Nova Scotia Welcome to Parenting was launched today, Sept. 16, to provide prenatal education and parenting support through baby’s first year. “In today’s digital world, new and expectant parents are looking for credible information online,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer. “This new program has been customized according to Nova Scotia standards. It provides the information parents need in the online, mobile format they want.” The program gives information about healthy pregnancy, labour and birth, breastfeeding, and more. It allows new parents to connect with others online to share experiences. They can also have questions answered by experts in health, parenting and child development. In contrast to traditional prenatal classes, the program provides information and support on more topics, over a longer period of time, and in a format that is easier to access for most people. “The IWK Health Centre worked closely with the Department of Health and Wellness to customize the online program for prenatal care in Nova Scotia,” said Michelle LeDrew, director of women’s and newborn health at the IWK Health Centre. “Our shared vision is that this program will provide quick, convenient, credible information for families who have been seeking this kind of support online to keep mom and baby healthy throughout pregnancy and baby’s first year.” The program is free for all expectant mothers and their partners living in Nova Scotia. They can register at http://novascotia.welcometoparenting.com . “Toronto Public Health launched the Welcome to Parenting prenatal online program for Toronto’s expectant parents last November,” said Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s medical officer of health. “The program provides our very diverse populations with a way of accessing prenatal information in a format, and time that meets their needs better, than traditional group classes have. “The response from parents far exceeds our initial expectations and we have received a great deal of positive feedback from new families. Congratulations to Nova Scotia on adopting this program.” The program will replace most prenatal classes in the province. Several district health authorities have already stopped offering classes, and the rest will stop by Jan. 1. Attendance in these classes has been declining. Public Health plans to increase its focus on families facing challenging life situations during pregnancy and baby’s early years. This may include home visits and helping families find existing programs and resources in their communities.