Now that you are finally in Canada it’s time to get yourself an OBGYN. The Canadian procedure of getting a doctor is quite different from how it’s done in the US. While in the US you can get an OBGYN and pay your OB fees before leaving Nigeria, in Canada this is not usually done. Everything has to be done when you get in. It’s difficult to get doctors to write medical appointments for you and a lot of them will not accept the non-OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) patients.
HOW TO FIND AN OBGYN IN CANADA
The Canadian health care system is run by the government and specialist are not directly accessible. They run socialized medicine and healthcare is “free”. A patient can not walk into a hospital in Canada and fix a doctor’s appointment on their own. For Canadian residents, the procedure is to go to your family doctor/general practitioner who examines you and refers you to a specialist around your area. So as a pregnant Canadian resident you book an appointment with your family doctor who then refers you to a specialist based on your condition. The downside for residents is wait times can be ridiculously long! During my research, I came across an article where a pregnant Canadian lady waited 8 months before she could be seen.
As a non-resident/citizen, I obviously did not have a family doctor and my brother’s doctor did not have an available appointment till after a month! This was too long a wait for me as my pregnancy was high risk. The second option available to you is finding a walk-in clinic in the area that you are.
Now walk-in clinics are pretty much what they are, walk ins! No prior appointment, no scheduling, no long waiting times. You walk in to the clinic and ask to see a GP. GPs in walk-in clinics are there for emergencies or people like us who don’t have health insurance. You find walk-in clinics on google.
I found one closest to home and went in there to see a GP. The GP examined me and asked to see my hospital records from Nigeria. I had a cerclage in and I was on a thyroid replacement drug so they began to look for high risk OBGYN’s in the area. I was called a couple of days back that they had found a doctor for me and I set up my first appointment with the doctor.
Ps: walk-in clinics cost between $50-$100 per visit. I also used the walk-in clinics to get requisitions for my tests; ie Pap smear, blood work( I did more blood work than normal because of my special situation).
ANOTHER WAY TO FIND AN OBGYN IN CANADA
After a couple of visits to the OBGYN, I decided to revisit the Nairaland thread that became my baby abroad bible. I felt my hospital fees were outrageous, I was paying $600 per visit and I had done 3 visits. I had 4-6 more to go depending on when the baby came.
On the thread I found people paying as little as $100 per visit in various hospitals around the Ontario province and I was quite shocked! Why are my hospital visits so expensive? What can I do about it? I tried negotiating but the hospital wouldn’t budge their rates were fixed. This was were RateMD came to the rescue! At the time, my brother lived in an area where the entire population was 95% white, Kingston Ontario, and they had only one hospital, Kingston General Hospital which is where I was using.
My sister-in-law, being a doctor told me about the RateMD website where doctors are listed and she suggested we find another doctor in a neighboring city. We got on the phone and started calling high risk OBGYN’s with good ratings. It was there we found my new doctor who eventually delivered my baby. After a couple of phone calls, we finally got on the phone with Dr Duska’s secretary who informed a couple of days later that she could take me in as a patient.
Because of the way the Canadian system is, I had to go back to the walk-in clinic and let them know to move my file from Kingston General hospital to Belleville. I gave them the doctor’s details and let them know I had called the doctor and she confirmed her having capacity to take me in as a patient. My records were transferred in no time and I had a new doctor, 30 minutes drive away. I was paying a fraction of the price, $100 per visit which made me extra happy!
BABY DELIVERY DAY
I’m sure you are wondering why baby delivery day gets its own special heading. Well it’s because the Canadian system yet again is super different from what we all know. You know how I had been seeing the same doctor prior to my delivery and you’ll expect the same doctor delivers your baby since they have been on the journey with you. Turns out on the day of delivery if your doctor is not on call, another doctor (ie the doctor on call) will deliver your baby!
This came to me as a huge shock, I had already gotten super comfortable with my doctor, she knew all my secrets, she knew my body, she knew everything I wanted, she knew ME! I actually cried (pregnancy hormones) when she told me she might not be the one to deliver my baby. I didn’t want anyone else so I hoped and prayed baby came when she was on call.
As “luck” will have it, baby came when she was not on duty but she miraculously appeared to deliver her in record time. My husband was not having any of it. He kept calling her and keeping her updated. She showed up at 9cm dilation and delivered my baby. I was ecstatic!
So have it at the back of your mind that your doctor might not deliver your baby.
Having your baby in Canada is sometimes cheaper than some states in US. Here a breakdown of costs I spent during my journey.
P.S I’ve not added the $1,800 I initial spent at Kingston for three hospital visits. All figures are in Canadian dollars.
- Tests/bloodwork (I had to do an unusual amount cos of my condition. A regular pregnant woman will spend way less): $1000
- Walk in clinic: $50 per visit.
- Doctors appointment: $100 per visit. You see the doctor every two weeks up and it becomes weekly at 36 weeks till delivery.
