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Planning to get pregnant or just got the news? Congratulations! You just became a hospital-shopper.

Welcome to one of the most exciting, anxious, and – ultimately — miraculous times of your life. If you haven’t figured out which hospital or what doctor or midwife will deliver your baby, don’t worry – you have until the 12th week of your pregnancy to find one. In the meantime, whether you’ve already received the good news or you’re just thinking about getting pregnant, here are the steps to take to ensure that you have a happy birth day:

  1. Watch your diet, drinking, and medications to keep baby safe.
    You’ve probably heard that alcohol and smoking are out — completely. It’s also smart to limit your caffeine intake, and stay away from certain kinds of fish that may have high mercury content (tuna, for instance). You’ll also want to be careful with any medications — both prescription and over-the-counter — until you can talk to your caregiver. Read more health and lifestyle tips here.
  2. Check with your insurance company.
    Insurance plans are all quite different. So you’ll want to give your insurance company a call or visit their website to see if they cover care from the hospitals, doctors, and midwives you’re considering. To double-check your coverage, feel free to call the hospital or doctor’s office directly and ask if they’re included in your insurance plan.
  3. Decide where you’d like to have your baby.
    Since not all doctors deliver at all hospitals – and midwives practice at just a few – you’ll need to first choose where you’d like to go and then find a caregiver who delivers there. The video above gives an idea of what to consider when selecting a hospital. To get a first-hand look at Swedish’s four birth centers, you’re welcome to sign up for free birth center tours.
  4. Find or see a doctor or midwife within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
    You don’t need to see a care provider this instant, but since it can take a while to get a first appointment, start the process of finding your doctor or midwife  soon. Swedish also has a doula program