Having a Baby

Your Guide to Having
a Healthy Pregnancy

Congratulations!

You’re expecting a new baby. This may be your first, or maybe you’re adding a new brother or sister to your family tree. Either way, you’re probably feeling excited and a little nervous, and that’s OK. A new baby means a lot of changes in your life and your body.

At Healthcare LA, IPA (HCLA), we want to help you through this exciting time in your life.

Having a Healthy Baby Starts Now —
Your own health and the way you live your life affects your baby now, too. The best thing you can do for your baby is to take care of yourself during pregnancy. Watching what you eat and exercising gives you both a better chance at a healthy start.

Your own health and the way you live your life affects your baby now, too. The best thing you can do for your baby is to take care of yourself during pregnancy. Watching what you eat and exercising gives you both a better chance at a healthy start.

It’s also important to get all the prenatal care you need during pregnancy. Prenatal means before birth. Your health center is your best resource for accessing care as an expectant mother. HCLA works with a network of health centers and providers for pregnant women. They can help you get a jump start on all the prenatal care and services you and your baby will need.

This booklet helps to explain what to expect during your pregnancy. It will also help you to connect with your local HCLA health center, your health plan, and useful community resources. They will help make sure you get all the care and guidance you need for a healthy pregnancy.

happy doctor and patient image

Your HCLA Health Center Is Your Key to a Healthy Pregnancy

It takes a whole team to help you have a healthy pregnancy. The doctors, nurses and support staff at your HCLA affiliated health center are all important members of that team. They will support you every step of the way, from your first prenatal appointment, to feeling baby’s first kick, to your first check-up with your new baby.

To get the best care from your health center, you must go to see them as early as possible in your pregnancy. The care team at your health center is your best resource during the time of your pregnancy, so you should see them regularly. The more you connect with your care team, the better they will get to know you. That will help them anticipate what you and your baby need, and guide you to the right care.

If you don’t know the name of your health center, you can find that information on your health plan ID card, or call the HCLA member services department at 818-702-0100.

Here are some important things to know to get the most from your health center.

If you haven’t set your first prenatal care appointment, do that right now. No matter where you are in your pregnancy, it’s never too soon to get started with proper care.
Your care team and health center will be the main source for care during your pregnancy. They might refer you to other specialists as needed, but your care will always start with the care team at your health center.

You can call your health center 24/7 for help. There will always be a physician on call. Many centers have extended hours and same-day or walk-in appointments. This means they can often see you right away. Even if they can’t, they will always know where you can go to get the right care for you and your baby.

Always call your health center right away if you have any of these symptoms at any time:

Bleeding or
Spotting

Fever of 100.4°F
(38°C) or higher

Severe
Vomiting

Pain or cramping in
your stomach

Pain or burning
when you urinate

Fainting, dizziness
or blurred vision

Heavy discharge
from your vagina

Connecting You to The Right Resources

There are many quality programs and professional resources available to help pregnant women, new moms, newborns and young children.

Comprehensive Perinatal Service Program (CPSP)

A program that helps pregnant women on Medi-Cal with obstetric care. CPSP also helps pregnant women and brand-new moms with nutrition, emotional/mental health and health education. If you are pregnant and on Medi-Cal, make sure to ask your health center about CPSP right away. In some cases, CPSP is a required part of Medi-Cal coverage.

Text4baby

A free app and texting service that helps you remember important dates and medical appointments. Your health center can connect you with Text4baby to help your care schedule run smoothly, or you can visit www.text4baby.org to get started.

Nurse Advice Lines

Available from most health plans as part of your coverage. You can call this line 24/7 with questions. Some health plans also offer special benefits and programs for pregnant moms.

Your care team will know what’s available to you and if your insurance requires anything. This is another good reason to visit your health center early and often for care.

Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby

As an expectant mother, it’s never too late to start healthy habits. The stronger and healthier you are, the better opportunity your baby will have for a healthy start at life.

