So You're Pregnant: What Now?
What I'm Covering
There's a lot of fear and excitement in becoming pregnant for the first time. I know I wasn't completely thrilled when I found out. Of course the news made me ecstatic, but that didn't mean I wasn't nervous or scared. Fortunately I had a lot of support and there were plenty of moms around me to guide me in the right direction. So here's the information I'll be passing from what I've been told to you:
- Getting insurance, if you don't have it already
- Picking an OBGYN or Family Practitioner
- Documenting/Tracking your pregnancy.
Finding The Right Provider
If you're already on a healthcare plan under insurance you already have, I'd discuss with your caseworker about cover on pregnancy. According to Healthcare.gov all Marketplace and Medicaid insurances will cover pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, no health insurance provider is allowed to deny you coverage if you're pregnant. So there's no reason why you shouldn't try for some form of insurance.
Getting Coverage Through Your Employer
Your best option is to see if you or your partner's employer offers some kind of insurance. Because most employers split the premium's with their employees so you're likely to get the best coverage for a smaller price.
Special Enrollment Periods
Special enrollment periods are insurance programs that may cover you if you're having a qualified life event. Among the small list of life events that qualify you for an SEP insurance plan, having a baby is mentioned. At this link on the Healthcare.gov website you can answer a few questions to see if you qualify for a SEP.
If you do qualify for a SEP there's an option to either apply online or by phone. The site also provides you with a checklist PDF on the information you'll need to apply. Depending on whether you have Marketplace cover or not will affect on how you enroll. You can go to their website to fill out an application for Marketplace coverage if you don't already have it. If you already have Marketplace coverage, you simply go into your account and report a life change.
Applying for Medicaid
Fortunately, if you don't qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, Medicaid offers low-cost or even free healthcare plans for families with low income or qualified disabilities. Medicaid is what I personally chose to go through. In my own personal experience, Medicaid was the easiest to apply for and the fastest to respond. You can go online here to find out your eligibility.
Each insurance provider usually sends out a pamphlet or some other form of information to give you a list of plans you have the option to go through, each listing having a thorough explanation of what the plan covers, from there you can either decide on your own which plan is best for you or call the provider to have someone help you decide. If you happen to be paying for your insurance, don't just sign up for the first plan you come across. Make sure you do your research and compare plans side by side to get the most for your money.
Finding a Prenatal Care Provider
This part can be a little tricky and you want to get it done as soon as possible; a doctor can give you information as to how far along you are in your pregnancy and how your baby is doing health wise. Finding a proper prenatal care provider is necessary, this isn't something you want to skip until it's D-Day. There are, however, certain factors that should affect who you choose as your doctor. All high risk pregnancies are recommended to be taken care of by an OB rather than a midwife. When choosing any doctor you should always take these factors into consideration:
- Their credentials
- The hospital they're associated with
- Their philosophy and outlook on certain topics - for example, if you plan on breastfeeding, make sure you find a doctor who has the same outlook on it as you do.
- Your compatibility with the doctor
- The doctor's availability - if you go into labor, can they be there?
Who's Available For Prenatal and Postnatal care?
An OB is a doctor who specializes in taking care of pregnant women. Their credentials also allow them to deliver baby. According to March of Dimes, 80% of women choose an OB as their prenatal care provider. If you have a gynecologist that you're already comfortable with, chances are they specialize as an OB as well, hence the name OBGYN. It doesn't hurt to ask, and if so, your job was easy in finding an OB.
If you're not comfortable with your gynecologist or you just don't have one, there's plenty of ways to go about finding an OB. Multiple sites have recommended going to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists where you can get help in finding an OB in your area. But, that may not be helpful depending on your insurance provider. Usually, whichever insurance provider you have, there's a website that you can go to and they'll give you a list of doctors and practitioners that are covered under your plan.
Another good way to decide on an OB/GYN is to talk to your healthcare provider about recommending you. Usually doctors in your area have a good knowledge based off of their patients and just being in the same association as the OBs. If you'd rather have a more personal opinion, you can also speak with local moms or look up doctors on YellowPages.
These doctors have credentials to treat any member of your family and have the qualifications to take care of you throughout your entire pregnancy and afterwards. So if you already have a family doctor, again, finding someone as your prenatal care provider has been fairly easy. You can also use them as your child's doctor once the baby is born. This also gives you the benefit of already being comfortable with your doctor and not having to look elsewhere for care after baby is born.
