Request A Free Information Packet

The Family Health Line has a free packet, from within Florida only, call 1-800-451-BABY toll-free to request a packet, at no charge.

The Family Health Line Packet (English/Spanish packets available), includes information on women’s health, pregnancy, infants, and toddlers.

**We’re sorry, but we’re not able to send packets outside the state of Florida.

Maternal Mental Health

Mental Health Is Health Around The Time Of Pregnancy

What does depression actually mean?

Most people know what it means to feel down or depressed, especially when something bad happens in life. It is true that the word “depressed” is used to describe a person’s mood, which normally changes quite a bit over just a few days. But the word “depression” is also used to describe a major medical condition, known as Clinical Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). MDD is an illness (like Diabetes or Heart Disease) that can have a negative affect on all aspects of a person’s life. When depression happens around the time of having a baby, it is called “Perinatal Depression

Is It More Than The Baby Blues?

Many women experience anxiety or sadness after giving birth. If you’re wondering if whether your feelings of sadness and anxiety are more than just the “baby blues,” take the quiz below to learn the signs of postpartum depression – a serious, yet treatable, medical condition affecting one out of eight new mothers within a year after giving birth.

During the past week or two…

  • I have been unable to laugh and see the funny side of things.
  • I have not looked forward to things I usually enjoy.
  • I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
  •  I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.
  • I have felt scared or panicky for no good reason.
  • Things have been getting the best of me.
  • I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping – even when my baby is sleeping.
  • I have felt sad or miserable.I have been so unhappy that I have been crying.
  • I have no interest in caring for my baby.*
  • The thought of harming myself, my baby or others has occurred to me.*

Did you mark more than one statement? Have the feelings lasted more than two weeks? If so, talk to your partner or medical provider today. Postpartum depression is an illness, not a weakness. You are not alone and there is help.

* Seek help immediately or call us.

For more information:

What are the signs and symptoms of Perinatal Depression?

To make a diagnosis of Perinatal Depression (MDD), a doctor or other clinician will look for at least 5 of the 9 symptoms below. Symptoms must last for at least two weeks and have a major effect on the person’s ability to function in school, work, relationships, or other important areas.

• Not able to get pleasure from things in life that usually give pleasure
• Major changes in appetite, including excessive weight gain or weight loss
• Major changes in sleep, like sleeping too much or too little
• Significant change in activity level (restless or slowed down)
• Feeling very low energy and fatigue
• Not able to concentrate or make decisions
• Feeling very worthless as a person or excessive guilty
• Abnormal thoughts of death or of harming or killing oneself. Women at risk of perinatal depression or who have perinatal depression may also notice:
• Feeling very anxious, especially about the pregnancy, or baby’s health or safety
• Having confusing thoughts about something harming the baby or doing something to harm the baby
• Not allowing anyone else to care for the baby
• Difficulty with breastfeeding

How common is Perinatal Depression?

Up to 1 in 4 women will experience MDD in their lifetime, and up to 1 in 5 may have MDD around the time of pregnancy, making it one of the most common complications of pregnancy. On the other hand, almost 80% of women will have the postpartum “blues”. The blues is not considered to be abnormal and is probably related to the huge change in hormones after delivering a baby. Women with the blues will notice tearfulness and difficulty controlling their mood, but this usually only lasts for a few days. If mood changes after having a baby do not go away after 2 weeks, it is time to talk with someone about it.

Can Perinatal Depression affect the pregnancy and the baby?

Un-treated depression poses a major risk to the pregnancy. Women who experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy may be more likely to have a premature delivery, restricted fetal growth and low birth weight infants. After having a baby, women with depression have been shown to have lower rates of breastfeeding initiation, poorer response to infant cues, and problematic attachment with infants. Studies have also linked perinatal depression to poorer use of prenatal care, poorer nutrition and other health behaviors such as substance use, and less likelihood us pediatric services for the child.

How can women get help?