Kick the Habit

Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and low birth-weight babies. Alcohol and drugs have been shown to cause miscarriage, birth defects, intellectual disability and low birth-weight babies. If you smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs, now is the time to stop. Your primary provider and your care team can help if you are having trouble quitting.

Exercise for Expectant Moms

Regular exercise can help both your mind and your body feel good during pregnancy. The right exercises can even tone your muscles for easier birth. Exercise can also help lift your mood. But, remember, always talk to the team at your health center about any exercise plans. They will know what’s safe for you and baby.

Eating for Two

Your diet is more important than ever when you’re pregnant. To help your baby grow and keep yourself healthy, you need to eat a variety of nutritious foods every day. Talk to your health center about food choices and healthy weight during pregnancy. You can also visit https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate-Daily-Checklist-input to create a custom healthy food plan. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water each day.

Avoid These Foods –

Some foods might harm your growing baby.
Don’t eat or drink the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Unpasteurized dairy foods and juices
  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish (sushi) or eggs
  • Some large fish like shark or swordfish
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood

Limit These Foods –

These foods may be safe in small quantities.
Talk to your health center before adding these to your diet:

  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fast food and sweets
  • Albacore or “white” tuna
  • Herbal teas or supplements

Eating for Pregnancy Symptoms

Nearly every woman will experience digestive upset during pregnancy. That includes nausea, constipation, bloating and even dislike for some foods you used to love. Sometimes what you eat can make these feelings worse. Here are some tips to help.

For Nausea

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Sipping ginger ale or lemon-lime soda may help settle your stomach

For Gas or
Constipation

  • Make sure to eat a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
  • Avoid beans and broccoli
  • Moderate exercise can help

For Heartburn or
Indigestion

  • Stay away from spicy or fatty foods
  • Avoid lying down for at least three hours after eating
  • Sitting up straight can help with digestion

Dental Care During Pregnancy

Dental care is very important when you are pregnant. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can put you at greater risk for gum disease. This can affect your health and the health of your growing baby. Continue to brush, floss and see your dentist while you are pregnant. Also, call your health center right away if you have any tenderness, bleeding or swelling in your gums.

Most HCLA health centers offer dental care for adults and children. Your care team can help you make any appointments you need.

Medications and Supplements

Talk to your health center before taking any prescription or over the counter medications. Also, don’t take any vitamins or herbal supplements until after checking with your health center. Your care team there will know what’s best for you and baby.

Your Pregnancy Guide by Trimester

Your pregnancy will be measured in trimesters. Each trimester is about 3 months. The first trimester starts the day of your last menstrual period (week 0) and lasts through the end of week 13. Your second trimester is week 14 to week 27 and your third trimester is from week 28 until the birth of your child around week 40.

There will be a lot going on as your baby grows and develops. Of course, there will be many changes to your growing baby and your body. You will also have many important visits with your health center and care team. Here’s a little more information on what you can expect during the three trimesters of your pregnancy.

First Trimester | Weeks 0 – 13

Your Baby

  • Baby starts to develop growing arms, legs, bones, eyes, ears and internal organs.
  • Baby’s heart starts to beat.
  • Baby can open their fists and mouth.
  • By the end of week 13, your baby will be about 3 inches long and weigh about 1 ounce.

Your Body

  • You may not look pregnant yet as baby has just started to develop.
  • You may feel more tired than usual.
  • You might have mood swings as your hormones change with pregnancy.
  • You might have upset stomach or vomiting at any time during the day. Some foods you used to like may not look or smell good to you right now. This is what’s called morning sickness, and it usually ends around week 14.

Your Health Center

  • Make your first prenatal appointment with your HCLA health center as soon as you can. Your health plan requires you to have an appointment with your primary care doctor or care team as soon as you know you’re pregnant.
  • Your care team will schedule you for the tests and office visits that you need to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

Other Tips

Check with your health plan to let them know that you’re pregnant and ask them any questions you have about your pregnancy benefits. They may also be able to offer access to additional support resources and programs that will help you during pregnancy.

