Working during pregnancy

21
Jun
Posted by March of Dimes

It comes as no surprise to know that many women work during pregnancy. Some women work right up until their due date, or close to it. One of the first things many women think about is when to share the big news with their boss and coworkers. Here are some other things to think about as a working mom to-be:

  • Your safety. It’s important to stay healthy and safe at work, especially during pregnancy. If you work with chemicals or have to lift or carry heavy things, talk to your boss about changing your job responsibilities. Standing all day or working with things like pesticides or radiation may put your health and your baby’s health at risk.
  • Time away from work for prenatal care checkups. Prenatal care is medical care you get during pregnancy. Going to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. At the beginning of pregnancy, you get a prenatal checkup once a month (every 4 weeks). Later in pregnancy you go for checkups more often. Talk to your boss about flex time or how to make up the time you miss from work.
  • Planning your maternity leave. Maternity leave is time you take off from work when you have a baby. When planning your maternity leave, think about a start date and how long you plan on staying home after your baby is born. Talk to your boss or human resources department about maternity leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (also called FMLA), employees can take time off without pay (up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year) for pregnancy- and family-related health issues. Find out how this works as part of maternity leave. Pregnancy, labor and birth go smoothly for most women. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially if you have pregnancy complications. If this happens, you may need to adjust the timing of your leave.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act says that employers can’t discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or other related health conditions. If you’re pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions, your employer has to treat you just like any other employee with a similar condition.

Pregnancy should never be the cause of a woman being discriminated against, denied opportunity, treated unfairly or compensated less. Supporting healthy pregnancies is critical to reducing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality (death). March of Dimes fights for the health of all moms and babies and works with government, employers and health care providers to make positive changes for every mom and every baby.

To learn more visit: marchofdimes.org

Choosing the right birth control for you

19
Jun
Posted by March of Dimes

Planning your pregnancy helps you be in control of having a baby when you’re ready. But until you’re ready to start your family, birth control can help keep you from getting pregnant. There are different types of birth control. Talk to your health care provider to help you choose the right birth control method for you.

Your provider can help you understand how different methods work, how well they prevent pregnancy and if they have side effects. Other things to think about when choosing birth control include how it may affect your health, your need to prevent sexually transmitted infections (also called STIs) and when you want to have a baby.

Here are some birth control options:

Intrauterine devices (also called IUDs). An IUD is a small, plastic T-shaped device that your provider puts in your uterus. IUDs are one of the most effective types of birth control. There are two types: hormonal and copper. Hormonal IUDs contain progestin, which is a form of the hormone progesterone. Hormonal IUDs can prevent pregnancy for 3 to 5 years, depending on what brand you choose. Copper IUDs don’t contain progestin. The copper on the IUD prevents pregnancy because it makes it hard for a sperm and egg to meet. Copper IUDs can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years.

Implants. An implant is a tiny rod that your provider inserts in your arm. The implant releases progestin to help prevent pregnancy. The rod is about the size of a matchstick. It’s hard to notice once it’s inserted in your arm. Implants can prevent pregnancy for about 3 years.

The pill (also called oral contraceptive). You take one birth control pill every day. Some pills have progestin only, and some have a combination of progestin and estrogen (called combined pills). If you’re older than 35, smoke or have blood clots, you may not be able to take combined pills because you may be at risk for heart disease and thrombophilias.

Condoms. Male and female condoms help prevent pregnancy by keeping your partner’s sperm from getting into your body. They also help protect you from STIs. Condoms are one of the most popular types of birth control. Most male condoms are made of latex (rubber), but some are made of lambskin and other non-latex kinds of plastic. Condoms made of lambskin may not prevent STIs. A female condom (also called an internal condom) is made of plastic or rubber and goes inside your vagina.

Abstinence. To abstain from sex means you are making a choice not to have sex. This method is the only one that is 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. It also can prevent STIs if you avoid all types of sexual activities.

Birth control, counseling and follow-up care is a preventive service covered by most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, at no extra cost to you. Learn more about recommended preventive services that are covered under the Affordable Care Act at Care Women Deserve.

For more information visit:

Migraine headaches during pregnancy

14
Jun
Posted by Juviza Rodriguez

During pregnancy your body goes through many changes. Sometimes these changes can cause discomfort, some of which can be painful. Headaches are one example. They’re often caused by changes in hormones or by stress. They also can be caused by body tension from the extra weight you carry during pregnancy. Although headaches are common during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, some women have more intense headaches called migraine headaches.

