A full spectrum of services for low- and high-risk pregnancies, from prenatal care to labor and delivery
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:
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.
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.
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.
Placenta previa, also referred to as low lying placenta, is a condition in which the placenta covers the cervix during pregnancy. Placenta previa occurs in 1 in 200 pregnancies.
If you're diagnosed with placenta previa, we'll care for you with close monitoring throughout your pregnancy. Our specialists use ultrasound technology to diagnose and provide frequent monitoring for all cases of placenta previa.
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.
In-person birth center tours are temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19. We are sorry for the inconvenience. But you can still tour our birth centers virtually.
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 UW Medical Center - Northwest, 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.
If you have breastfeeding concerns, a lactation consultant is available to help you for the entire time that you are breastfeeding your baby. UW Medical Center - Northwest offers the following lactation services:
Breast Feeding Drop-In 1:00pm – 3:00pm
UW Medical Center - Northwest
Easy Street Pavilion, E Wing
If no one there by 2, then closes
Suggested donation $10 no mom turned away
Nurturing Expressions 10:00am – 11:30am
4746 44th Ave. SW, Suite 201, Seattle 98116
Breast Feeding Drop-In 1:00pm – 3:00pm
UW Medical Center - Northwest
Easy Street Pavilion, E Wing
If no one there by 2, then closes
Suggested donation $10 no mom turned away
Please call 206.368.2118 to speak with a lactation consultant.
After going home, mothers who gave birth at UWMC can return to the Mother Baby Unit for an “early post-birth visit” with a lactation consultant. The consultant will weigh your baby, check for jaundice, make sure that breastfeeding is going well, and answer any questions you have about feeding your baby.
UWMC Lactation Services are available to you for the entire time that you and your baby are breastfeeding. If you would like help from a lactation consultant after the first few days, you can talk with one over the phone or meet with one at UWMC.
UW Medical Center has earned an award called the “Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative” from UNICEF and the World Health Organization. This award is given to hospitals that provide a positive environment for breastfeeding families by following the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.”
Please call 206.598.4628 to talk with a lactation consultant.
Valley Medical Center is an accredited Baby-Friendly Hospital from UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Our staff provide comprehensive, one-on-one breastfeeding education immediately following delivery and throughout the postpartum stay. Follow up support is available through outpatient Lactation Services as needed after mothers and babies go home.
To enrich its Baby-Friendly program, Valley developed a series of breastfeeding education materials phased throughout the stages of pregnancy and postpartum. The Birth Center team underwent a rigorous site visit which included interviews with patients and staff, and demonstrations of breastfeeding education in order to earn the designation.
To speak with a lactation consultant, please call 425.228.3440, ext. 2526.
From uncomplicated natural births assisted by midwives to specialized maternity care for high-risk pregnancies, you'll have your choice of full-spectrum childbirth services from UW Medicine. Your care team is committed to supporting the birth plan you desire while ensuring the safest delivery for your baby.
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 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.
This is a memorable time for you and your family and our staff will do everything possible to ensure your safety and comfort while you recover. Our private birth suites are designed to allow you and your family to share special bonding time with your baby.
To help you celebrate this important event, we offer a special celebratory dinner to each of our new moms and one other person. Your nurse can share your menu options with you. Full menu room service is always available for patients and their families and can be ordered at almost any time during the day and evening.
Parents can also choose to have professional photos taken of their newborns, including both traditional and candid photos. These can be posted on the virtual nursery website for viewing by family members or friends who are unable to attend the birth.
Every baby born at UW Medical Center feels like a member of our family, and we send each little one home with a hand-knit hat, lovingly created by senior volunteers in the community.
Once your new baby arrives, our staff will conduct a series of screening tests to evaluate your newborn’s overall health. We can also start your newborn on his or her first set of vaccinations.
We are equipped to perform male circumcisions following delivery according to the needs of each family. A local anesthetic is used to avoid undue discomfort for your baby.
Our team also communicates with your baby’s doctor and will help you arrange for care after your discharge. We will spend time with you, reviewing the basics of new baby care and answering any questions you and your family may have.
