(Closed) The difference between being pregnant in the US and being pregnant in Canada

posted 6 years ago in Pregnancy
Post # 3
1423 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

The US has terrible maternity leave compared to Canada (and the rest of the developed world).

Post # 4
336 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

There is no universal health coverage in the US.. So if you dont have medical insurance, you’re probably going to be paying off your medical bills from being pregnant/giving birth until your child is 18! lol. Also, there is no mandated law that requires employers to pay you while on maternity leave, let alone take time off.. I know in Canada, it’s mandated that new moms take 50 weeks off with 55% pay. It’s not liek that in the states.. You’re lucky if you have a job that offers maternity leave, let alone PAYS you while on maternity leave…. 

I love my country.. but this whole thing kinda sucks lol


Post # 5
1137 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Speaking as a woman is American and whose husband and entire family is Canadian, I can say that the entire approach to health care is different.

When health care is state-run (Canada), the amount of tests and Dr. visits are extremely reduced. It takes my ILs months to get into Dr’s to get any non-emergency services. The number of tests is significantly reduced. The amount of intervention and follow-up care is also reduced. Basically, they are in the business to save money. I find my SIL/DH’s aunt who have had babies had received much more of “wait and see” type care.

When health care is for-profit, there is the opposite effect. Especially considering that the US is an overly-litigious society, so everyone is afraid of getting sued for malpractice. They usually end up being overly cautious and testing and have more medical interference for fear that if something isn’t caught/goes wrong, the Dr. will get sued. I find that induction and c-sections are more common, and a ton of prenatal tests are run on my US pregnant friends that were not run on my Canadian family/friends.

I’m not sure either situation is ideal.

Post # 6
1621 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@CanAmBride:  Given that I work in the Canadian health care system, I would disagree on some of your points.  This may be the experience of your IL’s, but I don’t think most Canadians feel this way.

I don’t know any family doctor/GP that has wait times of months….I can get in to my doctor next day, but some people would need to wait a week or 2 if their concerns weren’t very urgent.  Yes, getting referrals to specialists does often take 6-12 weeks.

As for tests, I’m not sure of the difference since I don’t know what’s available in the US.  It seems that our testing is generally adequate, but I have a patient that was offerred a new, expensive test that could only be done in Buffalo, so you may have a point there.

Both systems have strengths and flaws, as you say.  But overall, I’d take universal health care in a quick minute.  My grandmother had 3 MRIs last week and I can’t imagine what that would cost out-of-pocket.

ETA: re: prenatal care, the only difference I’m aware of with testing is potentiall more ultrasounds.  Some women in the US get an ultrasound every appointment! Which is crazy and so unnecessary.  As for unnecessary inductions and c-sections….well, they happen everywhere I suppose.  Can’t comment on comparison rates, but I do hear a lot of Bees saying their doctor is inducing them before their due date (which at least where I live is only done if medically indicated because it doubles your chance for c-section)

Post # 7
1238 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

They seem more quick to give blood tests and u/s early on in the US, from what I’ve gathered. Of course some of those women had a previous miscarriage so that may have been why. 

In Canada I think the biggest difference is we won’t be paying to birth in a hospital- and for that I’m very thankful! 

Post # 8
10366 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

@CanAmBride:  Several of our life-long friends are Canadian, and I have to say that their experience has been totally different. They have full batteries of tests, do not wait for non-emergency visits (an MRI can be an exception). They live in Toronto, so perhaps it is a factor of living in a major urban area where there are more doctors/resources? In the US, we have that problem in rural areas as well!

OP: In the US, having a baby is all well and good if you have good insurance. It can cost $30,000+ if you need a c-section and do not have insurance. It costs even more if there are post-birth complications.

And, don’t even get me started on what a joke maternity leave is in the USA. So embarrassing.

Post # 9
1301 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I am in the UK where we have universal health care. There is a much more hands off approach. When you get pregnant you tell your doctor and they refer you to a midwife that wont see you till 12 weeks. No one gives you a pregnancy test let alone a Beta HCG. The attitude is more like we will see you when you are out of the first trimester when its likley to be a sticky pregnancy. 

The downside is that you really don’t get any medical care for the 1st trimester. Once you are in your second timester is stays pretty hands off. I have only seen midwives twice and I am 20 weeks.

One downside is that as none of its for profit there is no “customer service”. Case in point, I had my NT scan to screen for downs at 11 weeks and I couldn’t get my results until I will 16 weeks. If the results had shown abnormalities, I really would have wanted to know ASAP so I paid a private provider to do the scan as well and had the results in under 24 hours.

I have also been suffering with a pretty bad and potentially dangerous side effect of pregnancy (Way Too Much Information to share here..) and it started at 13 weeks and I am still waiting to see the surgeon I need to 7 weeks later. Now I am at 20 weeks and just found out the referal letter hasn’t even been sent so I probably wont get to see the surgeon for at least a month. Basically I have been totally let down and no one will help as they just don’t care. I feel like if it were private care the buck would have to stop somewhere and someone would have to help me.

