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Health care for baby
Right now, your OB or midwife is monitoring the health of your unborn baby. But as soon as your baby enters into this world, your baby will need his or her own doctor. Start looking into a doctor for your baby several months before your due date. Deciding on a doctor and figuring out health insurance before your child's birth saves time and gives you peace of mind as you near labor. Also, if you deliver early, somebody you know and trust will be at the ready to care for your new child.
One of the most important things you need to do before giving birth is decide on a doctor for your baby. Babies need frequent checkups, vaccines, and they sometimes get sick. So don't wait until you need a doctor to make a choice. Doctors that care for babies and children include:
- Family physicians
Some nurses with special training also can care for your new baby. They are called pediatric nurse practitioners. Many medical offices have both nurse practitioners and doctors on staff.
To help you choose a doctor for your baby:
- Call your health insurance company for a list of doctors covered under your plan.
- Find out where they trained and how long they've been in practice. Some insurance companies and hospitals have this information. Details on some doctors can be found using DoctorFinder on the American Medical Association website.
- Request an interview with the doctors you like best.
- Find out about their office hours and how they handle concerns and emergencies after office hours.
- Find out who else in the office can see your child if your doctor is out.
- Get recommendations from other patients.
If you deliver at a hospital where your baby's doctor normally sees patients, she will see the baby right after the delivery. If not, a pediatrician on staff at the hospital should see your baby right after the birth. Then you can call your baby's doctor to schedule a visit a few days after birth. Remember to get your baby's medical records before leaving the hospital. Your baby's doctor will need them.
To get regular checkups and important vaccines, your baby will need health insurance. Some women have health insurance through an employer or are able to buy it on their own. If you have health insurance, find out how to add your new baby to your policy. You also should find out which doctors will work with your plan and what types of care are covered by your policy. Find out how much you have to pay for visits.
If you're worried about paying for health care, programs for women and children in need can help. The following organizations can help you and your baby get medical care:
- Insure Kids Now! – This program provides children under age 18 with free or low-cost health insurance. It covers doctor visits, prescription medicines, vaccines, dental care, hospitalizations, and more. Each state has its own Insure Kids Now program. Learn about your state's program or make a free call to 877-KIDS-NOW for more information.
- State and local health departments – They can tell you what programs are available in your area. Ask about health insurance, medical care, and how to qualify for this help.
- Local hospital or social service agencies – Ask to speak with a social worker on staff. She will be able to tell you where to go for help.
- Community clinics – Some areas have free clinics or clinics that provide free care to women and children in need.
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program – This government program is available in every state. It provides help with food, nutritional counseling, and access to health services for women, infants, and children.
Explore other publications and websites
A Guide for First-Time Parents (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication covers many of the topics that new parents need to know. It discusses handling your newborn, soothing techniques for when your baby is crying, umbilical cord care, and sleeping position. It also gives tips on diapering, bathing, feeding, and burping your baby.
Baby Basics: Trimming Your Baby's Nails (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This article explains how to trim your baby's nails safely to prevent scratches.
Bathing an Infant — Bath time can be fun but you need to be very careful with your child around water. This resource provides bathing safety tips and ways to prevent bathing accidents.
Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents — This cornerstone publication of the Bright Futures project is a practical, comprehensive resource to help professionals, families, and communities more effectively promote the health and well-being of our nation's children and adolescents.
Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule — This website has links to vaccination schedules by age for children and adolescents as well as interactive schedulers. The schedules recommend when children should get immunizations and offer advice on what to do if a child does not have all the recommended immunizations.
Colic (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) — This publication explains what colic is, how long it will last, and what you can do to help your baby stop crying.
Feeding Your Newborn (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication offers information on breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. It covers the advantages of breastfeeding, limitations of both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, and possible challenges you may encounter.
Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant Women — This publication provides information on routine and other vaccines and whether they are recommended for use during pregnancy.
Newborn Hearing Screening — This fact sheet gives the history of newborn hearing screenings and the improvements to hearing screening today.
Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases — This online fact sheet lists descriptions, symptoms, and vaccines for numerous diseases that can be prevented in children.
Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) — The Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) helps families by providing free or reduced-cost vaccines for eligible children up to 18 years old. This website explains the VFC program and gives information on who is eligible.
Well-baby Exam: What to Expect During Routine Checkups (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) — Most infants have their first well-baby exam within the first few days to weeks after birth. This online article gives what to expect and how to prepare for a well-baby exam.
Connect with other organizations
American Academy of Pediatrics
Immunization Action Coalition
March of Dimes
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC, OPHS, HHS
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Content last updated September 27, 2010.
Resources last updated September 27, 2010.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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