Choosing a pediatrician or family care provider is very important and you must have one selected before you arrive for your labor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OB/GYNs are medical doctors who have specialized training to care for you if there are medical or surgical complications in your pregnancy. OB/GYNs strive to help women have a normal vaginal delivery unless there is a medical reason why vaginal delivery is not the safest option. Our OB/GYNs also offer vaginal birth after cesarean section to women who are appropriate candidates.
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.
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
Pain control is an important part of your care. Your childbirth experience is unique — including your experience with labor pain — and we can help you find the most effective method to get the relief you desire. Our caring staff encourages and supports you every step of the way to help you feel as nurtured and relaxed as possible.
During all stages of labor, keeping your mind focused and your body relaxed may reduce pain and help you to maintain a sense of calm. We offer a wide variety of non-medicated comfort measures. Techniques include using visualization, music, voice and touch to focus attention; massage; physical activities such as walking or sitting on a birth ball; and mental activities such as patterned breathing and guided imagery.
If non-medicated comfort measures are not enough to help you manage your pain, we offer both analgesic and anesthetic pain medications.
Analgesics lessen pain without a total loss of feeling or muscle function and can raise your threshold for pain tolerance. Analgesics are usually delivered as a shot or through an IV (a small tube placed into a vein) and can be given more than once until the later stages of labor (when you are pushing or delivery is near).
Anesthetics are medicines that produce a loss of sensation and muscle strength, and block pain. Regional anesthetics are used to numb a particular area (or “region”) of the body.
All medicines have benefits and risks to you and your baby, so talk with your provider about the best option for you. Some of the most common options for relieving pain during labor are shared below.
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
Adjusting to Parenthood (Seattle & Lynnwood)
Drop-in support group for new moms.
- Seattle: Facilitated by Mia Edidin and Sarah Tyack. Contact Mia at 206.659.7773 or email@example.com.
- Lynnwood: Facilitated by Terri Buysee. Contact Terri at 425.773.7251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fee: $10, pay as you can
Early Days (West Seattle)
Drop-in support group for expectant and new parents with babies up to 1 year old.
Facilitated by Alyson Campbell.
425.243.2355 or email@example.com
Fee: $10, no one refused for inability to pay
This Is Not What I Expected (Kirkland)
Facilitated by Erin Boone, early parenting and lactation educator, and Tish Rogers, LICSW.
425.899.3000 or 1.888.404.7763
Listening Mothers Program
The Listening Mothers™ is an 8-week science-based program for mothers and newborns with goals for better child/parent self-awareness, healthier parent/child attachment, parental confidence and empowerment, and promotion of thoughtful, respectful, compassionate, and well-adjusted children and adults.
Registration in advance, $195, scholarships available.
Program for Early Parenting Support (PEPS)
“Newborn Groups” of 10 to 12 parents and their babies by neighborhood. Led by volunteers. Groups begin when babies are under 4 months and meet once a week for three months. $150 for daytime moms’ groups, $200 for evening couples’ groups. Must register in advance. PEPS also offers Baby Peppers for parents of babies 5 to 12 months old and Little Peppers for families with two children under age 3.
Parent Education Programs for Parents and Children at North Seattle Community College
Parent education programs for parents and their children, from birth through age 5. Programs may include mom and baby playtimes, toddler groups and co-operative pre-schools. A low-cost opportunity for recreation, socializing, making new friends, art and music activities for kids, and learning parenting skills.
206.528.4625 or northseattle.edu/programs/parent-education
International Cesarean Awareness Network’s Seattle Chapter (ICAN)
Monthly meetings open to anyone, including those who have had a Cesarean and those who are pregnant and on the VBAC journey.
Within Reach Referral Line
For information about public health services, free or low-cost medical coverage, pregnancy testing, prenatal care, healthcare providers, WIC food and nutrition program, referral to lactation consultants, free or low-cost immunizations, birth control information, smoking cessation programs, and resources for families of children with special needs.
1.800.322.2588 or withinreachwa.org
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.
Caring for a woman through her pregnancy and her baby’s birth is one of the most satisfying parts of our practice. We encourage you to be an active partner in your pregnancy care by communicating your thoughts and concerns so that together we can develop your individualized birth plan. Our goal is to nurture your confidence in your ability to give birth as well as provide excellent medical support.
