Archive for the ‘Planning for Baby’ Category

Pregnancy after a premature birth

Friday, November 9th, 2018

If you had a premature birth in the past, you may be worried about having a premature birth in another pregnancy.

No one knows for sure what causes premature birth. Even if you do everything right, you can still give birth early. Women who have had a premature birth in the past are at increased risk of having a premature birth in another pregnancy. If you’ve given birth early, here are some things you can do to help reduce your risk for premature birth in your next pregnancy:

Wait 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again.

Waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies gives your body time to recover from one pregnancy so it’s ready for the next one. Use birth control so you don’t get pregnant again too soon. Talk to your health care provider about the best birth control option for you.

Get a preconception checkup.

This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. Being as healthy as possible when you get pregnant can help you have a healthy, full-term pregnancy. At your preconception checkup you and your provider can talk about:

Talk to your provider about progesterone shots.

Progesterone is a hormone that helps your uterus grow and keeps it from having contractions. Progesterone shots may help prevent premature birth if both of these describe you:

  • You were pregnant before with just one baby and had spontaneous premature birth. Spontaneous premature birth means labor started on its own.
  • You’re pregnant with just one baby.

Talk to your provider about your risk for preeclampsia.

If you’re at risk for preeclampsia, your provider may recommend that you take low-dose aspirin (baby aspirin) to help prevent it. Preeclampsia is a kind of high blood pressure some women get after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth. If not treated, it can cause serious problems during pregnancy, including premature birth.

Quit smoking, drinking alcohol and using harmful drugs.  

All of these can put your health and your baby’s health at risk and make you more likely to give birth early. Quitting or getting help to quit is the best thing you can do. Talk to your provider about programs that can help you quit.

To learn more about reducing your risk for premature birth, visit: marchofdimes.org

A quick guide to preconception health

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

If you are thinking of getting pregnant, whether it’s soon or sometime in the future, one thing is for sure—your preconception health matters! So what is preconception health exactly?

Preconception health is your health before pregnancy. In addition to helping improve your chances of getting pregnant, being healthy before pregnancy can help prevent complications when you do get pregnant. Good preconception health includes getting a preconception checkup and talking to your health care provider about any health conditions you, your partner and everyone in your families have had.

Once you and your partner feel you are ready to have a baby, it’s important that you start to focus on your health at least 3 months before you start trying to get pregnant. Here are some things you can do:

Take a vitamin supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it each day. This is very important. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine in your baby called neural tube defects (NTDs).

Stay away from harmful substances. Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs. All of these can make it harder for you to get pregnant, and they’re harmful to your baby when you do get pregnant. Tell your provider if you need help to quit.

Make sure medicines you take won’t harm your baby. Some medications are not safe to use when you’re pregnant, so you may need to stop taking them or switch to something safer. Tell your provider about any medicine you take. Don’t stop taking any prescription medicine without your provider’s OK. Stopping certain medicines, can be more harmful to you or your baby than taking the medicine. If you take prescription opioids (medicine used to relieve pain) tell your provider, even if it was prescribed to you by another provider. Using opioids during pregnancy can cause problems for your baby.

Get treatment for health conditions. Conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure can cause serious problems if they are not under control. Your provider can also check for infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Get vaccinated. Make sure all of your vaccinations are up to date before pregnancy. Infections like chickenpox and rubella (also called German measles) can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. Get a flu shot once a year before flu season (October through May).

Get to a healthy weight. If you are overweight or underweight, you are at higher risk for complications, like premature birth. Talk to your provider about what a healthy weight is for you.

Take care of your mental health: If you think you may be depressed, talk to your provider right away. There are many ways to deal with depression. Getting treatment and counseling early may help.

Heart conditions and pregnancy

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

It’s not surprising to hear that being healthy before pregnancy can help prevent pregnancy complications. But if you have a heart condition like heart disease or a health problem like high blood pressure (which can lead to heart problems), you might worry about how it could affect your pregnancy. Here are a few things to know:

  • High blood pressure can cause preeclampsia and premature birth during pregnancy. But managing your blood pressure can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
  • During pregnancy, your heart has much more work to do than before you got pregnant. It has to beat faster and pump more blood. If you have heart disease, then this extra stress on your heart may be a concern.
  • Most women with heart disease have safe pregnancies. But symptoms of heart disease can increase during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters.
  • Some medicines carry a risk for birth defects. These include ACE inhibitors and blood thinners. These are a type of medicine that may be used to treat heart and blood pressure conditions. If you take these medicines, ask your health care provider about their safety and about other medicines that may be safer for you and your baby. But don’t stop taking any medicine without your provider’s OK.