If you notice that you are not feeling like yourself during the pregnancy and after having the baby, tell someone. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, especially anxiety, insomnia or thoughts of death or confusing thoughts about safety of the baby, talk to a health care professional immediately. It is important not to let these symptoms go for more that two weeks. Although weight gain, problems sleeping, lower energy and mild mood changes may be normal, it is not normal to have many of these at the same time, last for more than two weeks, and to make you unable to be yourself and do the things you want to do.It is best to talk to several people, including family members, your obstetrician or other health care professional. If the people in your life or your health care provider do not listen or do not give you the help you need, it is very important that you keep asking or talk to someone else! The resources and phone numbers listed below can be used to connect you with help.

What kinds of help and treatment are out there?

One of the most important things to know about treatment for depression and anxiety around the time of pregnancy is that it works! Many women suffer in silence, which takes a major toll on the brain and body. Just like high blood sugar or blood pressure can damage the body, so can depression. Also like diabetes and high blood pressure, depression can be effectively treated by medications and/or life changes.

The kinds of treatments can include:

• Antidepressant medications  work well and can be safe and effective during pregnancy and breastfeeding
• Talk therapy is focused on learning how to get the support you need and how to change the way you think and act so that you feel much better. Talk therapy can also help you get back to doing things in life that you enjoy most
• Exercise and activity can have an anti-depressant effect that is the same as medications

You and your baby are worth it!

Unfortunately, most women with depression and anxiety never get the help they need. Sometimes women put their own self care last. Other times, women are afraid of how they will be seen if they admit to feeling depressed or anxious. Depression and mental health is no different from any other physical health condition. Just like taking folic acid and eating well are important during pregnancy, taking care of your mental health is extremely important for you to be healthy, feel good, and for the health and well being of your baby. You can think about it just like the oxygen mask on the plane – you must take care of yourself first before you an take care of others. The contact information below has much more information.

Resources and Additional Information from The Family Health Line

There are many web sites that contain helpful information and services related to The Family Health Line. Here are a few that we recommend:

  • Healthy Families Florida – Healthy Families Florida is a nationally accredited home visiting program for expectant parents and parents of newborns experiencing stressful life situations. The program improves childhood outcomes and increases family self-sufficiency by empowering parents through education and community support.
  • Healthy Start  – A free home visiting program that provides education and care coordination to pregnant women and families of children under the age of three. Also provides support with breastfeeding, childcare, and new parent counseling.
  • Mental Health Council of the Big BendA mental health provider directory for the Big Bend region of Florida.
  • The Florida Department of Health Women’s Health The Florida Department of Health Provides information and services regarding Family Planning and Pregnancy. They also provide helpful information on support programs.
  • What to Expect– Information on getting pregnant, pregnancy, babies, and toddlers. Searchable database by topic.
  • Whole Child Leon – Whole Children provides recreational, social and enrichment programs for children and teens of all abilities, including those with special needs.
  • WICWIC is a federally funded nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children.
Hours of Operation
Monday – Friday:  8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday:  10:30 AM – 6:30 PM

(Note: At this time, we do not offer crisis counseling services through webchat. Please call the hotline number if you are in crisis and need to speak with somebody.)


1-800-451-BABY (2229) English/Spanish/Haitian Creole

The Family Health Line is a free statewide hotline that offers short-term counseling, information and referrals regarding women’s health, pregnancy and infants/toddlers.  The goal of the hotline is to improve the health status of Florida’s pregnant women and their children by providing callers with information on helpful community resources and answering basic questions about pregnancy, breastfeeding, childbirth education and other pregnancy-related concerns.  We are closed on state holidays.

Please explore our web site or email a counselor if you need any additional information.

Right From The Start

Get Healthy Before You Get Pregnant

A healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy can lead to a healthier baby.

Plan for your pregnancy.

