Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Thinking about becoming pregnant? Are you worried about your diabetes?

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Diabetes and pregnancyDiabetes can cause problems during pregnancy, such as premature birth, birth defects and miscarriage. But don’t panic; with some planning ahead, you can become as healthy as possible before you become pregnant.

When you eat, your body breaks down sugar and starches from food into glucose to use for energy. Your pancreas (an organ behind your stomach) makes a hormone called insulin that helps your body keep the right amount of glucose in your blood.  When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin well, so you end up with too much sugar in your blood.

Too much sugar can cause serious health problems, like heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. High blood sugar can be harmful to your baby during the first few weeks of pregnancy when his brain, heart, kidneys and lungs begin to form. It’s really important to get treatment for diabetes to help prevent problems like these.

If you are thinking about becoming pregnant and have diabetes, here are a few tips:

  • Manage your diabetes to get your blood glucose levels in to your target range. Try to get it under control 3-6 months before you start trying to become pregnant.
  • Take a multivitamin that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
  • Talk to your provider about any medications you are taking to make sure that they are OK to continue taking when you do get pregnant. He or she may want to change some medications now, before you get pregnant.
  • Eat healthy foods and keep moving.
  • Get support and guidance. Talk with your provider, a diabetes educator or a dietician about how to manage your diabetes.

Not sure if you are at increased risk of developing diabetes? Read our post to find out.

Remember: If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, now is the time to talk to your doctor about getting as healthy as you can before you conceive. Take small steps now toward a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Eating during labor

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Woman in laborYou may have heard a news report saying that it is okay for a pregnant woman to eat a light meal during labor. In fact, they even said it may be a good idea for some women, based on new research from Canada (not yet published). But, don’t rush out for a cheeseburger on your way to the hospital; you need to know all the details.

Current medical guidelines say that a woman should not eat solid food once she is in labor. The reason is to protect her from aspirating (breathing) food into her lungs. If a woman eats and then needs an emergency C-section, she could be at risk of aspirating during the surgery. Aspiration may lead to pneumonia, too. So, not eating any solid foods during labor is a guideline to protect the mother. (It is also the rule for scheduled C-sections and other surgeries.)

Labor is physically demanding, even grueling. A particularly long labor can leave a woman totally exhausted and lacking in energy, especially for when she needs to push. A little bit of food may go a long way in boosting her energy level. And, this study found that due to medical advances in anesthesia, eating a little bit of light food would probably not have a bad effect on a woman in labor.

The Canadian review looked at 385 prior studies and concluded that anesthesiologists and obstetrical doctors (OB/GYN) should work together to identify women for whom a light meal may be beneficial. They emphasized that doctors must identify women at low risk for aspiration – this is extremely important. And, each woman needs to be assessed individually.

But what does ACOG say?

As of the writing of this blog post, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) has not changed their position on eating during labor. Their position remains that “solid foods should be avoided in laboring patients.”

How about liquids?

ACOG says “Although there is some disagreement, most experts agree that oral intake of clear liquids during labor does not increase maternal complications…modest amounts of clear liquids may be allowed for patients with uncomplicated labor.” So, if you can’t eat solid foods, clear liquids (such as broth) may help increase your energy level. But whether it is safe for you to drink anything at all is something you should discuss with your prenatal health care provider.

What’s the bottom line?

Remember, this study has not been published yet, and ACOG has not changed its guidelines.

As with all medical procedures, talk with your health care team to determine what is best for you.


Considering using a midwife? Here is info to help you choose a maternity care provider.

Monday, October 26th, 2015

pregnant-woman-on-weight-scale-shrunkSpecial thanks to our guest, Ginger Breedlove, PhD, CNM, FACNM, for providing this post.

A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) and Certified Midwife (CM) are trained health professionals who have completed a graduate education program. They can provide you with a full range of services before and during pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum. CNMs and CMs are experts in the care of women who have a healthy pregnancy.

Midwives work in collaboration with physicians for consultation and referral if complications should arise. CNMs and CMs primarily deliver babies in the hospital (97%) with 3-4 % attending at home or in birthing centers.

What can a CNM/CM midwife provide?

  • Gynecological exams
  • Preconception planning
  • Labor and delivery support
  • A more natural childbirth experience
  • Assistance and support with breastfeeding and newborn care

Is there anything a CNM/CM cannot do?

