Medication before and during pregnancy

24
Jul
Posted by Sara

Did you know that 7 out of 10 pregnant women take at least one prescription medication? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of prescription medicine during the first trimester of pregnancy has increased more than 60% over the last 30 years. In the video below, Dr. Siobhan Dolan explains how taking some prescription medicines before or during pregnancy can hurt your baby. Learn how to make sure any medicines you take are safe for both you and your baby.

 

 

 

Have questions? Send them to our Health Education Specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Diagnosed with Zika? Help is available

21
Jul
Posted by Lauren

mom loving babyHave you or your partner been diagnosed with Zika virus? Did you receive a positive Zika test while pregnant? Do you have a baby with Zika? If you answered yes to any of these questions, medical help and support is available.

Zika Care Connect (ZCC), developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with March of Dimes offers a network of specialized healthcare providers who can care for families potentially affected by the Zika virus.

The ZCC network helps you find services and health care providers in your area who take your health insurance and speak your language.

Have questions? Call the toll-free Zika Helpline, 1-844-677-0447, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. If no one is immediately able to answer your call, please leave a message and your call will be returned within 1 business day.

For more information on help and support available to you, check out the Zika Care Connect website: www.zikacareconnect.org.

For everything you need to know about how to protect yourself from Zika, visit our website.

Have questions? Text or email us at mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Pregnant in the heat – can I get some sleep?

19
Jul
Posted by Lauren

sleepingAs your belly is getting bigger, and the temperatures get hotter, your hours of sleep may be getting smaller. Lack of sleep is a common complaint we hear from pregnant women. Trying to get comfortable, rearranging pillows and having to get up to use the bathroom are only a few of the culprits that can cause lack of sleep.

But getting a good night’s sleep is crucial– just as important as eating nutritious food and drinking enough water. Eating, staying hydrated and sleeping are the foundations to good health and a happy pregnancy.

Trouble sleeping doesn’t just happen late in pregnancy; sleeplessness can happen right from the beginning. And if you’re experiencing hot summer temperatures and don’t have air conditioning, you may be feeling the heat, literally. No only that, the same pregnancy hormone that causes fatigue during the day can disrupt your sleep cycle at night. And if you have added anxiety or stress, this will only increase the problem.

So what can you do? here are a few tips to help you sleep through the summer heat:

  • The basement or bottom level of houses are usually the coolest – try setting up a temporary bed when the temps rise.
  • Wet a washcloth in cool water and place it around your neck.
  • Sleep with light, breathable sleepwear and sheets.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning in your house, use one or more fans to help you stay cool.

Between heat, bathroom trips and rearranging pillows, try to catch up on sleep where you can. Here are more tips on how to get your sleep in before baby comes.

For more information on how to get a restful night’s sleep, and when to see a doctor regarding possible sleep problems, see this handy guide.

Have questions?  Email or text AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Fever and your baby

17
Jul
Posted by Sara

mother with sick babyWhen your baby has a fever, it can be very frightening. Here is some information that can help you better understand why your baby has a fever and what you can do to help him.

What is a fever?

A fever is a body temperature that is higher than normal. Your child’s temperature will vary with age, activity, and even the time of day. Babies have a higher temperature than older children. And everyone’s temperature is highest between late afternoon and early evening and lowest between midnight and early morning.

A normal temperature can be anywhere from 97.5°F (36.4°C) and 99.5°F (37.5°C). Most health care providers consider a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) as a sign of a fever.

What causes a fever?

A fever is important in helping your baby or child fight an infection. If your baby has an illness of some kind, his body temperature will increase. This increase in body temperature signals certain other defenses, such as white blood cells, to work and start attacking the infection. A fever will make your baby feel uncomfortable, increase his need for fluids, and make him breathe faster and his heart beat faster.

How can I treat my baby’s fever?

First, it is important to get an accurate temperature. Feeling your baby’s forehead will not give you a precise measurement—you need to use a thermometer to get the best information. For a baby, a rectal thermometer is the most accurate way to measure temperature.

It isn’t always necessary to see your health care provider when your child has a fever. Here are some things that can help:

  • Acetaminophen (Tyleno®l) or ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) will usually bring down your baby’s temperature. But make sure you give the correct dose.
  • Do not overdress your child. Alcohol bath, ice packs, etc. are NOT recommended and should not be used.
  • Make sure your baby gets a lot of fluids to help prevent dehydration. Signs of dehydration include crying without tears, a dry mouth, and fewer wet diapers.

