Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

How to keep your food safe

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

The foods you eat during pregnancy can help you and your baby be healthy. Eat healthy foods and make sure you handle and prepare them safely and correctly. Handling food safely can help prevent you from getting sick. This is especially important during pregnancy when your body’s immune system is weakened. Your immune system is your body’s way of protecting itself from illnesses and diseases.

Follow these guidelines to help protect you and your baby from harmful germs in your food.

Clean everything.

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables under running tap water before eating them. Remove surface dirt with a scrub brush. Cut away any damaged sections because they can contain harmful germs.
  • 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.

Separate, cook and chill food properly.

  • Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a different board for fruits and vegetables.
  • When you’re shopping and storing foods, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices separate from other foods.
  • Cook foods to their proper temperature. For example, cook poultry until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
  • Make sure your refrigerator’s temperature is between 32F and 40F and the freezer at 0F or below.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours after its preparation. At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes.
  • Chill foods that need to be kept cold. Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.
  • Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter or in the sink.

For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, visit marchofdimes.org

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Monday, September 10th, 2018

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month. It’s a time for us to bring attention to the fact that, sadly, babies die during infancy. And it’s a time to talk about why we must take action to help fix this problem.

Infant mortality is the death of a baby before his first birthday. According to the CDC, in 2016 the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate for Non-Hispanic black was much higher at 11.4 per 1,000 live births.

These facts are alarming. March of Dimes is working hard in advocacy, education and research to level the playing field so all moms and babies are healthy.

What are the leading causes of infant mortality in the U.S.? 

  1. Birth defects
  2. Premature birth and low birthweight
  3. Sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS)
  4. Pregnancy complications
  5. Injuries (such as suffocation)

What can you do?

Not all causes of infant mortality can be prevented. But here’s what you can do to help keep your baby healthy and reduce the risk of infant death:

Before pregnancy

  • Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid. Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects. Some studies show that it also may help prevent heart defects and cleft lip and palate in your baby.
  • Get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy. At this checkup, your provider looks for health conditions that may affect your pregnancy and the health of your baby. Your provider can help you get treated for these conditions to help your baby be born healthy.
  • Get to a healthy weight. Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy may help prevent complications during pregnancy. Eat healthy foods and do something active every day.

During pregnancy

  • Get early and regular prenatal care. Go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. This lets your provider make sure you and your baby are healthy. She also can spot and treat any problems that you may have during pregnancy.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful drugs. Alcohol, drugs and chemicals from smoke can pass directly through the umbilical cord to your baby. This can cause serious problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage, birth defects and premature birth.

After your baby’s birth

  • Make sure your baby sleeps safely. Put your baby to sleep on her back on a flat, firm surface (like a crib mattress). The American Academy of Pediatrics (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, but at least for the first 6 months.
  • Wait at least 18 months after having a baby before getting pregnant again. Getting pregnant again before 18 months can increase the chance in your next pregnancy of premature birth and low birthweight. Waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies allows your body time to fully recover from your last pregnancy before it’s ready for your next pregnancy.

Take action today

You can help us lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Join March of Dimes’ advocacy network and take action now to support legislation that can help protect moms and babies.

Visit marchofdimes.org and learn more about the steps you can take to be as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy.

Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix

Friday, September 7th, 2018

If you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or think you may be pregnant, don’t drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for your baby. If a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol in her blood quickly passes through the placenta and the umbilical cord to her baby.

According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (also called NOFAS), “When you drink alcohol, so does your developing baby. Any amount of alcohol, even the alcohol in one glass of wine, passes through the placenta from the mother to the growing baby. Developing babies lack the ability to process or metabolize alcohol through the liver or other organs.”

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases your baby’s chances of:

  • Premature birth. This is when your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies may have serious health problems at birth and later in life.
  • Brain damage and problems with growth and development.
  • Birth defects, like heart defectshearing problems or vision problems.
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (also called FASDs). Children with FASDs may have a range of problems, including intellectual and developmental disabilities. They also may have problems or delays in physical development. FASDs usually last a lifetime. If you don’t drink alcohol, it’s completely preventable.
  • Low birthweight (also called LBW). This is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Having low birthweight can cause serious health problems for some babies.
  • Miscarriage. This is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

If you stop drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy, you can help prevent these serious conditions.

What can you do?

