Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Traveling this summer? Stay safe from Zika

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Summer is travel season for many of us. Before your trip, make sure you’re protected from Zika. The Zika virus is still spreading in certain areas (called Zika-affected areas) around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interactive world map to show you areas with risk of Zika.  If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, don’t travel to a Zika-affected area unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If you get infected with Zika during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain and health problems. You can get infected with the Zika virus through body fluids, like blood and semen, and through mosquito bites.

If you’re planning to travel to a Zika-affected area, talk to your health care provider before you go about how to protect yourself from Zika. Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t have sex. If you do have sex, use a barrier method of birth control (like a condom or dental dam) every time.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes. Here’s how:
    • Use an insect repellant, like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Use one with one or more of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535, and 2-undecanone. These ingredients are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Stay in places that have air conditioning or screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. If you’re in a Zika-affected area and sleeping outside or in a room that doesn’t have screens on doors and windows, sleep under a mosquito net.
    • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks.

If you’ve been in a Zika-affected area, use bug spray or lotion for 3 weeks after you get back to help prevent Zika from spreading to others.

For more information:

 

Barbecues, picnics and food safety

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

For many of us, summertime means lots of barbecues and picnics. Both are popular outdoor activities and are great ways to get together with family and friends. They also include lots of grilled foods and side dishes, like pasta salad and potato salad. If you’re pregnant and planning to eat at an outdoor event, here’s what you should know:

Not all foods are safe to eat during pregnancy. Some foods are more likely than others to have harmful bacteria like Listeria or Salmonella. These bacteria can cause infections that can be dangerous during pregnancy. Deli meat, hot dogs, dry sausages, refrigerated patés or meat spread, and soft cheese, like brie and feta, are examples of foods that are most likely to be contaminated with Listeria. Food made with raw eggs, like homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, cookie dough, frostings and homemade ice cream, may have Salmonella. If you’re pregnant, don’t eat these foods.

Cold foods need to stay cold. When foods that need to be cold or refrigerated are kept at room temperature, bacteria and germs start to form. Even if the food looks and smells good, it can be contaminated and make you sick. Always keep pasta salads and potato salads in a cooler. Don’t leave them at room temperature.

Food preparation matters. Foods can become contaminated with harmful bacteria when they aren’t prepared properly or when they’re cooked or stored at the wrong temperature. Eating contaminated foods can cause food poisoning. When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to infections like food poisoning as it was before pregnancy. During pregnancy, food poisoning can cause serious problems for you and your baby, including premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your baby from food poisoning during pregnancy:

  • Make sure your food is fully cooked. Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, pork, poultry, fish or shellfish. Fully cook hamburger, steak, chicken and pork so they don’t have any blood or pink areas.
  • Don’t eat foods made with homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce or other products prepared with raw or half-cooked eggs.
  • Keep cold foods, like pasta or potato salad, in a cooler.
  • Throw away any food that sits at room temperature for more than 2 hours. It may be contaminated and may make you sick.

For more information visit:
marchofdimes.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Foodsafety.gov

Pregnancy-related death, maternal death and maternal mortality

Friday, June 29th, 2018

There are nearly 4 million births every year in the United States. Although most pregnancies and births go smoothly, some do not. Sadly, some women die from pregnancy-related causes. You may have heard about pregnancy-related death or maternal death (also called maternal mortality) in the news lately. Although pregnancy-related death and maternal death have similar meanings, they are not the same thing. So what’s the difference?

Pregnancy-related death is when a woman dies during pregnancy or within 1 year after the end of her pregnancy from health problems related to pregnancy.

Maternal death is when a woman dies during pregnancy or up to 42 days after the end of pregnancy from health problems related to pregnancy.

How common is pregnancy-related death?

The good news is that pregnancy-related death is not very common. About 700 women die each year from pregnancy-related problems. While only a small number of women are affected, this continues to be a serious problem. Unfortunately, pregnancy-related death in this country has increased over the last 25 years and continues to rise.

What causes pregnancy-related death and who is at risk?

Pregnancy-related death and maternal death may be caused by:

  • A health condition (like heart disease) that you had before pregnancy that gets worse because of pregnancy
  • A pregnancy complication, like preeclampsia (a serious condition that affects blood pressure that can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth). Other complications include infection (illness caused by bad germs) and hemorrhage (heavy bleeding).
  • Treatment you get during pregnancy

In the United States, women age 35 to 39 are about 2 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as women age 20 to 24. The risk for women who are 40 and older is even higher. Some racial groups are at higher risk as well. For

What can you do to reduce your risk?

Getting regular health care before, during and after pregnancy helps you and your health care provider find out about health problems that can put you at risk. Learning warning signs of complications can help you get early treatment and may prevent death.

Always trust your instincts. If you’re worried about your health or your pregnancy or if you have signs or symptoms of conditions that can cause problems during pregnancy, call your provider right away or go to the hospital.

