Giving birth in a Canadian hospital.

Giving birth in a Canadian hospital.

A couple of times over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some of my American friends about what the labour and delivery experience is like here in Canada. Many of them seem to have a fascination with the way our health care system works here, and since there are a lot of Americans who are very afraid that their health care system will turn out to look like our health care system, I’d just like to do my small part to set their minds at ease. (I have a hard time understanding how you’d be against universal health care, but that may be a post for another day.) Since I haven’t exactly gone through the process yet, I can only tell them what I know about what we expect to experience next month when I go to the hospital to have our baby. We learned most of this information when we went on a tour of the hospital with our prenatal class a couple of weeks ago, and it really set our minds at ease to know what to expect.

When I’m in labour and it’s time to go to the hospital, Graham or I will call the labour and delivery department of our hospital (the number’s stuck on our fridge door now). This is partly because the L&D department is going to be moving to another floor and partly because the hospital might be really, super-busy at that time. There is a slight possibility that the hospital could reroute us to another hospital if they are overwhelmed with birthing moms, and although historically this has happened there, the odds are slim this will be the case. Either way, they like to know we are on the way.

Our hospital provides labour and delivery care on two floors. When I’m admitted, I’ll go to one floor of the hospital, where I’ll labour and give birth in the same room. I’ll be there for as long as it takes. If I need a C-section, that will also be done in an operating room on that same floor. A couple of hours after the baby is born, we’ll be moved together to another floor, where we’ll stay until we are discharged.

For Canadian citizens who don’t have any health care benefits through their employer, a ward room will be the place for new moms to stay overnight in the hospital with their baby. (All babies room in with their moms at our hospital.) Ward rooms have four beds, which means that this means that mom could be staying in a hospital room with up to three other women. I’ve heard it said, though, that the nurses do their best to keep the rooms as empty as possible. There are two ward rooms on the floor where new moms stay, so if there are four new moms on that floor, the nursing staff will admit two into one room, and two into the other so it isn’t so crowded. No one who stays in this kind of room will be presented with a bill for staying at the hospital, whether they have private health insurance, benefits or not. Our provincial health insurance covers this cost.

Most of the rest of the rooms are semi-private (two to a room), which is what my benefits cover, but for about $30-$40/night, I can upgrade to a private room with my own shower, where Graham can stay all night with us if we want. If there’s a private room available, this is what we’ll be doing.

We have to bring our own diapers, wipes, sanitary napkins and toiletries with us to the hospital (only a couple of diapers are provided by the hospital). I’m going to bring my own towels to use when I get to have a shower because I doubt the hospital uses fabric softener when they wash theirs.

Now, every hospital is a bit different…I hear that in one local hospital you have to bring your own pillows, for example. But one important thing we know for sure: When we leave, we’ll have to pay ONLY for the upgrade to the private room. Oh, and for parking.


(I’m also over at Aiming Low today, where I’ve posted about television shows that make me feel better about myself. I’m sure there are some I’ve missed. Help a girl out…head on over and tell me which ego-fluffing shows you watch!

7 thoughts on “Giving birth in a Canadian hospital.

  1. Great post! I’ve done the labour thing twice now and have only had to pay for parking and my telephone. The TV would have been an extra cost too, but I didn’t get that.

    Yes, do bring your own pillow(s). The ones at the hospital are nice and all but there is just something about having your own. Plus our hospital only supplied one. If you want more, then you have to bring more.

    Good luck on your delivery!

  2. VERY interesting! We had a private room and all the diapers our kids could dirty, but our bill AFTER private insurance had to be at the very least over a grand…and that didn't include the doctor's charges during pregnancy or delivery either.

  3. Fascinating! As a Canadian who's given birth in Canadian hospitals twice without private insurance, I should add that I never had anything worse than a semi-private, once in Ontario and once in Alberta. Your local hospital may have 4-bed wards, but they no longer seem to be the norm in maternity units (who can sleep in a room with 4 babies???).

    I think every birth-preparation list recommends bringing your own pillows these days, simply because the hospital ones are so bad. Use them during labour if you don't want to yucky up one of your own nice ones, but then toss the rubbery wads and use your own comfy, home-smelling pillow!

  4. We had our baby in Vancouver, BC – well specifically at the Burnaby hospital and we didn't have to bring anything. Everything was provided for us such as newborn diapers, wash cloths, towels, ice packs, pads, breast cream, pills, food… everything! And when we left, they allowed us to take extra supplies home such as ready to feed formula, syringes so we didn't have to go shop for it right away. Our private insurance paid for the semi-private room and we had no bills in the end. We stayed for 3 1/2 days. Everything was covered and the service was awesome! I was so grateful and think everyone having a baby should have that kind of care and not worry about paying more bills.

  5. I couldn't imagine having to give birth somewhere you have to worry about how much it's going to cost you. I love that here that's something we don't worry about. With my first baby, I didn't have any work insurance but I still got a semi-private room for free and I was the only one in it, except for one night. I was there for 5 days and it still didn't cost me a penny.

  6. I live in Canada, in Alberta actually. I have had both my children here and I work for myself so I don't have 'employer' benefits. I had a private room both times with my own bathroom and shower. I had a great view from the window that was the size of the entire wall and my child slept in the same room with me. There was also another bed brought into my room for my husband to sleep on. We were fed all the proper meals, given the pads, creams and diapers. I had an epidural with my first and equal care with my second…at the end of the journey…I went home without a single cent out of my pocket for my care nor my childs.

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