With good prenatal care, you can reduce your baby’s risk for health problems. To have a healthy pregnancy and baby:
Good care during pregnancy includes regular prenatal exams. At each visit your healthcare provider will check to make sure that you and the baby are healthy. Regular visits can help you and your provider prevent possible problems. They can also help your provider find and treat any problems early.
You should find a doctor for your baby about 3 months before your expected delivery date. If you belong to a health plan, check the plan's list of primary care providers. You can also ask for referrals from friends, coworkers, or pharmacists. Local medical societies usually have a referral service and will give you names of doctors in your area.
A pediatrician is an expert on the physical, emotional, and social health of children from birth through the teen years. A family doctor sees both children and adults.
Set up an interview to meet and get to know the doctor. Make sure that your baby's doctor is someone that you feel comfortable with. Ask about breast-feeding, parenting, who you can talk to when the doctor is not there, and any other questions that you have.
Here are some of the kinds of questions your baby’s doctor can answer for you:
Human milk starts to be made in small amounts after about 4 months of pregnancy. This type of milk is called “colostrum”. It is very high in energy.
For first-time mothers, a big increase in milk production usually happens about 3 or 4 days after the baby is born. This is also known as the milk “coming in”. Mothers who have had children before usually notice the surge of milk production 2 or 3 days after delivery. A difficult delivery can slow milk production by a day or more.
Your baby's doctor can tell you what to expect at different ages. Your baby will learn and develop emotional, social, mental, and physical skills. Developments in each of these areas are called developmental milestones.
No. Meeting your newborn’s needs quickly and gently helps your baby learn that the world is predictable. This is a first step in helping your child develop good self-esteem. For the first several months of life, your baby cannot be spoiled.
A great time to teach your baby that to cooperate is when you change diapers. This is important when your baby learns to roll over from back to front. Praise your baby for lying still on his or her back while the diaper is changed. Help your baby stay on his or her back instead of rolling over by playing with a stuffed animal or mobile above the changing table.
Sleeping on his back is the safest sleep position for a baby. Sleeping on the back greatly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). By the time your baby can roll over from the back to the front (at about 6 months of age), the risk of SIDS is much lower, so you do not need to turn your baby over if he has rolled over by himself.
Vaccinating your baby is an important and good choice. Vaccines are much safer than taking a chance that your child will be exposed to a disease and get the infection. There are many diseases which can be prevented by vaccination. Vaccines are given at different times of a child’s life to protect them when the risk is greatest. Talk to your doctor for more information about vaccines.
Choosing the right healthcare provider gives you peace of mind. As a parent, you should feel comfortable asking any questions that you have. You should also feel sure that your baby will receive good care.