Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What does it mean to have a short cervix?

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

A short cervix means the length of your cervix is shorter than normal. To be more specific, a short cervix is one that is shorter than 25 millimeters (about 1 inch) before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Why is the length important?

If you have a short cervix, you have a 1-in-2 chance (50 percent) of having a premature birth, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. So if you have a short cervix and you’re pregnant with just one baby, your health care provider may recommend these treatments to help you stay pregnant longer:

  • Cerclage
  • Vaginal progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that helps prepare your body for pregnancy. It may help prevent premature birth if you have a short cervix and you’re pregnant with just one baby. You insert it in your vagina every day starting before or up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and you stop taking it just before 37 weeks.

If your provider thinks you have a short cervix, she may check you regularly with ultrasound.

How do you know if you have a short cervix?

Checking for a short cervix is not a routine prenatal test. Your provider probably doesn’t check your cervical length unless:

  • She has a reason to think it may be short.
  • You have signs of preterm labor. This is labor that begins too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • You have risk factors for premature birth, like you had a premature birth in the past or you have a family history of premature birth (premature birth runs in your family).

What makes a cervix short?

Many things can affect the length of your cervix, including:

  • Having an overdistended (stretched or enlarged) uterus
  • Problems caused by bleeding during pregnancy or inflammation (irritation) of the uterus
  • Infection
  • Cervical insufficiency

Read about our own Health Education Specialist Juviza’s personal experience being pregnant with a short cervix and her new connection to the March of Dimes’ mission.

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

It’s time to get your flu shot

Monday, November 6th, 2017

The flu is more than just a runny nose and sore throat, it can make you very sick. And since the flu shot is safe during pregnancy, now is the time to get yours.

Why is the flu dangerous during pregnancy?

Health complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, can be serious and even deadly, especially if you’re pregnant. If you get the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications.

Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely than women who don’t get it to have preterm labor (labor that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and premature birth (birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy).

Fever from the flu early in pregnancy may be linked to birth defects, like neural tube defects, and other problems in your baby. A birth defect is a health condition that is present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works. Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

Protect yourself

The flu shot contains a vaccine that helps prevent you from getting the flu. The flu shot can’t cause the flu and it’s safe to get a flu shot any trimester during pregnancy. As the flu season is during the fall and winter, it’s best to get it now. Tell your health care provider if you have any severe allergies or if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu shot. Severe allergic reactions to flu shots are rare, but if you have a life-threatening allergy to any flu vaccine ingredient, like egg protein, don’t get the flu shot.

Not pregnant?

You should still get your flu shot. Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu shot. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop full protection against the flu. Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for children 6 months and older, children with special needs, pregnant women and other high-risk groups.

Need more reasons to get your flu shot? We have 10 right here.

Prematurity Awareness Month has arrived and here’s how you can help

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Here at the March of Dimes November means Prematurity Awareness Month. Although we work all year round to fight preterm birth, this month we are working especially hard to get the word out about the serious problems of preterm birth and how you can help us end prematurity.

Each year in the U.S., 1 in 10 babies is born prematurely. And being born too soon is not only the leading cause of death for children under the age of five, but it can also lead to long-term disabilities. This is a heartbreaking reality for too many families. That is why we are hard at work funding groundbreaking research, education, advocacy and community programs to help give every mom the opportunity to have a healthy pregnancy and every baby the chance to survive and thrive.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Join our Twitter chat with Show Your Love on November 16th at 12pm ET. Just use #PreemieChat
  • November 17th is World Prematurity Day. Share/Retweet/Repost March of Dimes social messages with your friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Change your profile picture on Facebook with our branded World Prematurity Day frame.
  • Add a #worldprematurityday profile picture to your Twitter account with the WPD Twibbon.
  • Add your voice and sign-up to automatically post a message of support and awareness of prematurity on your personal Facebook and Twitter accounts on World Prematurity Day.
  • Participate virtually in our Imagine a World event! Make a short video sharing what you imagine for future generations. Post your video on social media using #MODImagines. Together, we’re imagining a world where every baby has the chance to thrive!

Create a purple movement!

  • Wear your March of Dimes gear and share photos using #prematurityawarenessmonth and/or #worldprematurityday and @marchofdimes.
  • Light your front porch/home/office lobby/building. Purchase purple lights through Amazon Smile! For every light purchased Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of the price of your purchase to the March of Dimes. Go to smile.amazon.com, select March of Dimes and use the search term “purple lights.”
  • Host an information booth in a prominent spot, such as outside your cafeteria, to promote November as Prematurity Awareness Month to your employees or coworkers.
  • Spread your gratitude by celebrating, thanking and remembering anyone who has helped you and/or the people you care about who have been affected by our mission.