  • Plan your pregnancy so that you and your partner are in good health and prepared to parent.
  • Use your birth control correctly.
  • Know that you can get pregnant if you forget or skip a birth control pill.
  • Antibiotic and other medications can interfere with the effectiveness of your birth control pill.
  • All women should take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. It can help prevent birth defects and may help protect you from heart disease.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. Women who are underweight or overweight when they get pregnant are more likely to have a baby born prematurely.
  • Overweight women are more likely to experience more problems during pregnancy and labor.

Eat healthy foods.

  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Limit sweets, fats, salt and soda. Pay attention to serving sizes so you do not eat too much.
  •  Eat iron-rich foods like leafy green vegetables.
  • Enjoy foods high in vitamin C like oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, cabbage and cantaloupe.

Prevent and treat infections.

  • Infections such as periodontal (gum) disease, may contribute to preterm (too-early) labor.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. See a dentist at least once a year to have your teeth cleaned and gums examined.
  • Sexually transmitted infections can cause a woman to have problems getting pregnant or cause preterm labor once pregnant.

Avoid harmful substances.

  • A pregnant woman never takes risks alone.
  • If there’s a chance you might be pregnant, do not drink alcohol or take drugs.
  • No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
  • Abuse of prescription and illegal drugs is not good for you or your baby.
  • Tobacco use during pregnancy deprives your baby of the oxygen needed to develop properly. Your baby is twice as likely to be born with a low birth weight.

Prenatal Care

Early and regular prenatal care is important for the health of you and your baby. During your prenatal visits, the doctor or other health care provider will check to see that your pregnancy is progressing normally. If you develop a problem or have a risk condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, prenatal care may keep it from becoming serious.

Prenatal care includes:
•  Blood, urine, and other tests
•  Ongoing medical care such as blood pressure checks, measurement of uterine growth, checks of the baby’s heartbeat and pelvic exams as needed
•  Prenatal education on pregnancy, labor, delivery, baby care, parenting and family planning
•  Nutritional assessment and counseling

You have a part in your prenatal care:
•  Start care within the first three months of pregnancy. Early care can ensure that any potential problems are identified and treated as soon as possible.
•  Eat a well-balanced diet of wholesome foods.
•  Attend childbirth classes.
•  Tell the doctor or nurse anything you think is important for your and your baby’s health.
•  Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, drugs and other harmful agents.
•  Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicines (including pain killers like aspirin, cold remedies, etc.)
•  Know the warning signs in pregnancy and tell your doctor or nurse at once if you experience them.

For more information in Florida, call the Family Health Line at 1-800-451-BABY.

First Trimester

  • Week 1Congratulations! You’re going to have a baby. Practice up on your lullabies. And here’s to a happy, healthy pregnancy.
  • Week 2It’s important to eat right to have a healthy baby. Make sure to eat fresh fruits, fish, meats, breads, cereals, vegetables, and dairy products. Take your prenatal vitamins, containing folic acid, every day.
  • Week 3Smoking and drinking alcohol are unhealthy for your unborn baby. Talk to your health care provider about the dangers of other drug use. If you need help to stop smoking, drinking or using drugs, call Florida’s Family Health Line for assistance.
  • Week 4Don’t take any drugs or medications unless your health care provider says it’s okay. Try to stay away from people who are sick. If you’re exposed to German Measles (rubella), call your health care provider right away. Also, tell your health care provider if you take care of any pets.
  • Week 5Keep all appointments and follow your health care provider’s orders. Be sure to tell every health care provider or dentist who wants to x-ray you that you are pregnant. If x-rays are needed, precautions will be taken to protect your baby.
  • Week 6In the bathroom every other minute? Around this time your uterus is enlarging and putting pressure on your bladder. Frequent urination usually stops about the 12th week — to return again during your last month.
  • Week 7So-o-o…..this is morning sickness! Try eating five small meals a day instead of two or three big ones. Also, try eating a piece of toast or some crackers before you get out of bed.
  • Week 8Be alert for signs of premature labor: uterine contractions which happen every ten minutes or more often, menstrual-like cramps in the lower abdomen, low dull backache, pelvic pressure, abdominal cramping and vaginal discharge with or without diarrhea. Call your health care provider right away should you experience any of these signs.
  • Week 9Start getting your insurance paperwork in order for you and your baby. If you know you’ll need help, contact your local social services office as soon as possible, or Florida’s Family Health Line for assistance.
  • Week 10It’s normal to feel very tired. Your body is working hard to make a healthy baby, and telling you to give yourself some rest. Listen to your body! And try to nap when you can.
  • Week 11Certain signals during pregnancy may mean a serious problem. Know the danger signals. If you have any of these warning signs during your pregnancy, call your health care provider right away: chills and fever, bad headache or dizziness, blurred vision, or a lot of swelling.
  • Week 12More warning signs are: vaginal bleeding or discharge, pain when urinating, leaking fluid, signs of preterm labor, pain under ribs or in your belly that doesn’t go away. Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these signs.
  • Week 13You may have a lot of questions about you and your baby. Make a list of these to discuss with your health care provider.
  • Week 14This is the last week of the first trimester (three months) of your pregnancy. Your baby is now three inches long and weighs over one ounce. The heart has been beating since the fourth week. All body organs have been formed including the face. The baby’s fingers can form a little fist. For the rest of the pregnancy all body organs will mature and you baby will gain weight. Welcome to your second trimester.