Midwives are trained and licensed to provide comprehensive maternity care services, and work with physician’s to provide medical assistance when necessary. CNMs and CMs provide care to women desiring a non-medicated birth, as well as women that choose epidural anesthesia for birth. Should you need a medical intervention, they work with the collaborating physician and medical team for special care such as Cesarean section. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or a condition such as high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes, or develop a medical complication, your midwife will refer you to an obstetrician for care.

There are different training credentials for midwives, including some (CPMs) that do not have nursing or graduate degree education.

Here is helpful information about the variety of midwife credentials in the U.S.:

  • Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM)  are registered nurses who have graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program, passed a national exam and are certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board. CNMs can practice in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Certified Midwives (CM) are midwives who have completed a midwifery accredited education program and have passed the same national exam as CNMs. CMs can practice in 5 states: Delaware, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Certified Midwives are also certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board.
  • Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) have training and clinical experience in childbirth and have passed a national exam. CPMs are certified through the North American Registry of Midwives. The majority of CPMs work in private homes and a few in birthing centers.

How do you find or learn more about a midwife?

The American College of Nurse-Midwives can help you find a midwife in your area.
The National Association of Certified Professional Midwives also provides information on midwives.

Dr.Ginger BreedloveGinger Breedlove, PhD, CNM, FACNM is the current President of the American College of Nurse Midwives and full-time professor at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. She currently sits on the March of Dimes National Nurse Advisory Council, and is engaged in numerous working groups to improve the health of mothers and babies during the childbearing years. As a midwife for over 35 years, Dr. Breedlove has cared for women in hospitals as well as birthing center settings.

Is VBAC the right choice for you?

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

doctor with pregnant womanVaginal birth after cesarean (or VBAC) is safe for many women and their babies. There may be some risks and not everyone is appropriate for a VBAC, so it is important to discuss your personal medical history with your health care provider.

Benefits of VBAC

The majority (60-80%) of women who attempt a VBAC are successful. The benefits of a VBAC include:

  • No need for surgery
  • Shorter recovery time than after a c-section
  • Lower risk of infection, blood, loss, or other complications related to a c-section.

Can I have a VBAC?

You may be able to have a VBAC if:

  • You had at least one vaginal birth prior to your c-section.
  • Your c-section was performed for a reason that is not a concern in the current pregnancy (for example, the baby was breech).
  • You had a low transverse incision. This means the cut was made from side-to-side on your lower abdomen. This is the most common kind of c-section incision.
  • You and your baby are healthy.
  • Your labor starts on its own, before your due date.

Who should not have a VBAC?

A VBAC may not be a safe choice if:

  • Your c-section was not done by a low transverse incision. Other types of c-section incisions aren’t safe for VBAC.
  • There are any problems with the placenta, such as placenta previa.
  • You have certain health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or genital herpes.
  • You are pregnant with multiples (twins or more).
  • You have had two or more c-sections but have never had a vaginal birth.
  • Your labor is induced.
  • You are past your due date.
  • Your baby is very large.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that providers should offer VBAC to all women with healthy pregnancies who are good candidates for VBAC and who don’t have any of the complications listed above.

But ACOG also says that providers should do VBACs only in hospitals and facilities that have certain emergency care services. These services may not be available everywhere, so some providers and hospitals may not offer VBAC.

If you think you may be a good candidate for a VBAC, make sure you talk to your health care provider. Together you can decide what the best choice is for you and your baby.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Grieve, connect & share on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Infant lossThe loss of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. The feelings of grief you and your family may experience can be overwhelming. The March of Dimes is so sorry for your loss.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and today we are remembering all angel babies. It is important to know that parents and families are not alone in their grief. We provide resources that may help you understand what happened and how to deal with the daily pain of your loss.

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 encourage you to visit our website if you are looking for resources for siblings, dealing with others while you grieve, and remembering your baby.

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

Send an e-card

If you know someone who has lost a baby, we have e-cards available for you to send to them. Share them today on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day or any other day to let a grieving parent know you are thinking about them.

We are here for you.

World Thrombosis Day

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

pregnant woman blood pressureA blood clot (also called a thrombosis) is a mass or clump of blood that forms when blood changes from a liquid to a solid. The body normally makes blood clots to stop the bleeding after a scrape or cut. But sometimes blood clots can partly or completely block the flow of blood in a blood vessel, like a vein or artery. This can cause damage to body organs and even death. Blood clots affect 900,000 people each year and as many as 100,000 people die each year due to blood clots.

