Pregnancy Information Center

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4 Decisions to Make Before You Deliver


The top medical matters to settle together before the big day

By Gina Roberts-Grey


Once your baby arrives, your days — and nights — will be filled with feeding, burping, and changing (and, hopefully, a little sleep, too). That’s why now is the perfect time to figure out some important medical matters while you still have the energy and clarity to do so. This should relieve some stress as you head into your final weeks, too.


1. Pick a Pediatrician

Your baby’s doctor will likely visit you in the hospital after delivery or see baby a day or two after the birth, so this isn’t a decision to wait on. Picking a pediatrician prior to giving birth also gives you time to find one that’s the right fit for your family. “Meeting with the pediatrician before the baby is born lets you ask questions about circumcision, milestones, vaccines, etc., in advance to ensure you and your baby’s doctor share similar philosophies,” says Christine Greves, MD, an ob/gyn at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, FL. 

Your ob/gyn’s office may be able to suggest a pediatrician they work with who’s accepting new patients; family, friends and co-workers may also have recommendations. Once you narrow down the list of prospective candidates, contact your health insurance carrier to make sure your chosen doctor is in your network. 


2. Decide on Cord Blood Banking

Your baby’s umbilical cord blood can be collected moments after birth and stored in a medical bank in the event that it’s needed. Cord blood is a rich source of stem cells that may be useful for treating illnesses (such as leukemia, lymphoma, and certain immune system and genetic metabolic disorders) later in life. Some hospitals allow donation of cord blood to a public bank for use by anyone. There are also private banks that will store cord blood exclusively for your family, for a fee (the cost starts around $1,200 for collection and the first year of storage, then $150 for each additional year of storage). 

If you decide that cord blood donation or banking is the right choice for your family, then you have to contact the organization of your choice ahead of time for a collection kit. “That needs to be in your labor bag and given to labor and delivery staff, because most labor and delivery units do not have spare cord blood collection kits on hand,” says Afshin Malaki, MD, an ob/gyn with Banner Health Center in Surprise, AZ. Check out more cord blood banking information from the US Department of Health and Human Services.


3. Make the Circumcision Decision

If your bundle of joy turns out to be a boy, the hospital’s pediatric team needs to plan ahead to perform a circumcision, a quick procedure in which the extra skin around the end of the penis is removed. Having that decision made ahead of time lets you convey your plans when you’re admitted (and in your birth plan), so the hospital can accommodate your wishes. It also prevents an extra trip to the doctor with your baby once you’re both discharged. 

While many parents circumcise their boys for religious or cultural reasons, the circumcision rate for infant boys hovers around 55% in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The procedure has been shown to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in infants and significantly lower the transmission of some sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics says the benefits of circumcision outweigh any risks, which include bleeding, infection and the possibility the foreskin is cut too short or too long. Still, they recommend working out the best choice for your family with your pediatrician (which brings us back to number 1…).


4. Find Caregivers for When You Can’t Be Around

Your first priority is finding someone who can help with the baby in case the need arises in the early weeks. If your partner can’t take time off work, do you have a friend, neighbor or family member to relieve you so you can shower or nap? It’s also never too early to think about childcare if you know you’re going back to work. Depending on where you live, quality and reliable care may be difficult to arrange. 

Think about which type best fits your needs. Do you want individualized care in a family member’s home; a nanny who provides care in your own home; a large, group environment at a daycare facility; or an in-home daycare run by a family? Regardless of the type of care, be prepared to be patient. Many centers have long waiting lists for infants, and grandmothers may take some convincing to rearrange their schedules to accommodate watching a baby one or more days a week. When looking for in-home childcare, bring that person in for a few hours while you’re at home and observe their habits with your infant.

If you opt for care provided by anyone other than a trusted family member or friend, ask other moms for recommendations of licensed childcare providers in your area. When you interview a provider, make sure to ask if they (and all their employees) are certified in CPR and first aid. For more things to look for, check out this advice from the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care.


Published on November 3, 2015.


Gina Roberts-Grey is an award-winning writer based in upstate New York who specializes in health and wellness and celebrity interviews.

© Bonninstudio / Stocksy United
Reviewed by Susan Spencer, MSN, RNC, IBCLC on July 30, 2015.
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