Posts Tagged ‘health care provider’

Prevent to protect: talk to your health care provider

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Pregnant woman talking with doctorJanuary is Birth Defects Prevention month. In the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect every 4 ½ minutes. Some infections before and during pregnancy can have serious consequences, including causing certain birth defects. Talking to your health care provider is an important way that you can help prevent infections and protect you and your baby.

During your preconception checkup or your first prenatal visit, talk to your health care provider about:

How to prevent infections

  • Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially when preparing food or caring for young children.
  • Take precautions to protect yourself from animals known to carry diseases and insects that may carry infections, such as Zika.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards, and turtles.
  • Do not clean a cat litter box during pregnancy.
  • Avoid travel to Zika-affected areas. Be sure to discuss any travel plans with your provider.
  • When mosquitoes are active, prevent mosquito bites using an EPA-registered bug spray containing one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535. Wear appropriate clothing (hat, long-sleeved shirt, pants, shoes, & socks).
  • Don’t have sex with a male or female partner who may be infected with Zika virus or who has recently travelled to a Zika-affected area.

Vaccinations before pregnancy

It’s best to be up to date on all your routine adult vaccinations before you get pregnant. These vaccinations are recommended before pregnancy:

  • Flu. Get the flu vaccine once a year before flu season (October through May). There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four flu viruses that are likely to make people sick during the upcoming flu season.
  • HPV (human papillomavirus). This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts. The infection also may lead to cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine.
  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). This vaccine protects you against measles, mumps and rubella (also called German measles). Measles during pregnancy can cause miscarriage. Rubella can cause serious problems during pregnancy, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.
  • Varicella. This vaccine protects you from chickenpox, an infection that spreads easily and causes itchy skin, rash and fever. During pregnancy, it can be dangerous for a baby and cause birth defects. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and haven’t had chickenpox or been vaccinated for it, tell your provider.

Vaccinations during pregnancy

The CDC recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy:

  • Flu shot if you weren’t vaccinated before pregnancy. You can get a flu shot at any time during pregnancy.
  • Pertussis vaccine (Tdap) at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is an extremely contagious disease that causes violent coughing and is dangerous for a baby. Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, to protect their baby.

Remember, preventing infections before and during pregnancy can help to keep you and your baby safe. Speaking with your healthcare provider can help you become as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy.

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Who will delivery your baby?

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

baby arrivesGetting early and regular prenatal care is very important for having a healthy pregnancy and baby. The first step in getting prenatal care is to choose your prenatal care provider. This is the medical professional who will care for you during your pregnancy. You have options, so think about it. Will one make you feel more comfortable or confident?

You can choose either a doctor (physician) or midwife to take care of you during your pregnancy and to deliver your baby.
• An obstetrician (OB) is a doctor who specializes in the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth and recuperation from delivery. About 8 in 10 pregnant women choose obstetricians.
• A family practice doctor is a doctor with training in all aspects of health care for every member of the family. A family practice doctor can be your health care provider before, during and after your pregnancy, and your baby’s doctor, too.
• A certified nurse-midwife is a registered nurse with advanced, specialized training and experience in taking care of pregnant women and delivering babies. Certified nurse-midwives are licensed to provide care before, during and after delivery.
• A maternal-fetal medicine specialist is an obstetrician with special training in the care of women who have high-risk pregnancies. If you have risk factors that could complicate your pregnancy, your prenatal care provider may refer you to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

It’s important to choose a health care provider who makes you feel comfortable and listens to you. Click on this link for a list of questions to consider when making this decision.

Finding a pediatrician for your preemie

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

baby_doctorFinding a pediatrician to care for your baby after he leaves the NICU can seem like a daunting task.  Your baby has been cared for by experts in the field of neonatology.  Finding someone who you feel has the same expertise can be difficult. 

Pediatricians specialize in caring for children from infancy through adolescence.  The most important thing when you choose a pediatrician is finding someone with whom you feel comfortable. You may need to call the practice in the middle of the night with a question so you want to feel confident that the person on the other end of the phone can address your concerns.  You may also want to take logistics into account.  Babies—preemies and full-term newborns–go to the pediatrician a lot during their first year.  Vaccines, weight checks, well-child care, never mind the occasional ear infection, fever, or cold all typically end up in a visit to the doctor.  Remember that when choosing a provider.  Driving an hour when all is well may not seem like a big deal, but making that drive with a baby crying inconsolably because he doesn’t feel well will be much more stressful.  Someone local may also be able to help with things such as preschool recommendations, dentists and other community resources.

