Birthing Center | The Family Birth Place | MedStar Health

The journey to parenthood

Mother kissing baby

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

Mile markers

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.

Mile markers

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.

Mile markers

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.

Our providers

Gynecologist talking with young pregnant patient during medical consultation

Expert maternity care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our women’s health specialists.

Virtual tours

  • MedStar Franklin Square Hospital Center Women’s Pavilion

    play button
  • MedStar Montgomery Medical Center Maternity Unit

    play button
  • MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s Women and Newborn Center

    play button
  • MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Women's Health & Family Birthing Center

    play button
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center Family Birth Place

    play button

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.

Our locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237
phone: 443-777-8005

MedStar Georgetown Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tenleytown

4200 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Fourth Floor
Washington, D.C., 20016
Phone: 202-444-8531

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Pasquerilla Healthcare Center (PHC)
Third Floor
Washington, D.C., 20007
Phone: 202-444-8531

MedStar Harbor Hospital

3001 S. Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225
Phone: 410-354-0800

MedStar Health at Federal Hill

1420 Key Highway
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: 410-230-7800

MedStar Health at Lafayette Centre

1133 21st St., NW, Building 2
8th Floor
Washington, D.C., 20036
Phone: 202-914-0188

MedStar Health in Pasadena

8026 Ritchie Highway
Pasadena, MD 21122
Phone: 410-354-0800

MedStar Medical Group Women's Health at Leonardtown

41680 Miss Bessie Drive
Suite 102
Leonardtown, MD 20650
Phone: 301-997-1788

MedStar Medical Group Women’s Health at Waldorf

3500 Old Washington Rd.
Suite 302
Waldorf, MD 20602
Phone: 301-645-8867

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Drive
Suite 5100
Olney, MD 20832
Phone: 301-570-7424

MedStar Shah Medical Group

J. Patrick Jorboe Medical Center
22590 Shady Court
California, MD 20619
Phone: 301-737-0500

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7501 Surratts Road
Suite 308
Clinton, Maryland 20735
Phone: 301-877-7200

MedStar St. Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Road
Leonardtown, MD 20650
Phone: 301-475-8981

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving Street, NW
Washington, D.C., 20010
Phone: 202-877-3627

MedStar Women's Specialty Center

40900 Merchants Lane
Suite 102
Leonardtown, MD 20650
Phone: 301-997-1315

Women’s Care at Dundalk

1576 Merritt Boulevard
Suite 16
Baltimore, MD 21222
Phone: 410-650-2191

Women’s Care at Honeygo

5009 Honeygo Center Drive, Suite #210
Perry Hall, MD 21128
Phone: 443-725-2140

Women’s Health in Bel Air

12 Medstar Boulevard, Suite 235
Bel Air, MD 21015
Phone: 410-877-8088

Women's Care at Weinberg

9103 Franklin Square Drive
BSuite 305
Baltimore, MD 21237
Phone: 443-777-8800