Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Vaccines during pregnancy can help protect you and your baby from infections

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. This week’s focus is on vaccines for pregnant women.

If you are pregnant, certain vaccines can help protect you and your baby from infections. When you get the recommended vaccines during pregnancy, you pass this protection to your baby.

What vaccines do you need during pregnancy?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two vaccines during pregnancy:

  1. Flu. A flu shot during pregnancy protects you from serious complications and protects your baby for several months after birth. You need a flu shot every season, as the flu strain changes year to year.
  2. Whooping cough (or Tdap). You should get Tdap at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. It is best to get it during the earlier part of this time period. You need to get the Tdap vaccine every time you’re pregnant. When you get the Tdap vaccine during your pregnancy, your body makes antibodies and you pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies give your baby some short-term, early protection against whooping cough. This helps keep him safe until he is able to get his own vaccine when he’s 2 months old.

In some special cases, other vaccines may be recommended by your provider.

  • Vaccines for travel: If you plan to travel outside of the United States during your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to discuss any special precautions or vaccines that you may need.
  • Hepatitis B: If you are pregnant and have hepatitis B, your baby is at the highest risk for becoming infected during delivery. Talk to your provider about getting tested for hepatitis B and whether or not you should get vaccinated.
  • Additional vaccines: Talk to your provider about other vaccines you may need before, during, or after you become pregnant. Not all vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy. There’re cases were some vaccines are recommended. If you have a history of chronic liver disease, your provider may ask you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A. Also, the meningococcal vaccine may be recommended by your provider if you work in a lab.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org

 

Dental health during pregnancy

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Taking care of your gums and teeth during pregnancy can help you and your baby be healthy. One way to maintain good dental health is to visit your dentist regularly. Some women may think it’s not safe to visit the dentist when they’re pregnant. This is a myth. It is safe, and also a good idea to visit your dentist during pregnancy. During your checkup, tell your dentist and hygienist that you’re pregnant and about any changes you may be having with your teeth and gums. Your dental professionals will help you keep a sparkly healthy smile during your pregnancy.

Common dental problems during pregnancy

  • Bleeding gums. High levels of progesterone can make your gums swollen, red and sore. This inflammation is called gingivitis. Without treatment, gingivitis can become a serious gum disease called periodontitis.
  • Tooth decay. It is common to have more acid in your mouth during pregnancy. This extra acid can break down your tooth coating, called enamel. This makes you more likely to get cavities.
  • Lumps on swollen gums. These are tumors that form between teeth, but they are not cancer. These tumors may be caused by having too much plaque (sticky bacteria that forms on teeth). Pregnancy tumors usually go away on their own.
  • This is a serious gum disease, and it needs treatment to avoid complications for you and your baby. Some studies have linked periodontitis to premature birth(birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birthweight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces).

What can you do?

  • Brush your teeth regularly. Brush for 2 minutes, using a toothbrush with soft bristles, twice a day. Make sure you use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss every day.  Floss at least once a day to clean in between your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing around the gum line are key to removing plaque and helping prevent periodontitis and tooth decay.
  • Rinse your mouth if you throw up. If you throw up, rinse your mouth with water to wash away the acid. If morning sickness makes you feel too sick to brush your teeth you can rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Have a dental checkup that includes an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning every 6 months. You also need a checkup during pregnancy, especially if you have any discomforts in your mouth.
  • Eat healthy foods. Eating foods packed with nutrients will help you and your growing baby get enough calcium, protein and vitamins. These nutrients will also help ensure your baby’s teeth grow healthy.
  • Limit sweets. Having too many sweet foods or drinks can lead to tooth decay. Instead of sweets, drink water and pick healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

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

Crest & Oral-B proudly support March of Dimes in the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Oral health matters, especially during pregnancy. To learn more, click HERE or visit marchofdimes.org/partners.

March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands of products.

What you need to know about group B strep and pregnancy

Thursday, July 26th, 2018


During your last trimester of pregnancy, you get a test for group B strep (also called GBS). GBS is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection. Usually, GBS is not serious for adults, but it can hurt newborns. It’s important to get this test and know the results so you can protect your baby.

Many people carry GBS — in fact about 1 in 4 (25 percent) pregnant women are carriers. Being a carrier does not mean you have an infection, it means you have this bacteria in your body. GBS bacteria naturally live in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts. You can’t get it from food, water or things you touch. You can’t catch it from another person, and you can’t get it from having sex. GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms. But sometimes it can cause minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI).

If you’re pregnant and have a GBS infection, it can pass to your baby during labor and birth and can make your baby very sick.

Testing and treatment for GBS

You prenatal care provider tests you for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The test is a simple swab of your vagina and rectum. If you have GBS, your provider gives you antibiotics during labor and birth to help prevent your baby from getting infected.  Your provider gives you the antibiotics through an IV.