When should I call my baby’s provider?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should call your child’s health care provider right away if he has a fever and:

  • Is younger than 3 months (12 weeks) and has a temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher. Call even if you baby doesn’t seem sick. Babies this young can get sick very quickly.
  • Fever rises above 104°F (40°C) repeatedly for a child of any age.
  • Looks very ill, is unusually drowsy, or is very fussy.
  • Has been in a very hot place, such as an overheated car.
  • Has other symptoms, such as a stiff neck, severe headache, severe sore throat, severe ear pain, an unexplained rash, or repeated vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Has signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, sunken soft spot or significantly fewer wet diapers and is not able to take in fluids.
  • Has immune system problems, such as sickle cell disease or cancer, or is taking medications, such as steroids.
  • Has had a seizure.

Also call your child’s doctor if:

  • The fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years.
  • The fever persists for more than 3 days (72 hours) in a child 2 years of age or older.
  • Your child still “acts sick” once his fever is brought down.
  • Your child seems to be getting worse.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Why is prenatal care so important?

14
Jul
Posted by Sara

Doctor with pregnant woman during check-upGetting early and regular prenatal care can help you have a healthy and full-term pregnancy. However, a recent report shows that the preterm birth rate in the US has increased for the second year in a row. This is an alarming indication that the health of pregnant women and babies in our country is getting worse. As Stacey D. Stewart, president of the March of Dimes states, “Every mother needs healthcare throughout her pregnancy to help avoid preterm birth and birth complications, with the goal of every baby being born healthy.”

So, what can you do to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby? You should call your health care provider to schedule your first appointment as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Make sure you’re ready to talk to your provider about:

  • The first day of your last menstrual period (also called LMP). Your provider can use this to help find out your baby’s due date.
  • Health conditions. Such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and not being at a healthy weight. Conditions like these can cause problems during pregnancy. Tell your provider about your family health history.
  • Medicines. This includes prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicine, supplements and herbal products. Some medicines can hurt your baby if you take them during pregnancy, so you may need to stop taking it or switch to another medicine. Don’t stop or start taking any medicine without talking to your provider first. And tell your provider if you’re allergic to any medicine.
  • Your pregnancy history. Tell your provider if you’ve been pregnant before or if you’ve had trouble getting pregnant. Tell her if you’ve had any pregnancy complications or if you’ve had a premature baby (a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), a miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs and abusing prescription drugs. All of these can hurt your baby.
  • Stress. Stress is worry, strain or pressure that you feel in response to things that happen in your life. Talk to your provide about ways to deal with and reduce your stress. High levels of stress can cause complications during pregnancy.
  • Your safety at home and work. Tell your provider about chemicals you use at home or work and about what kind of job you have.

Make sure you go to all of your prenatal care appointments, even if you feel fine. Going to all of your checkups gives your provider the chance to make sure you and your baby are healthy and allows you to ask any questions you may have (write them down before your appointment so you don’t forget).

The March of Dimes work to give every baby a healthy start is more vital than ever. We urge everyone concerned about the health of babies to make their voices heard by going to marchofdimes.org.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Fertility myths – we’ve got the facts

12
Jul
Posted by Lauren

negtestWe’ve heard of many different theories about fertility and becoming pregnant through AskUs. We’ve rounded up some of the ones we hear most often to help you weed through fact and fiction.

Q: Can folic acid help me get pregnant?

A: If you are trying to become pregnant, it is a good idea that you take a multivitamin that contains at least 400mcg of folic acid. This will help to prevent certain birth defects if you become pregnant. Folic acid, however, is not known to help with fertility in women. So, if you are having trouble becoming pregnant, folic acid is not something that will help you to conceive.

Q: I have an irregular period, can I get pregnant?

A: If you don’t have a regular period, there are other ways you can determine when you are ovulating, such as using your basal body temperature, cervical mucus and an ovulation prediction kit. For more tips, visit here.

Q: “Does drinking caffeine or smoking cigarettes affect my fertility?”

A: You may have heard that too much caffeine can cause miscarriage (when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy). Some studies say this is true, and others don’t. Until we know more about how caffeine can affect pregnancy, it’s best to limit the amount you get to 200 milligrams each day. This is about the amount in 1½ 8-ounce cups of coffee or one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Be sure to check the size of your cup to know how much caffeine you’re getting.

Smoking can affect your fertility and make it harder for you to get pregnant. Need help quitting? We’ve got resources.

Q: If I have sex a few days before ovulation will I conceive a girl?

A: Gender is determined at the moment of conception. During ovulation the ovaries release a mature egg that begins to travel to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. Sperm travel through the uterus to fertilize the egg within the fallopian tube. Only a single sperm fertilizes an egg. Both the sperm and the egg contain 23 chromosomes that will combine to make up the zygote which contains a total of 46 chromosomes. At conception, your baby’s gender, eye color, hair color, and much more has already been determined.

Of the 46 chromosomes that make up your baby’s genetic material, two chromosomes–one from your egg and one from your partner’s sperm–determine your baby’s gender. A woman’s egg contains only X sex chromosomes. A man’s sperm, however, may contain either an X or Y sex chromosome. If, at the instant of fertilization, a sperm with an X sex chromosome meets your egg (another X chromosome), your baby will be a girl (XX). If a sperm containing a Y sex chromosome meets your egg, your baby will be a boy (XY). It is always the father’s genetic contribution that determines the sex of the baby.