If you don't have a family doctor already the American Board of Family Medicine can help you to find one in your area.
Defined by WebMD, a midwife is a trained health professional who helps healthy women during labor, delivery, and after the birth of their babies. Midwives may deliver babies at birthing centers or at home, but most can also deliver babies at a hospital.
If you're looking for a more natural way of carrying and giving birth to a baby, this is the route women normally take. It's also only meant for healthy women, as stated above. If you're potentially at high risk in your pregnancy, this probably isn't the best choice for you. It is very important that you are not having multiple babies and that you check with a doctor to assure you that there will be no complications while giving birth. It is also important that your midwife has proper certification to care for you through your pregnancy.
To find a midwife, you can speak with your healthcare provider or go to The American College of Nurse-Midwives
What's Considered a High-Risk Pregnancy?
Anything that could risks the health of the mother or child(ren) during pregnancy or delivery can be considered a high risk pregnancy. Things such as those listed below could make it a possibility for a woman's pregnancy to be that of high risk:
- maternal age - usually the proper age of a healthy pregnancy is between that of 18-35
- medical conditions before or during pregancy - high blood pressure, heart disease, STDs, HIV or AIDS, eating disorders or diseases such as diabetes
- Fetal problems - usually these will be detected by a doctor in an ultrasound
- premature labor - when the baby is born before it's due date, or before 37 weeks of pregnancy
- multiple births - having twins or more could leave you at high-risk
Keep in mind that all of these have a varying percentage of causing a miscarriage and it is important to get proper treatment from your care provider. These does not mean that if you have this, your child will miscarry, I've seen and heard of plenty of women with at least one of these conditions where they had a healthy baby, they just had the right type of care provider.
Care Provider Poll
Which Form Of Care Provider Did You Choose?
Tracking and Documenting Your Pregnancy
This is an important time of your life! So why not track every bit of it and document all the tiny little details? How you track your pregnancy is completely up to you and what best suits your lifestyle, but a little tips never hurt anyone, right? This has been the favorite part of my pregnancy so far, because not only do you get to watch your belly grow, but you can get down to the nitty-gritty and even keep track of how often and how many times your baby has moved...once you get to that stage. Here's a few ways to stay on top of the details during your pregnancy.
Take Pictures Week by Week!
As soon as you find out you've got a bun in the oven, you're going to want to take a picture. If you're fortunate enough to find out before your even a month along, you could even take a "before" picture to show the dramatic progress of Week 1-4 compared to Week 37. Even if you only want to do month by month, that's fine as well. The Baby Bump app I've found to be the most useful for keeping track, along with Facebook, of course. If you choose, you can upload your photos to both, but the app provides a feature where you can see a slideshow of your progress. At first, it may seem like not much is changing, but once you go week by week, you can definitely tell the difference!
Keep a Pregnancy Journal
If you love to write, you can keep a pregnancy journal, in an actual journal or online, to keep track of your moods each day, how your feeling, if you've felt any movement, or any other information you've found as important during your pregnancy. I've kept track of when my first ultrasound was, the first time I dealt with morning sickness, and I even wrote letters to my baby for when they're older.
Keeping Track Week by Week
This is another part where The Baby Bump app comes into handiness. In fact, I prefer this app over any other, even the What To Expect pregnancy app. Because not only does it provide you with your photo slideshow, it also gives you detail on how your baby's growing each week. You fill out your information, usually just your name and due date, and it tells you what size your baby is that week and how much it weighs. It also shows you a cartoon picture of what your baby looks like. This app is truly amazing and super easy to work. There's also groups featured within the app if you have data/Wi-Fi along with a kick counter and a contraction tracker. Another thing the app offers is a name finder.
If you don't have a way to access an app, there's plenty of websites such as BabyGaga, or even your doctor may provide you with a small booklet on your progress month by month.
More About BabyGaga
BabyGaga is pretty much the same thing as BabyBump in the aspect that it shows you your baby's growing progress throughout your pregnancy. But what it offers that I'm not sure BabyBump does is an automatic weekly update that is sent to be posted on your Facebook, with your permission of course. You keep an online profile and can change details anytime you want or need to and it continues to inform your family and friends on what your baby will be doing that week and how it will look and such.
Screenshot of Baby Bump
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© 2015 Tiffany Scrivener