Penicillin is the best antibiotic for most women. If you’re allergic to penicillin, you can get a different medicine. It’s not helpful to your baby if you get treatment for GBS early in your pregnancy. The bacteria can return quickly, so you could have it again by the time you go into labor.

If you have GBS, remind your providers at the hospital when you go to have your baby. This way you can be treated quickly. Treatment works best when it begins at least 4 hours before childbirth. If you have GBS and you’re having a scheduled c-section before labor starts and before your water breaks, you probably don’t need antibiotics.

What are the chances you can pass GBS to your baby?

If you have GBS during childbirth and it’s not treated, there’s a 1 to 2 in 100 chance (1 to 2 percent) that your baby will get the infection. The chances are higher if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Your baby is premature. This means your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Your water breaks (also called ruptured membranes) 18 hours or more before you have your baby.
  • You have a fever (100.4 F or higher) during labor.
  • You’ve already had a baby with a GBS infection.
  • You had a UTI during your pregnancy that was caused by GBS.

If you have GBS and you’re treated during labor and birth, your treatment helps protect your baby from the infection.

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information.

 

July is Cord Blood Awareness Month

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Umbilical cord blood (also called cord blood) is the blood in the umbilical cord and placenta. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.

Usually health care providers discard the placenta, umbilical cord and cord blood after a woman gives birth. But some families store the cord blood so it can be used later on to treat diseases. Storing cord blood is also called banking.

If you choose to store your baby’s cord blood, your provider collects it right after your baby is born. It doesn’t matter if you have a vaginal birth or cesarean birth (also called c-section).

How do you know if banking cord blood is right for your family?

If you’re thinking about banking your baby’s cord blood, talk to your health care provider before you give birth. Write your choice in your birth plan and share it with your provider.

You have two main options to store your baby’s cord blood:

  1. You can donate cord blood to a public cord blood bank. There is no cost to you to store your baby’s cord blood at a public bank. But the cord blood donation is used for research or to help others who need cord blood. If you or a family member needs cord blood, you can’t use the blood you donated. Not all hospitals allow cord blood donations to public banks. Visit the National Marrow Donor Program to see a list of hospitals that allow donation to public cord blood banks. The American Academy of Pediatrics (also called AAP) recommends donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank.
  2. You can store cord blood in a private cord blood bank. Cord blood stored in a private cord blood bank can be used by you, your baby or a member of your family if it’s ever needed. The chances that you or someone in your family may need to use your stored cord blood are very low – about 1 in 2,700. But if someone in your family has a health condition that may need to be treated with a stem cell transplant, storing cord blood may be a good choice. The cost for a private bank is about $2,000, plus a yearly fee of about $125, depending on the bank you use.

Visit marchofdimes.org to learn more about umbilical cord blood.

Traveling this summer? Stay safe from Zika

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Summer is travel season for many of us. Before your trip, make sure you’re protected from Zika. The Zika virus is still spreading in certain areas (called Zika-affected areas) around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interactive world map to show you areas with risk of Zika.  If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, don’t travel to a Zika-affected area unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If you get infected with Zika during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain and health problems. You can get infected with the Zika virus through body fluids, like blood and semen, and through mosquito bites.

If you’re planning to travel to a Zika-affected area, talk to your health care provider before you go about how to protect yourself from Zika. Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t have sex. If you do have sex, use a barrier method of birth control (like a condom or dental dam) every time.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes. Here’s how:
    • Use an insect repellant, like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Use one with one or more of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535, and 2-undecanone. These ingredients are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Stay in places that have air conditioning or screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. If you’re in a Zika-affected area and sleeping outside or in a room that doesn’t have screens on doors and windows, sleep under a mosquito net.
    • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks.

If you’ve been in a Zika-affected area, use bug spray or lotion for 3 weeks after you get back to help prevent Zika from spreading to others.

For more information:

 

Barbecues, picnics and food safety

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

For many of us, summertime means lots of barbecues and picnics. Both are popular outdoor activities and are great ways to get together with family and friends. They also include lots of grilled foods and side dishes, like pasta salad and potato salad. If you’re pregnant and planning to eat at an outdoor event, here’s what you should know:

Not all foods are safe to eat during pregnancy. Some foods are more likely than others to have harmful bacteria like Listeria or Salmonella. These bacteria can cause infections that can be dangerous during pregnancy. Deli meat, hot dogs, dry sausages, refrigerated patés or meat spread, and soft cheese, like brie and feta, are examples of foods that are most likely to be contaminated with Listeria. Food made with raw eggs, like homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, cookie dough, frostings and homemade ice cream, may have Salmonella. If you’re pregnant, don’t eat these foods.

Cold foods need to stay cold. When foods that need to be cold or refrigerated are kept at room temperature, bacteria and germs start to form. Even if the food looks and smells good, it can be contaminated and make you sick. Always keep pasta salads and potato salads in a cooler. Don’t leave them at room temperature.

