Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Food safety for fall

Friday, September 15th, 2017

When preparing food for yourself or your family, it’s important to practice safe food handling to prevent foodborne illnesses. Bacteria can invade areas and surfaces in kitchens and on foods. There are easy steps for you to take to keep your family away from harmful bacteria and enjoy meals together at the same time.

What’s the best way to clean food?

• Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

• Wash all fruits and vegetables. Use a scrub brush. If you can’t get the skin clean, peel it off. This can help remove dirt and chemicals, like pesticides. A pesticide is a chemical used to keep bugs and other pests away from crops. Wash all fruits and vegetables, even if the package says it’s already been washed. Dry everything with a paper towel or clean cloth.

• Cut away damaged sections of fruits and vegetables.

• Wash utensils and cutting boards with hot soapy water after each use. Don’t use cutting boards made of wood. They can hold more germs than other kinds of cutting boards.

• After preparing food, clean countertops with hot soapy water.

What’s the best way to separate food?

• Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a different board for fruits and vegetables.

• When you’re shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices separate from other foods.

• Store raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers so that their juices don’t get on other foods.

What’s the best way to cook food?

• Use a food thermometer. It can help you cook food—especially meat—to a safe temperature. You may not be able to tell if a food is fully cooked by how it looks, so use these temperature guidelines here.

• When using the microwave, cover the food. Stop cooking to stir the food and rotate the dish to ensure the food’s warm all the way through.

• When reheating sauces, soups and gravies, bring them to a rolling boil.

What’s the best way to chill food?

• Keep the refrigerator at 40 F or below and the freezer at 0 F or below. If you don’t think your temperature is correct, use an appliance thermometer to check it. You can buy this kind of thermometer at hardware or home-supply stores.

• Refrigerate all fruits and vegetables that have been cut or peeled.

• Refrigerate all leftovers within 2 hours after eating. Use shallow containers so that the food cools quickly. When you’re ready to use the leftovers, eat them within 2 hours of taking them out of the refrigerator.

• Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter or in the sink.

• Don’t crowd the refrigerator. This may make it hard to keep food cool and safe.

Fall means school is in session and Halloween is around the corner. Learn important food safety tips for all your fall activities here.

If you have questions, feel free to email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Just had a baby, but pregnant again?

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

If you’ve already had a baby and are planning for more children, it’s best to wait at least 18 months between birth and getting pregnant again. Getting pregnant before 18 months increases your risk for certain health problems for your baby like premature birth, low birthweight and being small for gestations age (SGA).

We receive many questions through AskUs@marchofdimes.org from women who have become pregnant again in less than 18 months and want to know how to have a healthy pregnancy.

As soon as you learn you are pregnant schedule your first prenatal care appointment with your health care provider. After your first appointment be sure to continue to go to all of your prenatal care visits, even if you are feeling fine. If you have not already, start taking a prenatal vitamin with 600 mcg of folic acid in it every day to help prevent neural tube defects in your baby.

Experts don’t know for sure why getting pregnant again too soon increases your chances of complications like premature birth. So the best thing you can do is be prepared – know the warning signs of preterm labor:

  • 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 have even one sign or symptom of preterm labor, call your health care provider right away. If you have preterm labor, getting help quickly is the best thing you can do.

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

Preparing for a natural disaster

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

As Hurricane Irma makes its way to the Florida area, residents are preparing for the worst. Natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes or hurricanes can cause extreme stress and affect your everyday life. If you’re pregnant or have a baby at home, being prepared for a disaster can help you cope.

Here’s some ways you can prepare:

  • If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider. Make a plan together about what to do in case of a disaster, especially if you’ve had pregnancy complications or you’re close to your due date. If your baby is in the NICU, ask about the hospital’s plan.
  • Follow local and state evacuation instructions. If you do evacuate to a shelter, make sure to let staff there know if you are pregnant.
  • Tell your providers where you plan to go if you’re evacuated and how to contact you.
  • Write down important phone numbers and get copies of important medical records for you, your partner and children.

Pack a “disaster bag” of supplies that may be helpful if you need to leave your home. Here’s what you can put in your bag:

  • Clothes and medicine for you and your family. Make sure everyone has comfortable shoes.
  • Diapers, toys, pacifiers, blankets and a carrier or portable crib for your baby.
  • Food, snacks and bottles water. If your baby eats formula or baby food, pack those items. Include chlorine or iodine tablets to treat water from a faucet.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Batteries & flashlights
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • If you’re breastfeeding, a manual pump and clean bottles

Being pregnant during and after a hurricane can be very hard on your body.  Rest when you can, drink plenty of clean water, and make sure you eat throughout the day. Go to your regular prenatal care appointments as soon as it is safe for you to do so. If you cannot get to your regular health care provider, ask the shelter or local hospital where you can go for care.

