In Brandon, nearly all the OBs work out of the Brandon Clinic, though there is one at Wheat City Medical as well. #Obstetricians, as a rule, are specialists in pregnancy, and particularly when there are pregnancy problems. They are trained for normal pregnancy as well as trained to look for any complications or issues that might come up. Usually this training is a separate program of study after their regular medical degree, a one or two year specialization. Additionally, and this is what sets OBs apart from other pregnancy care providers, obstetricians are trained to perform surgical births - cesarean surgery.

When you start seeing your OB, you have regular appointments where you get standard prenatal care such as listening to the heartbeat, and your belly is measured to see its growing at an expected rate. They can usually feel the position of the baby, too, to verify they are head down (although position is sometimes confirmed by diagnostic ultrasound). They might perform some additional checks as well, later on, to check dilation and to see how favorable your cervix is for birth (this is called a Bishop Score, and it gives you a good idea of how ‘ready’ your body is for birth. It can change quite quickly, and dilation is only one part of it!). Some OBs start these types of checks as early as 38 weeks, and some are a bit more hands off. You also have a few minutes to ask questions, though in general the appointments with your OB tend to be quite short. After all, OBs are specialists and therefore have a fairly heavy caseload (and they could be called to catch a baby at any time!).

If you are looking for more personalized care, the third option for your prenatal care is Brandon Midwifery Services. I fully admit my bias here - #midwives helped both my babies out! Brandon midwives has a staff of (usually) between 5 and 8 midwives at any given time, and they are always trying to recruit more as midwifery services are in high demand. It's kind of a running joke that if you want a #midwife, you should call them and do the intake as soon as you pee on the stick! It's not really funny though, as waiting too long to call them could mean they don't have any more spaces. That said, even if you are farther along in your pregnancy, calling is worth a shot because sometimes spaces do open up, due to complications requiring a transfer of care or people moving away, or even pregnancy loss. So even if you call at 14 weeks and they are full, maybe in a few weeks a spot could have opened up. It doesn’t hurt to call, and even ask to be put on a waiting list.

So why would you want a midwife? Well for starters, your midwife starts seeing you around 12 weeks, which is awesome! That means you have the same provider (well, several providers - they work as a team) that you get to know regularly throughout your pregnancy, from every 4 weeks to every 2 weeks, then weekly. Midwives in Canada are highly trained medical care providers. They study a bachelor of Midwifery for four years (or if they studied somewhere else, there are equivalencies - check out for details) and learn all about normal low risk pregnancy, as well as common complications, and normal birth. Midwives can order common pregnancy tests and write some prescriptions, and can get you most pain relieving medications in labour. Midwives can also attend births in the hospital, or at home, or another location you may want to birth at. That means even if you know you want a hospital birth, you can still have a midwife! At home or out of hospital births, the midwives can help you facilitate a water birth, as well, which can be an amazing way to bring your baby into the world. Brandon Midwifery services, and they are moving to a group prenatal structure, which will be very neat for expecting persons in Westman - it means that you not only get personalized, one to one midwifery care, but you can also build relationships with other parents who are expecting babies around the same time as you!

Although Brandon is kind of the hub for births in a two-three hour radius, there are some hospitals in the area that also allow for deliveries! I had a very lovely experience as a doula at Neepawa hospital recently, the OB there is at Beautiful Plains clinic. It is good to know what your options are! Moosomin, in Saskatchewan also has a hospital where babies are born, with family doctors and obstetricians. Dauphin, to the north of Brandon, has OBs and does deliveries north of the park, though some women from Dauphin and Neepawa still choose to go to Brandon for their births. All the options (OB, Family doc, Midwife) are covered by our Canadian health care system, which is awesome! As a doula, I love working with a wide variety of providers. It's great to get to know them all, and see the differences between them. See below for a list of links to the various care providers in this area!

So where do #doulas fit in? Doulas are not health care providers, but we can be an important part of your birth team! Doulas provide physical and emotional support, alongside your partner and care provider. We work with you and your support, helping to guide you both through the process, assisting you to ask questions and to help you both try different things to provide comfort during the birth process. We stay with you, providing continuous support during birth, no matter how long it takes. Doulas are scientifically shown to play a part in positive outcomes, most importantly with higher levels of satisfaction with your birth. A myriad of other benefits are shown with continuous support, such as lower rates of cesareans, lower rates of induction, increased spontaneous vaginal birth, slightly shorter labours, amongst others (for full details, see this Cochrane review on continuous labour support, or read this article from Evidence Based Birth). Doulas, partners, care providers - we are all an important part of your care team!

Spirited Soul Birth Services

Links: Doulas

Spirited Soul Birth Services Midwives

Brandon Midwifery Services


Brandon Clinic

Wheat City Medical Clinic

Family Doctors

There are many family care providers at a variety of clinics. Contact yours to find out if they are able to support your entire pregnancy, or if you need a different care provider. I hope I touched on all the options for care during your pregnancy! If I missed one, please comment and let us know so we can update!

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