Maternal, Child and Family Health

When it comes to maternal, child and family health, FNHA’s approach is health and wellness now and into the future for the whole family. 
This family-focused approach supports important areas like:

• Healthy relationships
• Sexual health 
• Family planning 
• Healthy pregnancies 
• Optimal birth experiences 
• Parent and guardian health 
• Early childhood development  
• Child safety 

FNHA aims to support the health and wellness of infants and children through the strong involvement of parents and family. This includes children learning traditional cultural, language and skills. It is this family and cultural base – along with such factors as good healthcare, early learning programs and food security – that will lead to long-term school and economic success for children. It will also lead to individuals who can become outstanding community members and leaders. 

Population information (census) tells us that BC First Nations and Aboriginal populations are on average significantly younger than non-Aboriginal populations. First Nations and Aboriginal women also have higher birth rates and are having babies at a younger age than non-Aboriginal women. This young, growing and vibrant population means that an investment in maternity care, early childhood development and parenting supports is vital.1 

[1] Smylie, Janet. Strong Women, Strong Nations: Aboriginal Maternal Health in British Columbia. Link accessed on May 5, 2015:

Summary of BC First Nations Province Wide and Regional Priorities 

There are a number of action items in maternal, child and family health that are priorities for BC First Nations (highlighted in the Transformative Change Accord: First Nations Health Plan of 2007). They include:

• Bringing birth closer to home and back into the hands of women
• Supporting regular childhood screening and follow-up care (e.g. dental and hearing)
• Increasing access to and use of child car seats
• Preventing childhood deaths (e.g. safety promotion work)

From the First Nations Regional Health and Wellness Planning (RHWP) of 2013-2014, below are the maternal, child and family health priorities region by region. It should be noted that there are many other health and wellness priorities (e.g. mental health promotion, primary care, tele-health, First Nations health benefits, etc) that are connected to maternity, child and family health. 

Work on Regional Health and Wellness Plans continues to evolve so connect with your local FNHA Regional Team to learn more.

Northern Region

• Improving access to and the quality of primary healthcare 
• Establishing innovative methods and payment models for primary healthcare service delivery (which has the potential to include primary maternity service delivery)

Vancouver Coastal Region

• Improving mental wellness and substance use services, smoking prevention and cessation, and injury prevention are three priority areas that connect closely with maternal/child health work

Fraser Salish Region

• Improving services for continuous maternal, child and family care to support women and their families.
• Improving child and family services for all First Nations families regardless of where they live; strengthen governance; advocate for federal funding; and collaborate with the BC Ministry of Child and Family Development
• Incorporating the First Nations perspective on wellness into all pillars promoting health and wellness throughout the life cycle for: infants, children, youth, mothers, fathers, families, adults and Elders

Vancouver Island 

• Increasing access to continuous and traditional maternity care to support pregnant women and their families before, during and after birth 
• Developing community and/or regionally-based approaches to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) 
• Reconfirming the strength of family and parenting as a foundation to health and wellness 
• Reducing lateral violence within families and communities 
• Increasing coordinated efforts to promote the wellness of children, including those in care 
• Improving access to oral health promotion and treatment services for children and families 
• Promoting literacy, particularly amongst children and youth 
• Strengthening Elder involvement in connecting with and supporting child and youth health and wellness 
• Kwakwaka’wakw Family Priority: 
- Improved access to team-based, wellness-focused primary care (maternity care highlighted in particular)
• Nuu-chah-nulth Family Priority: 
-Focus on family health and wellness that supports traditional parenting knowledge and skills and life skills

Interior Region

• Promoting child and family wellness and improve services in collaboration with social service partners
• Ktunaxa Priority: Expanding and improving youth services and assessment of needs
• Nlaka’pamux Priorities:
- Providing programs on parenting and healthy attachment (inclusive of foster children)
- Enhancing programs and services supporting the health and wellness of infants and toddlers
- Increasing support and programming for early childhood education
• Secwepemc Priority:
- Assessing long-term cost of addressing FASD effects
• Syilx Priority:
- Developing early childhood development initiatives and strategies
- Developing regional wellness programs for youth that could include  nutrition, mental health, self-esteem, healthy activities and supports for parents and guardians
- Developing a regional wellness program to address dental health for children in all communities

Doulas for Aboriginal Families Grant Program

Are you pregnant or a new parent, or do you know an Aboriginal family who is expecting or has a new baby?

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) are proud to jointly offer funding to cover the costs of a birth doula and postpartum doula for pregnant Aboriginal mothers and families living in BC (both on and off reserve). This partnership aims to bring birth closer to home and back into the hands of women.

Grants provide up to a maximum of $1000 to cover doula services for each woman's birth and postpartum needs. Speaking with your doula will help you best use a grant, based on your needs during pregnancy and at home following delivery. Payment is made directly to a doula after pre-approval and after BCAAFC has received an invoice for the doula care provided.