Risk factors for blood clots

Certain conditions make you more likely to have a blood clot. These include:

  • Being pregnant. Your blood clots more easily during pregnancy to help your body get ready to lessen blood loss during labor and birth. Also, blood flow in your legs gets slower late in pregnancy. This is because the blood vessels around your pelvis and other places are more compressed (narrow) and your growing uterus (womb) puts pressure on your pelvis.
  • Having certain health conditions, like a thrombophilia, high blood pressure, diabetes or being overweight or obese.  A family history of blood clotting problems also increases your chances of blood clots. If you have a family history or a personal history of a thrombophilia, make sure you tell your health care provider.
  • Taking certain medicines, like birth control pills or estrogen hormones. These medicines can increase the risk of clotting. If you’ve had problems with blood clots or thrombophilias or have a family history of these conditions, birth control pills may not be safe for you to use. Talk to your health care provider about other birth control options.
  • Smoking. Smoking damages the lining of blood vessels, which can cause blood clots to form.
  • Having surgery, like a cesarean section. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that doctors help prevent blood clots in women during a c-section. This may include using devices that put pressure on your legs to help keep your blood flowing during the c-section, like compression socks.
  • Being dehydrated. This means you don’t have enough water in your body. Dehydration causes blood vessels to narrow and your blood to thicken, which makes you more likely to have blood clots.
  • Not moving around much. This may be because you’re on bed rest during pregnancy or recovering from surgery. Being still for long periods of time can lead to poor blood flow, which makes you more likely to have blood clots. Even sitting for long periods of time, like when travelling by car or plane, can increase your chances of having a blood clot.
  • Having a baby. You’re more likely to have a blood clot in the first 6 weeks after birth than women who haven’t given birth recently.

Know the signs

Make sure you recognize the symptoms of a blood clot. These include:

  • Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm)
  • Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or Charley horse
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg (or arm) warm to touch

If you have any signs or symptoms, contact your health care provider right away. Blood clots can be treated with special medications.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Are you in an abusive relationship? Help is available

Monday, October 12th, 2015

abuse during pregnancyAbuse can be emotional or physical and is never okay. Almost 1 in 6 pregnant women have been abused by a partner and abuse often gets worse during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center receives emails from pregnant women concerned about abuse. One woman was receiving threats from her ex-boyfriend. He told her if she called the police, he would hurt her other children. Another woman said she had been hit in the stomach and was concerned that her baby had been hurt. A third woman said her boyfriend didn’t want her to  have the baby and threatened to throw her down the stairs.

These are not stories. They are real.

Emotional abuse can come in many different forms: name calling, blaming you for something you haven’t done, controlling your behavior or telling you what you should be doing. Physical abuse can include hitting, clapping, kicking, choking, pushing or even pulling your hair. And sometimes, an abuser will aim these blows at a pregnant woman’s belly. This kind of violence not only can harm you, but it also can put your unborn baby in grave danger. Physical abuse can lead to miscarriage and vaginal bleeding. It can cause your baby to be born too soon, have low birthweight or physical injuries.

Are you in an abusive relationship? Ask yourself:

  • Does my partner always put me down and make me feel bad about myself?
  • Has my partner caused harm or pain to my body?
  • Does my partner threaten me, the baby, my other children or himself?
  • Does my partner blame me for his actions? Does he tell me it’s my own fault he hit me?
  • Is my partner becoming more violent as time goes on?
  • Has my partner promised never to hurt me again, but still does?

What can you do?

Help is available.

  • Call the national domestic violence hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or (800) 787-3224 TTY or 9-1-1.
  • Recognize you are in an abusive relationship and tell someone you trust. They may be able to put you in touch with a domestic violence program or hotline, shelter or safe haven for abused women.
  • Find a safe place – with a friend, neighbor or family member.
  • Put together some extra cash and important documents or items such as a driver’s license, health insurance cards, bank account information, social security cards and prescription medications.
  • Pack a bag; include toiletries, extra change of clothes for you and your children, and an extra set of house and car keys and give this bag to someone you trust to hold it for you safely.

Remember: No one deserves to be physically or emotionally abused. Recognize the signs of abuse and seek help. You might feel very scared at the thought of leaving, but you’ve got to do it. You and your baby’s life depends on it.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Depression: symptoms and treatment options

Friday, October 9th, 2015

contemplative woman faceDepression is more than just feeling sad. It is a medical condition that affects your thoughts, feelings, and even causes changes to your body. You may have depression if you have any of these signs that last for more than 2 weeks:

Changes in your feelings 

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
  • Feeling restless or moody
  • Crying a lot
  • Feeling worthless or guilty

Changes in your everyday life 

  • Eating more or less than you usually do
  • Having trouble remembering things, concentrating or making decisions
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Losing interest in things you usually like to do

Changes in your body 

  • Having no energy and feeling tired all the time
  • Having headaches, stomach problems or other aches and pains that don’t go away

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your health care provider.