Planning your treatment before pregnancy

Planning your pregnancy can help you make informed decisions about what’s best for you and your baby. Heart problems are one of the leading causes of pregnancy related-death. Getting early treatment for conditions that can cause complications during and after pregnancy may help save your life.

If you have a heart condition, talk to your health care team (for example, your cardiologist and obstetrician) before you get pregnant. They can help you understand what risks (if any) you may have during pregnancy. You also can talk to them about any concerns you have, like changing to a safer medicine. You may want to meet with a genetic counselor to review the risks of passing congenital heart problems to your baby. This risk varies depending on the cause of the heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your provider about a treatment plan to help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. By managing your health before pregnancy, you and your provider can make sure you’re ready for pregnancy.

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about having a healthy pregnancy and reducing your risk for complications.

Get vaccinated before pregnancy

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

If you’re planning a pregnancy, make sure that you are up-to-date on all of your vaccinations. Vaccinations contain medicine that makes you immune to certain diseases. If you’re immune, you can’t get the disease. You can get vaccinations to prevent certain infections, like chickenpox and rubella (also called German measles), that can harm you and your baby during pregnancy.

Why do adults need vaccinations?

You probably got vaccinations as a child, but they don’t all protect you your whole life. Over time, some vaccinations stop working. So you may need what’s called a booster shot as an adult. And there may be new vaccinations that weren’t available when you were young.

What vaccinations do you need before pregnancy?

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to help make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. At your checkup, ask your provider if you need any vaccinations and how long to wait after getting them to try to get pregnant.

Your provider may recommend these vaccinations before you get pregnant:

  • Flu (also called influenza). Get the flu vaccine once a year before flu season (October through May). There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four flu viruses that are likely to make people sick during the upcoming flu season. If you get the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications, such as pneumonia.
  • HPV (stands for human papillomavirus). This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also called CDC) recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine. You can’t get the HPV vaccine during pregnancy, so if you need it, get it before you get pregnant.
  • MMR (stands for measles, mumps and rubella). This vaccine protects you against the measles, mumps and rubella. Wait 4 weeks after you get an MMR vaccination before you get pregnant.
  • Varicella (also called chickenpox). Chickenpox is an infection that causes itchy skin, rash and fever. It’s easily spread and can cause birth defects if you get it during pregnancy. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and you never had the chickenpox or the vaccine, tell your provider. Wait 1 month after you get this vaccination to get pregnant.

Your provider may recommend other vaccinations before pregnancy to protect you against certain diseases, depending on your risk. These include:

  • Pneumonia. This is an infection in one or both lungs.
  • Meningitis. This is an infection that causes swelling in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Hepatitis A and B. These are liver infections caused by the hepatitis A and B viruses.
  • Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (also called Hib). This is a serious disease caused by bacteria. It can cause meningitis, pneumonia, other serious infections and death.
  • Tdap (stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). Pertussis also is called whooping cough. In some cases, providers recommend a Td vaccination, which protects against tetanus and diphtheria but not pertussis. Ask your provider what’s best for you.

Learn more about vaccinations before and during pregnancy at: marchofdimes.org

Cleft lip and cleft palate: causes and prevention

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Cleft lip and cleft palate happen when a baby’s lip or mouth doesn’t form completely during pregnancy. Cleft lip is an opening in a baby’s upper lip. Cleft palate is an opening in the roof of a baby’s mouth. Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects. About 1 or 2 in 1,000 babies (less than 1 percent) are born with cleft lip and palate each year in the United States.

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. Cleft lip and palate don’t have to happen together — a baby can have one without the other.

What causes cleft lip and cleft palate?

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 everyday life, like certain medicines you take. Risk factors include:

  • Having a family history of cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy
  • Having diabetes before pregnancy
  • Taking certain anti-seizure medicines during the first trimester of pregnancy, like topiramate or valproic acid
  • Being obese during pregnancy.

How can you reduce your baby’s risk for cleft lip and palate?

Here’s what you can do to reduce your baby’s risk:

  • Take folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that can help prevent certain birth defects in your baby. Before pregnancy, take a vitamin supplement 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. This is a checkup you get before pregnancy to help make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant.
  • Get to a healthy weight before pregnancy and talk to your provider about gaining the right 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. This is medical care you get during pregnancy to make sure you and your baby are doing well.
  • Protect yourself from infections. Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date, especially for rubella (also called German measles). Wash your hands often.