A birth doula can provide emotional, physical and spiritual support for women and families during pregnancy, labour and following birth. A birth doula is a non-clinical provider who works with an expectant mother, their family and their physician, midwife or nurse to support the pregnancy. The doula's care can increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy, positive birth experience, vaginal birth, breastfeeding and bonding for mother and child. Studies show that having a birth doula can help decrease interventions during labour and delivery, such as epidurals and caesarian sections.

A postpartum doula provides support and education to mothers, partners and families during the first three months of a baby's life. The doula acts as a mentor and guide as she/he helps a family care for their new baby - offering information on newborn care, infant feeding, mother care and coping skills for new parents.

Connecting to doula care can be especially important if you are leaving your community to give birth and need extra support while away from home. Women and families can register for this grant program on their own or work with a health provider to get help in applying.

An overview of frequently asked questions about the program and the family registration form can be found on BCAAFC's website at:

Please help to spread the word about this expanded grant program!

For More Information Contact:

Doula Support Administrator

1-800-990-2432 or 250-388-5522


Interested in Becoming a Doula or Recruiting a Doula?

To learn more, click here

The following 10-minute video is also available on YouT ube: and includes: stories from Aboriginal women about doula care during their pregnancy; experiences of doulas; and information on how doulas and Aboriginal women connect in communities. Please note that the Aboriginal Doula Initiative was completed in 2013. If you are interested in training to become a birth or postpartum doula, please visit the "Doula Services" section of FNHA's website to learn more about different training programs in BC.


Aboriginal Pregnancy Passport

The Aboriginal Pregnancy Passport is for pregnant women and their families.

This culturally appropriate health resource incorporates First Nations and Aboriginal traditional beliefs and values, as well as clinical best practices. It aims to empower women and their families through their sacred journey of pregnancy, birth and baby's first few weeks. The passport provides expectant mothers with health information, resources, traditional teachings, growth charts, checklists, and a place to write down goals, thoughts, ideas, and dreams for their babies. The passport is meant to be given to women and their families as early as possible during family planning or prenatal visits.

To request additional print passports, please contact Perinatal Services BC at:


The passport provides an expectant mother with health information, resources, traditional teachings, growth charts, checklists, and a place to write down goals, thoughts, ideas, and dreams for your baby.

Honouring Our Babies: Safe Sleep Toolkit (Facilitator's Guide and Discussion Cards)


Honouring Our Babies: Safe Sleep Toolkit is a resource for frontline service providers.  A set of culturally relevant and interactive tools, it helps service providers talk about safe infant sleep with First Nations and Aboriginal families, including information on sudden infant death syndrome. The toolkit includes: 34 discussion cards; seven illustrated cards with safe sleep practices; and a facilitator's guide for frontline providers.

Online copies can be found on the Maternal, Child and Family Health section of First Nations Health Authority's website at:

Honouring Our Babies Toolkit: Safe Sleep - A Summary for Families

To request additional safe sleep toolkits, please contact the First Nations Health Authority at

Download, print, and share the resources (updated version Dec. 2017):

Honouring Our Babies - Safe Sleep Cards (PDF 7.10 MB)

Honouring Our Babies Toolkit - A Summary for Families (PDF 648 KB)

Childhood Health and Wellness Resource Booklets

How can we become the parents our children need us to be? Four resource booklets help First Nations and Métis parents answer this vital question. The booklets were developed by the National Collaborating Centre on Aboriginal Health and the First Nations Health Authority to help parents raise healthy, secure and resilient children. The series takes a practical and positive approach, with the message that, "Even if you did not have the parenting that you wanted or needed, you can become the parent your child needs."

Family Connections 


Family Connections has information for parents on forming secure attachments with children and strengthening connections with extended family and community. The importance of these ties is grounded in traditional First Nations and Métis culture and values: "Traditionally, parents saw themselves as being entrusted with the spirit of the child.  Children were sacred gifts and loved unconditionally. They were tended to immediately and were always comforted when they cried.  As a result, children had strong roots to their family and community. They knew who they were and knew their place in society." The booklet gives practical advice for pregnancy and parenting children through age six. 

PDF Download (1.42 mb)

Growing Up 


Growing Up Healthy gives parents steps to keep infants and children healthy through nutrition, physical activity and caring for their body. It has information on traditional foods, and ways to provide healthy food and encourage active living on a budget. Topics such as sleep, regular check-ups and immunizations are also covered. As well, it highlights ways to connect body, mind, and spirit. 

