Starting a family begins long before conception. As women begin to think about getting pregnant, they should consider the state of their own health. Finding an obstetrician or certified nurse midwife marks the first step to motherhood. A pre-pregnancy physical allows women to ask their physician questions about diet and nutrition, weight gain, prenatal vitamins and any other concerns.
Conception occurs when the woman’s egg is released from her ovaries and passes into one of the needle-thin passageways through the fallopian tubes where, it encounters sperm and is fertilized. The egg then embeds itself into the wall of the uterus where it develops into a fetus. If a couple has difficulty getting pregnant, infertility specialists evaluate the trouble and work to correct the problem.
Most expectant mothers go through pregnancy, labor, delivery, recovery, and the postpartum period under the supervision of their general obstetricians. If abnormal risks are involved or concerns develop during the pregnancy, obstetricians may refer the woman to a maternal health specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
During pregnancy and following birth, a variety of classes can help parents prepare for labor, and learn to care for and nurture their baby. Expert educators teach courses about breastfeeding, car seat safety and more.
Mom's health continues to be a focus and caregivers pay special attention to her physical and emotional needs. Postpartum depression is not uncommon and many women find they need professional guidance to help them through this time of their life.
When women and their families experience challenges related to pregnancy, birth, prematurity or perinatal loss the Perinatal Family Support Center provides a wide array of services. Skilled clinical staff recognize the profound impact of medically high-risk pregnancies or births, as well as assess the impact of complex issues on the family. Social Workers work hand-in-hand with nurses and physicians to provide patients and families needed assessment, crisis intervention, emotional support and linkage to community resources while promoting family stability and maternal health.
NorthShore offers comfortable, high-tech birthing facilities at Evanston and Highland Park Hospitals. Evanston Hospital serves as a Regional Perinatal Network hospital for northeastern Illinois. Both high-risk mothers and high-risk babies are transferred to Evanston Hospital so they have access to the latest technology and highly-trained staff. Evanston’s Infant Special Care Unit (ISCU) is a designated Level 3 nursery, the highest designation for nurseries, where neonatologists oversee baby’s care 24-hours a day. In 2002, 500 babies were cared for in the ISCU. Highland Park Hospital offers Lake County’s only LDRP unit, where moms labor, deliver, recover and go through their postpartum period in the same private room.