The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Working for better births Aimed at improving maternity care for all women, Childbirth Connection works to bridge the gap between the care new mothers and babies actually receive and the care they should receive. The organization helps pregnant women gain access to accurate information about their maternity options and teaches them how to navigate the health-care system and understand their rights as patients. childbirthconnection.org.
Helping to prevent SIDS First Candle/SIDS Alliance aims to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as well as miscarriage and stillbirth by educating health-care professionals and the public. It also provides resources to families affected by SIDS. The organization's efforts in conjunction with the federal government's Back to Sleep campaign, which teaches parents and caregivers the importance of putting babies to sleep on their backs, has contributed to a 50 percent reduction in SIDS incidence since 1994. firstcandle.org.
Making the world safer for kids Formerly named CHEC (Children's Health Environmental Coalition), Healthy Child Healthy World has set a goal of eliminating environmental toxins that can affect children's health. Its techniques include conducting scientific research, influencing government policies and providing education. healthychild.org.
Giving nursing moms a hand Founded in 1956 to offer nursing mothers encouragement and reliable information, La Leche League maintains that breastfeeding is best for both baby and mother. When a woman is experiencing difficulty breastfeeding, she can get immediate help from La Leche League by calling a local representative, connecting with other moms online or downloading informational podcasts. lalecheleague.org.
Educating parents about childbirth In 1951, French obstetrician Fernand Lamaze introduced a childbirth method consisting of relaxation and breathing techniques, education classes for dads and moms, and emotional support from the father and a trained nurse. Lamaze International has made childbirth a shared event for both parents, which is what it should be. lamaze.org.
Preventing prematurity and birth defects Since 1938, March of Dimes has been working to protect babies' and children's health, primarily by funding cutting-edge research. Most recently, March of Dimes has been funding genetic research to identify the causes of and prevent birth defects, as well as investigating the causes of prematurity, which affects more than 460,000 babies a year in the United States. marchofdimes.com.
Boot Camp for New Dads With workshops in 42 states, Boot Camp for New Dads equips men with the skills they need to become good fathers. bootcampfornewdads.org.
DONA International The membership of DONA (Doulas of North America) International includes 5,500 birth and postpartum doulas. The group provides training and certification opportunities, as well as information for the mom-to-be, including a directory of certified doulas. www.dona.org.
Zero to Three The first three years of a child's life is the most crucial period of development. Through education, research and advocacy, Zero to Three supports the healthy development of babies and toddlers. zerotothree.org.