Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Pregnancy after a preterm birth: can you prepare?

Monday, August 21st, 2017

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant after having a premature baby, you may have many questions and concerns. Having had a premature baby in the past makes you more likely to have preterm labor and give birth early in another pregnancy.

When you’re ready to become pregnant again, schedule a preconception checkup with your health care provider. This is the best time to discuss your previous pregnancy and ask all of your questions and concerns about becoming pregnant again.

Not sure where to start? Here are some questions to ask your provider:

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

How to stay healthy and safe at work

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Most women who work will continue to do so during pregnancy—some will work up to the day of their baby’s birth. But sometimes working during pregnancy can have some challenges. Here are some tips that can help you stay safe and comfortable at work throughout your pregnancy.

Common pregnancy discomforts

  • Nausea: Unfortunately morning sickness can happen at any time during the day. To help manage your nausea, try to avoid foods and smells that bother you and snack on crackers or other bland foods. And make sure you are drinking lots of fluids!
  • Fatigue: Being pregnant can be exhausting—especially during the first trimester. During your work day, try to get up and walk for a few minutes or even take a power nap in your car during your lunch break. Get to bed early, exercise, and eat healthy foods.

Workplace safety

  • Dangerous substances: If you work with metals (such as mercury or lead) chemicals, or radiation, talk to your health care provider. Describe your work environment and any safety equipment you or your company uses. Your provider can then tell you if it’s safe for you to keep working during pregnancy.
  • Heat: Working in places that are very hot can raise your body temperature. If your body temperature is too high, it could be dangerous to the baby. Make sure you talk to your provider.
  • Heavy duty jobs: If your job includes heavy lifting or climbing, it might not be safe during pregnancy. Nausea, fatigue and dizziness can make it hard to do these jobs safely. And your added weight can throw off your sense of balance and make you more likely to fall. You may need to talk to your employer about taking on other job responsibilities during your pregnancy.
  • Infections: If you work with children or in a health care setting, you may be at risk for infections. Wash your hands regularly. If you think you were exposed to an illness, talk to your provider right away.

Computers and desks

If you work on a computer or sit at a desk for most of the day, comfort is key. To avoid wrist and hand discomforts, neck and shoulder pains, backaches and eye strains, follow these tips:

  • Take short breaks often and walk around your office or building.
  • Adjust your chair, keyboard and other office equipment to be more comfortable.
  • Use a small pillow or cushion for lower back support.
  • Keep your feet elevated by using a footrest.
  • Be sure to use the correct hand and arm positions for typing.
  • Use a non-reflective glass screen cover on your computer monitor.
  • Adjust the computer monitor for brightness and contrast to a setting that is comfortable for your eyes.

It’s important that the work environment around you is safe for you and baby. If you have concerns, speak with your health care provider and your supervisor at work.

You can learn more ways to stay safe at work on our website

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

What vaccines do you need before, during, and after pregnancy?

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, it is very important to make sure that you are up-to-date on all of your vaccinations. Vaccines help protect you from infection and you pass this protection to your baby during pregnancy. This helps keep your baby safe during the first few months of life until he gets his own vaccinations.

Before pregnancy

These vaccines are recommended before you get pregnant:

  • Flu. Get the flu vaccine once a year before flu season (October through May). There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four flu viruses that are likely to make people sick during the upcoming flu season. If you come down with the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications, such as pneumonia.
  • HPV. This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts. The infection also may lead to cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine.
  • MMR. This vaccine protects you against the measles, mumps and rubella.
  • Varicella. Chickenpox is an infection that causes itchy skin, rash and fever. It’s easily spread and can cause birth defects if you get it during pregnancy. It’s also very dangerous to a baby. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and you never had the chickenpox or the vaccine, tell your provider.

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, schedule a preconception checkup, so your provider can make sure you are up-to-date with all of your vaccinations.

During pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy:

  1. Flu shot if you didn’t get one before pregnancy. The flu mist isn’t safe to use during pregnancy.
  2. Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy at 27 to 36 weeks. The Tdap vaccine prevents pertussis (also called whooping cough). Pertussis is easily spread and very dangerous for a baby.

Not all vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider to make sure any vaccination you get is safe.

After pregnancy

If you haven’t caught up on vaccinations before or during pregnancy, do it after your baby’s born.

If you didn’t get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, make sure to get it right after you give birth. Getting the Tdap vaccine soon after giving birth prevents you from getting pertussis and passing it on to your baby. Your baby should get his first pertussis vaccine at 2 months old.

Until your baby gets his first pertussis shot, the best way to protect him is to get the vaccine yourself and keep him away from people who may have the illness. Caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby should also get a Tdap vaccine at least 2 weeks before meeting your baby. Babies may not be fully protected until they’ve had three doses of the Tdap vaccine.

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s safe to get routine adult vaccines, but ask your provider if you have concerns.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

How do you know if you are having a miscarriage?

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Among women who know they are pregnant about 10 to 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage, however we don’t know the exact number because many may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

Are there signs and symptoms?

Vaginal bleeding or spotting, period-like cramps and severe belly pain are all symptoms of a miscarriage. Many women have these signs and symptoms in early pregnancy and don’t miscarry.

