Everyone knows babies are expensive, but you may not expect the hidden costs of pregnancy, some of which even start before conception. Pregnancy tests, ovulation kits, prenatal vitamins, body pillows, maternity pants: they add up. There are many free resources available to pregnant women in Halifax, but they’re usually passed on by word of mouth, or a glance at a bulletin board in a waiting room. Here is a roundup of some free or low-cost resources to help ease the costs of pregnancy, so you can save your money for the latest safety-certified car seat.

Free Prenatal Vitamins

Women who are trying to conceive, expectant mothers, and nursing mothers should take prenatal vitamins. Through the Sobeys Baby Be Healthy program, they can receive these vitamins for free, plus advice about nutrition during pregnancy and a consultation with a pharmacist. A supply of vitamins lasting through pregnancy and a year of breastfeeding can cost around $130. To sign up for free vitamins, all you need to do is visit a Sobeys pharmacy and speak to a pharmacist, who will create a patient profile. Vitamins are issued in monthly prescriptions.

Volunteer Doula Program

Chebucto Family Centre has offered a volunteer doula program since 1996, which provides doula support during pregnancy and childbirth to members of the community who may not otherwise be able to afford it. The program is available at no cost to those under the age of 25, newcomers to Canada within the previous five years, full-time students, those who are single, identify as LGBTQ or non-binary, or who have a household income of less than $42,000. For those with a household income between $42,000 and $70,000, the program is available for $250. There are many doulas available for hire in the Halifax at a cost. According to Doula Services Association in British Columbia, the average doula cost is $600–$1,000 for a birth package, which typically includes two prenatal visits, support during labour and delivery, and at least one postnatal visit.

Free Prenatal Classes

Chebucto Family Centre also offers prenatal classes for expectant parents at no cost. A weekly series of two-hour classes run over the course of eight weeks, and cover pregnancy guidance, education on labour and delivery that is specific to what you can expect from a local hospital, and breastfeeding and newborn care education. A certified doula leads the class, which runs three times yearly (usually fall, winter, and spring, depending on demand). PACT (Parents and Children Together) Resource Centre in Cole Harbour and Dartmouth Family Centre in North Dartmouth also offer free classes. Prenatal classes are also available at other venues in the city for $185–$220. The provincial government used to offer prenatal classes but replaced them with a website.

Pre-Owned Maternity Wear & Baby Gear

Maternity and baby clothing have something in common: you only need them for a few months. This is also true of infant baby gear such as bassinets, infant car seats, and small baby carriers. They’re expensive and rarely wear out before the baby outgrows them. So the secondhand market for these items is thriving in Halifax. Growth Spurts Consignment Store on the Bedford highway sells maternity clothes, baby clothes (including snowsuits), and baby gear such as carriers, on a consignment basis. Halifax OutGROW OutPLAY holds a twice-yearly large-scale consignment sale event, often at the Halifax Forum, where you can find anything baby-related from toys to changers to clothing. First-time parents and consignors are eligible for early bird shopping at these events.

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