Second Trimester

  • Week 15You may notice darkening of the skin on your forehead, nose and cheeks. This is chloasma, or “mask of pregnancy,” caused by hormonal changes. It disappears after delivery.
  • Week 16If you’ve always been athletic, there’s probably no reason to change your exercise routine — but check with your health care provider. Walking is good for you.
  • Week 17The area around your nipples has gotten darker and wider in preparation for making milk. Some women gain a pound in each breast during pregnancy — which is why it’s good to use a maternity bra with good support.
  • Week 18 – How are you feeling? Your morning sickness might be gone, and you might have more energy. Enjoy this special time in your pregnancy.
  • Week 19Your baby has been moving since the second month, but you may be able to feel your baby’s movements about now. Watch for this and be sure to tell your health care provider.
  • Week 20If you’re constipated, eat more roughage (like fresh fruits, lettuce, and bran products). No laxatives or enemas unless your health care provider says so. If you develop hemorrhoids, they usually disappear after delivery.
  • Week 21Halfway point! Your hormones might cause a dark line to appear from your navel down the middle of your belly. Tiny lines on your belly (stretch marks) may appear as your body expands. Rubbing them with lotion may feel good.
  • Week 22About now, some women notice a clear fluid that drips from the breasts. This is called “colostrum” and is a sign that your body is preparing to produce milk.
  • Week 23 Showers or tub baths are fine, but hot tubs should be avoided. When bathing or showering, use little or no soap directly on your nipples. Just rinse well and pat dry with a soft towel. Avoid douches and sprays. Use only soap and water when bathing the vaginal area.
  • Week 24 Movements of your baby should be quite evident now. Your family will delight in feeling your baby kick. Ask your health care provider about how to count your baby’s movements.
  • Week 25If you’re constipated, eat more roughage (like fresh fruits, lettuce, and bran products). No laxatives or enemas unless your health care provider says so. If you develop hemorrhoids, they usually disappear after delivery.
  • Week 26Bacterial vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection, if untreated can affect the health of your baby. Symptoms include vaginal discharge and unpleasant odor, yet some women have no symptoms. Be sure to keep all appointments and call your health care provider with any symptoms.
  • Week 27Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. Go to breastfeeding classes and support group meetings while you are pregnant. Ask your local WIC office or Florida’s Family Health Line counselor for information about breastfeeding. Tell your health care provider and hospital that you are going to breastfeed.
  • Week 28The last week of your second trimester (six months)! The brain of the baby is well developed. The baby can now grasp, and may begin sucking on a fist or thumb. Your baby’s skin is red and covered with a white substance called vernix. Your baby is now 14-15 inches long and weighs about three pounds. Your baby responds to light and sound. Talk and sing to your baby.

