Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Migraine headaches during pregnancy

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

During pregnancy your body goes through many changes. Sometimes these changes can cause discomfort, some of which can be painful. Headaches are one example. They’re often caused by changes in hormones or by stress. They also can be caused by body tension from the extra weight you carry during pregnancy. Although headaches are common during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, some women have more intense headaches called migraine headaches.

What is a migraine headache?

A migraine headache is an intense headache on one or both sides of the head. In addition to pain, migraine headaches can cause nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting. About 29.5 million Americans have migraines, and most (3 out of 4) are women.

Migraine headaches and pregnancy

Although some women who have migraine headaches may notice that their headaches improve during pregnancy, some may notice no change. And some may have an increase in migraine symptoms during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. If you have a migraine for the first time during pregnancy, or if you have a headache that feels different from headaches you usually have, call your health care provider.

Migraine treatments during pregnancy

If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant and have migraine headaches, talk to your health care provider about treatment options and medicines. Some medicines aren’t safe to take during pregnancy because they can harm your baby. This includes some over-the-counter medicines and herbal products. If you already take medicine for migraine headaches, ask your provider if it’s safe to take during pregnancy.

Here’s what you can do to help relieve or prevent headaches, including migraine headaches, during pregnancy:

  • Use warm or cold washcloth.
  • Take care of your body. Get a good night’s sleep, and do something active every day.
  • Eat healthy foods and make sure to drink plenty of water. If certain foods cause you to have headaches, don’t eat those foods.
  • Relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, yoga and massage for pregnant women, can be helpful.

Call your provider right away if your headache is severe or doesn’t go away, if you have changes in your vision or if you have high blood pressure.  These may be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia needs immediate medical attention.

Waiting for your baby

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Here are 10 things you and your partner can do together while getting ready for your baby:

  • Take your partner with you to your prenatal care checkups. Going with your partner to your prenatal checkups will give him the opportunity to meet the professionals who will take care of you during your pregnancy. He can ask questions and also find out how he can help you during your pregnancy. And he’ll love seeing the baby in the ultrasound!
  • Go to childbirth classes together. These classes will teach both of you what to expect during labor and birth. You can ask your health care provider to recommend a class near you.
  • Work together to keep a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods. Do something active every day. Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Be as healthy as you can be for your baby.
  • Talk about what it will be like to have a baby. What kind of parents do you want to be? How will having a baby affect your relationship?
  • Get your house and car ready for the baby. Where will the baby sleep? Do you have a car seat?
  • Learn about breastfeeding. Breastmilk is the best food for your baby’s growth and health. Breastfeeding also has lots of benefits for you. Your partner can support you by getting you situated and comfortable to feed. He can help by bringing extra pillows, a glass of water, a burping cloth for the baby, etc.
  • Decide who will care for the baby. Will you or your partner stay home with the baby? If you both work, do you need to hire a babysitter or find childcare for your baby? These are important questions that need to be thought of ahead of time.
  • Figure out your budget. Babies cost a lot of money! Do you have health insurance? If yes, does it cover the cost of your prenatal care and the baby’s birth? If no, go to insurekidsnow.gov to find out about health insurance from CHIP and Medicaid. Make a list of all the things you need for your baby, such as clothes, diapers and a crib. Put aside a small amount of money each week to help pay for these baby items.
  • Ask your partner for help when you need it. Tell him when you need to rest. Ask him to help around the house, shop for groceries, or make dinner.
  • Don’t forget about each other. There’s so much to think about and do to get ready for a baby. Make sure you save special time for your partner. Cuddle and be close. As long as your provider says it’s OK, it’s safe to have sex during pregnancy. Sex might feel different during pregnancy. You may need to try different positions to find one that’s comfortable.

Depression during pregnancy: What you can do

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Depression is a serious medical condition that can affect how you feel, think and act. People with depression feel sad and lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy. Depression is far more common than many of us realize. It affects about 15 percent of women during pregnancy and the year after giving birth. Women who have depression before they conceive are at a higher risk of having depression during pregnancy than other women.