We have much more in store this month, so stay tuned as we work to spread the word about World Prematurity Month.

Learn how to put your baby to bed safely

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Did you know SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age? SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome, but can also be called crib death. SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old and can happen without warning to a baby who seems healthy.

While we don’t know what causes SIDS, we do know that some things increase the risk of SIDS.

SIDS is more likely in a baby who:

  • Sleeps on his tummy or on his side.
  • Sleeps on pillows, soft surfaces or soft bedding.
  • Wears too many clothes to sleep or sleeps in a room that is too hot. These things can cause your baby to overheat.
  • Shares a bed with you. This is called bed-sharing. It’s when you and your baby sleep together in the same bed. Half of all babies who die of SIDS are babies who share a bed, sofa or sofa chair with another person. The American Academy of Pediatrics (also called AAP) recommends that you and your baby sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed, for the first year of your baby’s life or at least for the first 6 months.
  • Is swaddled for sleep and rolls over on his tummy. Swaddling is when you snuggly wrap a thin blanket around your baby so that it covers most of his body below the neck. It’s safe to swaddle your baby until he can roll over.  When he can roll over, stop swaddling.
  • Has parents who smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs. 

How can you put your baby to sleep safely?

  • Put your baby to sleep on his back every time until he’s 1 year old.
  • Your baby should sleep on a flat, firm surface, like a crib mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet. Use only the mattress made for your baby’s crib.
  • Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Remove any strings or ties from his pajamas and don’t cover his head. A blanket sleeper can help keep your baby warm without covering his head or face.
  • Put your baby to bed in his own crib or bassinet. Don’t bed-share.

What products can help lower a baby’s risk?

Giving your baby a pacifier for naps and at bedtime may help prevent SIDS. But if your baby doesn’t take a pacifier, don’t force it.

There are also products on the market such as special mattresses or wedges that are supposed to reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS. The AAP says not to use these products – there is no evidence they help prevent SIDS. For the same reason the AAP also advises against using home cardiorespiratory monitors as a way to reduce SIDS.

In honor of SIDS awareness month, take a minute to learn more about safe sleep for your baby. Have questions? Text or email us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org.

It’s time for the dentist

Friday, October 20th, 2017

There’s a lot to think about if you’re pregnant, or considering getting pregnant. Scheduling your preconception checkup or your prenatal care visits and remembering to take your prenatal vitamin every day are just a few of the things to keep in mind. But you also need to schedule your regular dental checkups both before and during pregnancy.

Why is dental care important during pregnancy?

Some studies show a link between periodontitis (a gum disease) and premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birthweight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces). Taking good care of your gums and teeth during pregnancy can help you and your baby be healthy.

If you haven’t been to the dentist recently, see your dentist early in pregnancy. At your checkup, tell your dentist that you’re pregnant and about any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you take. If you’re not pregnant yet, tell your dentist you’re planning to get pregnant.

How are dental issues treated?

The kind of dental treatment you get depends on the problem that you have, and how far along you are in your pregnancy.

You may just need a really good teeth cleaning from your dentist. Or you may need surgery in your mouth. Your dentist can safely treat many problems during pregnancy. But he may tell you it’s better to wait until after birth for some treatments.

What about x-rays? Are they safe during pregnancy?

An X-ray is a medical test that uses radiation to make a picture of your body on film and your dentist may recommend one if you have a dental problem. Dental X-rays can show things like cavities, signs of plaque under your gums or bone loss in your mouth. Dental X-rays use very small amounts of radiation, but you should still make sure your provider knows you’re pregnant and protects you with a lead apron and collar that wraps around your neck. This helps keep your body and your baby safe.

What if there’s tooth pain?

If you have any pain now is the time to reach out to your dentist to schedule an appointment. Your dentist may avoid treating some problems in the first trimester of pregnancy because this is an important time in your baby’s growth and development. Your dentist also may suggest postponing some dental treatments during pregnancy if you’ve had a miscarriage in the past, or if you’re at higher risk of miscarriage than other women. But it’s still important to get any pain checked out before it becomes a bigger issue.

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

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Friday, October 13th, 2017

The loss of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. If your baby died during pregnancy, in the first days of life, or even as an infant, you and your family may need support to find ways to deal with your grief and ease your pain.

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day – a time to pause and remember all angel babies.

It is important to know that parents and families are not alone in their grief. Connecting with others going through the same or a similar situation can help you process your grief. We invite all families to share and connect in our online community Share Your Story. The families in our community know what you are going through and can offer support during this devastating time and in the days ahead.

