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Speaking your language: multicultural maternity care in Vancouver

I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own.

We found out we were pregnant during a checkup at our family doctor, and a couple days later decided that the best option for us was to continue care with a midwife. Living in a City, like Vancouver while pregnant has many amazing perks, like finding mulitcultural maternity care, relatively easy access to family doctors and many high quality options for care.

We are so fortunate to have options so readily available for our care, unlike many other countries in the world. I have friends and family who have had children in 2 different countries and often hear of the many differences between the two. For example, in Honduras where my parents are from, women who are labouring in public hospitals are often attended by an intern doctor doing their first year of public service.

In public hospitals in Honduras, women labour together in one room on a hard table, often with little or no privacy. You aren’t allowed to have any family or friend with you, not even one. And on-on-one nursing care is not available.  Just typing that out scared me, I couldn’t imagine birthing in that situation. Every woman should have the right to pre/post natal care and a safe birthing experience.

Unlike some parts of the world, in BC family doctors regularly care for pregnant women and deliver babies. About a third of the births in Vancouver are attended by family doctors and even more in rural areas of the province. In many parts of the world, pregnancy doctors work exclusively out of hospital clinics. The majority of Vancouver family doctors see patients in their own private offices.

In Canada, most women will meet with their care provider 12 to 15 times during their pregnancy. This will give you plenty of time to ask questions and receive the best care possible for you and your baby. Sometimes, as soon as I would step out of the office, I would remember a question that I forget to ask. So, I’d jot it down in my note pad for the next visit.

Vancouver is a multicultural city, and our care providers are no exception. Did you know that the directory on pregnancyvancouver.ca includes doctors that speak Spanish, Japanese and French amongst other languages? If you feel more comfortable/adequately communicating in another language (other than English), you may benefit from seeing a family doctor who has experience helping pregnant patients from other cultures.

Having a care provider that spoke both English and Spanish was amazing for not only Gabriel and I, but also my Mom who was very present during my labouring. They understood our culture, which made things a lot easier. Also, it was pretty awesome for Gabriel to address any questions or concerns in Spanish, as he feel more comfortable expressing himself in it. And sometimes, I couldn’t find the right word in Spanish, and would use English..and our care providers understood perfectly!

Having a care provider who speaks the same language(s) as you will help address any questions specific to your own family, culture and traditions. Also, to learn about and access other parts of the health care system.

Pregnancyvancouver.ca also has a list of prenatal classes that are available in many languages other than English, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Iranian/Persian.

You can find a family doctor for your pregnancy and beyond at Pregnancy Vancouver.
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