What can you do?

Learn the signs and symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Having major depression is different than feeling down for a few days. The signs or symptoms of depression last for more than two weeks. These are the signs and symptoms to look for:

Changes in the way you feel 

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
  • Feeling agitated or moody
  • Crying all the time
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Thinking about death or suicide

Changes in your everyday life 

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Eating habits and appetite change (more or less than usual)
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering things or making decisions
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
  • Losing interest in things you used to do

Changes in your body 

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

Some of the signs and symptoms of depression may be similar to those normally found in pregnancy. For instance, changes in appetite and trouble sleeping are common when you are pregnant. Nonetheless, if you are pregnant and have any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your health care provider right away. Depression is a serious condition, and it can be dangerous for you and your baby if it’s not detected and treated on time.

Treatment

Your provider can recommend different treatments or a combination of treatments. Some of them are: counseling (therapy), support groups, or medications. It is best that you and your provider discuss all these options and decide together what treatment is best and safe for you and your baby. You can also ask your provider to talk to your mental health provider to tailor a treatment plan according to your needs.

Note about antidepressants: Some research shows that taking an antidepressant during pregnancy may increase the risk of certain birth defects in your baby. However, if you’ve been taking an antidepressant, 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 to come back.

More information:

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only occurs in pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally.

Preeclampsia is a serious health problem for pregnant women around the world. It affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide. In the United States, it’s the cause of 15 percent of premature births. Premature birth is birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies. But if it’s not treated, it can cause severe health problems for you and your baby.

For most women, preeclampsia happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When it happens during the postpartum period, it is usually within 48 hours of having a baby. However, it can develop up to 6 weeks after birth.

One of the best ways to detect preeclampsia is to go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any signs. This means you may have preeclampsia and not know it. During your prenatal care checkups your health care provider will measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein. In the case of preeclampsia, there’s usually a presence of protein in the urine. 

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing

Many of these signs and symptoms are common discomforts of pregnancy. If you have even one sign or symptom, call your provider right away. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for you and your baby, even death.

If you’re at risk for preeclampsia, your provider may want you to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. Talk to your provider to see if treatment with low-dose aspirin is right for you. Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Ten things you can do to help reduce stress during pregnancy

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Stress is very common and affects everyone. During pregnancy, you may feel that your level of stress increases. It is understandable. Your body and many aspects of your life are changing at the same time. The anticipation, excitement and adjustments associated with having a baby can also influence how you feel and how you deal with stress. It is a good idea to find ways to reduce your levels of stress. Too much stress for a long time may cause problems like high blood pressure. It can also increase the chances of having a premature baby.

Here are 10 things you can do to help you reduce stress:

  • Figure out what’s making you stressed and talk to your partner, a friend or your health care provider about it.
  • Know that the discomforts of pregnancy are only temporary. Ask your provider how to handle these discomforts.
  • Stay healthy and fit. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep and exercise (with your provider’s OK). Exercise can help reduce stress and also helps prevent common pregnancy discomforts.
  • Cut back on activities you don’t need to do.
  • Have a good support network, including your partner, family and friends. Ask your provider about resources in the community that may be able to help.
  • Ask for help from people you trust. Accept help when they offer. For example, you may need help cleaning the house, or you may want someone to go with you to your prenatal visits.
  • Try relaxation activities, like prenatal yoga or meditation.
  • Take a childbirth education class so you know what to expect during pregnancy and when your baby arrives. Practice the breathing and relaxation techniques you learn in your class.
  • If you’re working, plan ahead to help you and your employer get ready for your time away from work.
  • If you think you may be depressed, talk to your provider right away. There are many ways to deal with depression. Getting treatment and counseling early may help.

You can also learn about other ways to keep you and your baby safe during pregnancy. This may help ease your worries and help you enjoy this new stage in your life.

