Individualized care for every pregnancy.
Individualized care for every pregnancy.
Well Mama, Well Baby
When you take care of you, you take care of baby. With regular check-ins and lifestyle support, UW Medicine helps you maintain good health that benefits baby too.
Where You Are, What You Need
From general prenatal care to special services like genetic counseling, you'll find the best care to suit your needs at nearly 20 women's health and maternity clinics across the Puget Sound region.
Your Best Birth
Your baby, your birth. Your care team will partner with you every step of the way to provide options and make a plan for your big day.
Some of our common services:
Certified nurse-midwives: For a personalized, low-intervention, natural birth alternative.
Obstetrician-gynecologists: For comprehensive, multidisciplinary medical and surgical care.
Family medicine physicians: For full-spectrum care before and after birth.
Maternal fetal medicine specialists: For high-risk pregnancy care.
Midwives are healthcare professionals who specialize in assisting normal, uncomplicated births. Certified nurse-midwives (CNM) are advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) with graduate degrees in nurse-midwifery who have passed a national certification exam. Midwives are present during the pregnancy and birth process, including prenatal care and education, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. Certified nurse-midwives are authorized to write prescriptions and can order pain medications and epidurals if you want or need them.
Family medicine physicians care for all members of a family from birth through old age. These physicians provide personalized obstetric and prenatal care, and may provide care during delivery. A family medicine physician will also continue to care for the new baby and the mother after delivery. They will also collaborate with specialists if patients develop more complicated health needs.
Maternal fetal medicine specialists (or perinatologists) are medical doctors with additional specialized training focused on providing high-risk pregnancy care to mothers with health issues (like diabetes, high blood pressure or previous premature births) as well as mothers expecting multiples (twins, triplets, or more). They also provide prenatal genetic testing, diagnosis and counseling.
Give birth in a soothing setting where you can share the experience with family and friends. UW Medicine birth centers offer a comfortable environment and personalized care from a highly skilled care team ready to support you and deliver your baby into a warm, welcoming world.
Take a free tour of our comfortable birthing suites and mother-baby postpartum rooms. You’ll get a better idea of what to expect and the resources available to you and your baby. Families find it helpful to visit our facility before delivery. You will, too.
Most babies arrive by vaginal birth, and UW Medicine gives you a wide range of options for both non-medicated and medicated vaginal birth, depending on your preference.
- When a vaginal birth could be risky for either mom or baby, the baby is delivered through an incision in the abdomen and uterus in a procedure called a Cesarean section or C-section. Some Cesarean births are scheduled in advance, and others are done before or after labor has begun when there is an urgent situation.
- Some birth centers also offer a gentle cesarean birth, which allows you to watch your baby’s birth through a clear drape and have skin-to-skin contact while still in the operating room.
Many women can attempt having a vaginal birth even if they had a previous cesarean birth. There are many good reasons to try a VBAC with your next birth:
- Shorter stay in the hospital
- Faster recovery
- Lower risk for infection
- Less chance of needing a blood transfusion
It is important to talk with your provider to see whether VBAC is a good option for you.
Get instant support throughout your pregnancy and beyond with the UW Baby app. It is designed to guide you all the way from conception through the first 12 months of your baby's life with expert advice, useful tools and helpful UW Medicine resources.
It is important to manage any health problem, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, during your pregnancy to reduce the chance of complications for you and baby. Our experts in maternal fetal medicine can help.
Take control of your high blood pressure to decrease the likelihood of developing preeclampsia during your pregnancy. The UW Medicine Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinics will help you manage your blood pressure and monitor your baby’s well-being to make sure you and baby stay healthy.
Receive expert prenatal care and counseling for a healthy pregnancy and birth if you’re diabetic and pregnant or considering a pregnancy. The UW Medicine Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinics will help you manage your diabetes and monitor your baby’s health.
Get expert care and support to help keep you and baby safe when you’re at risk for preterm birth or labor at one of the UW Medicine Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinics. You’ll receive early evaluation and treatment, as well as counseling about preventing premature births and managing their special challenges.
Get the special care you need when expecting twins, triplets or more babies. Start early at one of our Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinics. You’ll receive high-level prenatal care and support to prepare you for the special challenges of multiple births.
Understand the chances of your baby having a health problem before he or she is born. With comprehensive prenatal screening and fetal diagnostic testing, detecting a fetal health problem before birth makes it possible to investigate treatment options and allows you to make the best preparations for the birth of your child.
Some medical conditions detected during prenatal testing may threaten your baby’s health and can be treated while you are still pregnant or shortly after delivery. Our Fetal Care & Treatment team will bring together obstetric and pediatric specialists to coordinate your care during pregnancy, labor and delivery and to help you make important decisions about your baby’s care. UW Medicine partners with Seattle Children’s Hospital to give you options and to ensure you and your baby have the best outcomes possible.
