Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Can I get an X-ray during pregnancy?

Friday, October 26th, 2018

If you’re pregnant and you need a diagnostic imaging test, like an X-ray, you may be wondering if it’s safe for your baby. In many cases, there’s no need to worry. But it’s important to tell any health care provider, including your dentist, that you’re pregnant before you get an X-ray or other tests that use radiation.

What is radiation?

Radiation is a kind of energy. It travels as waves or particles in the air. Radiation can attach itself to materials like dust, powder or liquid. These materials can become radioactive, which means that they give off radiation. In large amounts, radiation can be harmful to you and your baby.

You are exposed to (come in contact with) small amounts of radiation nearly every day. This radiation comes from natural sources (like sun rays) and man-made sources (like X-rays). These kinds of radiation don’t cause serious harm. During pregnancy, your body protects your baby from most radiation that you’re exposed to every day.

What imaging tests use radiation?

These diagnostic imaging tests use radiation:

  • X-ray. This is a medical test that uses radiation to make a picture of your body on film.
  • Computed tomography (also called CT or CAT scan). CT scans use special X-ray equipment and powerful computers to make pictures of the inside of your body.
  • This test uses an X-ray beam to show a continuous picture on a monitor, like an X-ray movie.

Most of the time, it’s OK to get an X-ray during pregnancy if it’s needed to give your provider important information about your health. But if you’re pregnant and need an X-ray of your belly, your provider may want to wait until your baby’s born, modify the test to reduce the amount of radiation or use other tests that doesn’t use radiation.

You and your provider can decide what treatment is best for you.

What imaging tests don’t use radiation?

Your provider may want to use a test that doesn’t use radiation if you’re pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends using these tests when possible if you need an imaging test during pregnancy:

  • This test uses sound waves and a computer screen to show a picture of the inside of your body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (also called MRI). This is a medical test that makes a detailed picture of the inside of your body. It uses a magnetic field and radio waves to make the picture.

To learn more about radiation during pregnancy, visit marchofdimes.org.

Depression during pregnancy: what you need to know

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s a medical condition that affects your thoughts, can interfere with your daily life and even causes changes to your body. It needs treatment to get better.

The signs or symptoms of depression last for more than two weeks. These are the signs and symptoms to look for:

Changes in your feelings 

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
  • Feeling restless or moody
  • Crying a lot
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Thinking about death or suicide

Changes in your everyday life 

  • Eating more or less than you usually do
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering things or making decisions
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Losing interest in things you used 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. Being pregnant can make depression worse or make it come back if you’ve been treated in the past and were feeling better.

If you have depression during pregnancy and don’t get treatment, you may not feel well enough to make sure you are eating healthy foods and you may not gain the right amount of weight. You may miss prenatal care appointments or have trouble remembering and following medical instructions. Or you may smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs or misuse prescription drugs. All of these things can affect your baby before he’s born.

Depression that is not treated during pregnancy can increase the risk of:

  • 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.
  • Postpartum depression.

Treatment for depression during pregnancy

It’s best if you work with a team of providers to treat 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. Make sure you talk to your provider about the best choice for you.

If you think you have depression during pregnancy, talk to your provider. You may need treatment to help you feel better.

For more information about depression, including resources and medication safety, visit marchofdimes.org 

It’s time to schedule your flu shot

Friday, October 12th, 2018

A new study published today showed that pregnant women who got the flu shot had an average of 40 percent less risk of being hospitalized from flu. The study, co-authored by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analyzed data from more than 2 million pregnant women over the course of 6 flu seasons. This is the first study to show how women who get a flu shot are at lower risk of flu-associated hospitalization.

The flu is more than just a runny nose and sore throat. It’s a serious illness that can make you very sick. The flu can be especially harmful if you get it during pregnancy or right after you’ve had your baby.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop full protection against the flu (also called immunity). Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for babies 6 months and older, young children, pregnant women and other high-risk groups.

