Getting Ready for Baby
Prenatal care is extremely important to begin as soon as you believe you are pregnant. In addition to doctor visits, prenatal care may require changes to your eating, drinking, and smoking habits.
Important blood work tests, sonograms, and family medical history early on in pregnancy can help prevent or treat various risk factors for both you and the baby.
It is important to get your prenatal care as early as possible, follow the recommendations of your qualified health care provider, and keep your appointments throughout your pregnancy to greatly reduce health risks for both you and your baby.
Are prenatal vitamins worth it?What if I can’t afford them?
Post birth (postpartum) care is an ongoing process in the weeks that follow birth, not just a single appointment.
Discuss a postpartum care plan with your health care provider before you give birth. This helps you have a strategy after the baby is born to take care of yourself and know what to look for if you need to get medical help.
Choosing a doctor
Only you can decide which are the most important considerations for you – it’s a very personal decision.
Keep in mind that you may be able to narrow your list of choices with a simple phone call. There’s no need to meet with a doctor who isn’t in your network of providers if that’s a requirement for your insurance coverage.
Questions for your doctor
Before you move on to someone else, you might want to talk to the doctor about your concerns. If the problem can’t be resolved, or your worries aren’t addressed, don’t hesitate to change obstetricians or consider whether a midwife might be a better fit for you.
Transportation AssistanceNeed a ride?
A birth plan is not required to give birth but is a tool you can use to help you communicate your wishes and needs with your health care team and anyone else who might be there to support you (such as your partner) about best approaches for a safe and healthy delivery of your baby.
To help develop your birth plan, start with a list of things you want to consider, such as pain management, type of delivery, birth location, and the health care provider you want to use. Then, use your list to talk to your doctor about creating a strategy best for you. Often, health care providers have a “routine” they follow for patients, but can change that (within reason), when asked. Having your birth plan helps the communication between you and your health care provider become more personal about ways to adjust your birthing process to your needs.
Questions to help create your birth planThese questions are recommended by the American Pregnancy Association. If you find that a question does not apply to you, skip it.
Finding a doula
A doula is not a midwife, but is a trained advocate to help you with education, support, and communication.
Doulas are not health care professionals, but they can help you communicate with your health care provider to understand what is happening during pregnancy, when giving birth, and afterwards so you can make decisions, if needed.
Some doulas charge by the hour, while others will charge a flat fee for the entire pregnancy and potentially in-home postpartum care. Cost can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on who you hire and what they offer.
After BirthPlanning your next steps
The birth of your baby, while exciting, presents a lot of new changes, appointments, and decisions.
We have a list of resources and information for immediately after birth and in the first 8 weeks postpartum as well as care for yourself long term after the baby is born, and information on infant health.
Safe Moms’ Class
Safe Sleep for InfantsSudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation are major safety concerns for newborns
There are steps you - and everyone who cares for your baby - can take to ensure safe infant sleep. Following these steps for the ﬁrst year of your baby’s life will help you and your baby sleep safe and sound.
- Place your baby on their back to sleep for every sleep, including naps.
- Use a ﬁrm, ﬂat mattress (not inclined) with a well-ﬁtted sheet.
- Feed your baby only breastmilk for six months and continue breastfeeding for at least two years.
- Share your room with your baby. Keep baby near your bed on their own safety-approved sleep surface like a crib, bassinet, or portable play yard with no other people or pets.
- Keep everything out of your baby’s sleep area – no blankets, pillows, quilts, bumper pads, crib liners, sitting devices, toys, or other objects.
- Avoid placing your baby to sleep on a couch, armchair, or seating device like a swing, baby seat, or car safety seat (except when in a car).