The journey to parenthood
Congratulations! Whether you are pregnant or just beginning to plan for a baby, MedStar Health would like to be your resource for information. Since it's our business to know first-hand the many decisions you face, we want to help you with the planning stages of your pregnancy.
If you are planning to become pregnant:
Make an appointment to see your physician
Review your personal medical history and note any missed vaccinations, childhood diseases
Check your diet—eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Abstain from any alcohol, drugs, or smoking for the duration of your pregnancy
The first trimester
Make your first prenatal appointment as soon as you think you are pregnant
Check with your health plan and doctor for information on parent education classes
Your health care provider may recommend a vitamin supplement
Morning sickness may set in with your first missed period and persist through the first trimester—bland carbohydrates, like bread and crackers, may help nausea
Expect the onset of cravings and mood swings: your body is readjusting its hormone levels
Expect sensitivity to strong odors and gases
- Your baby experiences everything you do
- Strong chemicals, cleaning solutions, and even natural gas can be hazardous to your baby's development
You will notice your clothes are getting tighter
4th week: Your baby is approximately a quarter-inch long. The cells that make up the heart begin to beat. Eyes and ears are visible.
8th week: Your baby is now one inch long, with noticeable head growth (signifying brain development), facial features, and more defined appendages.
12th week: Your baby is approximately three inches long and weighs one ounce. Vital systems are forming, and it may be possible to determine the baby's gender.
The second trimester
Good news—if morning sickness has not ended, it will soon. In no time you will feel the best you have in months
Investigate classes to help you reduce stress, increase comfort, and prepare yourself and family members for birth
Just as important as eating well throughout your pregnancy, drink plenty of water. Water relieves constipation, and a healthy diet helps your baby increase its body fat during this stage.
16th week: Your baby is four to six inches long and weighs up to four ounces. You will feel the baby move more, and a heartbeat can be detected with special equipment.
20th week: Your baby is approximately 10 inches long and weighs up to one pound. The baby may feel more active, and a clear heartbeat can be heard.
24th week: Your baby is 12 to 14 inches long and weighs up to 24 ounces.
The third trimester
Prepared childbirth classes are a must by the seventh month. You due date is only an approximation, and you want to be prepared. Call the Hospital Center's Parent Services department at 202-877-6161 to schedule classes.
Make decisions on circumcision
Make birthing plans. The delivery day can come at any time, and you should have a game plan for the big event.
Look for infant care and support. If you will be returning to work you will want to supervise any caretaker or facility for the first couple of days to ensure everything goes well. If you plan to breastfeed, check with your employer's Human Resources department for a place to pump.
By the eighth month, install a car seat. Follow the manufacturer's instructions closely and be sure to keep the car seat out of the front seat and away from all airbags.
As you approach delivery, your baby will move into position in preparation for birth. Lightening, when the baby's head descends into the pelvis, can happen at any time and is not necessarily an indication that labor is about to begin.
28th week: During the seventh month, the infant is approximately 15 inches long and up to two and a half pounds. Your baby's eyelids may be open, and the baby can distinguish light and sound outside the uterus.
32nd week: The infant is nearly 16 inches long and weighs about four pounds. The baby will begin sleeping and waking.
36th week: During the ninth and final month, the infant is approximately 19 inches long and weighs seven to eight pounds. The baby will continue to gain approximately one half pound a week.
Expert maternity care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our women’s health specialists.
MedStar Franklin Square Hospital Center Women’s Pavilion
MedStar Montgomery Medical Center Maternity Unit
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s Women and Newborn Center
MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Women's Health & Family Birthing Center
MedStar Washington Hospital Center Family Birth Place
Childbirth and parenting classes
Patient safety is our priority. We’ve taken extra precautions to continue providing compassionate care in a safe environment. Read our most up-to-date guidelines for Labor and Delivery visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also for your safety, in-person classes and tours have been temporarily cancelled. Please find virtual classes here.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237
MedStar Georgetown Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tenleytown
4200 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C., 20016
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Pasquerilla Healthcare Center (PHC)
Washington, D.C., 20007
MedStar Harbor Hospital
3001 S. Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225
MedStar Health at Federal Hill
1420 Key Highway
Baltimore, MD 21230
MedStar Health at Lafayette Centre
1133 21st St., NW, Building 2
Washington, D.C., 20036
MedStar Health in Pasadena
8026 Ritchie Highway
Pasadena, MD 21122
MedStar Medical Group Women's Health at Leonardtown
41680 Miss Bessie Drive
Leonardtown, MD 20650
MedStar Medical Group Women’s Health at Waldorf
3500 Old Washington Rd.
Waldorf, MD 20602
MedStar Montgomery Medical Center
18101 Prince Philip Drive
Olney, MD 20832
MedStar Shah Medical Group
J. Patrick Jorboe Medical Center
22590 Shady Court
California, MD 20619
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
7501 Surratts Road
Clinton, Maryland 20735
MedStar St. Mary's Hospital
25500 Point Lookout Road
Leonardtown, MD 20650
MedStar Washington Hospital Center
110 Irving Street, NW
Washington, D.C., 20010
MedStar Women's Specialty Center
40900 Merchants Lane
Leonardtown, MD 20650
Women’s Care at Dundalk
1576 Merritt Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21222
Women’s Care at Honeygo
5009 Honeygo Center Drive, Suite #210
Perry Hall, MD 21128
Women’s Health in Bel Air
12 Medstar Boulevard, Suite 235
Bel Air, MD 21015
Women's Care at Weinberg
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237