Story courtesy Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan

For Saskatchewan moms with difficult pregnancies or complications, they are the last stop for critical care. Dr. Jocelyne Martel, along with Dr. Kristine Mytopher and Dr. Lara Wesson, are responsible for caring for moms expecting multiple births, or having complications like high blood pressure or diabetes in pregnancy. They also see mothers experiencing growth problems with unborn babies, as well as diagnosing and managing abnormalities in babies so that they have the best chance for the future. Their work is all part of the Fetal Assessment Unit, which sees over 3,200 patients per year.

Dr. Martel

Dr. Martel

The Fetal Assessment Unit serves the northern half of the province for evaluating babies with potential birth defects. The team is also responsible for caring for unborn Saskatchewan babies with heart defects, along with pediatric cardiologist Dr. Ashok Kakadekar.

“What’s rewarding in this job is to help women and families who have complicated pregnancies have as close to normal a pregnancy and birth experience as possible,” explains Martel, who was raised in Saskatoon and trained at the University of Saskatchewan. “Our goal is the healthiest outcome for each mother and baby we see.”

The three Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists, along with a team of five highly specialized sonographers, provide moms-to-be with prenatal care and evaluate babies with complications so that their outcomes can be improved. Martel expects to see as many as 4,500 patients per year in the new maternal and children’s hospital once the doors open in 2019.

“The new children’s hospital will allow us to provide more care to the women of Saskatchewan who need this specialized care. The facilities, along with additional equipment, will allow us to perform certain types of tests that we haven’t been able to offer to everyone to date,” says Martel. “These improvements mean we’ll be able to better help families prepare for babies that will need special care. This will give families the chance to meet or engage with pediatric specialists who will be taking care of their babies ahead of the birth. Families who have never been affected by this don’t really think about this. We think about this every day.”

In addition to the Fetal Assessment Unit, the Maternal Care Centre at the new Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan will feature 65 maternal inpatient beds, a prenatal clinic, maternal medicine outpatient clinics, and three operating rooms.

“Knowing ahead of time what’s coming, talking to other families and specialists, allows the delivery to be a joyful event in the safest setting with all the right people in place,” explains Martel. “We assist the family to be prepared for what lies ahead rather than having a surprise in the delivery room.”