You’re having a baby!
Like many women in your position, you are overcome with joy. You may be researching trending baby names, preparing a nursery and sharing the news on your social feed – and rightfully so. You deserve the opportunity to bask in the excitement of this incredible blessing.
But before you get too caught up in shopping for onesies and rocking chairs, you may want to have an idea of what to expect from your maternal care journey, and why access to comprehensive care is so important. Though bringing a baby into this world is undeniably a remarkable physical feat, every new mother will also require varying levels of behavioral and social support before, during and after pregnancy.
Review the following list of vital maternal care services accessible to women in urban and rural communities across northeast and central Wisconsin, and make sure to ask your provider about your options.
Convenient Care Locations
Your child’s health is no doubt your first priority. Ensuring the arrival of a healthy baby, however, starts with ensuring the mother’s physical and mental well-being are well supported. You should begin regular prenatal visits with your provider as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.
“Prenatal visits are essential for keeping tabs on the health of both mother and child,” said Dr. Abigail Puglisi, Family Practice Physician at ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin. “Your doctor will use this time to check your vitals, perform routine blood tests, listen to your baby’s heart rate, and make sure development is progressing as expected. It’s also a great opportunity for you to ask questions.”
Appointments will be frequent throughout your pregnancy and beyond, so it is best to choose a care location within in your local community. Beyond the added convenience, this will help to minimize health risks by ensuring any concerns or maternal complications are addressed and resolved quickly.
When it comes to selecting a care provider, about 90% of women choose to work with an OB-GYN or Family Practice provider. An alternative option is to partner with a midwife. Here are a few of the questions you should consider when weighing your options:
- Is your pregnancy considered high risk?
- Where and how do you want to deliver your baby?
- How do you want to manage pain during labor and delivery?
- What do you need from your overall care team?
- What coverage does your insurance plan offer?
“Midwives are often part of a local hospital’s labor and delivery team and certified to offer a comprehensive array of women’s health services,” explained Dr. Puglisi. “They typically provide care for vaginal deliveries versus cesarean sections, and deliveries with lower rates of intervention.”
OB-GYNs and family physicians often have more experience than midwives when it comes to managing high-risk or complicated pregnancies and deliveries, such as for women with preexisting medical conditions or those expecting multiples.
High-Risk Pregnancy and Neonatal Care
During your pregnancy, it is normal to speculate about potential risks and/or wonder about your options should any part of your journey not go as expected. You may even be trying to conceive while knowing you have an existing medical condition that could pose challenges to your pregnancy.
Dr. Puglisi reiterated the importance of knowing which services are available at your local hospital.
“Most hospitals should be ready with state-of-art-equipment and expertise to manage a high-risk pregnancy or delivery, or partner closely with an institution that specializes in those services,” she said. “For example, ThedaCare partners with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Fox Valley to manage high-risk pregnancies and neonatal care, so you can feel confident you and your baby are receiving the best care possible.”
Keep in mind, “high-risk” should not be a frightening term. Identifying your pregnancy as such allows your medical team to take the preventative steps possible to reduce and avoid unnecessary complications. Many high-risk pregnancies result in happy and healthy moms and babies.
Lactation Counseling & Breastfeeding Support
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful bonding experience for a mother and her child, but the process doesn’t always come naturally. You should not feel discouraged or alone if you experience issues with your baby’s latch, your milk production, or your overall comfort level with the process.
“There are numerous benefits to breastfeeding from stronger immunity for the baby to lower risk of cancer for mom, but it can require a lot of practice and patience,” said Dr. Puglisi. “If you’re struggling to make it work, lactation consultants can guide you through alternative techniques and tips for boosting your supply.”
In addition to working one-on-one with a lactation consultant after your baby’s arrival, many hospitals will offer breastfeeding classes for pregnant women so they can learn some of the basics ahead of time.
The postpartum period can undoubtedly be a challenging time for new moms as they navigate physical recovery, the unknowns of parenting, and sleep deprivation. It is not uncommon for women to try and suppress their emotions and put their well-being last as they enter new motherhood, but as Dr. Puglisi warns, that can be an unhealthy choice.
“Almost all mothers experience some form of the baby blues in the weeks following childbirth, but nearly 15% will develop more severe and longer-lasting depression known as postpartum depression,” she said. “If you are experiencing anxiety and depression that last beyond the first two weeks of motherhood, you should notify your health care provider. Treatment is available to help you cope and more easily manage your symptoms.”
In-Person and Virtual Classes
Nervous about the birthing process? Wondering what to expect from motherhood? Looking to connect with fellow new moms? There is no handbook for becoming a mom, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
“Ask your provider about educational opportunities offered through your health system,” said Dr. Puglisi. “Many provide self-paced, virtual and in-person classes to help you prepare for, and get acclimated with, your new role. This can also be a great opportunity to connect with other expectant or new moms who are going through the same experiences.”
Secure your spot by registering for classes early in your pregnancy and/or shortly after giving birth. Any new life experience can be daunting, but knowing what to expect ahead of time can help you prepare.
Continuity of Care
Having an established relationship with your care team can prove invaluable, especially for women considering – or in the midst of – expanding their family. Comprehensive women’s health teams provide access from everything to birth control options to fertility services, pregnancy and childbirth care, breastfeeding support, and beyond.
“Working with the same care team throughout your journey provides a level of familiarity that can be very comforting for a new mom,” said Dr. Puglisi. “As a family practice provider, it is an honor to be able to provide lifelong care for mothers beyond their pregnancy and delivery, as well as pediatric care for their children.”
Not only does continuity of care improve the likelihood that you’ll be more satisfied with the care you receive, but it has the potential to reduce the number of visits you make to the doctor and decrease medical costs.
“We are here to help you make the journey of motherhood a joyful and memorable one,” said Dr. Puglisi. “Leaning on the resources available to you before, during and after your pregnancy can help you spend less time worrying, and more time enjoying this incredible season of life.”
Whether you’re in the early stages of family planning, expecting your first child, in need of breastfeeding support or navigating any other chapter of life, our women’s health care team is ready to serve you.