There are many old wives tales about choosing the sex of your baby but none of them have been proven.

Q: Will my birth control cause infertility?

A: The type of birth control you use may affect how soon you can get pregnant once you stop using it. To check your specific birth control, visit here.

Using birth control will not hurt your chances of becoming pregnant in the future. All reversible birth control methods will help prevent pregnancy while you’re using them, but they do not have long-lasting effects on your ability to get pregnant when you stop.

Have more questions? Text or email mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

How does buying diapers support the March of Dimes?

11
Jul
Posted by Sara

pampers photoToday’s guest post is written by Natalie Diaz, preemie mom, bestselling author of “What To Do When You’re Having Two” and founder of Twiniversity. Read her inspiring story below and how you can help support other families.

I’ve spent my share of time in the NICU; 31 days to be exact. Delivering my twins at exactly 34 weeks due to HELLP Syndrome (a variant of preeclampsia), my family got to learn the ins and outs of a section of the hospital I thought I would never want to visit, let alone stay in. In hindsight, the time I spent at the Mt. Sinai NICU in New York City was not only therapeutic for my twins, but life changing for me. The team there taught me more than I thought any new mom could learn; not just from the medical side of things, but also how to heal my heart emotionally after the trauma of an unexpected early delivery.

After the twins were born, I got involved with the March of Dimes. I participated in their “March for Babies” for years and raised money that went towards research, education, support, and advocacy to help preemie parents like myself. I know the only “cure” for my prenatal condition was the delivery of my twins, and perhaps just taking some literal steps could prevent that from happening to the next mom.

In 2009, I took my desire to help preemie twin parents a step further and launched Twiniversity. With over 60% of twin babies born prematurely, I wanted to offer a place online where families of twins could read about issues exclusive to our community and gain knowledge and insight, along with connections with other twin parents who’ve walked in their shoes. So not only could I support the March of Dimes during their annual walk, but now I could support families daily.

On July 11th, you can help support the March of Dimes without ever leaving your chair on Amazon’s Prime Day. Sign up for a new Pampers subscription on Amazon Prime Day and Pampers will donate $10 to the March of Dimes to support families with babies in the NICU – up to $160,000!

If you aren’t familiar with Prime Day, it’s an online shopping celebration exclusively for Amazon Prime Members, featuring amazing deals, exclusive opportunities, and now a way to give back. Not only can parents make sure their baby has the diapers they need at an affordable price by purchasing a Pampers subscription, but on Prime Day this purchase also provides information, expert advice, tools, and comfort for families with a sick or premature baby in the NICU as part of Pampers support of the March of Dimes.

Pampers will not just be making donations on Prime Day thanks to your subscriptions, but they will also host an hours long Facebook Live on the Pampers Facebook page, kicking off at 9am EST. With social media celebrity guests, real parents with real advice, and parenting experts, you can join the Prime Day party by tuning in and using the exclusive hashtag #Pampers4Preemies.

So join the Prime celebration, save money with Subscribe & Save, know your babies are covered with up to 12 hours of leak free protection from Pampers, and help support the March of Dimes all at the same time.

See you online on the 11th! I wouldn’t miss the Pampers Online Prime Day celebration for the world.

The March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.

What are cleft lip and cleft palate?

07
Jul
Posted by Sara

cleft lipCleft lip and cleft palate occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form completely during pregnancy. A cleft lip is an opening in a baby’s upper lip. Cleft palate occurs when a baby’s palate (the roof of the mouth) has an opening in it. About 2,650 babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,440 babies are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate each year in the United States.

What causes cleft lip and cleft palate?

Cleft lip and palate happen very early in pregnancy. Your baby’s lips form between 4 and 7 weeks of pregnancy, and the palate forms between 6 and 9 weeks of pregnancy. Oral clefts don’t have to happen together—a baby can have one without the other.

We’re not sure what causes cleft lip and cleft palate. They may be caused by a combination of factors, like genes and things in your environment, such as medicines you may take. Some risk factors include:

  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes. If you have diabetes before pregnancy, you have an increased risk of having a baby with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared to women who do not have diabetes.
  • Taking certain medicines. If you have epilepsy and take anti-seizure medicines (like topiramate or valproic acid) during the first trimester, you’re more likely to have a baby with cleft lip (with or without cleft palate) than women who don’t take these medicines.

How are cleft lip and cleft palate treated?

In most cases, surgery is needed. Each baby is unique, but surgery to repair cleft lip usually is done at 10 to 12 weeks of age. Surgery for cleft palate is done between 9 and 18 months of age. Children who have a cleft lip or palate may need services such as speech therapy and special dental care as they get older.