What is a migraine headache?

A migraine headache is an intense headache on one or both sides of the head. In addition to pain, migraine headaches can cause nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting. About 29.5 million Americans have migraines, and most (3 out of 4) are women.

Migraine headaches and pregnancy

Although some women who have migraine headaches may notice that their headaches improve during pregnancy, some may notice no change. And some may have an increase in migraine symptoms during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. If you have a migraine for the first time during pregnancy, or if you have a headache that feels different from headaches you usually have, call your health care provider.

Migraine treatments during pregnancy

If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant and have migraine headaches, talk to your health care provider about treatment options and medicines. Some medicines aren’t safe to take during pregnancy because they can harm your baby. This includes some over-the-counter medicines and herbal products. If you already take medicine for migraine headaches, ask your provider if it’s safe to take during pregnancy.

Here’s what you can do to help relieve or prevent headaches, including migraine headaches, during pregnancy:

  • Use warm or cold washcloth.
  • Take care of your body. Get a good night’s sleep, and do something active every day.
  • Eat healthy foods and make sure to drink plenty of water. If certain foods cause you to have headaches, don’t eat those foods.
  • Relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, yoga and massage for pregnant women, can be helpful.

Call your provider right away if your headache is severe or doesn’t go away, if you have changes in your vision or if you have high blood pressure.  These may be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia needs immediate medical attention.

Dad’s health is important for his future baby

12
Jun
Posted by Azalia Fernandez

International Men’s Health Week is June 11-17. Celebrate it by encouraging the men in your life to take steps to improve their preconception health. Yes, men’s health before pregnancy is important too.

Being healthy is beneficial to a man and his future family. Dad’s health before pregnancy is very important. Here are a few things men can do if they are thinking about having a baby in the future:

  • Get an annual medical checkup. During this wellness visit, his health care provider checks for him for health conditions, like high blood pressure and certain infections. Men can discuss their family health history and find out about medical problems that run in families. Certain medical problems may affect his future baby.
  • Avoid harmful substances in the workplace and at home. Men’s sperm may be affected when exposed to certain substances, like mercury, lead and pesticides. If your partner is exposed to substances like these at work, ask him to change his clothes before going home. This can help protect you from these substances before and during pregnancy.
  • Get to a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the chances of health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly some cancers. In addition, obesity is associated with male infertility. Men can get to a healthy weight by eating healthy foods and being active every day.
  • Stop smoking, using harmful drugs and drinking too much alcohol. All these behaviors can negatively affect men’s fertility. And they can affect you and your baby, too. For example, a pregnant woman who is exposed to secondhand smoke has a higher chance of having a baby with low birthweight than women not exposed. The smoke from cigarettes also increases health problems in babies, like ear infections, respiratory problems and sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS).
  • Prevent sexually transmitted infections (also called STIs). An STI is an infection you can get from having unprotected sex or intimate physical contact with someone who is infected. STIs can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies and cause problems like premature birth, birth defects, miscarriage and stillbirth. Ask your partner to get tested for STIs.

For more information about a man’s wellness checkup and preconception health, visit:

For the third year in a row, more babies are being born too soon.

07
Jun
Posted by March of Dimes

According to recent data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, the preterm birth rate in the U.S. rose in 2017. This is the third year in a row with an increase. In 2015, the rate increased to 9.63 percent, in 2016 to 9.85 percent, and in 2017 to 9.93 percent. This is a very alarming trend.

The data also shows great disparities among racial and ethnic groups. The most significant increase in the preterm birth rate was seen among non-Hispanic black women and Hispanic women, while the rate among non-Hispanic white women was essentially unchanged. Babies who are born too soon may face more health problems or need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born on time. Some of these babies also have long-term health effects, like problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision. These problems are affecting more babies whose moms are black or Hispanic.

At March of Dimes, we recognize an urgent need for new solutions to address the serious problems of premature birth. We are working hard to help close the racial and ethnic gaps in preterm birth rates and achieve equity in birth outcomes. We won’t stop advocating, searching for answers or supporting all moms and babies. All babies deserve the best possible start in life and the opportunity to thrive and be healthy.

