Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Vaccine during pregnancy protects your baby after birth

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Mom kissing her babyToday we welcome guest blogger Melissa Gambatese, MPH, Research Analyst in the Perinatal Data Center here at the March of Dimes. She offers an update on how a vaccine during pregnancy can keep your baby healthy when she is born.

 

When a new baby is born, we are so careful to protect her in every way. We wash our hands before holding her, tip toe past her room so as not to wake her, and swaddle her to keep her warm from the cold. However, one protection we may not think of is as simple and quick as a vaccination before she is even born.

Vaccines help protect us from diseases throughout life, from infancy to adulthood. But did you know that mothers can pass on the protection from some vaccines to their new baby before birth? The Tdap vaccine is one of them.

What is the Tdap vaccine?

The Tdap vaccine protects you from three diseases called tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Tetanus is caused by bacteria that attacks the nervous system. You can get tetanus through a break in your skin, like a cut or a splinter, but not from another person. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and diphtheria are highly contagious diseases caused by bacteria that are spread through coughing and sneezing.

Babies who get whooping cough can become very sick, and in rare cases, may die. The number of cases of whooping cough has been increasing since the 1980s. In 2012, more than 48,000 cases were reported. There is currently an outbreak in Washington state. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your new baby from getting the disease.

Who should get the Tdap vaccine?

Pregnant women

If you’re pregnant, you should get vaccinated during the 3rd trimester of your pregnancy. Get the vaccine every time you are pregnant, even if you’ve been vaccinated before. The protection from a previous vaccine can wear off over time, and a blood test cannot determine if you are still protected from a vaccine received earlier in your life.

Recently, the CDC published that, in 2011, only 55.7% of women in 16 states reported they received the Tdap vaccine before, during, or after their most recent pregnancy. Women who started prenatal care earlier were more likely to report they received the vaccine.

The Tdap vaccine is safe to receive during pregnancy; a recent study found that women who received the vaccine during pregnancy did not experience any increase in poor pregnancy outcomes than unvaccinated women. Talk to your health care provider-the best time to get the vaccine is during the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy. This ensures that you pass your protection on to your baby, which will help keep her safe until she is able to get her own pertussis vaccination at 2 months of age.

Brand new moms

If you did not get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, you should get the vaccine immediately after you give birth, before you leave the hospital or birthing center. It will take your body two weeks after receiving the vaccine to build up protection. You will then be less likely to pass whooping cough to your baby. New moms should get vaccinated even if you’ve been vaccinated before, because the protection from a previous vaccine wears off over time.

Relatives, close friends, and caregivers

Anyone who is around babies should get the Tdap vaccine, especially adults living in the same household as your baby. This includes grandparents, siblings, and other caregivers.

Whether you’re pregnant, a new mom, relative, close friend, or caregiver to a baby, talk to your health care provider about the Tdap vaccine. It’s just one more way we can protect our babies.

 

Summer safety

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

keeping-your-baby-safe-in-the-sun_rdax_50Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. If you are pregnant or have little ones at home, there are a lot of safety concerns to think about as the warmer weather approaches.

Food:

Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing foods that are frequently associated with food-borne illness:
• CLEAN: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. And wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully.
• SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!  When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
• COOK: Cook to proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles. After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.
• CHILL: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying

Sun:

Sunscreen is important for everyone! During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

And a baby’s skin is thin and burns much more easily than an older child’s skin. This is especially true for babies younger than 6 months.

Here’s how you can stay safe in the sun:
• Do your best to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If your baby is younger than 6 months, it is best to keep her in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
• Make sure that both of you wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that have 99 percent UV protection.
• Dress everyone in lightweight clothes that cover arms and legs.
• Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. And reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. If you are at the beach or the pool, reapply more frequently. Water and sand increase sun exposure due to the reflection of the sun off these surfaces.

Water:

Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old? And it’s the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Here are some tips for keeping your baby safe around the water:
• Never leave your child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
• Avoid all distractions—including your cell phone! Young children need all of your attention when they are near or around water.
• Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests). For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support.
• Learn CPR. It is a great skill to know. You can usually find programs in your community.

Remember these summer safety tips and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Epilepsy and pregnancy

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

speak to your health care providerEvery year in the US, approximately 20,000 women with a seizure disorder give birth. Most of these pregnancies are healthy. But there are a few additional concerns that women who have epilepsy must consider when thinking about getting pregnant.

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which a person has repeated seizures over time. Seizures are episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior. Epilepsy is a specific type of seizure disorder.

People with epilepsy are usually prescribed medication to help to control seizures. These are known as antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). There are a number of different types of AEDs and they are prescribed depending on age, the type of seizure, and the side effects of the medications. Some individuals with epilepsy may need more than one AED to control their seizures.

Can epilepsy cause problems during pregnancy?