Don’t drink alcohol if you’re pregnant or can get pregnant. This may be hard because alcohol is often part of social activities, like weddings, birthday parties or sports events. You may be used to having a glass of wine with dinner or at the end of a busy day.

Here are some tips to help you avoid alcohol during pregnancy:

  • Think about when you usually drink alcohol. Plan to drink other things, like fruit-infused water, sparkling water or plain water. Use a fun straw or put an umbrella in the glass to make it seem more festive.
  • Stay away from situations or places where you usually drink, like parties or bars.
  • Get rid of all the alcohol in your home.
  • Tell your partner and your friends and family that you’re not drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Ask them to help and support you.
  • If you need help to stop drinking, talk to your health care provider. He can help you find resources to help you stop.

For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, visit marchofdimes.org.

 

 

What you need to know about placenta previa

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

During pregnancy, the placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.

How do you know if you have placenta previa?

The most common symptom of placenta previa is painless bleeding from the vagina during the second half of pregnancy. If you have spotting or bleeding during pregnancy, call your health care provider right away. If the bleeding is severe, go to the hospital.

Not all women with placenta previa have vaginal bleeding. A routine ultrasound can identify placenta previa when there’s no bleeding. In some cases a transvaginal ultrasound is needed to find the placenta’s location. Don’t be too worried if this happens. Placenta previa found in the second trimester fixes itself in most cases.

Is there treatment?

Yes. Treatment depends on how far along you are in pregnancy, the seriousness of your bleeding and the health of you and your baby. The goal of treatment is to keep you pregnant as long as possible. But a c-section may be necessary if you have dangerously heavy bleeding or if you or your baby are having problems.

If you have a lot of bleeding, you may be treated with blood transfusions. You also may get medicines called corticosteroids. These medicines help speed up the development of your baby’s lungs and other organs. Your provider may want you to stay in the hospital until you give birth. If the bleeding stops, you may be able to go home.

If you have severe bleeding at about 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, your provider may recommend an immediate c-section. If you have bleeding at 36 to 37 weeks, your provider may suggest an amniocentesis. This test checks the amniotic fluid around your baby to see if her lungs are fully developed. If they are, your provider may recommend a c-section to avoid risks of future bleeding.

How can you reduce your risk for placenta previa?

We don’t know how to prevent placenta previa. But you may be able to reduce your risk by not smoking and not using street drugs like cocaine. Another risk for placenta previa is having multiple c-sections. The more c-sections you have, the greater your risk. C-sections should only be for medical reasons. If your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to let labor begin on its own.

Learn more about placenta previa at: marchofdimes.org

Where does all the weight gain go during pregnancy?

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Now that you’re pregnant, your body is changing to get ready for your baby. Gaining weight is an important part of pregnancy.

If you gain too little or too much weight during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other women to have certain complications, such as a premature birth. This is when your baby’s born too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

You may be wondering where all the weight goes? If you’re at a healthy weight before pregnancy and gain 30 pounds during pregnancy, here’s where you carry the weight:

  • Baby = 7.5 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid = 2 pounds. Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby in the womb.
  • Blood = 4 pounds
  • Body fluids = 4 pounds
  • Breasts = 2 pounds
  • Fat, protein and other nutrients = 7 pounds
  • Placenta = 1.5 pounds. The placenta grows in your uterus (also called womb) and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
  • Uterus = 2 pounds. The uterus is the place inside you where your baby grows

Gaining weight slowly and steadily during pregnancy is best. You may not gain any weight in the first trimester. And don’t worry if you gain a little more or a little less than you think you should in any week.  If you’re worried about your weight during pregnancy, tell your health care provider.

To learn more about weight gain during pregnancy, visit: marchofdimes.org

 

What you need to know about maternal death

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

We are facing a maternal health crisis in the United States. More and more women are dying from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. This is especially true for women of color. Black women have maternal death rates over three times higher than women of other races. This is simply not acceptable, and we will not stand by as this trend continues. You can take action now to fight for the health of all moms.

What’s the difference between pregnancy-related death and maternal death?

You may have heard these terms in the news lately. Pregnancy-related death is when a woman dies during pregnancy or within one year after the end of pregnancy from 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. Regardless of the term or timeframe, the death of a mom is tragic with devastating effects on families.

Who is most at risk?

About 700 women die each year in the United States from complications during or after pregnancy. Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. This difference may be because of social determinants of health. These are conditions in which you are born, grow, work, live and age that affect your health throughout your life. These conditions may contribute to the increase in pregnancy-related death among black women in this country.