To learn more visit: marchofdimes.org

Do you know what CMV is?

05
Jun
Posted by Azalia Fernandez

June is National Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to know about CMV. Here’s why:

CMV is a common viral infection that most of us get at some point in our lives, frequently during childhood. It is usually harmless and rarely causes any signs or symptoms. But if you are pregnant and get CMV for the first time, your baby can get the infection. This can lead to serious illness and lasting disabilities in some babies.

About half of all pregnant women have had CMV in the past. If you’ve already had it, you don’t need to worry about getting it again. Once you’ve been infected, CMV stays in your body for life. Although you can still pass it to your baby, this is rare and usually doesn’t cause any harm to your baby.

What do you need to know?

Most of the time CMV doesn’t cause any symptoms, which means you may not know for sure if you had it or not. Before you try to get pregnant, find out if you’ve ever been infected with CMV. Ask your health care provider for a blood test to know your CMV status. A CMV blood test detects antibodies for this infection. Your body will produce antibodies as a response from this virus. An antibody is a protein your body makes to help protect you from a foreign substance, like a virus.

The test may show:

  • Normal results: This means the test didn’t detect CMV antibodies. You will need to follow precautions to avoid getting infected with CMV.
  • Abnormal results: This means the test has detected CMV antibodies. Ask your provider if the infection happened recently or if it’s an infection that happened a long time ago. If you had a recent infection this can be dangerous when pregnant. Your provider will test your baby for CMV. If you are not pregnant yet, ask your provider how long you need to wait until it’s safe to get pregnant.

How can you get CMV?

You can get CMV by having contact with bodily fluid from a person who carries the virus. You may be more likely than other people to get CMV if you have young children at home, work with young children, or work in health care.

These precautions may protect you from getting CMV:

  • Don’t share food, glasses, straws, forks, or other utensils.
  • Don’t put a baby’s pacifier in your mouth.
  • Avoid kissing young children on the mouth.
  • Do not share personal items that may have saliva, like toothbrushes.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after changing diapers or being in contact with children’s body fluids.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org and National CMV Foundation.

Waiting for your baby

01
Jun
Posted by March of Dimes

Here are 10 things you and your partner can do together while getting ready for your baby:

  • Take your partner with you to your prenatal care checkups. Going with your partner to your prenatal checkups will give him the opportunity to meet the professionals who will take care of you during your pregnancy. He can ask questions and also find out how he can help you during your pregnancy. And he’ll love seeing the baby in the ultrasound!
  • Go to childbirth classes together. These classes will teach both of you what to expect during labor and birth. You can ask your health care provider to recommend a class near you.
  • Work together to keep a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods. Do something active every day. Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Be as healthy as you can be for your baby.
  • Talk about what it will be like to have a baby. What kind of parents do you want to be? How will having a baby affect your relationship?
  • Get your house and car ready for the baby. Where will the baby sleep? Do you have a car seat?
  • Learn about breastfeeding. Breastmilk is the best food for your baby’s growth and health. Breastfeeding also has lots of benefits for you. Your partner can support you by getting you situated and comfortable to feed. He can help by bringing extra pillows, a glass of water, a burping cloth for the baby, etc.
  • Decide who will care for the baby. Will you or your partner stay home with the baby? If you both work, do you need to hire a babysitter or find childcare for your baby? These are important questions that need to be thought of ahead of time.
  • Figure out your budget. Babies cost a lot of money! Do you have health insurance? If yes, does it cover the cost of your prenatal care and the baby’s birth? If no, go to insurekidsnow.gov to find out about health insurance from CHIP and Medicaid. Make a list of all the things you need for your baby, such as clothes, diapers and a crib. Put aside a small amount of money each week to help pay for these baby items.
  • Ask your partner for help when you need it. Tell him when you need to rest. Ask him to help around the house, shop for groceries, or make dinner.
  • Don’t forget about each other. There’s so much to think about and do to get ready for a baby. Make sure you save special time for your partner. Cuddle and be close. As long as your provider says it’s OK, it’s safe to have sex during pregnancy. Sex might feel different during pregnancy. You may need to try different positions to find one that’s comfortable.

Preeclampsia can also happen after you’ve given birth

30
May
Posted by Azalia Fernandez

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only happens during pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally. When preeclampsia happens shortly after having a baby, it is called postpartum preeclampsia.