As a Reminder, Call Your Health Center right away if you have any of these symptoms.

Bleeding or
Spotting

Fever of 100.4°F
(38°C) or higher

Severe
Vomiting

Pain or cramping in
your stomach

Pain or burning
when you urinate

Fainting, dizziness
or blurred vision

Heavy discharge
from your vagina

Second Trimester | Weeks 14 – 27

Your Baby

  • Baby can swallow and suck their thumb.
  • Baby can kick, move their arms, sleep, wake up and yawn.
  • Baby has eyelashes, eyebrows, nails and hair.
  • By the end of week 27, your baby will be about 13 inches long and weigh about 1 ½ pounds.

Your Body

  • Your pregnancy will probably start to show more.
  • Your stomach may settle, and your favorite foods may start looking and smelling good again.
  • You might have more energy.
  • Your breasts may get bigger and start to feel tender.
  • You’ll start to feel your baby move.

Your Health Center

  • A member of your care team will help make sure you are scheduled for any necessary exams to check your and your baby’s health.
  • Additional routine laboratory services will be recommended during your pregnancy to check your and your baby’s health.

Other Tips

Look for childbirth and other classes and resources that can benefit you during your pregnancy. Even though you may not start childbirth classes until your third trimester, it’s good to find one early. Your health plan may offer classes for free, and your health center can help you find other classes in your community if needed.

As a Reminder, Call Your Health Center right away if you have any of these symptoms.

Fast weight gain
or weight loss

Pain or burning when
you urinate

Aching in your lower
abdomen (stomach)

Fluid or blood coming
from your vagina

Fever of 100.4°F
(38°C) or higher

Sudden backache
or contractions (when the
muscles of your
uterus tighten up.)

Third Trimester | Weeks 28 – 40

Your Baby

  • Baby can open their eyes and hear sounds.
  • Baby’s bones and organs are all formed now.
  • Baby will move down, getting in position to be born.
  • By week 40, baby will be about 19 inches long and weight about 7 pounds.

Your Body

  • Your abdomen (stomach) will continue to grow and will feel hard.
  • You will feel and see your baby moving.
  • Your ankles and feet may swell a little.
  • You’ll probably have to pee more often.
  • You may get tired easily and might feel short of breath sometimes.
  • Your lower abdomen (stomach) will feel heavier as baby moves down.

Your Health Center

  • Your care team will recommend appropriate lab tests and screenings to help you have a healthy third trimester.
  • Your care team will let you know which hospital you will go to when you go into labor, and it’s time for baby to be born. It’s important to go to the right hospital to be sure your care team can stay in contact with you and that your health plan covers your stay there.

Other Tips

  • Think about what you’ll need to bring with you to the hospital and pack a bag for yourself and baby.
  • Your care team will let you know which hospital you will go to when you go into labor, and it’s time for baby to be born. It’s important to go to the right hospital to be sure your care team can stay in contact with you and that your health plan covers your stay there.
    • Your health plan may have programs to provide a free or low-cost car seat for your new baby.
    • Your care team can help you find community resources for free or low-cost car seats. They will also know of classes or resources to teach you to install and use the seat properly. This is another important reason to visit your health center often. They are there to help in many ways.
  • You will want to choose a support person to be with you in the hospital if you can. Decide if you will want them in the delivery room to support you. They should also be able to visit you at the hospital after delivery to help watch over baby and to take you and baby home when it’s time.
  • It’s a good time to ask your health center care team about who will be your baby’s regular doctor after you get out of the hospital. It’s important to think ahead about baby’s health needs and first appointments. If you need additional help finding a provider for your baby, call the HCLA member services department at 818-702-0100.

During your Third Trimester Call Your Health Center right away if you Have Any Concerns or Unusual Symptoms.