When should you contact your health care provider?

If you have any of the signs or symptoms, call your prenatal care provider. Your provider may want to do some tests to make sure everything’s OK. These tests can include blood tests, a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. Call your provider if you have any bleeding or spotting, even if it stops. It may not be caused by anything serious, but your provider needs to find out what’s causing it.

If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, we have support and resources to help you during this difficult time. Visit our website to learn more.

Medical reasons you may need a c-section

Friday, August 11th, 2017

A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus. If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any medical complications, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth. However, sometimes your health care provider may suggest that you have a c-section for medical reasons. In these cases, a c-section can help to keep you and your baby safe.

You and your provider may schedule a c-section because of known pregnancy complications, such as:

There are also situations that come up during labor and childbirth that may require you to have an unplanned (emergency) c-section. Here are some possible reasons you may need to have an unplanned c-section:

  • Your baby is too big to pass safely through the vagina.
  • Your baby is in a breech position (his bottom or feet are facing down) or a transverse position (his shoulder is facing down). The best position for your baby at birth is head down.
  • Labor is too slow or stops.
  • Your baby’s umbilical cord slips into the vagina where it could be squeezed or flattened during vaginal birth. This is called umbilical cord prolapse.
  • Your baby has problems during labor, like a slow heart rate. This is also called fetal distress.
  • Your baby has a certain type of birth defect.

Remember, if you’re scheduling your c-section for medical reasons,make sure to talk to your provider about waiting until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy, if possible. This gives your baby the time she needs to grow and develop before birth.

If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any medical reasons to have a c-section, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth. But for some women and their babies, a c-section is safer than a vaginal birth. If you have questions or concerns about whether a c-section may be right for you, talk to your health care provider.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Heading on a vacation? If you’re pregnant, check our list first

Friday, August 4th, 2017

vacation-family-carSummer is here, which is a busy time for fun in the sun. If you’re like me, your summer schedule is filled up. I’m heading out on a vacation in a couple of weeks.

Whether you are driving or flying, a vacation requires planning and packing. If you’re pregnant, we recommend you check our travel list before you head out the door.

Before your trip:

  • Did you talk to your health care provider already? If not, reach out before your trip. If you have pregnancy complications, your provider may recommend you limit travel or take certain precautions.
  • How do you feel? Many pregnant women like traveling during their second trimester when they don’t have as much morning sickness.
  • Flying? Be sure to check your airline to see if they have a cut-off time for traveling during pregnancy.
  • Print a copy of your medical records, provider’s phone number, insurance cards and be sure to pack your prenatal vitamins and any medicine you need. Pack these in your carry-on luggage or purse.
  • Visit the CDC’s website for travel notices and avoid traveling to areas with Zika.

During your trip:

  • Eat snacks and drink lots of water.  Be sure to wear loose clothes when traveling.
  • If traveling by car, stop and take breaks. Take a loop around the rest area to help keep your blood flowing. If flying, be sure to get up and walk around every hour. You can also do ankle circles while you are sitting, to help prevent swelling in your feet.
  • If you have symptoms such as belly pain or cramps, leg swelling, vaginal bleeding, severe headaches or contractions, contact your prenatal care provider right away.

Taking some extra time before you head out will ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. If you have concerns, reach out to your health care provider and read our article.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Protecting your baby from hepatitis B

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Contemplative woman with babyHepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that is caused by an infection with the hepatitis B virus. “Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver.

Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It spreads through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, like blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluid. It can spread easily through breaks in the skin or in soft body tissues in the nose, mouth and eyes.

You can get hepatitis B if you:

  • Have unprotected sex with an infected partner.
  • Use street drugs and share needles with an infected person.
  • Share things like razors and toothbrushes with an infected person.
  • Come in contact with blood, open sores or body fluid from an infected person. This may happen if you work in a health care setting, like a hospital, doctor’s office or lab, or if you work in public safety, like as a police officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician (also called EMT).

Hepatitis B is NOT spread through sneezing, coughing, hugging or breastfeeding. Even though the virus can be found in saliva, you can’t get it from kissing or sharing forks, spoons, or knives with someone who’s infected.

If you don’t have hepatitis B, get vaccinated and ask your partner to get vaccinated, too. Vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B and pregnancy

If you have hepatitis B during pregnancy and it’s not treated, you can pass it to your baby. This can happen during a vaginal delivery or a c-section. About 9 out of 10 babies (90 percent) infected at birth develop chronic hepatitis B infection. This infection can cause life-long liver problems for your baby.

Getting tested for hepatitis B is a routine part of prenatal care. Your health care provider will test for hepatitis B and other infections at your first prenatal care checkup.

If you do test positive for hepatitis B, your health care provider may prescribe you an antiviral medication during your pregnancy. And soon after birth, your baby will receive 2 shots:

  • A Hepatitis B vaccination within 24 hours. She will then need two more doses in the first 18 months of life, which she can get through her well-baby checkups.
  • A Hepatitis B immune globulin (also called HBIG) shot within 12 hours of birth. HBIG is a type of antiviral that gives your baby extra help to fight off the infection

These shots help prevent your baby from getting hepatitis B. After your baby receives all of her hepatitis B shots, her health care provider will do a blood test to make sure the treatment worked. The blood test is usually done 1-2 months after the last shot, so make sure to follow up with your baby’s health care provider.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Are phthalates in your food?