Although postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition, it is also very dangerous. Postpartum preeclampsia most often happens within 48 hours of having a baby, but it can develop up to 6 weeks after a baby’s birth. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, postpartum preeclampsia can happen to any women, even those who didn’t have high blood pressure during their pregnancy. It can be even more dangerous than preeclampsia during pregnancy because it can be hard to identify.

After your baby is born, your attention is mostly focused on his needs. To identify the signs of postpartum preeclampsia you also need to make sure you are paying attention to your body and how you are feeling. Identifying the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia and getting help right away is extremely important. Postpartum preeclampsia needs to be treated immediately to avoid serious complications, including death.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia may include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing
  • Decreased urination
  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)

What can you do?

  • Go to your postpartum checkup, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • Know how to identify the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia.
  • If you have any of the previous signs or symptoms, tell your provider right away. If you can’t talk to your provider right away, call the emergency services (911) or ask to be taken to an emergency room.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org

Depression during pregnancy: What you can do

24
May
Posted by March of Dimes

Depression is a serious medical condition that can affect how you feel, think and act. People with depression feel sad and lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy. Depression is far more common than many of us realize. It affects about 15 percent of women during pregnancy and the year after giving birth. Women who have depression before they conceive are at a higher risk of having depression during pregnancy than other women.

What can you do?

Learn the signs and symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Having major depression is different than feeling down for a few days. The signs or symptoms of depression last for more than two weeks. These are the signs and symptoms to look for:

Changes in the way you feel 

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
  • Feeling agitated or moody
  • Crying all the time
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Thinking about death or suicide

Changes in your everyday life 

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Eating habits and appetite change (more or less than usual)
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering things or making decisions
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
  • Losing interest in things you used to do

Changes in your body 

  • Feeling tired all the time or having no energy
  • Having stomach problems, headaches or other pains that don’t go away

Some of the signs and symptoms of depression may be similar to those normally found in pregnancy. For instance, changes in appetite and trouble sleeping are common when you are pregnant. Nonetheless, if you are pregnant and have any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your health care provider right away. Depression is a serious condition, and it can be dangerous for you and your baby if it’s not detected and treated on time.

Treatment

Your provider can recommend different treatments or a combination of treatments. Some of them are: counseling (therapy), support groups, or medications. It is best that you and your provider discuss all these options and decide together what treatment is best and safe for you and your baby. You can also ask your provider to talk to your mental health provider to tailor a treatment plan according to your needs.

Note about antidepressants: Some research shows that taking an antidepressant during pregnancy may increase the risk of certain birth defects in your baby. However, if you’ve been taking an antidepressant, don’t stop taking the medicine without talking to your provider first. Not taking your medicine may be harmful to your baby, and it may make your depression to come back.

More information:

Taking care of yourself while your baby is in the NICU

22
May
Posted by March of Dimes

Having a baby in the newborn intensive care unit (also called NICU) can be very stressful for you and your family. There’s so much you need to learn and so many unknowns. It is normal that you focus most of your attention on your baby’s needs, but you also need to think about your own needs. Taking care of yourself can help you stay healthy and feel better. When you are feeling well, you will be in a better state of mind to help your baby.

Here are five things you can do to take care of yourself when your baby is in the NICU:

  • Maintain a daily routine. Having a routine can help you reduce stress. Every day focus on doing things that are good for you, like: eating healthy foods and regular meals, taking a relaxing shower, drinking plenty of water, and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Make connections with other NICU families at NICU classes, in the family lounge or in the NICU hallway. NICU families may understand how you’re feeling better than friends and family who are not necessarily going through a similar experience.
  • Visit shareyourstory.org, March of Dimes online community for families. Here you can connect and share with moms and families who have a baby in the NICU. You can find support from these parents who also have a baby in the NICU, or are going through similar experiences with their babies.
  • Consider taking breaks from the NICU. It’s OK to make time for yourself and your family. Remember, you need to be ok to be able to help others.
  • Talk to a counselor. Counselors are professionals who specialized in mental health. Talking to a counselor may help you cope with your feelings. A counselor may be someone from the NICU staff or a social worker. The NICU Staff or your health care provider can help you find a counselor.

For more information about the NICU and how to take care of yourself and your baby visit marchofdimes.org