Doulas and birth attendants may be important members of your support team during pregnancy, labour and delivery. Doulas and birth attendants are not regulated; they can provide emotional support and comfort measures but it is illegal for them to provide health care or deliver babies. These activities are restricted to regulated health professionals such as obstetricians, family physicians, registered midwives, nurse practitioners or nurses. The cost of doula services is not covered by Alberta Health or Alberta Health Services, and is the responsibility of the patient.
Following a positive pregnancy test, women are often advised to visit their family doctor, also known as a General/Family Practitioner (GP). The GP can perform further tests to confirm your pregnancy, answer initial questions, and refer you to a specialist to assist with pre-natal care and birth. Your GP will advise on whether this referral is necessary. Some family doctors provide pre-natal care and deliver babies themselves. If this is the case, your GP will recommend monthly appointments for the first two trimesters of your pregnancy. Appointments will increase in frequency as you approach your due date. Your GP may transfer your care to a more specialized physician if there are complications during pregnancy or if they are unable to deliver your baby themselves. Find a doctor.
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are important members of the nursing team. When it comes to maternity care, LPNs will provide postpartum care in a hospital setting. With specialty training they may also work as technicians in the Operation Room (OR) to support c-sections. Find out more about the credentials and role of an LPN.
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice nurses. For maternity care, an NP can be your primary care provider for low-risk pregnancies. They provide physical examinations, screening and diagnostic tests, and postpartum care. NPs will collaborate with the physician or midwife for the actual delivery of your baby. NPs provide care through community family care clinics and primary care networks. They also provide support in a hospital setting in labour and delivery and postpartum units as well as neonatal intensive care units and outpatient clinics. An NP role is a highly specialized nurse. Find out more about an NP.
Your family doctor, or General/Family Practitioner (GP), may refer you to an Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB/GYN). They will refer you if they do not provide pre-natal services, deliver babies, or if you have complications with your pregnancy. OB/GYNs specialize in the treatment of care related to pregnancy, birth and female reproductive health. Your OB/GYN will likely schedule monthly appointments with you during your first two trimesters with more frequent appointments as you approach your due date. An OB/GYN can manage all aspects of your pregnancy, the delivery, and post-partum care. They can also perform cesarean sections if required.
A perinatologist provides care of the fetus during complicated, high-risk pregnancies. A perinatologist provides care during complicated, high-risk pregnancies. In certain circumstances, your Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB/GYN) may refer you to a perinatologist or other sub-specialist. A perinatologist receives education and training as an OB/GYN and then obtains additional specialized education. Your OB/GYN will continue to work with you and the perinatologist in collaboration. Some of the services provided by the perinatologist include diabetes care, management of multiple gestations (twins, triplets, etc.), genetic diagnoses, and, in some cases, fetal surgery.
For maternity care, you have the option of choosing a Registered Midwife (RM) as your primary care provider instead of a family doctor or Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB/GYN). A RM provides the complete course of care to women and their babies during low-risk pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period. This includes physical examinations, screening and diagnostic tests, and delivery of the baby. RMs work in collaboration with other health professionals and will consult with or refer you to medical specialists if appropriate. Midwives take an approach to care that enables you to make informed choices throughout your childbearing experience. RMs can attend to births in hospitals, birth centres or your own home. Registered Midwives are publically funded; there is no fee for service. Find out more about midwives at AHS. Find a midwife.
Registered Nurses (RNs) provide assessment, monitoring, interventions and care to women and their families when it comes to family planning, pregnancy, labour and delivery and postpartum care. RNs work in both the hospital and community to provide care. There are several types of RNs who offer specialized care in the community:
Find out more about the credentials and role of an RN.