The Journey to Parenthood

Congratulations! Whether you are pregnant or just beginning to plan for a baby, MedStar Washington Hospital Center would like to be your resource for information. Since it's our business to know firsthand 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 last 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 1/4 inch long. The cells that make up the heart begin to beat. Eyes and ears are visible.

8th week: Your baby is now 1 inch long, with noticeable head growth (signifying brain development), facial features and more defined appendages.

12th week: Your baby is approximately 3 inches long and weighs 1 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 4 to 6 inches long and weighs up to 4 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 1 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 position him/herself 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 2 1/2 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 4 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 7 to 8 pounds. The baby will continue to gain approximately 1/2 pound a week.

Location Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 202-877-3627 (3627)

To contact the Washington Women's Wellness Center, call 202-877-9992

To contact Labor and Delivery, call 202-877-6512