March of Dimes supports efforts to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and the unacceptably large disparities in rates experienced by black women. To learn more visit marchofdimes.org/wontstop.

 

 

What is sickle cell disease?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Sickle cell disease (also called SCD) is an inherited condition that affects a person’s red blood cells. Inherited means it’s passed from parent to child through genes. A person with SCD has red blood cells shaped like a sickle. A sickle is a farm tool shaped like the letter C.

Healthy red blood cells are round and flexible. They can move easily through the body’s blood vessels. When a person has SCD, the red blood cells get stuck and clog the blood flow. These blockages cause pain, infections and sometimes organ damage and strokes. SCD also may cause anemia. Anemia is when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.

SCD or sickle cell trait

SCD happens when a person inherits a gene change for sickle cell from both parents. If you inherit the gene change from just one parent, you have sickle cell trait. Even though this means you don’t have SCD, you can still pass the sickle cell trait to your children.

If you and your partner both have sickle cell trait, there’s a:

  • 3-in-4 chance (75 percent) that your baby won’t have SCD
  • 1-in-2 chance (50 percent) that your baby will have sickle cell trait
  • 1-in-4 chance (25 percent) that your baby will have SCD
  • 1-in-4 chance (25 percent) that your baby won’t have SCD or sickle cell trait

Find out if you have SCD or sickle cell trait

You can find out if you have SCD or sickle cell trait. You are more likely to have them if:

  • You’re black or Hispanic or if your family’s ancestors are from Africa, the Caribbean, Greece, India, Italy, Malta, Sardinia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey or South or Central America.
  • Members of your family have SCD or sickle cell trait. To help you find out, take your family health history. This is a record of any health conditions that run in your or your partner’s family.

You and your partner can get tested to find out if you have SCD or sickle cell trait. There are two tests, and both are safe during pregnancy. One is a blood test, and the other is a swab inside your mouth. This means your health care provider rubs a cotton swab against the inside of your cheek to get some cells.

How can you find out if your baby has SCD or sickle cell trait?

If you or your partner has SCD or sickle cell trait, ask your provider about having a prenatal test, like amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (also called CVS) to find out if your baby has either condition.

All babies are tested for SCD after birth as part of the newborn screening tests. This allows babies who have SCD to be identified quickly and treated early. Because children with SCD are at an increased risk of infection and other health problems, early diagnosis and treatment are important.

More information

Working during pregnancy

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

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

Migraine headaches during pregnancy

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

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.

Waiting for your baby

Friday, June 1st, 2018

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.

Depression during pregnancy: What you can do

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

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:

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only occurs in 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.

Preeclampsia is a serious health problem for pregnant women around the world. It affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide. In the United States, it’s the cause of 15 percent of premature births. Premature birth is birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies. But if it’s not treated, it can cause severe health problems for you and your baby.

For most women, preeclampsia happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When it happens during the postpartum period, it is usually within 48 hours of having a baby. However, it can develop up to 6 weeks after birth.

One of the best ways to detect preeclampsia is to go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any signs. This means you may have preeclampsia and not know it. During your prenatal care checkups your health care provider will measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein. In the case of preeclampsia, there’s usually a presence of protein in the urine. 

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia 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
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing

Many of these signs and symptoms are common discomforts of pregnancy. If you have even one sign or symptom, call your provider right away. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for you and your baby, even death.

If you’re at risk for preeclampsia, your provider may want you to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. Talk to your provider to see if treatment with low-dose aspirin is right for you. Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Ten things you can do to help reduce stress during pregnancy

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Stress is very common and affects everyone. During pregnancy, you may feel that your level of stress increases. It is understandable. Your body and many aspects of your life are changing at the same time. The anticipation, excitement and adjustments associated with having a baby can also influence how you feel and how you deal with stress. It is a good idea to find ways to reduce your levels of stress. Too much stress for a long time may cause problems like high blood pressure. It can also increase the chances of having a premature baby.

Here are 10 things you can do to help you reduce stress:

  • Figure out what’s making you stressed and talk to your partner, a friend or your health care provider about it.
  • Know that the discomforts of pregnancy are only temporary. Ask your provider how to handle these discomforts.
  • Stay healthy and fit. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep and exercise (with your provider’s OK). Exercise can help reduce stress and also helps prevent common pregnancy discomforts.
  • Cut back on activities you don’t need to do.
  • Have a good support network, including your partner, family and friends. Ask your provider about resources in the community that may be able to help.
  • Ask for help from people you trust. Accept help when they offer. For example, you may need help cleaning the house, or you may want someone to go with you to your prenatal visits.
  • Try relaxation activities, like prenatal yoga or meditation.
  • Take a childbirth education class so you know what to expect during pregnancy and when your baby arrives. Practice the breathing and relaxation techniques you learn in your class.
  • If you’re working, plan ahead to help you and your employer get ready for your time away from work.
  • 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.

You can also learn about other ways to keep you and your baby safe during pregnancy. This may help ease your worries and help you enjoy this new stage in your life.

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.