If you have epilepsy and are thinking about getting pregnant, there are a few important things that you need to consider.

  • Women who have epilepsy have an increased chance to have a baby with a birth defect compared to women who do not have epilepsy. This may be the result of the epilepsy or the AEDs used to control seizures. Some AEDs have been associated with an increased risk of cleft lip and palate, neural tube defects, and heart defects.
  • Pregnancy can cause a change in the number of seizures. Most women with epilepsy will have no change in the number of seizures they experience or they will have fewer seizures during pregnancy. A few women will experience more seizures.

Controlling seizures during pregnancy is very important. Having a seizure during pregnancy can cause problems for you and your baby. Seizures during pregnancy can cause:

  • Decreased oxygen to the baby and fetal heart rate deceleration during the seizure.
  • Injury to the baby as a result of any falls or trauma experienced during the seizure. This can include premature separation of the placenta from the uterus (placental abruption) or miscarriage.
  • Preterm labor
  • Premature birth

Should you continue to take anti-seizure medications during pregnancy?

Many women with epilepsy are concerned about taking their AEDs during pregnancy. But according to ACOG, “Because there are serious risks associated with having a seizure during pregnancy and because the potential risk of harm to your baby from taking AEDs is small, experts recommend that seizures be controlled with AEDs, if necessary, during pregnancy. However, the type, amount, or number of AEDs that you take may need to change.”

Will you need any special care during your pregnancy?

One of the most important things that any woman can do to have a healthy pregnancy is to schedule a preconception checkup. If you have epilepsy, it is important to talk to your prenatal care provider as well as your neurologist prior to getting pregnant. Here are some other things to consider:

Before pregnancy:

  •  Review your seizure medications with both your prenatal provider and your neurologist. If changes need to be made, it is better to do this prior to getting pregnant.
  • Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. Talk to your health care team about how much folic acid is right for you.
  • Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and avoid cigarettes, alcohol.

During pregnancy:

  • Plan for additional visits to your health care providers. Medication levels will need to be monitored to make sure they stay consistent.
  • Talk to a genetic counselor about prenatal testing.
  • Most women with a seizure disorder can have a vaginal birth.
  • Women with epilepsy are encouraged to breastfeed. Talk to your health care team.

If you have epilepsy, planning and working with your health care team can help to ensure that you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

How much weight should I gain?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

During pregnancy, you need to gain a healthy amount of weight to support your growing baby. In this video, Dr. Siobhan Dolan talks about how much weight you should gain and what to do during pregnancy to maintain a healthy weight for you and your baby. It’s important to learn how gaining too much or too little weight can cause problems for your baby including premature birth. Don’t forget to talk to your provider about what is right for you.

Can your meds cause drug withdrawal in your baby?

Friday, May 15th, 2015

pillsNeonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of conditions a newborn can have if he’s exposed to addictive street or prescription drugs before birth. If you take drugs during pregnancy, they can pass through the placenta to your baby. After birth, the baby is still dependent on the drug, however, now that the drug is no longer available, the baby experiences drug withdrawal. Today, one of the most common causes of NAS is maternal use or abuse of opioids during pregnancy.

Using these drugs during pregnancy can cause NAS:

• Opioids, including the prescription medicines codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin®), morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®) and oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®). The street drug heroin also is an opioid.
• Barbiturates, like phennies, yellow jackets and Amytal®
• Benzodiazepines, like sleeping pills, Valium® and Xanax®

Signs and symptoms of NAS:

• Body shakes (tremors), seizures (convulsions), overactive reflexes (twitching) and tight muscle tone
• Fussiness, excessive crying or having a high-pitched cry
• Poor feeding, poor sucking or slow weight gain
• Breathing fast
• Fever, sweating or blotchy skin
• Trouble sleeping and yawning frequently
• Diarrhea or vomiting  (throwing up)
• Stuffy nose or sneezing

Signs and symptoms of NAS can be different for every baby. Symptoms may appear within a few minutes after birth or as much as two weeks later. NAS can last from 1 week to 6 months after birth.

Testing and treatment:

Your provider can see if your baby has NAS by testing his first bowel movement or urine. Your provider can also use what is called a neonatal abstinence scoring system which gives points for each NAS symptom depending on how severe it is. Treatment can include medicines to manage severe withdrawal symptoms, getting fluids through a needle into the vein, or giving higher-calorie baby formula to newborns that have trouble feeding or slow growth.

How can I prevent NAS?

If you’re pregnant and you use any of the drugs that can cause NAS, tell your health care provider right away. But don’t stop taking the drug without getting treatment from your provider first. Quitting suddenly (sometimes called cold turkey) can cause severe problems for your baby, including death.

If you’re addicted to opioids, medication-assisted treatment (also called MAT) during pregnancy can help your baby. NAS in babies may be easier to treat for babies whose moms get MAT during pregnancy. Medicines used in MAT include methadone and buprenorphine.

