Health care during pregnancy
Getting good medical care when you're pregnant is important for the well-being of you and your baby. When you find out you're pregnant, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. Your doctor will make sure you and your baby are healthy and give you advice on having a healthy pregnancy.
Follow your doctor’s advice about how often you should be seen. This will be based on your health and other factors. Here's an example of a common schedule:
- Weeks 4-28: Visit at least every four (4) weeks.
- Weeks 29-36: Visit at least every two (2) weeks.
- Weeks 37-40: Visit at least every week.
If you need help finding a doctor we can help. We can also help get you to your doctor appointment. Call Mercy Care RBHA Member Services at 602‑586‑1841 or 1‑800‑564‑5465; (TTY/TDD) 711.
Tips for a healthy pregnancy
- Don’t smoke or use alcohol or illegal drugs during pregnancy. Ask your doctor for help with quitting, if necessary.
- Select a doctor (or provider) who makes you feel comfortable.
- Let your doctors know what medicines you’re taking, including supplements and over the counter drugs.
- Be sure to get enough folic acid. To help prevent certain birth defects, pregnant women should get 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid a day. Ask your doctor about multivitamin or prenatal vitamins.
- If you have a cat, have someone else change the litter box. This can help prevent toxoplasmosis, a disease that can seriously harm unborn babies.
- Ask your doctor if you need any shots or vaccinations.
- Rest when your body gets tired.
- Stay physically active unless your health care provider tells you otherwise.
- Make time for yourself.
- Learn as much as you can about labor and delivery. Birthing classes are available at no cost to you. Just call the hospital where you’ll have your baby to find out when classes are and to sign up.
- Recognize the early warning signs of premature labor so you know when to call your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor about family planning choices that will work best for you after you have your baby.
When you’re healthy, your baby is allowed to grow and develop inside of you. If born too early, your baby might miss a vital stage of growing. At least 39 weeks of pregnancy gives a baby all the time he/she needs to grow before being born.
The following situations may increase the risk of having a baby too early or with a low, or very low birth weight:
- Not getting early and regular prenatal care
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Not caring for your mouth and gums
- Smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs
- Having infections, including STDs
- Having multiple births, twins, triplets or more
- Being older than 35 or under 17 years of age
- If you delivered a preterm baby in another pregnancy
- Having a lot of stress
- Not following your doctor’s instructions for caring for pre-existing health conditions. These may include high blood pressure or diabetes.
You can learn more about premature babies and ways to decrease your chances of having a premature baby. Just visit the March of Dimes website at www.marchofdimes.com.
If you’re pregnant, it’s also important to avoid exposure to lead. Lead can make you and/or your baby sick. Lead in a person’s blood can cause dangers. Some of these dangers are:
- Slow learning
- Damage to the brain
- Trouble paying attention or sitting still
- Anger issues
- Trouble getting along with others
- Physical aches and pain
Here are some things you should know:
- Do not use lead‑glazed ceramic pottery for cooking, storing or serving food.
- Take caution if you live in a house built before 1978. Lead-based paints could still be on walls and wood.
- Check children’s toys and products such as vinyl or plastic backpacks, car seats and lunch boxes. Lead can be released from burned, destroyed or deteriorating products.
- The pigment found in some hair dyes and cosmetics may contain lead. Avoid hair dyes and check cosmetics for lead.
- Avoid imported candy.
To find more information about lead poisoning, you can visit www.azdhs.gov/lead.
Arizona Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food, breastfeeding education, and information on healthy diet to women who are pregnant, infants, and children under five years old. Their staff can help you get in touch with WIC shelters, or other local agencies whose help you may need while you’re pregnant.
150 N. 18th Ave., Ste. 310
Phoenix, AZ 85007
24‑hour breastfeeding hotline: 1‑800‑833‑4642
Crisis Response Network
- Maricopa County: 602‑222‑9444
- Cochise/Graham/Greenlee/Santa Cruz Counties: 1‑866‑495‑6735
- Pima County: 520‑622‑6000 or 1‑800‑796‑6762
- Gila/Pinal/Yuma Counties: 1‑866‑495‑6735
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Warmline specialists offer peer support for callers who just need to talk
Vision of Hope Warmline
Available 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., Monday through Friday; 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday and Sunday
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
Nutrition Assistance supports families to prevent under-nutrition in Arizona
ADHS Health Start
The Health Start program utilizes community health workers to provide education, support, and advocacy services to pregnant and postpartum women and their families in targeted communities across the state
150 N. 18th Ave., Ste. 320
Phoenix, AZ 85007
The Nurse‑Family Partnership is a program for first‑time mothers who are less than 28‑weeks pregnant in North Phoenix, South Phoenix or Tucson. With the program, a registered nurse will come to the home of a pregnant member. The nurse will help to make sure that the mother has a healthy pregnancy, at no cost to you.
North and South Phoenix Nurse‑Family Partnership
Southwest Human Development
Tucson Nurse‑Family Partnership
This program helps families and their children through home visits by family support specialists. Healthy Families wants to help you with any needs and concerns you might have. They will give you information about your pregnancy, nutrition, child development and parenting. They also help with education and employment support. The program starts while the member is pregnant, and can continue until the child is 5 years old.
text4baby is a free text message service that sends you important information about prenatal care, safety and your baby’s development.
To sign up for text4baby: Text “Baby” to 511411.
Enter your baby’s due date and your zip code.
And wait for your texts. Or, sign up online.
Arizona Smokers Helpline (ASHLine)
The ASHLine also offers information to help protect you and your loved ones from secondhand smoke. If you are pregnant and smoke, remember to always talk with your doctor before quitting.
Many people have quit smoking through programs by the ASHLine. The ASHLine has several valuable and no‑cost resources.
If you want more information to help quit tobacco, you can call the ASHLine at 1‑800‑556‑6222 or visit www.ashline.org.