Depression during pregnancy

If you’ve had depression before, you’re more likely than other women to experience depression during pregnancy. If left untreated, depression during pregnancy can affect your baby. If you’re pregnant and have depression that’s not treated, you’re more likely to have:

  • Premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
  • A low-birthweight baby (a baby weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces).
  • A baby who is more irritable, less active, less attentive and has fewer facial expressions than babies born to moms who don’t have depression during pregnancy.

It’s best if a team of providers treats your depression during pregnancy. These providers can work together to make sure you and your baby get the best care. They may include your prenatal care provider and a professional who treats your depression (such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or counselor).

There are several treatment options available for depression during pregnancy including talk therapy, support groups and medicine, such as antidepressants.

Some research shows that taking an antidepressant during pregnancy may put your baby at risk for certain health conditions. But if you’ve been taking an antidepressant, it may be harmful to you to stop taking it. So talk with your provider about the benefits and risks of taking an antidepressant while you’re pregnant. Together you can then decide what you want your treatment to be. If you’re taking an antidepressant and find out you’re pregnant, 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 come back.

If you’re pregnant and you have any signs of depression, talk to your health care provider. There are things you and your provider can do to help you feel better.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Colds and pregnancy

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

resting pregnant womanYou know the symptoms—a runny nose, sore throat, stuffy head, coughing, and congestion. Catching a cold while you are pregnant won’t hurt you or your baby, but it can be very annoying and make you uncomfortable.

The common cold is a viral infection that is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and contact with another infected individual.

During pregnancy you may be more likely to catch a cold. When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body knows that pregnancy is OK and that it shouldn’t reject your baby. So, your body naturally lowers the immune system’s ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. But a lowered immune system means you’re more likely to catch viruses like colds and the flu (one of the many reasons it is so important to get your flu shot).

Preventing a cold

The best way to prevent a cold is by practicing good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Don’t share eating utensils.

Treating a cold during pregnancy

Unfortunately there is no cure for a cold. Antibiotics will not help because they do not work on viruses. If you are thinking about taking an over-the-counter medication to treat any cold symptoms, make sure you talk to your health care provider first. Not all medications are safe to use during pregnancy.

If you are under the weather, getting lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids will help you to feel better. Some other ideas include:

  • Saline nasal drops to loosen mucus;
  • Using a humidifier in your room to help reduce congestion (but be sure you follow the instructions to keep it clean);
  • Drinking warm decaffeinated tea with lemon or honey to help relieve a sore throat;
  • Raising your head when you are resting to help you breathe better.

Most colds last 7-10 days. Make sure you call your doctor if you have one or more of the following signs:

  • A fever over 100.4F;
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days or are severe or unusual;
  • Signs and symptoms of the flu; or
  • Uncontrollable, violent coughing that makes it hard to breathe. This may be a sign of pertussis or whooping cough. Make sure you get your Tdap vaccine at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Moving through pregnancy: tips to stay active

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Pregnant woman walkingMoving, staying active and gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy can help keep you and your baby healthy. For most women, being active during pregnancy is a good thing. But you don’t need to head to the gym to increase activity. With a few daily changes to your routine, you’ll be moving more in no time.

Healthy pregnant women need at least 2½ hours of exercise each week which is about 30 minutes each day. This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, get moving by doing a few minutes of activity throughout your day.

Here are some tips to help you reach your fitness goals:

  • Park farther away in the parking lot when you visit stores or go grocery shopping.
  • Set a timer on your phone to get up, stretch and walk around your house or office once every hour.
  • If you are watching TV, take the time to stretch out your arms and legs.
  • Walk and talk while you are on the phone, whether it be outside or around your house.
  • When walking around the office, grocery store or parking lot, walk the long way instead of taking shortcuts.
  • Plan fun outdoor weekend activities. Apple picking season is in full-swing – take a walk around the orchard while you pick some apples.
  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Calling or emailing your co-worker at work? Get up and take a walk over to chat instead.

Tomorrow is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. The goal is “to encourage women to take control of their health; to learn the facts they need to make smart healthy choices, and to make time for regular physical activity.” By making small changes to your day, you can reach your fitness goals. Be on the lookout for events planned in your local area.

Read our article to understand why physical activity is good for most pregnant women and to learn which activities are safe.