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

Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

April is Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month. In the United States, nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections happen each year.

Sexually transmitted infections (also called STI, sexually transmitted diseases or STD) are infections that you can get from having unprotected sex or intimate physical contact with a person who is infected.

Having an STI during pregnancy can cause serious problems for babies, including premature birth, low birthweight, miscarriage, and other problems after birth. Many people with STIs don’t know they’re infected because some STIs have no signs or symptoms. Therefore, the best way to protect your baby from STIs is to protect yourself from STIs.

Here’s what you can do to help protect yourself from STIs:

  • If you have sex, have safe sex. Have sex with only one person who doesn’t have other sex partners.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex. Condoms are barrier methods of birth control and help prevent pregnancy, as well as STIs.
  • Get tested and treated. The sooner you get tested and treated, the less likely you are to have complications from your infection.
  • Ask your partner to get tested and treated. Even if you get treated for an STI, if your partner’s infected you can get the infection again.
  • Go to all your prenatal care visits, even if you’re feeling fine. If you think you may have an STI, let your health care provider know. That way you can get tested and treated right away.
  • Get vaccinated. Some vaccinations can help protect you from some STIs, like hepatitis B and some types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Don’t have sex. This is the best way to prevent an STI.

Counseling for sexually transmitted infections is a preventive service covered by most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, at no extra cost to you. Learn more about recommended preventive services that are covered under the Affordable Care Act at Care Women Deserve.

Repeat lead tests are advised for certain children, pregnant women and breastfeeding moms

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

Recently the FDA and CDC issued a notice that some lead tests done by Magellan Diagnostics may be incorrect.

The FDA says “certain lead tests manufactured by Magellan Diagnostics may provide inaccurate results for some children and adults in the United States.”

If you have a child age 6 years old or younger, are pregnant or breastfeeding, speak with your healthcare provider or local health department to determine if retesting is needed.

The dangers of lead

Lead is a metal that comes from the ground, but it can be in air, water and food. You can’t see, smell or taste it. High levels of lead in your body can cause serious health problems for you and your family.

Children younger than 6 years of age can be severely affected by lead. It can cause developmental problems, hearing loss, vomiting, irritability, belly pain and weight loss. Very high levels of lead may even cause death.

Lead poisoning (high levels of lead in your body) can cause serious problems during pregnancy, such as premature birth, miscarriage, and high blood pressure. It can also cause fertility problems, mood disorders, headaches, muscle or joint pain, trouble concentrating, belly pain, anemia and fatigue in adults.

Where is lead?

Most lead comes from paint in older homes. When old paint cracks or peels, it makes dust that has lead in it. The dust may be too small to see. You can breathe in the dust and not know it.

Lead may be found in drinking water, at construction sites, in arts and crafts materials used to make stained glass, lead crystal glassware, and some soil.

For more information on lead poisoning, see our web article and the CDC’s information.

Bottom line

If you have a child age 6 or younger, or you are pregnant or breastfeeding, contact your healthcare provider to determine if a lead test should be repeated.

What you need to know about drinking alcohol during pregnancy

Friday, April 6th, 2018

If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or think you might be pregnant, the best thing to do for your baby is to avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for your baby. When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and the umbilical cord to your baby.  No amount of alcohol has been proven safe at any time during pregnancy.

Drinking any amount of alcohol at any time during pregnancy can harm your baby’s developing brain and 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.
  • Low birthweight (also called LBW). This is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Being low birthweight can cause serious health problems for some babies.
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth

What can you do?

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. Giving up alcohol during pregnancy may be hard.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Think about when you usually drink alcohol. Plan to drink other things, like fruit infused water, sparkling water or just plain water. Use a fun straw or put an umbrella in the glass to make it seem more fun.
  • If you are having problems with self-control, is best to 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 may help you find resources on how to stop drinking.

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

Screening for gestational diabetes

Monday, March 26th, 2018

In the United States, 9 out of every 100 women (9 percent) has diabetes. Diabetes is a health condition marked by an increase in blood sugar, also called glucose. People with diabetes need to make sure their blood sugar levels are not too high nor too low.

