Our goal is to reduce the rate of pregnancy complications that impact our most vulnerable communities in Brooklyn, making this the safest borough to give birth.
Build Your Pregnancy Care Team
Your pregnancy care team doesn’t have to only include your doctors and nurses. A pregnancy care team can be divided into two categories: clinical and supportive.
Your clinical pregnancy care team can be made up of:
- Obstetrician gynecologist (OB/GYN). These doctors have trained to care for anyone who is pregnant or are trying to become pregnant. Your OB/GYN is able to provide regular check-ups and preventative care, deliver babies, perform surgery, perform screenings for cancer prevention and infections, and prescribe medicines.
- Midwives are trained and licensed clinicians who care for you and your unborn baby during pregnancy using a shared-decision making model. Your Midwife is able to provide regular check-ups and preventative care, attend your birth and “catch” your baby, perform gynecological screenings for cancer prevention and infections, and prescribe medicines. Midwives encourage using medical procedures only when necessary and work with you to identify the best care for you. If complications do arise or you are experiencing a moderate to high-risk pregnancy requiring more complex treatment, they will co-manage the situation with the support of a physician so that you get everything you need and are able to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
- Perinatal Nurses are specialized trained professionals who provide information and supportive care throughout your pregnancy. They are present during your prenatal care, birthing experience, labor, immediate postpartum period before discharge and at your 6 week postpartum visit.
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners are advanced practice nurses who offer continuing and comprehensive care for women, including reproductive and gynecological care before, during and after pregnancy
- Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialists are doctors who have additional training for high-risk pregnancies. To see an MFM, you would need a referral.
- Anesthesiologists are doctors who have been trained in pain medicine. Anesthesiologists provide anesthetics like epidurals during the birthing process and are present during surgery.
- Nutritionists are specially-trained professionals who can guide you through a healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy.
- Social workers are trained to help you navigate complicated healthcare processes. They may provide counseling and connect you to support services and more.
- Psychiatrists aredoctors who specialize in mental health, including substance use disorders. They can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication.
- Psychologists are not medical doctors. They specialize in mental health and substance use disorder. They treat people’s cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behaviors through talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, among other methods.
Your supportive pregnancy care team can include:
- A doula who is a trained assistant that provides physical and emotional support to you and your partner during pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
- Community health workers who often provide informal counseling and help keep you connected to ongoing care.
- Prenatal yoga instructor whospecializes in yoga for pregnant people to enhance relaxation and practice mindfulness.
- Prenatal massage therapist who uses safe massage and acupressure techniques to relieve aches, improve circulation, and reduce tension and anxiety.
- Pelvic floor therapist who treats pain, weakness, and dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles.
- Acupuncturist who uses a traditional Chinese medicine practice of inserting thin needles in acupressure points in the skin to treat pain and manage stress.
- Lactation counselors are certified health professionals you can see during and/or after pregnancy who specialize in breastfeeding and help with issues such as painful nipples, milk supply, and breastfeeding positions.
- Support groups for pregnant people or parents.
- Family members and friends who provide critical emotional support.
Don’t forget that you are at the center of your pregnancy care team. Ask as many questions as you need to to feel safe. Everyone that’s a part of your care team should be supportive and respectful of your choices. It is important to have a care team that is encouraging and puts you at ease. You get to choose who will be on your care team during your pregnancy journey, even if that means requesting another provider!
Your care team may change depending on your unique health care needs. Different clinical care members may also need to be involved as your pregnancy progresses. However, speak up and ask your healthcare provider to help you make introductions to a doula, community health organizations, and other supportive resources local to you.
Make sure you identify who you would like to have with you for support during your pregnancy and birth. It may be your partner, parent or friend. Make sure that they are someone who will put your needs first, keep a calm and pleasant presence throughout, and will not cause you undue stress or pressure. There are also formal ways of getting support for the birth, pre- and postpartum care.
Doula care. In 2022, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched the Citywide Doula Initiative to offer no-cost doula services for residents who are income-eligible for Medicaid in several target zip codes. The program prioritizes people who: live in a shelter, are in foster care, have no other labor support, are giving birth for the first time, or for the first time in at least 10 years and/or have a high-risk medical condition.
To enroll, contact one of the following organizations in your borough or call 311.
Some health insurance plans partially cover doula care, however you may need to pay out-of-pocket for a doula in private practice. Some pre-tax healthcare savings accounts or flexible spending accounts may also support doula care. Certain community-based programs funded by the government also offer free or low-cost doula support.
Home Visiting. In addition to doula support, there are other forms of health and social support that can occur outside the hospital, in your home or in your neighborhood. This includes the NYC Nurse Family Partnership and the New Family Home Visiting Initiative (NFHV).
- Nurse-Family Partnership pairs nurses with low-income, first-time pregnant people, starting in pregnancy and continuing through the child’s second birthday, in order to promote life-long health and wellness for parent, child and future generations. Families can email [email protected] or call 311 and ask for “Nurse-Family Partnership” for more information or for self-referral.
- The New Family Home Visiting Initiative also identifies maternal health needs during pregnancy or soon after childbirth, preparing families for delivery and a new baby, and connecting families to needed services essential to the well-being of parents, children, and families. Eligible families will be offered education on key health topics and support with: breastfeeding, child development, health insurance, domestic violence, mental health and more. Families may call 311 for support or call 718-637-5235 to self-refer.