We provide resources that may help you understand what happened and how to deal with the daily pain of your loss. We encourage you to visit our website if you are looking for resources for families that have lost a baby or ways to remember your baby.

If you would like to receive our free bereavement materials, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org with your mailing address.

Loss affects entire families every day, in different ways. Read one heartfelt story of loss as seen through the eyes of a sibling.

The March of Dimes is so very sorry for your loss. We are here for you.

New study: don’t skip your Tdap vaccine

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

The March of Dimes recommends pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. This vaccine protects against pertussis (also called whooping cough). Pertussis spreads quickly and is dangerous for your baby.

In a new study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that receiving the Tdap vaccine in the third trimester of pregnancy prevented more than 78% of cases of whooping cough in babies younger than two months. The CDC has recommended pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine since 2012, but these findings confirm that the vaccine is not only beneficial, but incredibly important in order to protect your baby after birth.

The study looked at babies younger than two months old from six states from 2011 through 2014. They learned that the mothers of babies who had whooping cough were less likely to have received the Tdap vaccine during their pregnancy.

Although these findings show how effective getting Tdap during pregnancy can be, researchers also found that only 49% of pregnant woman who had a baby between fall 2015 and spring 2016 received the vaccine.

Why are these results so important?

So far in 2017 there have been more than 11,000 cases of whooping cough in the U.S. Whooping cough is a serious disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing that can make it hard to breathe. Babies younger than one year of age are at the highest risk for severe complications, hospitalization or death.

Babies don’t receive their own whooping cough vaccine until two months of age. But if a pregnant woman gets vaccinated during the third trimester of pregnancy (between 27 and 36 weeks) she can pass her antibodies on to her baby and provide protection during these first two months. This study confirms that vaccination with the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy can prevent whooping cough in babies before they are able to receive their own vaccine.

If you’re pregnant, make sure you ask your prenatal care provider about when to schedule your Tdap vaccine so that you can protect your baby.

To see when it’s time for your baby’s whooping cough vaccine (and other immunizations), see our vaccination schedule.

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

It’s September: let’s sound a rallying cry for preventing infant loss

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Today’s guest post on the importance of recognizing Infant Mortality Awareness month is from Kweli Rashied-Henry, Director of Health Equity for the March of Dimes.

It gets me every time – the sound of a baby crying always tugs at my heartstrings. I know it is a common expectation for moms and dads to anticipate the sound of their infant calling out to them. A baby’s cry can signal many things, a need for food, touch, comfort or for someone to take the pain away. For too many parents, that sound goes unfulfilled or is cut short because their infant has passed away. September is the month that reminds us of the importance of infant mortality and the need for more support, resources, education and awareness.

In the US, babies still die before their first birthday at shockingly high rates. Although we have made great strides over the past two decades, many babies do not get a chance to fully begin their lives, let alone thrive. Infant mortality is one factor typically used in healthcare and public health to assess how well we are doing as a society. Approximately 4 million babies are born each year in the US. The 2015 infant mortality rate was 5.9 per 1,000 live births, which is one of the highest among highly developed countries. That means that over 23,000 infants died in the United States in 2015. Premature birth and birth defects are two of the major contributors to the infant mortality rate.

Infant health advocates have long promoted several strategies to decrease preterm birth rates that can ultimately reduce infant death. Care innovation, research, health education, and policy advocacy are strategies that March of Dimes and other national leaders have used to reduce preterm birth rates. However, one of the most alarming trends that has interfered with efforts to reduce premature birth and infant mortality is the persistent racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the US.

For instance in 2015, Black women had a 48% higher chance of delivering preterm than their counterparts, and were more than twice as likely to experience infant loss. Reasons behind these differences are varied and complex. Understanding the relationship between people and the impact that social factors can have on their health is important to achieve health equity — health for everyone, regardless of their income, education or racial/ethnic background. According to the March of Dimes, evidence suggests that social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status (SES) at both individual and area/community levels (e.g., income/poverty, job status, education), as well as psychosocial factors (e.g. chronic stress, lack of social support) are associated with increased risk of adverse birth outcomes.

Our collective voices are critical to sounding the rallying cry that our babies so desperately need. Let it also include the importance of social supports that all moms and dads rely on to ensure that they are healthy in preparation for having healthy infants. September is the month to remember those babies who have passed away and to act by partnering with others to lend support for infant mortality prevention efforts. Remember a cry is a signal from a baby in need. Let our rallying cry signal the need for all babies to be born healthy, to grow and thrive.

 

 

 

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.