Following a disaster, some women may experience preterm labor. Make sure you know the signs of preterm labor. 

  • 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

Contact your provider, go to a hospital , or tell someone at the shelter if you have ANY signs or symptoms. Even if you have just one sign or symptom, it is important to contact a health care provider. Getting help quickly is the best thing you can do.

Learn more about how to prepare and cope with a natural disaster.

Hurricanes and Zika

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Our hearts go out to all those experiencing the devastating effects of the recent hurricanes. In the days after a hurricane when there is widespread flooding, mosquitoes can lay eggs in the left over water. This increases the mosquito population and some of these mosquitoes may spread viruses like Zika.

According to the CDC, “although flooding caused by hurricanes can be severe and an increase in mosquito populations is expected in the coming weeks, CDC does not expect to see an increase in the number of people getting sick from diseases spread by mosquitoes, but will work closely with state and local health officials to monitor the situation.”

Studies show that hurricanes and floods themselves typically do not cause an increase in the spread of viruses. After floods though, more people are spending time outside cleaning up, so they have more exposure to mosquitos. Mosquito bites are the most common way Zika spreads. You can get infected from a mosquito that carries the Zika virus, and a mosquito can get the virus by biting an infected person. The mosquito can then pass the virus by biting someone else.

Zika is a virus that can cause serious problems during pregnancy. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Use an EPA registered insect repellant. If the product contains DEET, make sure it has at least 20 percent DEET. Don’t put bug spray or lotion on your skin under clothes.
  • Wear a hat, long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks.
  • Keep windows and front doors closed,
  • Remove still water from inside and outside your home or workplace. Check flowerpots, buckets, animal water bows and children’s pools. Clean them and turn them over so they don’t collect water.
  • If you are sleeping outside or in a room without screens on the windows or doors, buy a mosquito bed net. Get one that’s approved by the World Health Organization Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (also called WHOPES) and that’s treated with permethrin. If you use a net with permethrin, don’t wash it or put it in the sun.

If you need up-to-date information about caring for babies and children with congenital Zika syndrome, contact Zika Care Connect (ZCC). ZCC helps you find services and providers. You can search the database by things like location, kind of provider, the language the provider speaks and the insurance the provider takes. Use Zika Care Connect to find the right providers to take care of your baby.

We will check for updates as disaster relief efforts continue. Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

 

Pregnancy after a preterm birth: can you prepare?

Monday, August 21st, 2017

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant after having a premature baby, you may have many questions and concerns. Having had a premature baby in the past makes you more likely to have preterm labor and give birth early in another pregnancy.

When you’re ready to become pregnant again, schedule a preconception checkup with your health care provider. This is the best time to discuss your previous pregnancy and ask all of your questions and concerns about becoming pregnant again.

Not sure where to start? Here are some questions to ask your provider:

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

How do you know if you are having a miscarriage?

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Among women who know they are pregnant about 10 to 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage, however we don’t know the exact number because many may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

Are there signs and symptoms?

Vaginal bleeding or spotting, period-like cramps and severe belly pain are all symptoms of a miscarriage. Many women have these signs and symptoms in early pregnancy and don’t miscarry.

When should you contact your health care provider?

If you have any of the signs or symptoms, call your prenatal care provider. Your provider may want to do some tests to make sure everything’s OK. These tests can include blood tests, a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. Call your provider if you have any bleeding or spotting, even if it stops. It may not be caused by anything serious, but your provider needs to find out what’s causing it.

If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, we have support and resources to help you during this difficult time. Visit our website to learn more.

Do you have questions? Ask us

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Have a question about becoming pregnant? Do you want to learn more about what to expect during your pregnancy? Is your baby in the NICU? Let us help.

Our Health Education Specialists provide women and families with evidence-based information about having a healthy pregnancy and reducing the risk of having a preterm birth. Our specialists have been answering questions from women and families since 1997.

How can you reach our specialists?

Our specialists can answer your questions in both English and Spanish. For English, text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org. For Spanish, text or email preguntas@marchofdimes.org. You can also submit your questions through our website. Just complete our online form and one of our staff will respond within 2 business days.

Health Education Specialists all have master’s degrees in health fields such as public health, health science, nutrition and genetic counseling. We also have a certified lactation counselor on staff.