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

pregnant woman in greenPlastic is a man-made substance that is used to make many products like bottles, toys and furniture. One group of chemicals used in the plastic-making process is phthalates. These make plastic soft and flexible. Items that may contain this chemical include medical equipment (such as tubing), shampoo, make-up and food packaging. You can also be exposed to phthalates from processed foods. Phthalates are not added into foods directly, but they get into the food from the equipment that is used to process them.

Why are phthalates dangerous?

We don’t know the health effects of low levels of exposure to phthalates. Large amounts of exposure to phthalates during pregnancy can cause problems with your baby’s brain and behavior. For boys, they may cause problems with the prostate, which is a small gland near the bladder and penis that protects sperm.

What can you do to avoid phthalates?

  • Try to eat as many fresh foods as possible and limit your intake of processed items. We have tips to help.
  • Don’t microwave food in plastic containers or put plastics in the dishwasher. Limit canned food.
  • Don’t use shampoo, lotions or powders that contain phthalates. Check the product label to make sure it’s phthalate-free.
  • Wash your hands before eating. Teach your children to wash their hands, too.
  • Buy toys that are labeled phthalate-free or made after February 2009 and don’t let your baby chew on plastic electronics like the TV remote or a cell phone.
  • Don’t re-use single-use plastics such as water bottles, coffee cups and straws.

Have questions? Text or email us at mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Pregnant in the heat – can I get some sleep?

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

sleepingAs your belly is getting bigger, and the temperatures get hotter, your hours of sleep may be getting smaller. Lack of sleep is a common complaint we hear from pregnant women. Trying to get comfortable, rearranging pillows and having to get up to use the bathroom are only a few of the culprits that can cause lack of sleep.

But getting a good night’s sleep is crucial– just as important as eating nutritious food and drinking enough water. Eating, staying hydrated and sleeping are the foundations to good health and a happy pregnancy.

Trouble sleeping doesn’t just happen late in pregnancy; sleeplessness can happen right from the beginning. And if you’re experiencing hot summer temperatures and don’t have air conditioning, you may be feeling the heat, literally. No only that, the same pregnancy hormone that causes fatigue during the day can disrupt your sleep cycle at night. And if you have added anxiety or stress, this will only increase the problem.

So what can you do? here are a few tips to help you sleep through the summer heat:

  • The basement or bottom level of houses are usually the coolest – try setting up a temporary bed when the temps rise.
  • Wet a washcloth in cool water and place it around your neck.
  • Sleep with light, breathable sleepwear and sheets.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning in your house, use one or more fans to help you stay cool.

Between heat, bathroom trips and rearranging pillows, try to catch up on sleep where you can. Here are more tips on how to get your sleep in before baby comes.

For more information on how to get a restful night’s sleep, and when to see a doctor regarding possible sleep problems, see this handy guide.

Have questions?  Email or text AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Why is prenatal care so important?

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Doctor with pregnant woman during check-upGetting early and regular prenatal care can help you have a healthy and full-term pregnancy. However, a recent report shows that the preterm birth rate in the US has increased for the second year in a row. This is an alarming indication that the health of pregnant women and babies in our country is getting worse. As Stacey D. Stewart, president of the March of Dimes states, “Every mother needs healthcare throughout her pregnancy to help avoid preterm birth and birth complications, with the goal of every baby being born healthy.”

So, what can you do to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby? You should call your health care provider to schedule your first appointment as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Make sure you’re ready to talk to your provider about:

  • The first day of your last menstrual period (also called LMP). Your provider can use this to help find out your baby’s due date.
  • Health conditions. Such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and not being at a healthy weight. Conditions like these can cause problems during pregnancy. Tell your provider about your family health history.
  • Medicines. This includes prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicine, supplements and herbal products. Some medicines can hurt your baby if you take them during pregnancy, so you may need to stop taking it or switch to another medicine. Don’t stop or start taking any medicine without talking to your provider first. And tell your provider if you’re allergic to any medicine.
  • Your pregnancy history. Tell your provider if you’ve been pregnant before or if you’ve had trouble getting pregnant. Tell her if you’ve had any pregnancy complications or if you’ve had a premature baby (a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), a miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs and abusing prescription drugs. All of these can hurt your baby.
  • Stress. Stress is worry, strain or pressure that you feel in response to things that happen in your life. Talk to your provide about ways to deal with and reduce your stress. High levels of stress can cause complications during pregnancy.
  • Your safety at home and work. Tell your provider about chemicals you use at home or work and about what kind of job you have.

Make sure you go to all of your prenatal care appointments, even if you feel fine. Going to all of your checkups gives your provider the chance to make sure you and your baby are healthy and allows you to ask any questions you may have (write them down before your appointment so you don’t forget).

The March of Dimes work to give every baby a healthy start is more vital than ever. We urge everyone concerned about the health of babies to make their voices heard by going to marchofdimes.org.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.