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information.

Choosing the right birth control for you

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

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:

Dad’s health is important for his future baby

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

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:

Your health is a priority

Monday, May 14th, 2018

From May 13 to May 19, we celebrate National Women’s Health Week.

We take this time as an opportunity to empower and remind all women that their health is and should always be a priority.

There are steps you can take to be as healthy possible all throughout your life.

 

Here are 6 steps you can take to get started:

  1. Schedule a well-woman check-up every year. Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s or 40s, an annual well-woman visit is a great way to keep track of your health and help prevent, identify and treat health problems. This is also a great time to discuss your family health history, family planning goals, and personal habits.
  2. Take a vitamin supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it every day, even if you’re not trying to get pregnant.
  3. Do something active every day. You don’t need a gym membership to exercise. Walking, dancing, and even doing housework are good ways to stay active.
  4. Eat healthy foods. Eating healthy foods can help your body stay healthy and strong. It can also help you get to and maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Pay attention to your mental health. Make sure you get enough sleep and learn to manage stress.
  6. Don’t smoke, and avoid unhealthy behaviors, like texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet.

A well-woman visit 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.

Visit the Office of Women’s Health page to find out what other steps you can take for good health.

What you need to know about infertility

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

April 22-28 is National Infertility Awareness Week. Many couples struggle with infertility. In the United States, about 10 to 15 percent of couples have infertility problems. This can cause a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety.

How do you know if you or your partner have an infertility problem?

If you have been trying to get pregnant for several months without any luck, you may start wondering if that’s normal. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex. Infertility problems affect both men and women. About one-third of the cases are due to female factors, and male factors account for one-third of the cases. The rest of the cases are a combination of factors or the causes cannot be identified. There are many factors that can affect fertility, such as:

What can you do?

If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for 3-4 months, don’t give up and keep trying. You may just need a little more time. Talk to your provider if you’re worried that it’s taking too long. You and your partner should schedule a visit with your provider if:

  • You are a woman who is younger than 35 and have not been able to get pregnant after trying for 12 months.
  • You are a woman who is 35 years old or older and have not been able to get pregnant after trying for 6 months

Your provider may do some tests to help identify if there’s a problem. You can also learn more about certain lifestyle changes that can help you and your partner lower the risk of having fertility problems.

For more information:

 

Your preconception to-do list

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

You know that staying healthy during your pregnancy is important. But did you know that having a healthy baby actually starts before you get pregnant? Preconception health is your health before pregnancy. Being healthy before pregnancy can help improve your chances of getting pregnant  and it can help to reduce the chances of complications during your pregnancy. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, make sure you start to focus on your health at least 3 months before you start trying to conceive. Here are some things you can do:

Schedule a preconception checkup: This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy. It helps your health care provider make sure you’re healthy and that your body is ready for pregnancy. Your provider can identify, treat, and sometimes prevent health conditions that may affect your pregnancy.

Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid: Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. If you take it before and during early pregnancy, it can help protect your baby from birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects.

Review your family healthy history: Your family health history is a record of any health conditions that you, your partner and everyone in your families have had. Your family health history can help you and your provider look for health conditions that may run in your family. Use the March of Dimes Family Health History Form to gather information.

Get to a healthy weight: You’re more likely to have health problems during pregnancy if you’re overweight or underweight. Talk to your provider about what is a healthy weight for you.

Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use street drugs: All of these can make it harder for you to get pregnant and they’re harmful to your baby when you do get pregnant. Tell your provider if you need help to quit.

Review medications that you take: Some medications are not safe to use when you’re pregnant but there may be other alternatives.  Don’t stop taking any prescription medicine without your provider’s OK. Stopping certain medicines, like medicines for asthma, depression or diabetes, can be more harmful to you or your baby than taking the medicine. Talk to your provider about the medications you take.

Get treatment for health conditions: This includes making sure chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure are under control. Your provider can also check for infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some STIs can be passed to your baby during pregnancy or a vaginal birth.

Get vaccinated: Make sure you are caught up on all of your vaccinations before pregnancy. Infections like chickenpox and rubella (also called German measles) can harm you and your baby during pregnancy.

Stay safe from viruses and infections: Wash your hands well (especially after contact with any bodily fluids or raw meats), avoid undercooked meats, let someone else change the litter box, and don’t share food, glasses, or utensils with young children.