Third Trimester

  • Week 29Time to enroll in a class to learn more about your baby’s birth and care. Your health care provider or Florida’s Family Health Line can help refer you to classes on childbirth education, breastfeeding education, parenting education, and other classes.
  • Week 30As your baby grows, changing your position quickly might cause you to feel dizzy or unsteady on your feet. Move slowly when getting up.
  • Week 31With your digestion slowed down by your baby growing and pressing on your stomach, you might experience heartburn. Eat small frequent meals and cut down on eating spicy and fatty foods.
  • Week 32Another common problem — leg cramps. Wearing support hose and resting with your legs propped up may help. Talk to your health care provider if these leg cramps continue.
  • Week 33False labor contractions are mild tightening or “balling up” of the uterus. They are irregular and usually disappear after an hour of rest. If they continue after an hour of rest, call your health care provider.
  • Week 34Practice a routine for going to the hospital. Keep important phone numbers handy (health care provider, dad’s work number, good neighbor). Make child care arrangements for other children. Make sure there is enough gas in the car to get to the hospital.
  • Week 35Time to start getting baby’s things together. Wash any new baby clothes. Pack a newborn outfit and blanket for the hospital. You will need a car seat to bring your baby home in. So now is the time to call Florida’s Family Health Line if you need assistance.
  • Week 36Now is a good time to discuss birth control options available to you to use after your baby is born. Talk to your health care provider about this.
  • Week 37Time to pack your suitcase. You’ll want to bring a nightgown, robe, slippers or socks, toothbrush, a good support or nursing bra and clothing for the trip home.
  • Week 38Make sure you will have a supply of baby clothes, food for you and your family, and a safe place for baby to sleep for when you return home. If you are going to breastfeed, have the names and numbers of the people who can help. If you’re going to bottle-feed, have the equipment ready.
  • Week 39Start wearing a watch with a second hand. When labor pains begin, time them and follow your health care provider’s instructions for going to the hospital. If your water breaks, call your health care provider right away.
  • Week 40Have you picked out a name yet? Baby is due soon. Good luck, mom!

Warning Signs During Pregnancy

Call your doctor or nurse or go to the hospital emergency room right away if you have any of these warning signs while you are pregnant:

  • Bright red vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking of bag of water (sudden gush or slow leak)
  • Sharp pains in abdomen or side which do not go away
  • Dim or blurred vision or flashing bright lights or spots. Bad headache/dizziness, a lot of swelling of face and body
  • Chills and fever
  • Pain when passing urine

Be aware of preterm labor signs. This is labor that starts before the 37th week of pregnancy. Babies born early may have breathing problems and may need to stay in the hospital for extra days or weeks. The earlier the baby is born, the greater the likelihood that the baby will have problems.

Possible signs of premature labor are:

  •  Uterine contractions that are 10 minutes apart or closer (may be painless). Sometimes the contractions  feel like the baby is “balling up”
  • Menstrual-like cramps, whether they come and go or don’t go away
  • Cramps in abdomen with or without diarrheaIncrease or change in vaginal discharge (watery or with mucous or blood)
  •  Low, dull backache that comes and goes or doesn’t go away
  • Pressure that feels like the baby is pushing down and that comes and goes

If you have any of the signs of preterm labor, lie down and check for contractions. While resting, try to drink two or three glasses or water or juice. If your symptoms of preterm labor do not go away in one hour or if you have five or more contractions in one hour, call your doctor, clinic, or hospital emergency room.

Drugs & Alcohol During Pregnancy

Avoid taking any medication or drugs during your pregnancy, unless your doctor or nurse-midwife orders it for you. Some medicines may cause birth defects or endanger your baby’s health. If you take a medicine regularly, make sure your doctor or nurse knows about it.

Street drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, speed, LSD, downers, opium and heroin are harmful to you and your baby. Even legal drugs, such as alcohol and nicotine in cigarettes, will seriously harm your baby.

