April 11, 2023
Cinnamon Hilton, left, and Melissa Thomson attended a Fort McMurray Public Health Pregnancy Health Information Fair in 2021. The free community event offered expectant and new parents an opportunity to meet privately with AHS healthcare professionals. Participants learned more about routine childhood immunizations, infant feeding and nutrition, infant safety, sexual health, pelvic health, mental health, Northern Lights Regional Health Centre services, local AHS prenatal education classes, and other AHS and community healthcare services. The event returned March 25 at Fort McMurray Community Health Services. Photo supplied.
Fort McMurray resident Diana Barrera says local AHS prenatal services and supports helped prepare her for the birth of her first child, her baby girl Aria, in February 2023. Photo supplied.
Story by Logan Clow
FORT McMURRAY — Expectant parents in the city and across the region are benefitting from the education services and support offered by Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) Public Health staff.
Clients who take advantage of these services and supports are learning more about breastfeeding, pregnancy, labour and delivery, postpartum and newborn care.
Diana Barrera, a resident in Fort McMurray, attended in-person prenatal classes at The Children’s Centre before having her baby girl, Aria, in February 2023. The Children’s Centre, a community not-for-profit, offers prenatal classes, in partnership with Fort McMurray Public Health.
“As an expectant first-time parent, the information I learned really helped me feel more prepared and comfortable when it came time for my delivery at the hospital. It also helped me make informed decisions with my birthing plan,” says Barrera. “To this day I’m still using the tips and information I learned from those classes.”
Barrera says she particularly enjoyed learning about labour and delivery services available at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, breastfeeding tips, and infant feeding and nutrition.
Last November, Barrera also attended a Pregnancy Health Information Fair, a free community event hosted by Public Health at Fort McMurray Community Health Services. The event presented expectant and new parents with an opportunity to meet privately with AHS healthcare professionals.
Participants learned more about routine childhood immunizations, infant feeding and nutrition, infant safety, sexual health, pelvic health, mental health, local AHS prenatal education classes, and other AHS and community healthcare services.
“At the time, I was looking at getting a second-hand child car seat. During the Pregnancy Fair, I had the chance to speak with a professional who was able to provide me more information about car seat safety,” adds Barrera.
“After that conversation, I felt more confident making an informed and responsible choice when it came time to purchase a car seat.
“I also found it beneficial to learn more about the routine childhood immunization schedule. Overall, it was just nice to be able to talk with different healthcare staff in one place about all my pregnancy and newborn questions.”
Free prenatal education classes are available to North Zone residents, including those in Fort McMurray. Classes vary by community; dates and times can be viewed on the AHS website.
Fort McMurray Public Health offers monthly in-person prenatal classes for residents in Fort McKay First Nation and Chipewyan Prairie First Nation (Janvier). In-person prenatal services are also available to residents in Fort McMurray #468 First Nation and Anzac.
Danelle Mandeville, an AHS Public Health nurse in Fort McMurray, has provided prenatal services and supports to residents for several years. This includes facilitating prenatal education classes.
“I think (prenatal class) participants really benefit from learning what to expect leading up to and after the birth of their baby. It really makes them feel more comfortable and confident during what can be a stressful and overwhelming experience,” says Mandeville.
“For first-time parents, there can be a lot to know and remember. We try and cover as much information as possible, including the common pregnancy and postpartum details and tips that some expectant parents may not think of.”
Class topics include care and comfort techniques for the mother and baby leading up to and after birth, how to prepare for labour and delivery, what to expect during labour and delivery, newborn feeding, and much more.
“From a newborn care perspective, for example, we cover how often the baby should be fed, how breastfeeding can be started successfully, what the frequency and colour of the baby’s poop should be, and what food and nutrients the baby should be fed,” says Mandeville.
“Ultimately, we try to be as comprehensive and informative as possible.”
Residents can access or learn more about prenatal services and supports by contacting Fort McMurray Community Health Services at 780-791-6247.
Community Primary Care providers may refer expectant clients to Fort McMurray Community Health Services for prenatal support. Through referral, an AHS Registered Nurse will work with the client to identify services and supports.
See more information about AHS prenatal services and support in your community. Also see pregnancy and prenatal information here or at MyHealth.Alberta.