Baby in crib



Childbirth can be wonderful, and also difficult and tiring. Each labor is different, and every woman copes in her own way. It helps if someone you trust can be with you.

Where to Find Help

Healthy Children
Information from the American Academy of Pediatrics on children’s health, safety, and well-being.

Newborn Screening Program
Information on newborn health tests.

Information on children’s health.

More Resources

Things You Can Do

Decide Where to Give Birth

  • Most babies are born in a hospital. Try to visit the labor and delivery rooms. Ask if there’s a birthing center.

  • If you are in labor, you can go to any hospital emergency room. You cannot be turned away, even if you do not have insurance.

  • If you want to have your baby at home, find out if your health insurance will pay for a home birth. Then talk to a midwife or doctor.

Get Ready to Feed Your Baby

  • Breastfeeding is best for most babies and mothers. But it isn’t always possible. Your doctor can advise you if you should use formula.

  • Ask your doctor or hospital about help starting to breastfeed. Many hospitals have breastfeeding consultants.

  • Ask if your baby will need extra vitamin D while you are breastfeeding.

Get Ready to Go Home

California law says you must have a car seat to take your baby home from the hospital. See Car Safety.

Get Ready for Birth

  • Learn about positions for labor and birth, and ways to manage pain. A childbirth class can help.

  • Natural childbirth can help you and your baby be more alert and start breastfeeding. But find out about pain medicines, just in case you need them.

  • Plan to have a partner, relative, or friend stay with you during labor and birth.

About C-Sections

Some women need to deliver by C-section (cesarean section). If you are told that you will need a C-section, ask your doctor to tell you why. You may want to get a second opinion. If you have had a C-section before, you may still be able to have a vaginal birth.

Right After Delivery

  • Holding your baby skin-to-skin right after birth helps you both feel safe and calm. It also helps your baby start breastfeeding.

  • Ask to breastfeed your baby within an hour after birth.

  • It is best if your baby can sleep in the same room with you at the hospital. If your baby is in intensive care, be with him as much as you can.

  • Ask if you can breastfeed or pump your milk to feed him.

  • Begin talking, reading, and singing to your baby from his very first hours.


Ask to have your baby sleep in the same room with you in the hospital.

Newborn Healthcare

  • Newborns should get their first hepatitis B shot in the hospital. See About Vaccines or visit

  • All babies in California are tested at birth for hearing problems and certain medical conditions. If your baby has a problem, your doctor will help you find treatment.

  • If your baby is born with a disability or health problem, get help early. See Your Baby from 6 to 12 Months.