Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Chickenpox and pregnancy – what you need to know

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

You probably don’t need to worry about chickenpox (also called varicella) if you’ve had it before or if you’ve had the chickenpox vaccine. Both of these can help make you immune to chickenpox. Immune means being protected from an infection. If you’re immune to an infection, it means you can’t get it. About 9 out of 10 pregnant women (90 percent) are immune to chickenpox.

Usually people get chickenpox during childhood. It’s caused by a virus and you can get it by being in contact with someone else’s chickenpox rash or through the air when someone with chickenpox coughs or sneezes. An infected person can spread chickenpox starting 1 to 2 days before the rash appears and until the rash stops spreading and is covered by dry scabs. This is about 5 days after the rash starts.

Chickenpox usually isn’t dangerous in children. But if you get it during pregnancy, chickenpox can be harmful to your unborn baby or newborn. Chickenpox during pregnancy may cause some babies to get congenital varicella syndrome. This is a group of birth defects that can include problems with muscles and bones, blindness, seizures, learning problems, and microcephaly. Also, 1 to 2 out of 10 pregnant women (10-20%) who get chickenpox get a dangerous form of pneumonia (a kind of lung infection).

The good news is that if you haven’t had chickenpox already, the best way to protect yourself is to get the vaccine before getting pregnant. But if you’re already pregnant, you’ll need to wait until after you give birth to get the vaccine. So if you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant and you’re not sure if you’ve had chickenpox or the vaccine, talk to your health care provider. You can get a blood test to find out if you’re immune to chickenpox.

If you’re pregnant and find out that you’re not immune to chickenpox, try to avoid anyone who has chickenpox or shingles. If you come into contact with someone who has it, tell your health care provider right away. Treatment is available, but it’s important to get it within 4 days after you’ve come into contact with chickenpox to help prevent the infection or make it less serious.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Are you getting your daily folic acid dose? Check the label

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for normal growth and development. It helps your body make red blood cells that carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. If you take folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (also called NTDs). Some studies show that it also may help prevent heart defects in a baby and birth defects in a baby’s mouth called cleft lip and palate.

How can you be sure you’re getting the right amount of folic acid?

The best way to get the right amount of folic acid is to take a daily multivitamin that has 400 mcg of folic acid. Check the back of your bottle for the label (also called supplement facts). Look for the word “folate” on the label to see how much folic acid you’re getting.

The label tells you this information:

• Serving size. This tells you how much of the product is in one serving. One multivitamin usually is one serving.

• Servings per container. This tells you how many servings are in a multivitamin bottle. For example, if two pills is one serving and the bottle has 30 multivitamins in it, that’s 15 servings.

• Nutrients, like vitamin D, folate and calcium, in each serving

• Daily value (also called DV) of one serving. DV is the amount of a nutrient in a serving. For example, if the DV of folic acid in a multivitamin is 50 percent, that multivitamin gives you 50 percent (half) of the folic acid you need each day.

What else do I need to know about the labels?

Multivitamin labels now give new information about folic acid. In the past, they just listed mcg of folic acid. Now they list “mcg DFE of folate.” For example, for folate you’ll see “400 mcg DFE.” DFE stands for dietary folate equivalent. It’s the amount of folate your body absorbs. If a serving has less than 400 mcg DFE of folate, you need more than one serving to get all the folic acid you need each day.

Can I get folic acid from food?

Some foods have folic acid added to them. Look for the word “fortified” or “enriched” on the package label on foods like:
• Bread
• Breakfast cereal
• Cornmeal
• Flour
• Pasta
• Products made from a kind of flour called corn masa, like tortillas, tortilla chips, taco shells, tamales and pupusas
• White rice

Some fruits and vegetables are good sources of folic acid. When folic acid is naturally in a food, it’s called folate. Folate is found in lentils, black beans, peanuts, leafy green veggies like romaine lettuce and spinach, citrus fruits and orange juice.