Even if you use a prescription drug exactly as your provider tells you to, it may cause NAS in your baby. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, talk to your provider about any drug or medicine you are taking.

Our website has more information on where you can find help.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Getting healthy between pregnancies

Friday, May 8th, 2015

snugglingAre you getting ready to celebrate Mother’s Day? Flowers, handmade cards, and breakfast in bed are all lovely gifts. But one of the most important things that you can do as a mom is to give yourself the gift of a healthy pregnancy. If you are planning to have another baby sometime in the future, start now to make sure that your body is ready.

The interconception period is the time between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of another pregnancy. This time between pregnancies allows you and your provider to address any risk factors that may have contributed to prior pregnancy complications, including premature birth, preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.

Here are some things to consider during the interconception period:

  • Birth spacing: Before getting pregnant again, it is best to wait at least 18 to 23 months. This gives your body time to recover from the previous pregnancy.
  • Preexisting medical conditions: Diabetes or high blood pressure can affect your pregnancy. Making sure these conditions are under control before you get pregnant again is very important. Now is the time to alter any medication dosages or change prescriptions completely. It is also the time to modify any lifestyle factors that may be contributing to your condition.
  • Weight: Trying to get to a healthy weight before pregnancy is very important. Being overweight or not weighing enough can affect your ability to conceive. And if you’re at a healthy weight before pregnancy, you’re less likely than women who weigh too little or too much to have serious complications during pregnancy.
  • Smoking: When you smoke during pregnancy, you pass harmful chemicals through the placenta and umbilical cord into your baby’s bloodstream. This can cause health problems for your baby. Being exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born with low birthweight. And secondhand smoke also is dangerous to your baby after birth. Try to quit smoking before getting pregnant again.
  • Family history: Your family health history can help you and your provider look out for health problems that may run in your family and it may help to find the cause of any past pregnancy problems.
  • Getting enough folic acid: Finally, make sure you continue to take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. All women of child-bearing age, even if they’re not trying to get pregnant, should take folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects but only if taken before pregnancy and during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman may even know she’s pregnant. Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, it’s important that all women take folic acid every day.

All of us here at News Moms Need wish you a very happy and healthy Mother’s Day!

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Nurses are central to the March of Dimes mission

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

midwifeThere is no doubt about it – nurses are critical in the care of infants in the hospital. Premature babies are cared for in the NICU by nurses with advanced education. They care for babies with serious, often life threatening medical conditions. Many families have told us how impressed they have been by the expertise, compassion and professionalism of the NICU nursing staff who cared for their baby.

In addition to being the lifeline to parents who have very sick or premature babies, nurses also work hard to help women learn how to have a healthy pregnancy. They assist women as they labor and deliver and teach a new mom how to breastfeed.

The March of Dimes is grateful to our nurses as they are health care providers, educators, researchers, fundraisers, chapter volunteers and advisors. To support them in their work, we offer continuing education modules and nursing scholarships.

As this is National Nurses Week, it is a good time to pause and think about the work that nurses do every day. Even better, it is a great time to thank them.

The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. We recognize that our nurses are a big part of helping us achieve our goals. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Preeclampsia can lead to premature birth

Monday, May 4th, 2015

preeclampsia, headachePreeclampsia affects one in every 12 pregnancies. It is the cause of 15 percent (about 1 in 8) of premature births in the United States. Women with preeclampsia are more likely than women who don’t have preeclampsia to have preterm labor and delivery. Even with treatment, a pregnant woman with preeclampsia may need to give birth early to avoid serious problems for her and her baby.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly. This condition can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or right after birth. Preeclampsia can be a serious medical condition. Without medical treatment, preeclampsia can cause kidney, liver and brain damage. It can also cause serious bleeding problems. In rare cases, preeclampsia can become a life-threatening condition called eclampsia that includes seizures. Eclampsia sometimes can lead to coma and even death.

Know the signs and symptoms:

• Severe headaches
• Vision problems, like blurriness, flashing lights, or being sensitive to light
• Pain in the upper right belly area
• Nausea or vomiting
• Dizziness
• Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
• Swelling in the legs, hands, and face

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, contact your prenatal care provider right away.

Preeclampsia can develop gradually, or have a sudden onset, flaring up in a matter of hours. You can also have mild preeclampsia without symptoms. It’s important that you go to all of your prenatal care visits so your provider will measure your blood pressure and check your urine for protein.

How is preeclampsia treated?

The cure for preeclampsia is the birth of your baby. Treatment during pregnancy depends on how severe your preeclampsia is and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Even if you have mild preeclampsia, you need treatment to make sure it doesn’t get worse. Treatments may include medications to lower blood pressure, corticosteroids or anticonvulsant medications to prevent a seizure.  If not treated, preeclampsia can cause complications during pregnancy and result in premature birth.

