Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas Inc.

Having a Healthy Baby

Every woman wants a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby. Of course, you're no different! While being pregnant brings joy and happiness, it also brings apprehension about your baby's health and care - not to mention your own physical and mental well-being!

Any woman can have conditions in her life that can put her baby at risk. That's where Healthy Start and this Healthy Start screening form can help. The questions asked will target some of the most common areas of risk during pregnancy. Many will probably not apply to you. Some might, to your surprise. (Finding out you don't have any of these risk factors also can put your mind at ease!) Further discussion with your Doctor, Midwife or Nurse Practitioner, may find other ways Healthy Start can help lead you down the road to a healthy baby.

Please continue to read about the attached Healthy Start screening form and why it is so important you agree to be screened for your baby and you.


What is the Healthy Start screen?

It's a short questionnaire to determine your needs, if any. Don't be afraid to find a risk factor. Your answers are kept confidential. Once found, a problem can be addressed. Your health care professional will discuss your answers with you and may offer to have Healthy Start contact you about how we can help.


Are you at risk?

Everyone wants a healthy baby! Many women have factors which place them at risk for delivering a baby weighing less than 5.5 pounds (called low birth weight) or a premature infant (born before the 37 th week of pregnancy).

Risk is not usually determined by one factor, but a combination of several. For example, you may have heard that a person who smokes is more "at risk" to develop cancer or heart disease. Other factors such as diet and the person's exercise habits also affect the development of cancer or heart disease. The determination of "risk factors" is made by studies of large groups of individuals (populations) that share common characteristics.

Risk screening is a common way health care professionals determine who should receive preventative care, education and support to prevent a specific poor health outcome.

Risk screening cannot identify who will actually develop a particular condition. You may have participated in a "risk screening" for high blood pressure, high cholesteral, or osteoporosis. Screening differs from assessment in that screening only identifies those most likely to be at increased risk of a particular condition. An assessment and physical examination is necessary to determine whether a person has a particular condition, and how one individual can prevent a poor health outcome.

The Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screening was developed by a workgroup that included physicians, nurses, social workers, researchers, program specialists and other professionals knowledgeable in the field of maternal and child health.

Current studies that have linked birth outcomes to Healthy Start screening data suggest that women who score four or more on the Healthy Start prenatal screen are more likely to have a low birth weight infant.

A score of 4 or greater does not mean you will have a pre-term or low birth-weight infant.

It does mean you will need to take extra precautions to have a healthy, full term baby! Healthy Start can help! Talk to your health provider and ask them to complete the Healthy Start Prenatal screen at your first visit.

For your information only, these are the items asked on the Healthy Start Prenatal screening instrument.


Pre-term labor

Development to term in the mother's womb (approximately 40 weeks) is critical to a healthy baby at delivery and in the future. Babies born too small or too soon (before 37 weeks) run the risk of medical problems.

  • You can reduce the chance of early labor by knowing the warning signs:
  • Uterine contractions/tightening that comes and goes
  • Period-like cramps
  • Dull, lower backache
  • Gas pains, with or without loose bowel movements
  • Feeling of pressure in lower back, abdomen or thighs
  • Change in vaginal discharge to pink or brown
  • General feeling that something is not right.
  • See your medical provider immediately if you have any symptoms.
  • Do not wait to see if symptoms go away.

Pregnancy brings lots of questions

About a lot of different topics. Where can you find the answers in a supportive, friendly, local environment? Right here, through Healthy Start and our partnering hospitals and birthing centers. Every new mother, father and sibling can benefit from learning more about the new arrival's birth.

Pinellas County birth hospitals can provide you with opportunities to learn everything from baby care, childbirth preparation and pain management options to infant massage, parenting classes and breastfeeding assistance. For more information, contact our hospital partners directly.

After your baby is born, the learning does not stop! Learning is fun birth to one! Healthy Start has educational opportunities for every family. Contact us!