It’s hard to get all the folic acid you need from food. Even if you eat foods that have folic acid in them, take your multivitamin each day, too. Labels on food products don’t always list the amount of folic acid in the product. New food labels that list folic acid will list mcg DFE of folate, just like for multivitamins.

Read more about why folic acid is important to you and your baby.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Good hygiene can help prevent birth defects

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Now that winter has arrived, the temperatures are decreasing and the spread of germs is increasing. In an effort to stay healthy, I find myself constantly washing my hands and trying to maintain good hygiene. Hygiene refers to activities such as hand washing, bathing, and brushing your teeth, which help you stay healthy. Maintaining good hygiene is one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of infections.

Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by doing things to help reduce the risk of infection. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but by maintaining healthy hygiene, you can help prevent the spread of infection. Not sure where to start? We have tips:

Wash your hands

And wash them often. Wash them before preparing or eating food, after handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables. Wash them after being around pets or animals and after changing diapers or wiping runny noses.

Prepare food safely

Besides your hands, you should also wash all fruits and vegetables before preparing your food. Wash all surfaces and cuttings boards with warm soapy water after use as well. Separate raw meat and poultry from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Be sure to cook foods at their proper temperature and never eat cooked food that has been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours. Ready to cook a meal? We have your guide from prep to storage.

Don’t share cups, foods or utensils with your children

Keep these items out of your mouth. Children’s saliva may contain cytomegalovirus or CMV, a kind of herpesvirus that women can pass to their baby during pregnancy. CMV can cause problems for some babies, including a birth defect called microcephaly. CMV is also found in urine and other bodily fluids so be sure to wash your hands every time after changing diapers, wiping runny noses, and picking up toys.

Stay away from wild or pet rodents

This includes mice, hamsters and guinea pigs. They may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (also called LCMV) that can be harmful to you and your baby. LCMV can cause severe birth defects and miscarriage. To help prevent LCMV, keep pet rodents in a separate part of your home, wash your hands after petting and caring for them. Ask your partner or a friend to care for the pet and clean its cage. If your home has wild rats or mice, use pest control.

Let someone else clean the litter box

Dirty cat litter might contain a harmful parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis. If you have toxoplasmosis within 6 months of getting pregnant, you may be able to pass it to your baby during pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis can cause pregnancy complications such as preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks) and stillbirth. The earlier in pregnancy you get infected, the more serious the baby’s problems may be after birth.

So have a friend, partner or family member clean your cat’s litter box during your pregnancy. If you are changing the litter yourself, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands well afterward. You can also come in contact with the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis through eating raw or undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and veggies, touching utensils and cutting boards used to prepare raw meat, fruits and veggies or by touching dirt or sand. So we recommend avoiding sand boxes as well.

Practicing good hygiene daily can help you stay healthy and prevent the spread of infection.  Have questions? Email us at mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

It’s time to celebrate the old and welcome in the new! All of us at the March of Dimes and News Moms Need want to wish you and your family a very happy and healthy year ahead.

We will be on vacation between December 29, 2017 through January 1, 2018. We will return to answer your questions on January 2, 2018. Please contact your health care provider, go the the hospital, or call 911 if you believe that you are in preterm labor or have a medical emergency. The following pages on our website may be helpful to you:

Signs and symptoms of preterm labor

Pregnancy complications

Labor and birth

The newborn intensive care unit (NICU)

Loss and grief

 

Cheers! with alcohol-free alternatives

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Tis the holiday season, and often that means lots of parties and gatherings, usually involving alcohol. But if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you need to steer clear of alcoholic beverages. No amount of alcohol has been proven safe at any time during pregnancy. However, here are some delicious substitutions.

One of the easiest drink alternatives is simply mixing a fruit juice with seltzer water. If you use cranberry or pomegranate juice, you’ll have a “mocktail” with a festive red color. Add a twist of lime, and serve it in a martini glass or champagne flute. This is one of my favorite drinks every day. You can really play around with this basic recipe, changing juices and garnishes to your specific taste—and cravings.