This is particularly important for women, because preexisting diabetes (type 1 or type2) that’s not under control before pregnancy can lead to serious complications during pregnancy. Some of these complications include preeclampsia, premature birth, and birth defects. So, if you have diabetes, talk to your health care provider about how to best have it under control before trying to get pregnant to help prevent these serious complications.

There is another type of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and goes away after you have your baby. However, developing gestational diabetes can make your more likely to develop diabetes later in life. The good news is that there’s a way to determine if you may have gestational diabetes. Between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy, you get a prenatal test called glucose screening test. If you get a positive result on your glucose screening test, you get another test called glucose tolerance test to see if you have gestational diabetes.

If you have gestational diabetes, here are few things you can do to help you control diabetes during pregnancy:

  • Go to all you prenatal care visits, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • Learn how to control your blood sugar by eating healthy foods and being active every day.
  • If you have to take medicine, take it exactly as your provider tells you to.

Screening for gestational diabetes is a preventive service covered by most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, at no extra cost to you. Learn more about recommended preventive services that are covered under the Affordable Care Act at Care Women Deserve.

Today is World Down Syndrome Day

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition caused by extra genetic material. Typically, our cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes. In the case of Down syndrome, a person has an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This extra genetic material changes how the body and brain develop. People with Down syndrome have a few common physical traits, but each individual is unique and can lead a healthy active life.

We don’t know for sure why Down syndrome happens. Even though it’s a genetic condition, the majority of the cases are not passed on from the parents or family to the baby. Most cases happen because in the early stages of the baby’s development, there is a problem when the cells are dividing. However, there are some factors that may increase the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome, such as:

  • Mother’s age. The risk of Down syndrome increases with the mom’s age. Even though the risk is greater as your age increases, about 80 percent of babies with Down syndrome are born to women age 35 or less. This is because younger women have more babies than older women.
  • Having had a baby with Down syndrome. Up to age 40, for each pregnancy your chances of having another baby with Down syndrome is about 1 in 100 (1 percent). After age 40, the risk is based on your age. Talk to a genetic counselor to understand your risk of having another baby with Down syndrome.
  • Being a carrier of a genetic translocation. Both, men and women, can pass a genetic translocation to their baby. These cases are not very common. If you had a baby with Down syndrome before or if you or your partner have a family history of Down syndrome, it’s best to talk to a genetic counselor.

During pregnancy your health care provider will offer screening tests to see if your baby is more likely to have Down syndrome. These tests are offered to all pregnant women as part of regular prenatal care. However, a screening test won’t tell you for sure if your baby has Down syndrome. It only tells you if there is a higher risk. To know for sure you will need a diagnostic test.

How do you know if your baby has Down syndrome?

If you get an abnormal screening test result, your provider will recommend a diagnostic test. A diagnostic test will confirm if a baby has Down syndrome. There are few diagnostic tests:

  • Amniocentesis (also called amnio). This test checks the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby in the uterus to check for Down syndrome. You can get an amnio at 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Chorionic villus sampling (also called CVS). This test checks the tissue from the placenta to see if a baby has Down syndrome. You can get a CVS at 10 to 13 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Cordocentesis (also called percutaneous umbilical cord sampling or PUBS). For this test your provider inserts a thin needle into an umbilical cord vein to take a small sample of your baby’s blood to check for chromosome defects. You can get this test between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. There’s a much greater risk of miscarriage with cordocentesis than with an amnio or a CVS. So you only get this test if other tests are unclear and your provider can’t confirm if your baby has Down syndrome any other way.

Down syndrome is also identified at birth by physical traits like: almond-shaped eyes that slant up, low muscle tone, a single line across the center of the palm of the hand, and a flattened face. But these traits won’t tell you for sure if your baby has Down syndrome, a chromosomal test call karyotype is needed to confirm this diagnosis.