Do you need to get a flu vaccine every year?

Yes! Flu viruses change every year, so just because you got a flu vaccine last year doesn’t mean that you are protected this year. The flu vaccine is made to protect against the flu viruses that are likely to be the most common during the flu season. Also, protection from the flu only lasts about a year. For these reasons, everyone 6 months and older need a flu vaccine every year.

Are flu vaccines safe for pregnant women?

It’s safe for most pregnant women to get the flu shot. Tell your health care provider if you have any severe allergies or if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu shot. Severe allergic reactions to flu shots are rare. If you’re worried about being allergic to the flu shot, talk to your provider to make sure it’s safe for you.

Some flu vaccines are made with eggs. Most women with egg allergies can get the flu shot. But if you have severe egg allergies, get the shot in a medical setting (like a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic) from a provider who knows how to treat severe allergies and allergic reactions.

Pregnant women should not get the flu nasal spray. This is a spray that’s put in your nose.

How can the flu harm your pregnancy?

The flu can be dangerous during pregnancy because:

  • If you get the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications. Health complications from the flu, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, can be very serious and even deadly.
  • Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely than women who don’t get it to have preterm labor and premature birth (before 37 weeks).
  • Fever from the flu may be linked to birth defects, like neural tube defects, and other problems in your baby.

Will getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy protect your baby?

Getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy helps to protect your baby from the flu after he’s born. If you get the flu vaccine during pregnancy, you pass on your immunity to your baby. Some studies have shown that this can help protect a baby from flu for several months after birth. Your baby should get his own flu vaccine at 6 months.

Are some children more likely to have serious health problems caused by flu than others?

Yes. Babies and children up to 5 years old are more likely than older children to have complications from the flu. Any child older than 6 months with chronic health conditions, like asthma, heart disease or blood disorders, also are is at high risk of complications from flu. Any child older than 6 months should get the flu vaccine every year.

Where can you get a flu vaccine?

You can get the vaccine from your provider. Many pharmacies and workplaces also offer it each fall. You can use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find where the flu vaccine is available in your area.

More information

 

Grief: Do men and women grieve differently?

Friday, October 5th, 2018

The loss of a baby is one of the most painful experiences that can happen to a family. October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, a day to dedicated to recognize and support moms and families who have lost a baby. If your baby died during pregnancy or after birth, you and your partner need time to grieve.

Everyone grieves in his own way. Men and women often show grief in different ways. Even if you and your partner agree on lots of things, you may feel and show your grief differently.

Different ways of dealing with grief may cause problems for you and your partner. For example, you may think your partner isn’t as upset about your baby’s death as you are. You may think he doesn’t care as much. This may make you angry. At the same time, your partner may feel that you’re too emotional. He may not want to hear about your feelings so often and may think you’ll never get over your grief. He also may feel left out of all the support you’re getting.

Women have a special bond with their baby during pregnancy. But men may not feel as close to their baby. Men don’t carry the baby in their body, so the baby may seem less real to them. A man may become more attached to the baby later in pregnancy when he feels the baby kick or sees the baby on an ultrasound.

In general, here’s how women may show their grief:

  • They may want to talk about the death of their baby often and with many people.
  • They may show their feelings more often. They may cry or get angry a lot.
  • They may be more likely to ask their partner, family or friends for help. Or they may go to their place of worship or to a support group.

In general, here’s how men may show their grief:

  • They may grieve by themselves. They may not want to talk about their loss. They may spend more time at work or do things away from home to keep from thinking about the loss.
  • They may feel like they’re supposed to be strong and tough and protect their family. They may not know how to show their feelings. They may think that talking about feelings makes them seem weak.
  • They may try to work through grief on their own rather than ask for help.

It’s OK to show your pain and grief differently than your partner. Be patient and caring with each other. Try to talk about your thoughts and feelings and how you want to remember your baby.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, visit our online community, Share Your Story. This can be a place of comfort and support for grieving families.

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.