Food preparation matters. Foods can become contaminated with harmful bacteria when they aren’t prepared properly or when they’re cooked or stored at the wrong temperature. Eating contaminated foods can cause food poisoning. When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to infections like food poisoning as it was before pregnancy. During pregnancy, food poisoning can cause serious problems for you and your baby, including premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your baby from food poisoning during pregnancy:

  • Make sure your food is fully cooked. Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, pork, poultry, fish or shellfish. Fully cook hamburger, steak, chicken and pork so they don’t have any blood or pink areas.
  • Don’t eat foods made with homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce or other products prepared with raw or half-cooked eggs.
  • Keep cold foods, like pasta or potato salad, in a cooler.
  • Throw away any food that sits at room temperature for more than 2 hours. It may be contaminated and may make you sick.

For more information visit:
marchofdimes.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Foodsafety.gov

What is sickle cell disease?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Sickle cell disease (also called SCD) is an inherited condition that affects a person’s red blood cells. Inherited means it’s passed from parent to child through genes. A person with SCD has red blood cells shaped like a sickle. A sickle is a farm tool shaped like the letter C.

Healthy red blood cells are round and flexible. They can move easily through the body’s blood vessels. When a person has SCD, the red blood cells get stuck and clog the blood flow. These blockages cause pain, infections and sometimes organ damage and strokes. SCD also may cause anemia. Anemia is when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.

SCD or sickle cell trait

SCD happens when a person inherits a gene change for sickle cell from both parents. If you inherit the gene change from just one parent, you have sickle cell trait. Even though this means you don’t have SCD, you can still pass the sickle cell trait to your children.

If you and your partner both have sickle cell trait, there’s a:

  • 3-in-4 chance (75 percent) that your baby won’t have SCD
  • 1-in-2 chance (50 percent) that your baby will have sickle cell trait
  • 1-in-4 chance (25 percent) that your baby will have SCD
  • 1-in-4 chance (25 percent) that your baby won’t have SCD or sickle cell trait

Find out if you have SCD or sickle cell trait

You can find out if you have SCD or sickle cell trait. You are more likely to have them if:

  • You’re black or Hispanic or if your family’s ancestors are from Africa, the Caribbean, Greece, India, Italy, Malta, Sardinia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey or South or Central America.
  • Members of your family have SCD or sickle cell trait. To help you find out, take your family health history. This is a record of any health conditions that run in your or your partner’s family.

You and your partner can get tested to find out if you have SCD or sickle cell trait. There are two tests, and both are safe during pregnancy. One is a blood test, and the other is a swab inside your mouth. This means your health care provider rubs a cotton swab against the inside of your cheek to get some cells.

How can you find out if your baby has SCD or sickle cell trait?

If you or your partner has SCD or sickle cell trait, ask your provider about having a prenatal test, like amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (also called CVS) to find out if your baby has either condition.

All babies are tested for SCD after birth as part of the newborn screening tests. This allows babies who have SCD to be identified quickly and treated early. Because children with SCD are at an increased risk of infection and other health problems, early diagnosis and treatment are important.

More information

Working during pregnancy

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

It comes as no surprise to know that many women work during pregnancy. Some women work right up until their due date, or close to it. One of the first things many women think about is when to share the big news with their boss and coworkers. Here are some other things to think about as a working mom to-be:

  • Your safety. It’s important to stay healthy and safe at work, especially during pregnancy. If you work with chemicals or have to lift or carry heavy things, talk to your boss about changing your job responsibilities. Standing all day or working with things like pesticides or radiation may put your health and your baby’s health at risk.
  • Time away from work for prenatal care checkups. Prenatal care is medical care you get during pregnancy. Going to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. At the beginning of pregnancy, you get a prenatal checkup once a month (every 4 weeks). Later in pregnancy you go for checkups more often. Talk to your boss about flex time or how to make up the time you miss from work.
  • Planning your maternity leave. Maternity leave is time you take off from work when you have a baby. When planning your maternity leave, think about a start date and how long you plan on staying home after your baby is born. Talk to your boss or human resources department about maternity leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (also called FMLA), employees can take time off without pay (up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year) for pregnancy- and family-related health issues. Find out how this works as part of maternity leave. Pregnancy, labor and birth go smoothly for most women. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially if you have pregnancy complications. If this happens, you may need to adjust the timing of your leave.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act says that employers can’t discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or other related health conditions. If you’re pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions, your employer has to treat you just like any other employee with a similar condition.

Pregnancy should never be the cause of a woman being discriminated against, denied opportunity, treated unfairly or compensated less. Supporting healthy pregnancies is critical to reducing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality (death). March of Dimes fights for the health of all moms and babies and works with government, employers and health care providers to make positive changes for every mom and every baby.

To learn more visit: marchofdimes.org

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.