If you are trying to find someone, there are a few places to start.  First, ask the neonatologist and NICU team for some suggestions.  They will be familiar with the pediatricians who practice in or near the hospital and may be able to give you some guidance.  Also, if there is a preemie support group, talk to the other parents.  Parents usually have definite opinions about pediatricians so they will be honest and give you great information.  And of course, make sure you check with your insurance company to make sure they cover the doctor you choose.

Once you narrow down your choices, make sure you visit the offices, talk to the doctors, and learn about how the practice is run.  Some things that may be especially important are to understand how after-hours calls are handled and waiting room policies for sick children.  Also, if your baby has special health care needs, make sure that the physician understands those needs and that the practice has the expertise to handle them. 

You may have chosen a pediatrician before your baby was born and you may feel completely comfortable staying with that doctor.  But after the NICU some parents may feel that their needs have changed.  If that is the case, it is OK to find someone who you think may fit your new situation better.  You will be working with your pediatrician for a long time, so you want to make sure that you feel good about your choice and that you have a good relationship.

Thank goodness for nurses

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

nursesOur guest post today is from Mary Lavan, Associate Director of Nursing Education and Health Promotion at the March of Dimes.

It’s National Nurses Week and March of Dimes would like to thank all of the nurses who work so hard to improve the care of moms and babies.

It’s a special week to reflect on the critical work nurses do every day to help advance the mission of the March of Dimes. Nurses are the ones, afterall, who hold moms and babies in their hands. They are health care providers, educators, researchers, advisors and friends. Nurses educate women before they are pregnant about the importance of preconception care and taking folic acid. They provide safe care during labor and care for babies born too early.

Sometimes it’s an emergency room nurse who holds a pregnant woman’s hand during a preterm labor scare, or a pediatric nurse who screens a new mother for postpartum depression. Whatever the situation, nurses play an integral role in helping us get closer to achieving our mission: a day when every baby has a healthy start in life. For that, March of Dimes is forever grateful.

As a way of saying thank you for all that nurses do, March of Dimes developed an extensive continuing nursing education program to help nurses integrate the latest clinical and scientific advances into the care of their patients. March of Dimes is also proud to award several scholarships annually to nurses enrolled in graduate maternal-child health nursing programs.

For information about March of Dimes nursing program, visit or contact Mary Lavan at

In search of a prenatal care provider

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

doctorGetting early and regular prenatal care is very important for having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Choosing the right care provider is your first step, but how do you know who to choose? Should it be an obstetrician, a family practice doctor, a certified nurse-midwife or a maternal-fetal medicine specialist? Here’s a link to info on who’s who in the profession.

It helps a lot to choose a health care provider who makes you feel comfortable and who listens to you. Questions you may want to consider include:

– Does the provider have a good reputation?
– Does the provider listen to you and take the time to explain things clearly and thoroughly?
– Are you comfortable with the gender and age of the provider?
– Does the provider make your partner feel comfortable, too?
– Is the office staff pleasant and respectful?
– Is the location of the office convenient? Do the hours fit your schedule?
– What hospital is the provider affiliated with? Does the hospital have a good reputation? Is its location convenient?
– Is the provider in a solo, group or collaborative practice?
– Will you always be seen by the same provider during your office appointments?
– Who covers for the provider when he or she is unavailable?
– Who handles phone calls during office hours? Does the provider charge for phone consultations? How are calls and emergencies handled after hours?
– Does your insurance cover this health care provider?

Remember, if you find that you are partway through your pregnancy and are not happy with your care, you are perfectly within your rights to look for another provider and make a change.  Do what is best for you.

Finding a doc for your baby

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

baby docYou’re pregnant and getting regular prenatal care – great! You’re all set. So how do you find a good health care provider for your baby once she or he has arrived? This provider could be a pediatrician, a family physician or another kind of health care provider.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should ask the following questions when choosing a baby’s pediatrician, but this list can apply to any health care provider:
• Does the doctor accept your insurance? What are the office hours? Is the doctor taking new patients?
• How often should a baby see the doctor during the first year?
• Which hospital does the doctor use? What is the doctor’s preferred method of contact?
• How much are office visits, immunizations and other care costs?
• Is after-hours care available when your child is sick or when you have questions?

