Pregnancy Health Care
Pregnancy Health Care
During pregnancy, the health of your body directly affects how your baby will grow and develop. It’s important to take good care of yourself.
Get Medical Care
You should start getting prenatal care and dental care starting as early as possible. Prenatal care means medical care for you while you are pregnant. Doctors, nurses, and midwives offer prenatal care. You don’t have to decide between adoption and raising your baby before you start getting medical care. The care you receive will be the same. During the first couple of months of pregnancy, your baby is developing all of its organs and body systems. Your health can affect the baby in both good and bad ways. If you don’t start prenatal care right away, you and your baby can both be at risk of health problems. There are a lot of great resources to help you get started.
Remember to take good care of yourself between medical visits. Check out our Pregnancy Health Tips to learn what you can do to have a healthy pregnancy.
How Can I Pay for Prenatal Care?
In Washington, there is a program for pregnant teens to access health care coverage. To qualify, you must be a Washington State resident under age 19. There is no income limit for the program. Pregnant teens in this program will not need to provide their parent’s income or financial information to apply. Remember, the earlier you start seeing a health care provider, the better—for both your health and your baby’s health.
To apply, please complete the paper application below.
MAIL the completed application to:
Medical Eligibility Determination Services
PO Box 45531
Olympia, WA 98504-5531
For more information or help applying, call the Apple Health for Kids Hotline toll-free at 1-877-543-7669.
How Do I Find a Doctor?
It’s important to choose carefully. It may take some time and energy to find the right person, but it will be worth it. This decision affects:
- How good your care is and amount of information you receive
- Where you give birth
- The choices you will have during pregnancy and birth
- The quality of your relationships with your caregiver
What are Prenatal Care Appointments Like?
In your first prenatal appointment, you and your health care provider will get to know each other and will talk about your overall health. They will check your blood pressure, height, and weight; take some blood; give you a pelvic exam; and have you give a urine sample to test for infections. Because you are meeting for the first time, this appointment might take a little bit longer than other appointments.
Your health care provider will ask you questions about the date of your last period to figure out your due date and will also ask you questions about your health, your baby’s father’s health, and your family’s health.
Your health care provider will talk to you about what changes to expect in your body and your moods, and new ways to take care of yourself. You will get information about vaccinations and about warning signs that you might need medical attention.
After your first appointment, your prenatal appointments will be shorter. Your caregiver will check to make sure everything is going okay, and share with you what is happening. Remember: even if you feel fine, make sure to go to all your prenatal care appointments.
Don’t be afraid to answer your health care provider’s questions truthfully or talk to them about anything, even if it’s scary or embarrassing.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your health care provider. There is probably nothing they haven’t already heard from other pregnant women. For example, if you drank alcohol, took drugs, smoked cigarettes, or if your partner or anyone else scares or hurts you, it’s okay to tell them. The more your health care provider knows about what your life is like, the better he or she can help you!
Just for Guys
If your baby’s mom wants you to go with her to her prenatal appointments, don’t hang back. These are great chances to learn more about her, your growing baby, and how you can support both of them. You will get to hear your baby’s heartbeat and see your baby on an ultrasound for the first time. Those are magical moments, so don't miss out! You can also help your partner think of questions, and remember everything that the health care provider says.
What Is A High-Risk Pregnancy?
Pregnancies with a greater chance of complications are called high-risk pregnancies. Having a high-risk pregnancy does not mean there will be problems, but it may require you to see your health care provider more often, or switch to one that specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Being very young, being overweight or underweight, being pregnant with twins or other multiples, having health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or HIV infection, and having had problems with a previous pregnancy are all factors that could make your pregnancy high-risk.
What are Pregnancy Complications?
If you or your baby develops health problems during pregnancy, they are called “pregnancy complications.” Some are more serious than others, but they all require medical attention. If left untreated, some health problems during pregnancy can put the health of you and your baby at serious risk. Check out this website to learn more about pregnancy complications.
When Do I Call For Help?
Sometimes things don’t go as planned during pregnancy. Call your health care provider for help if you have:
Warning Signs in the First Few Months of Pregnancy
- Cramps or severe belly pain
- Spotting (small amount of bleeding) that lasts for more than one day
- Bleeding that seems like a period or if you soak a sanitary pad every hour
- Faintness or dizziness
- Painful urination
- Throwing up so much that you cannot keep anything down
- Clots, bright red blood, or something that looks like tissue coming from your vagina
- Heavy, smelly vaginal discharge
Warning Signs Later in Pregnancy
- Cramps or severe belly pain with no relief
- Any vaginal bleeding
- Painful urination
- Chills or fever above 100 degrees F
- Extreme mood swings that get in the way of your daily life
- Vaginal discharge
- Severe or constant headache
- Faintness or dizziness
- Gush or trickle of water from your vagina (“water breaks”)
- Swelling in the face or hands
- Blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes
- Pressure in your low back, or a feeling that the baby is pushing down
- Mild cramps with or without diarrhea
- Contractions or hardness of your belly, more than four times in an hour, and not always painful
- Less movement from your baby (less than 10 movements in two hours)
Why choose a midwife?
If you are concerned about complications, you may want to learn more:
Sometimes babies are born earlier than anticipated. Here’s some good information
about pre-term labor (starting labor too early).
In some cases pregnancies don’t develop properly, check on information
about ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy developing in a way that is dangerous to mom’s health).
Sometimes pregnancies end unexpectedly. Sometimes there is a reason why, sometimes there isn’t. Find out information about miscarriage (loss of the pregnancy before 20 weeks) here and here or pregnancy loss (loss of the pregnancy after 20 weeks).