If you are using drugs now and want to stop, the Family Health Line can help. We provide supportive telephone counseling, information on the effects of specific drugs during pregnancy, and referrals for drug treatment. Calls to the Family Health Line are confidential.

After You Deliver Your Baby

Be healthy between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of the next

Wait between pregnancies. Waiting allows you to spend special and important one-on-one time with your new baby.

  • Use your birth control correctly. There are types of birth control you can use safely if you are breastfeeding. Ask your health care provider.
  • Wait 18 months to two years between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of the next to give your body time to heal from birth.
  • Getting pregnant too soon after having a baby increases your risk of your next baby being born too small or too soon.

Make sure your baby sleeps safely.

  • Remember back to sleep: Babies sleep safest on their backs.
  • Remove stuffed animals, bumper pads and loose items from your baby’s crib. Your baby should sleep alone.
  • Use a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet. Make sure nothing is in the crib that can cover your baby’s face.
  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
  • Don’t overheat your baby with too much clothing. Share these safe-sleeping tips with anyone who cares for your child.

Play with your baby.

  • A baby’s most important work is play!
  • Playing helps your baby’s brain grow and develop.
  • Touching and holding a baby helps he/she feel secure and loved, helps them gain weight and grow more quickly.
  • Talk to he/she. Look into their eyes, use gestures, slow your speech and repeat key words. Don’t be embarrassed to use a higher-pitched voice – your baby prefers it!

Remember: You can’t spoil an infant with too much attention!


Breastfeeding is a very special relationship between you and your baby and helps you feel closer to each other. Your milk is the best food for your baby during the first four to six months of life. Breast milk is more than just food. It is the best health maintenance system available! Breastfed babies are protected against many diseases, infections, allergies and tooth decay.

Breastfeeding is also best for you. You’re less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer. To get off to a good start, ask to nurse your baby within the first two hours after birth. Then, nurse often; at least every one and a half to three hours. The more often the baby nurses, the more milk you make. Encourage your baby to nurse at least 10-15 minutes per breast. It’s best not to give the baby any bottles or pacifiers for the first four weeks. Giving a bottle or pacifier too soon can make the baby nurse poorly and reduce your milk supply.

Breastfeeding may take some time for both you and baby to learn and become comfortable with, but by six weeks, you’ll both be experts at it!

Coping with Crying

What to do when your baby won’t stop crying.

Understanding your baby.
Taking Care of your baby can be fun and enjoyable. But when your baby won’t stop crying, it can be very upsetting for you and caregivers. First of all, it is normal for your baby to cry. A baby may cry two to three hours a day – and sometimes more! Crying happens most often in the evenings, often for no apparent reason and doesn’t hurt the baby.

Ways to calm your baby.
It may seem like you baby cries more than others, but all babies cry and some cry a lot! You can do the following things to try and soothe your baby.

  • Check the reasons why your baby may be crying. Then, try to calm your baby.
  • Check your baby’s basic needs: hunger, dirty diaper, uncomfortable clothing, too hot or too cold.
  • Offer the baby a pacifier.
  • Hold the baby against your chest and massage, walk or rock the baby.
  • Sing, hum or talk to the baby.
  • Take the baby for a walk in a stroller or a ride in the car seat.
  • Check with your baby’s health care provider if you think the baby is crying too much.

Ways to handle frustration when your baby is crying.

  • Call us at 1-800-451-BABY
  • Place the baby in a safe place (such as his crib) and let him cry. Check on him every 5-10 minutes to make sure he is alright.
  • Relax by taking a bath or shower, exercising or playing music.
  • Call a trusted friend, relative or neighbor and ask them to watch the baby and give you a break.
  • Sit down, close your eyes and take 20 deep breaths.
  • Think about how much you love your baby.
  • Whatever you do, don’t take your frustrations out on your baby!


More questions or want to talk to counselor?

We have a broad database with all this information, referrals, and short-term non-directive counseling! Go ahead and give The Family Health Line a call at 1-800-451-Baby.