What causes preeclampsia?

We don’t know what causes preeclampsia, but you may be more likely than other women to have preeclampsia if you:

• are pregnant for the first time
• had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy. The earlier in pregnancy you had preeclampsia, the higher your risk is to have it again in another pregnancy.
• have a family history of preeclampsia.
• have high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, a thrombophilia, or lupus.
• are pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more).
• had in vitro fertilization (IVF) – a method used to help women get pregnant.
• have poorly controlled asthma.
• are older than 40.
• are obese.

If your provider thinks you’re at high risk of having preeclampsia, he may want to treat you with low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. Talk to your provider to see if treatment with aspirin is right for you.

 

Ice cream and listeria

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream® is recalling all of its ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches because the products may have listeria. Listeria is a kind of bacteria that can cause the food poisoning, listeriosis. This recall follows the Blue Bell ice cream recall from a couple weeks ago, also due to listeria.

You can get listeriosis and other kinds of food poisoning from harmful germs in something you eat or drink. Listeriosis can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache. Most healthy people don’t get sick from listeriosis. It mostly affects people with a weak immune system, including pregnant women, newborns, elderly people and people with health conditions, like diabetes or HIV. If you get listeriosis during pregnancy, it can cause serious and even life-threatening health problems for your growing baby.

If you have the recalled ice cream, throw it out. You also can return or exchange the recalled ice cream at the same store where you bought it. Contact Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at (614) 360-3905 or at jenis.com/recall if you have any questions.

For more information about this ice cream recall, visit the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website. Learn more about listeriosis and pregnancy.

Stop. Rest. Relax…Repeat.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

things to do I am not one who can easily relax. Usually, I need a brick wall in front of me to make me stop (or a cliff will do fine, too). Adrenaline runs through my veins. I am continually creating and updating my to-do lists (or as I call them, my must-do lists) and the I-don’t-have-time-to-relax attitude often overtakes me.

Now, I KNOW, that I need to relax, for the sake of good health and a clear mind. I KNOW I need sleep, a healthy diet and exercise. But, when the list of all that needs to be done is before my eyes, or in my hand, or on my phone, I have a very hard time turning away from it and shutting down my mind. Does this happen to anyone else out there?

As parents, we have the responsibility of providing for our children – financially, physically, emotionally and in every other way that they need. Parents of children with special needs face additional tasks to conquer, from appointments with specialists, to IEP meetings, to figuring out a system with continual twists, turns and dead ends. For pregnant women, stress related hormones may play a role in causing certain pregnancy complications. Unless we purposefully have a method or a way to shut off the engine and refuel it, we risk burn-out and ill health.

But, easier said than done.

A few years ago, I took up yoga, as I knew that it offered health benefits. Among the benefits is a curious thing called “mindfulness.” Now, I am a science geek at heart, so the touchy-feely aspect was not really something I gravitated toward. But, I gave it a try anyway. What is this thing called “mindfulness?”

Well, it is a way to help shut out the noise of everything around you (and even your own busy mind), and just…be. At first I was not able to just sit and “be.” Be what? I am a do-er. Not a be-er. But, I kept going to yoga class thinking that there must be something to this, and to just give it time.

relaxing at workEventually, (after about a year!) I got comfortable and even good at sitting down on my mat, crossing my legs, uttering OOOOOOOMMMMMMM a few times, and becoming “present in the moment.” My yoga instructor would say “you have nowhere to be, nothing to do, but to be here, present.” I would concentrate on my breathing (never did that before!), and work on blocking everything out of my mind (much harder than it sounds).

During class, I give myself permission to put the world on hold for an hour. My must-do list will be there when I am done, and my noisy world will return, but for this one hour I honor myself, I rest my mind, I invigorate my body, and I …..relax. What a concept!

When my son was in first grade, he received a writing assignment; the topic was “my favorite thing to do.” He wrote “My favorite thing to do….is to relax. I like to go home, lie on the couch, put my feet up and just watch a movie.” (His teacher was not too happy, as she expected to hear he liked to play a sport or build a Lego creation, but I found it enlightening.) His favorite thing, was letting go, relaxing….just “be”ing. Hmmmm. Kids GET this.

April is Stress Awareness Month, so, as you rush around, going from appointment to appointment, crossing off items on your must-do list, remember that you can only go so far without re-fueling. The stop-rest-relax portion of your day is as important as the go-go-go part. It does not have to be through yoga, but find something that helps you relax your body AND mind. Then, when you pick up and go again, you will be refreshed and able to handle whatever comes your way. Believe me, if I can do it, you can, too.

So, try this as your new mantra for today:  stop – rest – relax.

And tomorrow?

Repeat.

 

For more posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view our Table of Contents.