Make sure you feel comfortable talking to him or her. Also make sure their office is in a place that you can get to easily.  Try to decide on and meet with a provider before your baby is born.

Growth charts

Friday, October 30th, 2009

88586892_thbPediatric growth charts are a standard part of any checkup.  They have been used by health care providers and parents to track the growth of infants, children, and adolescents in the United States since 1977. They show us how kids are growing compared with other kids of the same age and sex. They also show a pattern of height and weight gain over time, and whether they’re developing proportionately. Girls and boys are measured on different growth charts because they grow in different patterns and at different rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has growth charts available on their website. They are not meant to be used as the only diagnostic tool for evaluating a childs’ health. Instead, growth charts are intended to help form an overall impression. If you have any questions about your child’s growth  (or growth charts) speak to your health care provider.

Click here to view Birth to 36 months: Boys Length-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles

Click here to view Birth to 36 months: Girls Length-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles

Finding a doctor for baby

Friday, September 25th, 2009

20344732_thbTowards the end of my pregnancy my husband and I emailed our siblings and close friends for recommendations to pediatricians.  We asked them all a ton of questions, but still needed to call a couple of doctor’s offices for additional information. Things that were important to us included:

First and foremost, did this doctor accept our insurance?
Was the doctor a board certified pediatrician?
What hospital was the doctor affiliated with?
Was the doctor nice and well-liked?
Was he/she supportive of breastfeeding?
Was it easy to get an appointment at his/her office?
Were the staff and the office itself pleasant?
Did they have well-baby office hours?
Was the office close to our house?
How were calls and emergencies handled after hours?

With the exception of the occasional lengthy wait in the waiting room, we’re having a good experience with the doctor that we picked for our daughter. He is very friendly and throughout the visit asks, “so, what questions do you have?” I never feel rushed. I trust him. I actually enjoy taking her for her check-ups. This was not apart of the criteria for a selecting a pediatrician, but he happens to wear funny ties and the baby loves to stare and grab at them. So we think she likes him, too : )

How did you find your baby’s doctor?

Happy Friday! See you next week.

Diabetes and pregnancy

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

You may have heard us say it before, but it’s worth saying it again – having a healthy baby starts BEFORE pregnancy! There are so many factors about mom’s health before and during pregnancy that affect how healthy her baby will be. That’s why it’s important for all women to take care of themselves and live a healthy lifestyle. This is especially true for women living with diabetes.

The USA Today published an article last week on this very topic. In fact, nearly 9 out of 100 women in the United States have diabetes. But, about 3 out of those 9 don’t know it. Managing diabetes before pregnancy (often called “preexisting diabetes”) is important to the health of both mom and baby. This is also true for women who develop gestational diabetes (when diabetes develops during pregnancy). If too much glucose (sugar) is in a woman’s blood during early pregnancy, there’s a chance that this can cause birth defects. In later pregnancy, too much glucose could lead to a baby that is too large, born prematurely, born via c-section or have other life-threatening situations.

But there is good news! By learning how to manage your diabetes before and during pregnancy, you can increase the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Here’s a few things you can do right now:
Visit your health provider regularly before and during pregnancy
• Take a multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid
• Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
• With your health provider’s OK, be active and exercise
• Learn more about managing pre-existing diabetes and gestational diabetes.

The cost of prescriptions: Talk to your health care provider

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

pills-smI sit there on the examining table. The doctor writes the prescription for me to have it filled at my pharmacy. Familiar scene, right?

I have never once, in my entire life, asked, “What’s this gonna cost? Is there a way to keep the cost down and still treat what I have?” Apparently, I’m not alone.

According to a recent poll by Consumers Union (the folks that produce Consumer Reports), most patients never talk about price when they get a prescription from a health care provider.

Consumer’s Union encourages us to have a “heart-to-heart” with our provider when we’re worried about cost. Often, other good, less expensive choices are available.

For instance, generic drugs contain the same active ingredients as a brand-name drug, but they cost less. A generic drug is available only after the original drug’s patent has expired.

In these hard times, some people are cutting back on meds because they’re worried about costs. But this isn’t wise; you could seriously harm your health. Instead, ask your provider if there are less expensive choices.

What are you and your family doing to deal with the high costs of prescriptions and medical care?