Also, there are so many flavored seltzers available that you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching juices and seltzers to create some really unique combinations. If you freeze the fruit juice in ice cube trays, you can then add them to your favorite flavored seltzer. The combinations are really endless. And when it is time to ring in the New Year, ginger ale or sparkling cider make great alternatives to a glass of champagne. You can read our past post on Bodacious Beverages for some more great recipes.

Although alcohol may not be on the menu this holiday season, you can still share a toast with family and friends. Cheers!

Recovery after birth: common discomforts vs. warning signs

Monday, December 18th, 2017

During pregnancy, your body changed a lot. Now that your baby is here, your body is changing again. As you heal after birth, it’s normal to feel some discomforts, like soreness and fatigue. However, other symptoms may be a sign that you need follow-up medical care.

Some common postpartum symptoms can include perineum soreness, afterbirth pains, cesarean section recovery, vaginal discharge, breast engorgement, nipple pain, swelling, hemorrhoids, constipation, urinary problems and sweating.

Chances are that you’ll be healthy after giving birth. But some moms may have some health problems, like:
• Cesarean wound infection
• Deep vein thrombophlebitis (DVT), a kind of blood clot
• Endometritis, an infection in the uterus (womb)
• Mastitis, a breast infection
• Postpartum bleeding
 Postpartum depression (PPD)

Call your provider if you have any of these warning signs:
• Bleeding that’s heavier than your normal menstrual period or that gets worse
• Discharge, pain or redness that doesn’t go away or gets worse. These could be from a c-section incision (cut), episiotomy or perineal tear (a tear that happens between the vagina and rectum).
• Feelings of sadness that last longer than 10 days after giving birth
• Fever higher than 100.4 F
• Pain or burning when you go to the bathroom
• Pain, swelling and tenderness in your legs, especially around your calves
• Red streaks on your breasts or painful lumps in your breast
• Severe pain in your lower belly, feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
• Vaginal discharge that smells bad

If something feels wrong, call your health care provider. Many of these issues can be easily treated. But the key is to receive treatment before they cause a more serious problem.

If you have bleeding that can’t be controlled, chest pain, trouble breathing or signs of shock (chills, clammy skin, dizziness, fainting or a racing heart) seek help immediately through your provider or by calling 9-1-1.

Just as pregnancy is different for every woman, recovery is too. Be sure to bring up any concerns you have with your health care provider.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Dads and breastfeeding

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

A breastfeeding relationship is often viewed as one that is between mom and baby. It’s easy for dads to feel left out. But dads are an important part of breastfeeding, its true! As a dad, there are many ways you can assist your partner with feeding and bond with your baby at the same time.

There are a lot of moving parts to breastfeeding. Moms needs to get situated and comfortable to feed. This is a good time for dads to play with your baby while mom gets ready. Be sure to bring your partner any extra pillows, pieces of equipment, such as a nipple shield or other items that she may need.

While your baby is breastfeeding, bring your partner a snack and glass of water. As she finishes up, be ready to burp your baby, wipe up any extra milk around her mouth or change her diaper as needed.

Before and after feeding, practice skin-to-skin care with your baby by holding her on your bare chest. Be in charge of cuddles and bathing your baby for extra bonding time.

Breastfeeding can also come with many discomforts and problems. The more you know about breastfeeding, the more you can help your partner and your baby. If your partner mentions a discomfort, offer to research the issue or call her Lactation Consultant to ask questions or schedule an appointment. Bring her warm compresses for her engorgement or ointment for cracked nipples, if she needs them.