Birth itself is really different here too. Its all midwife care and you would only see an OB is there was a problem in labour or pregnancy for that matter. If all things are normal, odds are you won’t see an OB for the duration of your pregnancy and birth.


Post # 10
1137 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

@cdncinnamongirl:  I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think it lays somewhere in the middle.

I have seen first had many examples of how socialized health care is inadequate. My Darling Husband was shocked when he saw how much access to health care professionals our insurance provided that he would never have had under his OHIP system.


1) Darling Husband has a freckle on his retina that needs to be measured every 6 months. He used to have to drive 4 hours away to Toronto to have this test because it had the only hospital in Ontario who had the machine they need to run the test. Now he can go to our optometrist 2 miles away, who has the same machine in his office.

2) When Darling Husband and I were dating and he was staying at my house, he woke up at midnight and thought he was having an appendix attack. I had to drive him to Canada (20 minutes away) and take him to the ER because he didn’t have US insurance. It took them 3 hours to get him a bed and 10 hours before he saw a Dr. In the US, you see an ER Dr in less than 30 minutes.

3) DH’s mother had a growth on her foot, and had to wait 4 months to get an MRI because it was not life threatening. Turned out it was a simple cyst, which she couldn’t get removed for another 2 months because there is only 2 surgeon who perform that surgery in a 4 hour radius.  She is a workout freak and couldn’t work out for 6 months because she couldn’t tie her gym shoes properly and slipped into a severe depression because of it.

4) DH’s grandfather passed away from stomach cancer that was caught too late because the Canadian hospital would not run a series of tests that my Uncle, a US Oncologist, said is routine for anyone in the US who initially has his symptoms. They kept telling him he had indigestion and sent him home with Tums. 

5) DH’s other grandfather fell in their house and was taken to the hospital. They released him with a sore neck. Found out a week later that he had BROKEN his neck, but they had failed to run an x-ray because the machine was broken (it had been broken for 2 weeks at that point).

I’m sure there are similar stories anywhere in the world, but it just seems ridiculous that these people can’t get good care even though they have the financial means to pay for it out of pocket.

Post # 11
68 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I live in Canada, and while not pregnant, I can say that in Canada a lot of business owners are wary of hiring young women becuase after 3 months of work they are entitled to a full maternity leave of one year.  So, as you can imagine, that leaves a lot of business owners in a lurch trying to hiring temporary employment for that year.  Just a little interesting perspective on the extended maternity that we are really lucky to offer, I think.   

I also think there is a tendancy to believe that Canadian health care is completely ‘free’.  Every month I pay $60+ and pay for extended at my work (another 60+), so it’s not free; however, we do have a really good system and I am grateful to live in a country where medical care is affordable for most people.  I don’t mean to make it seem like we pay tonnes, definitely not like other countries in the world, but every province is different.  Watching the documentary ‘Sicko’ really gives the impression that as a Canadian I can walk into an emergency room and get treated right away, without paying a dime. And that’s not really true. Emergency room waits in my city can vary from 5-10+ hours. 

Post # 12
2065 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

Maternity leave immediately comes to mind. Everyone jumps on the whole FMLA thing, but if you work in a company of less than 50 employees, you aren’t covered by FMLA. If I were to have a baby today at the company I’m currently with, I would be expected back at work probably in 6 weeks, unless there were any major complications.

I pay $165 per paycheck to cover my husband and myself and that still only gets me slightly meh coverage with a $3000 deductible for each of us before they pay anything. Hopefully I’ll be switching jobs some time this year so that having a baby in the future doesn’t send me into panic mode. And Texas is one of those brilliant states where you cannot buy individual maternity coverage. To get maternity riders, you must be on a group plan.

Post # 13
325 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@GlitteryVegas:  I’ve never looked into Mat leave as I don’t plan on having children for a few years, but I had always assumed you had to be employed (by the same employer) for 12 months in order to qualify for 55 week paid mat leave..?  And 12 months between each pregnancy to qualify each time..?  I’ve never heard of 3 months, people are just past their probationary period then, unless it differs for each company?


ETA: In Alberta, you must work 52 consecutive weeks for mat leave


Post # 14
1137 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

@GlitteryVegas:  This is a good point as well! Taxes in Canada are much higher than the US. My Darling Husband was paying close to 50% income tax plus 14% sales tax.

Free health care isn’t really free, the cost is just spread out among everyone.

I also don’t want it to seem like I’m “pro” US health care either. It’s insane that someone can go bankrupt and/or die trying to get even the most basic health care. As a civilized society, part of our responsibility is looking out for the well-being of our fellow man, and the “every man for himself” system we have set up now is atrocious….. 

Post # 15
6355 posts
Bee Keeper

I assume it would be much more fortunate to be preggers as a Canadian.

Post # 16
413 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@CanAmBride:  Some of this is not a function of socialized medicine so much as a function of population base or location. As a Canadian, I’ve experienced greater difficulty getting access to good care when in rural areas but I’ve never had much difficulty in urban areas.

I’m surprised that your husband had to drive back to Canada since acute emergencies are at least partially covered under OHIP: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/ohip/travel.aspx.

I personally would never trade our health care system for the US system.

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