Giving Birth

Labor is the process of giving birth. As the muscles of your uterus tighten up to help push your baby out during delivery, you will start to feel contractions. That’s when labor begins.

How can you tell if you’re in labor?

You are probably in labor if:

  • You feel strong, regular contractions throughout your whole uterus.
  • Contractions are happening about every 5 minutes and are growing more painful.
  • Blood-streaked or pink fluid comes from your vagina.
  • Your water breaks. This can be a big gush or a slow trickle from your vagina.

You are probably not in labor if:

  • Your contractions aren’t coming regularly or aren’t very strong.
  • You feel the contractions only in the lower part of your uterus.
  • Contractions go away when you walk or change position.

Call your health center right away if you’re not sure you’re in labor or if you have any questions or concerns.

What to Expect in the Hospital

  • At the hospital, you might receive your care from a special provider called a laborist. Your laborist will lead a hospital care team that will make sure you receive all the care you need during labor and delivery. They will also stay in touch with your health center so they will know your health history. This helps them to take better care of you in the hospital.
  • Your laborist and hospital care team will be with you every step of the way during your stay at the hospital. They will answer any questions you may have and will let you know what to expect during labor and delivery. Once your baby is born, they will help you both check safely out of the hospital and hand your care back to your HCLA health center care team.

It’s Time to Go Home

Congratulations!

You’ve just welcomed your newest family member to the world. Your hospital care team will now help you to transition safely from hospital to home.

Your health plan and health center may offer special programs to help you and baby settle safely at home. This can include help with getting and using a car seat. (Remember, you can’t take your baby home from the hospital without one.) You may also be eligible for a home visit from a nurse or lactation specialist to help you with breastfeeding, and learning to swaddle and care for your baby.

It’s important that you reconnect with your HCLA health center care team now and ask any questions you may have. You may want to ask about breastfeeding, breast care, resuming sex and birth control or how to care for yourself and your baby. Don’t be shy. Every question about your health and your baby’s health is a good question, so ask away. Your healthcare providers have heard it all and are happy to help.

Even if you don’t have specific questions or worries, be sure to call your health center within a week or so of returning home. They will schedule a postpartum visit with you to help make sure you are healing and recovering well. This visit usually takes place about 6 weeks after delivery.

Health Care for Baby

  • You need to let your health plan know of your baby’s birth within 30 days of delivery. Once you get home, contact your health plan so they can set up proper coverage for your baby.
  • Also, call your HCLA health center to schedule a newborn care visit. This first visit usually happens within 2 – 3 weeks of delivery. After that, you will take your baby to a pediatrician or family practice doctor for ongoing care.
  • If you haven’t already selected your baby’s new doctor, remember, you can choose from many quality doctors in the HCLA network. Your care team can help recommend a pediatrician or family practice doctor to care for your baby. You can also call the HCLA member services department at 818-702-0100 for help finding the right doctor.
  • Once you’ve found your new pediatrician or family practice doctor, it’s important to take your baby to visit regularly. Regular health care visits and preventive care, like immunizations, are especially important during baby’s first year. The better your baby’s doctor and care team get to know them, the healthier your baby will be.

Other Helpful Resources

Here are some additional programs and resources for pregnant women, newborns, and young children.

What to Expect When
You’re Expecting

A great resource for information about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.

www.whattoexpect.com

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

WIC is a special program that helps eligible women, infants, and children up to age 5 with supplemental food and healthcare.

https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic

First 5 California

First 5 connects families to assistance, services, and support to give young children a healthier tomorrow.

http://www.first5california.com

La Leche League

La Leche offers a variety of help and education on breastfeeding and parenting.

http://www.llli.org

Child Health and Disability Prevention
Program (CHDP)

CHDP is a preventive program that helps low-income children and youth in California with medical care and treatment services.

www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/chdp

CHP

The California Highway Patrol offers car safety seat inspection and education services.

www.chp.ca.gov/Programs-Services/Programs/Child-Safety-Seats

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