We are proud to offer choices in childbirth preparation and care. We support a wide range of options from natural childbirth to the use of anesthesia, depending upon your preferences and labor situation. We also support vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). For your convenience, fetal monitoring, ultrasound and lab services are available at all of our locations.
Our physicians coordinate and monitor the care of our expectant women. We provide care through pregnancy, during childbirth and up to six weeks following birth. In addition to birth support, services include family planning and education, nutritional counseling and pregnancy testing.
We welcome the opportunity to have a pre-conception visit to ensure that you are aware of actions you can take to optimize your health.
- You will have a physical exam and a review of your medical and obstetric history.
- A pap smear may be performed if one is due.
- You may have an ultrasound to confirm your due date.
- Your doctor will arrange for standard blood and urine tests that are recommended. These are generally tested in all pregnancies, and may include:
- Blood type and Rh factor
- Complete blood count to screen for anemia
- Thyroid hormone levels
- Hemoglobin A1c, to screen for diabetes
- Vitamin D level
- Infectious studies (HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C, Herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia)
- Immunity to Rubella (German Measles)
- Urine culture to screen for bacteria in the urine
- You will be offered screening for genetic abnormalities including Down syndrome, and Spina Bifida, depending on your gestational age (see handout on prenatal genetic screening).
- If it is flu season, a flu vaccine will be recommended.
For a normal pregnancy, you will generally have appointments in the following schedule:
- 8-28 weeks: every 4-5 weeks
- 28-36 weeks: every 2-3 weeks
- 36 weeks until delivery: weekly
There are certain conditions that may require more frequent visits. Your provider will discuss these with you if they come up.
There are certain tests that are done at specific times in your pregnancy. The timing may differ slightly based on individual provider and patient factors. Please let your provider know if you have any concerns about any of the tests that are offered
- You may be asked to leave a urine sample to check for protein and glucose in the urine. All providers do not do this routinely.
- Discussion of your symptoms, concerns and questions.
- Measurement of blood pressure, weight.
- Monitoring of your baby’s heart beat.
- Measurement of the fundal height (size of the uterus).
Prenatal genetic testing if desired (see separate handout for details)
Ultrasound to assess the baby’s anatomy. This is done at UW Medical Center - Northwest in Diagnostic Imaging (206.668.2778). You can often find out the sex of the baby at this ultrasound if desired, but it is not always possible.
- Gestational Diabetes screen (known as the Glucose Challenge Test). You will be asked to drink a sugary drink and have your blood drawn after 1 hour.
- Complete blood count to screen for anemia.
- If you have an Rh negative blood type you will receive a Rhogam injection at this visit.
You will be offered a TDaP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccine at one of these visits. This is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for all women in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, regardless of whether your vaccine is up to date.
Vaginal and rectal swab to screen for Group B Streptococcus, a bacteria that normally lives on the bodies of about 20% of women.
36 weeks until delivery:
Your doctor may recommend a cervical exam at every visit. All providers do not do this routinely.
If you have not delivered by 41 weeks, we will order a non-stress test (NST) to monitor your baby’s well- being. This involves listening to your baby’s heartbeat for 20-30 minutes either in the office or at the Childbirth Center. We will also check the amniotic fluid level around your baby by ultrasound. We will begin to discuss the option of induction of labor at 41-42 weeks.
The above schedule is meant as a general framework for your prenatal care based on standards of care and expert recommendations. We are happy to discuss any of the above recommendations with you if you have any concerns and will try to personalize the schedule to meet your needs.
In addition to uncomplicated pregnancies, we care for women with high-risk pregnancies, such as those with previous miscarriages and those pregnancies accompanied by medical complications. We are also proud to continue to offer vaginal births for patients who have previously had cesarean sections.
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.
We're committed to providing thorough and timely follow-up on all lab tests and diagnostic imaging. While it can take up to two weeks for results to be returned, typically we’re able to get them back to you faster. You will receive your test results during an in-person appointment, via a phone call or through the online MyChart portal (if you are signed up).
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.
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.
Level II Special Care Nursery at UW Medical Center - Northwest.
Patients are referred to UWMC for on-site Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
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.
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.
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