Journey to Parenthood: your guide through pregnancy, birth and beyond


You're going to have a baby! Or maybe you're just thinking about having one. If you are in the planning stages, our Planning Pregnancy section can help you. Regardless of your exact situation, you're probably feeling happy, confused, and even a little nervous. Be assured you are not alone. For centuries, birth has been one of the most natural and common events that women share, regardless of their nationality, culture, and spiritual and psychological beliefs. And most women find childbearing to be an exciting and empowering experience that can be applied to many other areas of their lives.

Armed with the best information, you have the ability to be active in decisions about how you

want to bring your baby into the world. This booklet was written by Childbirth Connection to provide you with information that will help guide you and your partner through your journey to parenthood. While a sensitive health care provider will respect your choices and help ensure that you have the type of safe birth you desire, only you and your partner know what is best for you.

It's not possible to know ahead of time exactly what your pregnancy and labor will be like. Being as informed as possible in advance will help you to deal wisely with any decisions that you'll need to make along the way. It's important to learn about your options, get answers to your questions, and think about our values and preferences well before labor begins. Your health care provider is an important source of this information and should be available to answer your questions and discuss any concerns you may have.

While Journey to Parenthood should not replace regular prenatal care, childbirth education classes, or a support network of family and friends, it does provide valuable information about the many options and choices that lie ahead. It will help you and your partner make informed decisions about what's best for you and your family. Bon Voyage! You are embarking on one of life's most exciting journeys!

Inside Journey to Parenthood

Start Here

Start in this section to get an overview of issues to be aware of as you develop and pursue your birth plan. Learn about informed decision making, health care providers, birth settings, and childbirth education classes and support during labor.

Go to Start Here journey to parenthood

The First Trimester

During the first trimester, you will begin adjusting to the new growth and changes in your body, and the new physical and emotional changes you are experiencing. In this section, you will learn about developments in your body, your baby, what to expect on your first prenatal visit, routine procedure tests, and questions to ask during your prenatal visits.

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The Second Trimester

For the second trimester, you will start considering new things, such as your sexual desire as it relates to your pregnancy, childbirth education classes and questions to ask when choosing a childbirth education class, advantages of breastfeeding, prenatal care visits during this trimester, and the risks and benefits of special diagnostic tests.

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The Third Trimester

Learn about what is happening in your body and with your baby, as well as how to choose your baby's care provider and questions to ask providers as you interview them. Become aware of what to expect during prenatal visits at this stage, get a contact list for pediatric health providers, and start planning for bringing your baby home!

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Labor and Birth Stages

Your body will go through many physical signs of labor. Depending on your body, these signs will present themselves quickly or take a bit longer. Your body was born to go through these movements. In this section, we explain the three stages of labor - early and active labor, your baby's birth, and the delivery of the placenta.

Go to Labor and Birth Stages journey to parenthood

After Birth (Postpartum)

With your new baby, you will become aware of all sorts of new behaviors and emotions, both in yourself and in your baby. In this section, learn what signs to watch for to determine if your emotions are going in the direction of "baby blues" and/or if your emotions are worsening. This section offers breastfeeding basics, and goes through normal and questionable health issues to watch for in your new baby.

 Go to After Birth (Postpartum) journey to parenthood

Helping Your Baby Grow and Learn: Milestones

This is an important section that lists the exciting developmental milestones your baby will reach, and alerts you to behaviors to be aware of in your baby, such as recognizing your face and making a fist. This is an exciting time that goes by quickly!

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Questions to Ask Regarding Pregnancy Professionals and Birth Settings

We have created sets of questions for you to ask health care professionals you are considering working with, as well as considerations for different types of birth settings.

Go to Questions to Ask Regarding Pregnancy Professionals and Birth Settings journey to parenthood

Contact Information for Pregnancy Professionals and Birth Settings

We have compiled lists of phone numbers and websites from resources we recommend. Learn how to find a doula or another health care professional, so start your search here.

Go to Contact Information for Pregnancy Professionals and Birth Settings journey to parenthood

Most recent page update: 9/9/2010

© 2016 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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