The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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1} Portland, Ore.
What makes it great: Portland moms boast an exceptionally high breastfeeding success rate—an estimated 27 percent of them are still nursing six months after giving birth, more than any other city in our survey. And the place is teeming with OB-GYNs, offering pregnant women plenty of opportunity to select a doc whose approach they’re comfortable with. Looking for an alternative birth? There’s a doula on almost every corner (Portland has more doulas per 1,000 live births than any city we surveyed, except for Minneapolis). Maternal mortality is very low, and very few babies are born with low birth weight. And when it’s time for day care, Portland parents can take comfort in knowing that state laws require thorough background checks for caregivers.
What makes it great: Ever since Paul Revere’s first midnight ride (the one when he rushed out on horseback to fetch the doctor for his laboring wife, shouting as he rode, “The baby is coming! The baby is coming!”), Boston has enjoyed a reputation as a top health-care center. It’s among the leading cities in our survey in access to fertility doctors (see “Fertility Services”), specialty hospitals and pediatricians. Low infant mortality, strong state laws supporting cord-blood donations and research, and excellent air quality round out Beantown’s appeal.
What makes it great: The Twin Cities lead our survey in access to children’s hospitals and fertility clinics. Minneapolis also has the most doulas per 1,000 live births of any city in our survey. Almost 22 percent of moms breastfeed for six months or longer (only two cities in our survey have higher success rates). Infant and maternal mortality are low. Looking for home day care? Minneapolis has the second-highest number of licensed home day-care centers of any city in our survey. It’s also the most affordable city for new parents of any we surveyed—especially important if you are having twins!
4} San Francisco
What makes it great: The City by the Bay has bountiful fertility specialists, and preterm and low-birth-weight babies are uncommon. Despite the city’s foggy reputation, its temperate climate means pregnant moms never have to navigate a frozen sidewalk or suffer through sweltering heat and humidity. And the hills make the perfect venue for getting your body back (just be sure to triple-check the stroller brake or your infant will wind up in his own real-life version of Steve McQueen’s hill-hopping Bullitt car chase). Bonus: California has the nation’s most progressive laws on breastfeeding rights, disability and family leave. As for the earthquakes—well, babies like being rocked, right?