The risk of maternal death also increases with age. For example, women age 35 to 39 are about two 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.

What you can do

If you’re pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or sharing this news with someone you love, regular health care before, during and after pregnancy helps women and health care providers find health problems that can put lives at risk. Learning warning signs of complications can help with early treatment and may prevent death.

Always trust your instincts. If you’re worried about your health or the health of someone who is pregnant, pay attention to signs and symptoms of conditions that can cause problems during pregnancy. A health care provider or hospital is your first line of defense.

Take action today

You can help us lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Take action now to support legislation that can protect the women you love and prevent maternal death. We need thousands of voices to persuade policymakers to pass laws and regulations that promote the health of women, babies and families. You also can make a donation to level the playing field so that all moms and babies have the same opportunity to be healthy. And learn about the signs and symptoms of health complications after birth that can save lives.

Nothing fishy about eating fish during pregnancy

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

When you’re pregnant, there are a few foods you need to avoid or limit. Fish can be a great part of healthy eating during pregnancy, but it’s important to eat the right kinds of fish in the right amounts. Let’s break it down — here are a few things you need to know about eating fish during pregnancy.

What can you do to get the health benefits of fish during pregnancy in a safe way?

You have probably heard that fish has a lot of health benefits. Studies suggest that eating fish during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Healthy fats in fish also help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. These healthy fats are called omega- 3 fatty acids.

During pregnancy, eat fish that is low in mercury. Mercury is a metal that can be dangerous. Fish get mercury from the water they swim in and from eating other fish. Fish that are low in mercury include:

  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Shrimp
  • Tilapia
  • Crab
  • Catfish

How much fish is safe to eat each week?

During pregnancy, eat 8 to 12 ounces a week of fish that doesn’t have a lot of mercury. If your portions are small, you can eat fish three times a week, but only two times a week if your portions are bigger. Here are some examples:

Your menu for eating fish three times a week could look like this:

  • 4 ounces of salmon
  • 4 ounces of light tuna (a small can, drained)
  • 2 ounces of shrimp (about seven medium-sized shrimp)

Your menu for eating two times a week could look like this:

  • 6 ounces of tilapia
  • 3 ounces of crab cake

Practical tip: To measure your portion size, hover your hand on top of the piece of fish. A four-ounce piece of fish should be about the same size as the palm of your hand.

Some types of fish are not as low in mercury as other types. It’s OK to eat up to 6 ounces of these fish each week during pregnancy:

  • Albacore (white) tuna
  • Halibut
  • Snapper
  • Mahi-mahi

What type of fish do you need to avoid during pregnancy?

Don’t eat fish that are high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Always check with your local health department before you eat any fish you catch yourself. Avoid undercooked or raw fish, like sushi, raw oyster and tuna tartare.

For more information about eating healthy during pregnancy visit marchofdimes.org

Vaccines during pregnancy can help protect you and your baby from infections

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. This week’s focus is on vaccines for pregnant women.

If you are pregnant, certain vaccines can help protect you and your baby from infections. When you get the recommended vaccines during pregnancy, you pass this protection to your baby.

What vaccines do you need during pregnancy?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two vaccines during pregnancy:

  1. Flu. A flu shot during pregnancy protects you from serious complications and protects your baby for several months after birth. You need a flu shot every season, as the flu strain changes year to year.
  2. Whooping cough (or Tdap). You should get Tdap at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. It is best to get it during the earlier part of this time period. You need to get the Tdap vaccine every time you’re pregnant. When you get the Tdap vaccine during your pregnancy, your body makes antibodies and you pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies give your baby some short-term, early protection against whooping cough. This helps keep him safe until he is able to get his own vaccine when he’s 2 months old.

In some special cases, other vaccines may be recommended by your provider.

  • Vaccines for travel: If you plan to travel outside of the United States during your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to discuss any special precautions or vaccines that you may need.
  • Hepatitis B: If you are pregnant and have hepatitis B, your baby is at the highest risk for becoming infected during delivery. Talk to your provider about getting tested for hepatitis B and whether or not you should get vaccinated.
  • Additional vaccines: Talk to your provider about other vaccines you may need before, during, or after you become pregnant. Not all vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy. There’re cases were some vaccines are recommended. If you have a history of chronic liver disease, your provider may ask you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A. Also, the meningococcal vaccine may be recommended by your provider if you work in a lab.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org

 

Dental health during pregnancy

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Taking care of your gums and teeth during pregnancy can help you and your baby be healthy. One way to maintain good dental health is to visit your dentist regularly. Some women may think it’s not safe to visit the dentist when they’re pregnant. This is a myth. It is safe, and also a good idea to visit your dentist during pregnancy. During your checkup, tell your dentist and hygienist that you’re pregnant and about any changes you may be having with your teeth and gums. Your dental professionals will help you keep a sparkly healthy smile during your pregnancy.