Receive information and support if you have a personal or family history of a genetic condition or birth defect and are planning or expecting a baby. The UW Medicine Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinics offer genetic testing, counseling and resources to help you make informed decisions about your pregnancy.
If you need to terminate your pregnancy due to fetal anomalies or maternal health concerns, your UW Medicine care team is ready to help you. You’ll find comfort and reassurance in an environment made respectful, supportive and compassionate by our team of women’s health experts, counselors and social workers. Talk with your provider to learn more about this service.
Help your teenager overcome the unique medical, emotional and social challenges they’ll face with pregnancy. UW Medicine offers comprehensive obstetrical care to women in early or late adolescence, as well as support for their partners and families. Women up to age 24 may qualify for the program. This service is currently provided at the Maternal and Infant Care Clinic at UWMC and the Women’s Health Care Center at UWMC-Roosevelt.
Prepare for your new bundle of joy with a wide range of classes offered by UW Medicine in partnership with Parent Trust of Washington Children’s Great Starts. Learn what to expect during labor and delivery, how to care for your newborn and more. Classes are taught by certified childbirth experts at UW Medicine facilities and other locations around Seattle.
Call your pregnancy care provider at the numbers below when you experience any of these physical signs during your pregnancy:
- You have regular contractions every 5 minutes for several hours if it is your first baby (and you are full-term)
- Your water breaks
- You have a fever
- You have bleeding from your vagina
- You don’t feel your baby moving as much as usual
- You are less than 37 weeks pregnant and think you may be having premature labor (cramping or feeling of tightening 6 or more times an hour)
- You have any other warning signs during pregnancy
We’ll help focus your attention with a variety of non-medicated comfort techniques like visualization, music, massage, walking, sitting on a birth ball and mental activities like patterned breathing and guided imagery.
An epidural block is the most common form of pain relief used during labor and delivery.
- Can be used through active labor and delivery
- Does not affect baby’s health or your labor progress
- Medicine is injected through a very small plastic tube (catheter) into the lower back
- Numbs the area between waist and toes
- Works within 10-20 minutes after injection; wears off 1-3 hours after it’s stopped
- Patient-controlled option available
Like an epidural, a spinal block provides regional pain relief.
- Used primarily for cesarean delivery
- Small amount of medicine injected into the lower back
- Works within 3-5 minutes and lasts 1-2 hours
- Numbs the area between your waist and your feet
A kind of epidural, CSE provides faster pain relief than an epidural alone.
- First dose of medicine is injected directly into the cerebral spinal fluid before an epidural catheter is placed
- Relieves pain quickly and provides continuous pain relief
- Numbs the area between your waist and toes
- Lower doses of medicine can be used than in an epidural along with the same level of pain relief
A local anesthesia injected into the top of the vagina during delivery.
- Used during an assisted delivery when forceps or vacuum are used
- Works within 2-5 minutes and lasts about an hour
- Numbs the vagina, vulva and perineum, but does not block contraction pain
Anesthetics that only affect a small area of the body to provide relief from pain.
- Numbs the area between the vagina and rectum
- Begins working within 2-3 minutes and lasts about 20 minutes
- Used for episiotomy or vaginal tear repairs after delivery
Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is inhaled before a contraction begins.
- It will not affect labor and has few side effects
- It helps some women cope better with labor pain by taking the edge off contractions and reducing anxiety
- Other pain relief options are still available after using nitrous oxide, but not at the same time
It is important to pick a pediatrician or family medicine provider for your new baby while you are still pregnant. They will need to see your baby shortly after birth for the first check-up. To find the right provider, think about what qualities matter to you. Then ask for recommendations from your pregnancy care or primary care physician, or other new parents you trust.
Breastfeeding provides the best possible nutritional start for your baby’s new life outside the womb. While breastfeeding is instinctive for many new moms and babes, learning it may take time for others. Our internationally board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLCs) help encourage and teach this important new bond between you and baby. We value breastfeeding so much that Northwest Hospital, UW Medical Center, and Valley Medical Center became recognized as Baby-Friendly Hospitals by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. That means when you receive maternity care at our hospitals, you can be confident that breastfeeding is a priority and your caregivers are here to help you succeed.