What information can our center provide?

Our specialists can provide information on many topics including:

  • starting a family
  • how to have a healthy pregnancy
  • pregnancy complication and risks
  • newborn health
  • prematurity
  • the NICU experience
  • lasting effects of prematurity
  • birth defects and special needs
  • pregnancy and infant loss.

If you are looking for information related to any of the topics listed, you’ve come to the right place. Reach out for resources and support. Our Health Education Specialists are here for you.

Heading on a vacation? If you’re pregnant, check our list first

Friday, August 4th, 2017

vacation-family-carSummer is here, which is a busy time for fun in the sun. If you’re like me, your summer schedule is filled up. I’m heading out on a vacation in a couple of weeks.

Whether you are driving or flying, a vacation requires planning and packing. If you’re pregnant, we recommend you check our travel list before you head out the door.

Before your trip:

  • Did you talk to your health care provider already? If not, reach out before your trip. If you have pregnancy complications, your provider may recommend you limit travel or take certain precautions.
  • How do you feel? Many pregnant women like traveling during their second trimester when they don’t have as much morning sickness.
  • Flying? Be sure to check your airline to see if they have a cut-off time for traveling during pregnancy.
  • Print a copy of your medical records, provider’s phone number, insurance cards and be sure to pack your prenatal vitamins and any medicine you need. Pack these in your carry-on luggage or purse.
  • Visit the CDC’s website for travel notices and avoid traveling to areas with Zika.

During your trip:

  • Eat snacks and drink lots of water.  Be sure to wear loose clothes when traveling.
  • If traveling by car, stop and take breaks. Take a loop around the rest area to help keep your blood flowing. If flying, be sure to get up and walk around every hour. You can also do ankle circles while you are sitting, to help prevent swelling in your feet.
  • If you have symptoms such as belly pain or cramps, leg swelling, vaginal bleeding, severe headaches or contractions, contact your prenatal care provider right away.

Taking some extra time before you head out will ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. If you have concerns, reach out to your health care provider and read our article.

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

Breastfeeding and support: two peas in a pod

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

sg_breastfeeding1You may have heard that breastfeeding is natural. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s why breastfeeding women need support. Support can come in many different forms and from different people. Studies show that with a supportive partner, women breastfeed longer and feel more confident about their ability to breastfeed. Whether you are a partner, friend, or family member, there are many things you can do to help support mom while she breastfeeds her little one.

How can you provide support?

  • If mom is experiencing a breastfeeding problem, offer to research the issue online to see if you can learn about solutions to relieve any discomfort.
  • Does mom need to schedule a visit with a Lactation Consultant or her health care provider? Find one in your area and offer to bring the phone, a notebook and pen and the phone numbers to her.
  • Be available to greet guests, run errands or bring mom items she may need such as water, snacks or pillows.
  • Before feedings, bring baby to mom and soothe her until mom is ready to feed. After feedings, offer to burp her.
  • Offer to cuddle baby with skin-to-skin, bathe, or read to her while mom relaxes.

Let the breastfeeding mom in your life know you are there to support her and help give her baby the best start.

Read about other helpful tips in our Breastfeeding 101 series.

Are phthalates in your food?

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

pregnant woman in greenPlastic is a man-made substance that is used to make many products like bottles, toys and furniture. One group of chemicals used in the plastic-making process is phthalates. These make plastic soft and flexible. Items that may contain this chemical include medical equipment (such as tubing), shampoo, make-up and food packaging. You can also be exposed to phthalates from processed foods. Phthalates are not added into foods directly, but they get into the food from the equipment that is used to process them.

Why are phthalates dangerous?

We don’t know the health effects of low levels of exposure to phthalates. Large amounts of exposure to phthalates during pregnancy can cause problems with your baby’s brain and behavior. For boys, they may cause problems with the prostate, which is a small gland near the bladder and penis that protects sperm.

What can you do to avoid phthalates?

  • Try to eat as many fresh foods as possible and limit your intake of processed items. We have tips to help.
  • Don’t microwave food in plastic containers or put plastics in the dishwasher. Limit canned food.
  • Don’t use shampoo, lotions or powders that contain phthalates. Check the product label to make sure it’s phthalate-free.
  • Wash your hands before eating. Teach your children to wash their hands, too.
  • Buy toys that are labeled phthalate-free or made after February 2009 and don’t let your baby chew on plastic electronics like the TV remote or a cell phone.
  • Don’t re-use single-use plastics such as water bottles, coffee cups and straws.

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