- Doctors fees: $2500
- Hospital bill: $2300 (mother per day) $840(baby per day). P.S the day is calculated after your baby is born not when you walk into the hospital. Canadian hospitals do not keep you for more than a day (if your pregnancy has no complications).
- Epidural (if you are not a Hebrew woman like me): $1,200
Note that these costs vary from city to city and I’ve seen people on the Nairaland forum say they paid as low as $1,000 for doctors fees. Do your research properly before you chose a hospital/doctor. Be sure to compare notes before you make your decision.
STEPS TO GETTING BABY’S PASSPORT
This is why we are all here in the first place, lol. Getting baby’s passport is pretty easy. Each province has a different procedure so be sure to read up on the steps peculiar to your province. I had my baby in the Ontario province and used this site.
Once baby is born, the hospital fills in a notice of live birth and this is forwarded to the Office of the registrar general. The parents then fill a statement of live birth on the ORG forms website. This statement of live birth can also be filled and mailed physically to the Service Ontario office. Registration of the birth of your baby is a prerequisite to getting baby’s birth certificate or social insurance number.
The online birth registration form is an 11 page form where you’ll be required to fill every information about your baby’s birth from hospital where he/she was born, baby weight at the time of delivery to name of the person who delivered the baby and your length of pregnancy.
Right after filling the birth registration form you can proceed to apply for the birth certificate and social insurance number. All the applications are on the same website, ORGforms.
Within 6-8 weeks (usually earlier) you would receive all your baby’s documents in the mail; a birth registration certificate, a birth certificate and baby’s social insurance number.
P.S Try not to make any errors, it’s super important to fill all the information correctly. I had an issue while filling my form which resulted in me paying an express fee for this service (which is usually free) and also an express fee for her passport.
Here’s the story. While applying for her certificate of registration of birth, my husband filled his name as the applicant. We then proceeded to fill my name as the applicant during the birth certificate process. We did not realize the system picked one name and didn’t pick the other. My name was picked by the system as the applicant for our daughter and not my husband’s. So the system only found one duly filled and submitted application, ie the one for the birth certificate and not the other. As a result, our application was left hanging because the statement of live birth (birth registration) is a prerequisite to getting the birth certificate.
After numerous phone calls and a couple of visits to the service Ontario office, we eventually figured it out and rectified it right on time! I paid for an express delivery and got our documents in less than a week.
GETTING BABY’S CANADIAN PASSPORT
This can either be done via mail or in person. Doing it in person was more ideal for me as I had run out of time. I got all the documents on the checklist and proceeded to the closest service Canada center. I paid for an express service. At this point I had less than two weeks left in Canada. Her passport came in less than 72 hours after applying for it!
Here are some helpful links for application of baby’s passport.
GETTING BABY’S NIGERIAN PASSPORT
This is definitely required unless you’ll be looking at getting a visa on baby’s Canadian passport (baby will need validity to enter into Nigeria). I decided to go the passport route instead and I applied for my passport in Ottawa. I had heard a lot of stories about the Ottawa passport office; ridiculous wait times, bad customer service, rude front desk staff and so on. However I was very surprised as I did not experience any of that and I was done in less than 1 hour. My baby’s passport was handed over to me right there.
Useful links for application of Nigerian passport:
I must state that payment procedure was such a hassle but we conquered! Lol.
BRINGING BABY HOME
Now that you have all the necessary flying documents, it’s time to bring baby home. I wrote a “flying with baby” article sometime last year which will definitely be of help!
Hope this write up has helped you put having a baby in Canada into perspective. I’ll round up with some of the advantages I feel Canada has over the US hopefully this helps you make better birth tourism decisions.
- It’s most times cheaper than the US. The average price I’ve heard being spent on having your baby in the US is between $5,000-$7,000 USD. In Canada, a friend had her baby for as low as $4000 Canadian dollars. Mine was more expensive cos I had a high risk pregnancy.
- Healthcare in Canada is “free”. About 3-4 years ago, immediately you have your baby, you are issued a health card in the hospital and your baby automatically gets free health care. This doesn’t happen anymore. Healthcare is still free for citizens but you have to be resident of Canada to benefit from this system.
- College education is way cheaper than the US. Education is free up until college in Canada. Average fee for Canadian citizen studying in Canada = CA$6,571 per year. In the US, state college fees are an average of US$9,970 for in state students. Average fees cost $34,740 for private colleges.
- The no. 1 university in the US, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) costs $48,000-$50,000(for both domestic and international students) While the no. 1 university in Canada, University of Toronto costs $4,000-$6,000(for domestic students). Little wonder Americans are always crippled by student loans!
- Health care benefits, which only applies if you live in Canada with your child. It used to be automatic when you have a child you get a health card and Social insurance number but not anymore. Now, baby needs to be resident in Canada to enjoy these benefits
The ultimate choice is yours (having baby in the US or Canada) and you should very well consider other factors like having family where you decide to have your baby.
Goodluck and I hope you found this post useful! As usual, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send us an email. Read the first part of the post here.