UW Medicine’s lactation consultants work together with your doctors, nurses and the rest of your care team. From pregnancy to the end of your breastfeeding experience, we offer in-person and telephone consultations, breastfeeding evaluations, follow-up visits in our lactation clinic, as well as personalized education and support. Call us to help you make the most of your breastfeeding experience:
Northwest Hospital & Medical Center Lactation Services: 206.368.2118
UW Medical Center Lactation Services: 206.598.4628
Valley Medical Center Lactation Services: 425.228.3440, ext. 2526
Infant security: Rest assured, not only is your baby’s care a top priority at UW Medicine, so is his or her safety. We equip our facilities with a state-of-the-art security system and train our staff to protect your baby while you’re both in our care.
Neonatal intensive care unit: It’s scary when a baby is born too early or needs special medical care after birth. In these instances, fragile babies receive the highest level of advanced, expert care available from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which also supports the parents along their baby’s journey. UW Medicine was the first health system in the region to open a NICU at UW Medical Center and currently offers this service at two locations.
The Level IV NICU at UW Medical Center is one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest, with 39 single rooms and four rooms for multiples. We care for the smallest, sickest and most fragile newborns throughout the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho region. Our expert team brings extensive experience and great compassion in caring for multiple births and micro preemies – babies born before 26 weeks gestation or weighing less than 2.2 pounds.
As part of UW Medicine, the NICU also has access to the most advanced neonatal research. Our team has been instrumental in setting the standard for reducing risk of brain damage and lung problems in premature babies across the nation. Learn more
The NICU at Valley Medical Center is a close collaboration between the region’s most highly respected providers from Seattle Children’s Hospital and UW Medicine, and is the only Level III NICU between Seattle and Tacoma. The NICU can care for up to 30 newborns, and our specialists provide expert care for premature infants and fragile babies who need more advanced support. Available around the clock, this tightly coordinated team provides comprehensive care for infants and their families.
While rare, new mothers can experience complications after delivering a baby that require urgent medical attention. It is important to call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms after you go home from the hospital:
- A fever over 101° (temperature taken orally)
- Excessive vaginal bleeding (soaking one or more maxi-pads in 1 hour)
- Passing a blood clot larger than a lemon, followed by heavy bleeding
- Foul-smelling vaginal flow (normal flow has the odor of menstrual fluid)
- Sudden onset of abdominal, incision, or perineal pain
- Inability to urinate; pain, burning, or urgency of urination
- Opening of an abdominal or perineal incision, foul-smelling or bloody discharge from an incision, or increased swelling of an incision
- Tenderness with a red, warm, or swollen area on a breast, especially with fever or flu-like symptoms
- Swollen, red, painful, and warm-to-touch area on your leg, especially the calf
- Shooting pain down the back of your legs or difficulty walking
- Severe headache, especially when sitting or standing, that gets better when lying down
- Persistent depression or sadness that affects your ability to care for yourself or your baby
Emotional vulnerability can be a big part of your postpartum weeks or months, and emotional support can be an important part of your treatment. Support groups and community resources can help you recover from the trauma of labor and adapt to your new life. Check with your care provider, your child’s pediatrician, or trusted friends for information about support groups and resources in your community.
If you feel overwhelmed by the needs of your new baby; are experiencing feelings of anxiety or extreme sadness; or are struggling to care for yourself and your baby, talk with your care provider right away, as these may be symptoms of postpartum depression. Your provider can help you choose a treatment that will help.
Inform yourself to make the best choices for your health and care with UW Medicine patient education resources.
Preeclampsia is a serious high blood pressure complication of pregnancy that can occur any time after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can affect many systems in the body including the kidneys, liver and brain. A woman with preeclampsia will have elevated blood pressure and protein in her urine.
Symptoms of preeclampsia include frequent or unusual headaches; vision problems, such as seeing stars, spots, or flashing lights; stomach pain, similar to heartburn, or pain in the upper right corner of your abdomen; nausea; vomiting; and swelling that does not resolve overnight or with rest and goes past your feet and ankles to your hands and face.
Conditions that increase the risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy include: chronic hypertension; a history of preeclampsia in prior pregnancies; diabetes; kidney disease; an autoimmune disorder such as lupus; multiple gestations (twins, triplets, or more); and a first pregnancy.
Your physician will take a series of blood pressure readings to determine if you have preeclampsia. Your physician also will order urine tests to evaluate protein levels, as well as blood to evaluate your platelets (clotting factors), liver enzymes and blood counts (hematocrit or hemoglobin).
Treatment includes bed rest at home or in the hospital if your blood pressure increases slightly and you are not at the end of your pregnancy. A natural delivery is OK if the blood pressure does not increase to dangerous levels. An induced labor or cesarean delivery is necessary if preeclampsia is severe and mother and baby are at risk.
The more severe your preeclampsia is, the greater the risks for you and your baby. Complications of preeclampsia may include fetal growth restriction, preterm birth, placental abruption, HELLP syndrome, eclampsia, other organ damage and cardiovascular disease.