Common dental problems during pregnancy

  • Bleeding gums. High levels of progesterone can make your gums swollen, red and sore. This inflammation is called gingivitis. Without treatment, gingivitis can become a serious gum disease called periodontitis.
  • Tooth decay. It is common to have more acid in your mouth during pregnancy. This extra acid can break down your tooth coating, called enamel. This makes you more likely to get cavities.
  • Lumps on swollen gums. These are tumors that form between teeth, but they are not cancer. These tumors may be caused by having too much plaque (sticky bacteria that forms on teeth). Pregnancy tumors usually go away on their own.
  • This is a serious gum disease, and it needs treatment to avoid complications for you and your baby. Some studies have linked periodontitis to premature birth(birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birthweight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces).

What can you do?

  • Brush your teeth regularly. Brush for 2 minutes, using a toothbrush with soft bristles, twice a day. Make sure you use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss every day.  Floss at least once a day to clean in between your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing around the gum line are key to removing plaque and helping prevent periodontitis and tooth decay.
  • Rinse your mouth if you throw up. If you throw up, rinse your mouth with water to wash away the acid. If morning sickness makes you feel too sick to brush your teeth you can rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Have a dental checkup that includes an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning every 6 months. You also need a checkup during pregnancy, especially if you have any discomforts in your mouth.
  • Eat healthy foods. Eating foods packed with nutrients will help you and your growing baby get enough calcium, protein and vitamins. These nutrients will also help ensure your baby’s teeth grow healthy.
  • Limit sweets. Having too many sweet foods or drinks can lead to tooth decay. Instead of sweets, drink water and pick healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

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

Crest & Oral-B proudly support March of Dimes in the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Oral health matters, especially during pregnancy. To learn more, click HERE or visit marchofdimes.org/partners.

March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands of products.

What you need to know about group B strep and pregnancy

Thursday, July 26th, 2018


During your last trimester of pregnancy, you get a test for group B strep (also called GBS). GBS is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection. Usually, GBS is not serious for adults, but it can hurt newborns. It’s important to get this test and know the results so you can protect your baby.

Many people carry GBS — in fact about 1 in 4 (25 percent) pregnant women are carriers. Being a carrier does not mean you have an infection, it means you have this bacteria in your body. GBS bacteria naturally live in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts. You can’t get it from food, water or things you touch. You can’t catch it from another person, and you can’t get it from having sex. GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms. But sometimes it can cause minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI).

If you’re pregnant and have a GBS infection, it can pass to your baby during labor and birth and can make your baby very sick.

Testing and treatment for GBS

You prenatal care provider tests you for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The test is a simple swab of your vagina and rectum. If you have GBS, your provider gives you antibiotics during labor and birth to help prevent your baby from getting infected.  Your provider gives you the antibiotics through an IV.

Penicillin is the best antibiotic for most women. If you’re allergic to penicillin, you can get a different medicine. It’s not helpful to your baby if you get treatment for GBS early in your pregnancy. The bacteria can return quickly, so you could have it again by the time you go into labor.

If you have GBS, remind your providers at the hospital when you go to have your baby. This way you can be treated quickly. Treatment works best when it begins at least 4 hours before childbirth. If you have GBS and you’re having a scheduled c-section before labor starts and before your water breaks, you probably don’t need antibiotics.

What are the chances you can pass GBS to your baby?

If you have GBS during childbirth and it’s not treated, there’s a 1 to 2 in 100 chance (1 to 2 percent) that your baby will get the infection. The chances are higher if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Your baby is premature. This means your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Your water breaks (also called ruptured membranes) 18 hours or more before you have your baby.
  • You have a fever (100.4 F or higher) during labor.
  • You’ve already had a baby with a GBS infection.
  • You had a UTI during your pregnancy that was caused by GBS.

If you have GBS and you’re treated during labor and birth, your treatment helps protect your baby from the infection.

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information.