PDF Download (2.72 mb)

Parents as First Teachers 


Parents as First Teachers focuses on early childhood learning through experience and play.  As Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations says, the goal of a bright future for children "starts with love and care in the home." The booklet stresses the importance of exposing children to their First Nations or Métis language and culture - the foundation of who they are. It offers positive discipline strategies and encourages parents to be the best teachers they can be by drawing on a circle of support that includes friends, extended family, Elders, ancestors, and community resources.  
PDF Download (1.66 mb)

Fatherhood is Forever 


Fatherhood is Forever explores why fathers are important, how to be a father and different approaches for different situations. The booklet recognizes that many men grew up without an involved father and encourages: "The best thing about life is that it takes place in the moment. Every moment, you can choose a path of healing. Every step that you take in your own healing is a step towards becoming a better father." The ways men can be confident, effective fathers are discussed – such as providing a safe place for children to grow, showing affection, honouring the children's mother and being a role model. Ideas are also offered for how fathers can be involved at different stages of their child's life.  
PDF Download (1.69 mb)

To ensure wide access to the important information in this series, roughly 30,000 copies of these booklets will be distributed to communities, service providers, and organizations that reach First Nations and Métis parents throughout BC. These include Aboriginal Head Start programs, maternal-child health programs, and Friendship Centres. The booklets can also be viewed on the NCCAH and FNHA websites.

For more information, please contact us at: or visit the NCCAH website here. 

Your Child's Hearing

Do you have, or plan to have a new baby in your life? Identifying hearing loss early improves baby's ability to learn and interact with others. This video helps guide you through the process of hearing screening and follow-up testing for your baby.


"Your Child's Hearing" was created through a partnership between Penelakut Tribe, the BC Early Hearing Program and the First Nations Health Authority.

Family Path Pamphlet

This pamphlet illustrates the steps a family takes with their baby along the family care path. It was developed by the BC Early Hearing Program in collaboration with the First Nations Health Authority and Aboriginal Maternal and Child Health partners.

BCEHP Family Path First Nations document: Download PDF (1 mb)

*note: For printing, uncheck "fit" and use "shrink oversize pages" for optimal print results

It is a resource for families with babies and very young children and for healthcare providers and educators who work with families. The aim is to increase awareness of the importance of identifying hearing loss early and to help families become comfortable with the process of hearing screening and more in-depth testing.

Hard copies of the DVD can be requested from the First Nations Health Authority: (

Additional hard copies of the family care pamphlet and more information on early hearing services are available from the BC Early Hearing Program (

Maternal and Child Dental Health

The First Nations Health Authority, the Tripartite Maternal and Child Health Committee and Seabird Island Dental Centre are pleased to introduce the Maternal Child Dental Health video. This video is targeted at parents and children 0-6 years old to raise awareness and encourage discussion on the importance of dental care children.

Dental health and dental decay amongst Aboriginal children continue to be a major concern.  Good dental health for children begins at birth - with parents who ensure that children are breastfed whenever possible, given minimal or no sugary foods and liquids and begin seeing a dental professional as soon as teeth emerge.

For more information on Maternal Child Dental Health please contact the Seabird Island Dental Centre.


Resources to Promote Childhood Oral Health

Key oral health resources for health providers to promote oral health and prevent early childhood caries were reviewed by an Oral Health Working Group and identified for the Tripartite Maternal Child Health Area. A short list of the best resources were identified and endorsed by the working group.

Oral Health Resources Recommendations PDF (229 kb)

Brush Up On Babys Teeth PDF (3619 kb)

Early Childhood Toothdecay PDF (1554 kb)

Health Snack Guide PDF (92 kb)

NHA Fluoride Varnish Program PDF (172 kb)

Nutritional Snacking PDF (1618 kb)

Oral Hygiene PDF (121 kb)

Pregnancy and Oral Health PDF (1459 kb)

Re-Think What You Drink PDF (178 kb) 

Snack Masters PDF (182 kb)

VCH Lift The Lip PDF (516 kb) 

Celebrating the Circle Of Life: Coming Back to Balance and Harmony Guide

This guide can be downloaded from the website of Perinatal Services BC at

The BC Reproductive Mental Health Program (BCRMHP), a program developed by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), is proud to present Celebrating the Circle of Life, a resource for Aboriginal women and their care providers to support mental wellness during and after a pregnancy.

The guide was created to help Aboriginal women with their emotional health during pregnancy and following a birth.  It offers information on how depression may affect a women's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, and what to do if that occurs. 
The guide can be used by women on their own or with a partner, family member or friend or care provider. 

A limited number of hard copies are available for free distribution and can be requested from Perinatal Services BC at 604-877-2121 or 

Important Connections – Information and Services from our Partners

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) funds a range of programs and services for children and youth with special needs and their families. Services are intended to promote children's healthy development, maximize quality of life, assist families and support full participation in community life.

MCFD works in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Education, and regional and community agencies throughout the province, to plan and coordinate services. For an overview of child and youth special needs services, please see the following CYSN brochure.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Child and Family Development website to learn more about their work in:

• Early childhood development
• Child care
• Deaf and hard of hearing services
• Child and youth mental health
• Youth services


Child Health Passport from Immunize BC & Healthy Families BC

Preventing Low Blood Sugar in Healthy First Nations Babies and Children

To view the related medical guideline and family brochure, please visit Child Health BC's website at: in BC First Nations Infants and Young Children (CPT1a)

 Related wellness resources



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