Dads may not be able to breastfeed, but there are many other helpful things you can do to assist your partner and bond with your baby. And studies show that the more supportive you are, the longer your partner will breastfeed and the more confident she will feel about her ability to do so.  So go ahead and jump right in – both you and your baby will be happy you did.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Wash your hands for National Handwashing Awareness Week

Friday, December 8th, 2017

The easiest way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands. You should wash your hands before and after many activities, such as when you are preparing foods or eating, after you use the bathroom, and after changing diapers or helping your child use the toilet. The simple act of washing your hands can help protect you and others from germs.

Is there really a benefit to washing hands?

You may not be able to see the germs on your hands, but they can lead to illness. Think of hand washing as your daily vaccine for staying healthy. If you’re pregnant or thinking about pregnancy, washing your hands can help protect you from viruses and infections, like CMV and toxoplasmosis. These viruses can cause problems during pregnancy.

Washing your hands is easy, just follow these easy steps:

  • Wet your hands with clean water and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to lather the soap. Be sure you get the back of your hands as well.
  • Scrub! And sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to be sure you are scrubbing long enough.
  • Rinse your hands well.
  • And dry.

If you don’t have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Just be sure to check the label. Hand sanitizers are good in a pinch, but they don’t get rid of all types of germs, so hand washing is still the best way to stay healthy.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What’s the best way to protect against the flu this season?

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Answer: an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against this potentially serious disease. And the good news is that it’s safe to get the flu shot during pregnancy.

Is the vaccine effective at preventing the flu?

Each year the CDC conducts studies to determine how effective the flu vaccine is at protecting against flu illness. It is important to note that the vaccine effectiveness can vary from season to season and depending on who is being vaccinated.

What are the benefits?

  • The flu shot can keep you from getting the flu. And the vaccine can’t cause the flu.
  • It’s safe to get the flu shot any time during pregnancy. But it’s best to get it now because flu season is October through May.
  • Getting vaccinated during pregnancy can also protect your baby after he is born and before he is able to receive his own vaccination.
  • There are different flu viruses and they’re always changing, so each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect you against three of four flu viruses that are likely to make you sick.
  • Getting the vaccine is easy. You can get the shot from your health care provider, and many pharmacies and work places offer it each fall. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find out where you can get the flu vaccine.
  • Need more reasons to get your flu shot? We have 10 right here.

Should you get the flu vaccination?

Yes! Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. However there are exceptions. There are some people who cannot get the flu shot and others who should talk to their health care provider before getting the flu shot.

For more information on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, visit here.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Many babies, even those born very premature can learn to breastfeed. Breast milk provides many health benefits for all newborns, but especially for premature or sick babies in the NICU. Feeding a premature baby may be much different than what you had planned. If you must pump, you may feel disappointed that you are not able to feed your warm baby on your breast. But, providing breast milk for your preemie is something special and beneficial that you can give him.

Here are tips to help you breastfeed your premature baby while in the NICU.

If your baby is unable to feed or latch:

• Start pumping as soon as you can to establish your milk supply. Ask a nurse for a pump and assistance.

• If your baby is tube feeding, your baby’s nurse can show you how to give your baby his feedings.

• Pump frequently, 8 to 12 times during a 24 hour span of time.

• Practice skin to skin or kangaroo care if your nurse says it is ok. Both are beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines and tubes.

If your baby is able to suckle:

• Ask to feed him in a quiet, darkened room, away from the beeping machines and bright lights.

• Many mothers find the cross cradle position very helpful for feedings. Start with kangaroo care. Then position the baby across your lap, turned in towards you, chest to chest. Use a pillow to bring him to the level of your breast if you need to.

• Babies born early need many opportunities at the breast to develop feeding skills regardless of gestational age. This requires practice and patience.

• You may need increased support to breastfeed your premature baby. Look for support from your nurses, the hospital’s lactation consultant, friends or family.

Not every tip will work for every mom. Try to find the feeding methods and solutions that work best for you and your baby. More information on how to feed your baby in the NICU can be found here.

If you have questions about how to feed your baby, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.