Can cleft lip and cleft palate be prevented?

These conditions cannot always be prevented. But here are some things you can do to reduce the chance of your baby having a cleft:

  • Take folic acid. Before pregnancy, take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it every day. During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin with 600 micrograms of folic acid in it every day.
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Get a preconception checkup.
  • Get to a healthy weight before pregnancy and talk to your provider about gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy.
  • Talk to your provider to make sure any medicine you take is safe during pregnancy. Don’t stop taking any medicine without talking to your provider first.
  • Get early and regular prenatal care.
  • Protect yourself from infections. Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date, especially for rubella. Wash your hands often.

You can learn more about cleft lip and cleft palate on our website.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What you need to know about GBS

05
Jul
Posted by Sara

pregnant woman with doctorDuring your last trimester of pregnancy, you will get a test for group B strep (also called GBS). GBS is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection. Usually GBS is not serious for adults, but it can hurt newborns. It is important to get this test and know the results, so that you can protect your baby.

Who is at risk for GBS?

Many people carry GBS—in fact about 1 in 4 (25%) of pregnant women are carriers.  GBS bacteria naturally live in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts. As an adult, you can’t get it from food, water or things you touch. You can’t catch it from another person, and you can’t get it from having sex. GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms. But sometimes it can cause minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI).

However, when you are pregnant, if you have a GBS infection, it can be passed to your newborn during labor and delivery and it can make your baby very sick.

Testing and treatment for GBS

You prenatal care provider will test you for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks. The test is a simple swab of your vagina and rectum. If the results are positive, then you have GBS. Antibiotics can treat GBS but you must get them during labor and delivery. Your provider will give you the antibiotic through an IV. Treatment with antibiotics helps prevent your baby from getting the infection.

Penicillin is the best antibiotic for most women, but if you’re allergic to penicillin, your can get a different medicine.

It is not helpful to get treatment for GBS earlier in your pregnancy. The bacteria can return quickly, so you could have it again by the time you go into labor.

If you have GBS, remind your providers at the hospital when you go to have your baby. This way, you can be treated quickly. Treatment works best when it begins at least 4 hours before childbirth.

If you have GBS and you’re having a scheduled c-section before labor starts and before your water breaks, you probably don’t need antibiotics.

What are the chances I can pass GBS to my baby?

If you have GBS during childbirth and it’s not treated, there is a 1 to 2 in 100 chance (1 to 2 percent) that your baby will get the infection. The chances are higher if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Your baby is premature. This means your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Your water breaks (also called ruptured membranes) 18 hours or more before you have your baby.
  • You have a fever (100.4 F or higher) during labor.
  • You’ve already had a baby with a GBS infection.
  • You had a UTI during your pregnancy that was caused by GBS.

You can read more about GBS on our website.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

More babies being born too soon

30
Jun
Posted by Sara

pregnant woman blood pressureFor the second year in a row, the preterm birth rate in the United States has gone up. Preterm birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. According to a preliminary report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the preterm birth rate rose to 9.84% in 2016, up 2% from 9.63% in 2015.

 After seven years of a steady decline in the preterm birth rate, this increase is alarming.

Reduce your risk

We don’t know why this is happening. But we do know that there are some things a woman can do to help reduce her chance of giving birth too soon. Here are some of them:

  • See your prenatal care provider as soon as you think you’re pregnant. And go to all of your prenatal care appointments. Go even if you’re feeling fine. Prenatal care helps your provider make sure you and your baby are healthy.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs or abuse prescription drugs. Ask your provider about programs in your area that can help you quit.
  • Talk to your provider about your weight. Ask how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. Try to get to a healthy weight before your next pregnancy.
  • Get treated for chronic health conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid problems.
  • Protect yourself from infections. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, caring for small children, or blowing your nose. Don’t eat raw meat or fish. Have safe sex. Don’t touch cat poop.
  • Reduce your stress. Exercise and eat healthy foods. Ask for help from family and friends. Get help if your partner abuses you. Talk to your boss about how to lower your stress at work.
  • Wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again. See your provider for a preconception checkup before your next pregnancy.

 

Know the signs

If you have any of these signs or symptoms before 37 weeks of pregnancy, you may be having preterm labor. Call your health care provider right away if you have even one of these signs or symptoms:

  • Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucus or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual
  • Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby is pushing down
  • Constant low, dull backache
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Regular or frequent contractions that make your belly tighten like a fist. The contractions may or may not be painful.
  • Your water breaks

If you think you’re having preterm labor, call your provider. Call even if you have just one sign or symptom. There are several treatments that may help slow or stop preterm labor. And there are treatments, like antenatal corticosteroids (also called ACS), that can help reduce your baby’s chances for having health problems (like lung problems) in case he’s born early.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.