Archive for the ‘Mommy’ Category

Help to bring postpartum depression out of the shadows

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Contemplative womanDid you know that 1 in 7 mothers experience postpartum depression but only 15% receive care? The March of Dimes is working to urge Congress to pass a bill that will bring postpartum depression out of the shadows to ensure that mothers get the proper mental health care they need. This very important legislation will make it easier for women to get the screening and treatment they need for postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is the most common health problem for new mothers. In fact, between 9-16% of moms experience PPD in the first year after the birth of their baby.

We’re not sure what causes PPD but it can happen to any woman after she’s given birth. It’s possible that PPD may be due to changing hormone levels after pregnancy. Also, PPD can happen any time after childbirth. But it most often starts within 1 to 3 weeks of having a baby.

While we don’t know the exact cause of PPD, we do know that there are some things that may make you more likely than other women to have PPD:

  • You’re younger than 20.
  • You’ve had PPD, major depression or other mood disorders in the past. You may have been treated for these conditions. Or you may have had signs of them, but never saw a health care provider for treatment.
  • You have a family history of depression. This means that one or more people in your family has had depression.
  • You’ve recently had stressful events in your life.

If you think you may have PPD, see a health care provider right away. PPD is a medical condition that needs treatment to get better. The vast majority (90%) of mothers with PPD can be treated successfully. But first, PPD needs to be diagnosed. Getting treatment early can help both you and your baby.

Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to support legislation to increase access to PPD screening and ensure all affected women get the treatment they need. Help us to help moms suffering in silence.

Life-long effects of preeclampsia for mom and baby

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Pregnant couple with doctorPreeclampsia is serious; it affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide. And it’s the cause of 15% of premature births in the U.S.

Preeclampsia is a condition that can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or right after you give birth. It’s when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly. Some of these signs include having protein in the urine, changes in vision and severe headache.

What does this mean for moms?

If a woman had preeclampsia during a pregnancy, she has 3 to 4 times the risk of high blood pressure and double the risk for heart disease and stroke later in life. She may also have an increased risk of developing diabetes. And for those women who have had preeclampsia and delivered preterm, had low-birthweight babies, or had severe preeclampsia more than once, the risk of heart disease can be higher.

These facts are scary, especially since heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. But having preeclampsia does not mean you will definitely develop heart problems, it just means that this may be a sign to pay extra attention to your health.

What about babies?

Women with preeclampsia are more likely than women who don’t have preeclampsia to have preterm labor and delivery. Even with treatment, a pregnant woman with preeclampsia may need to give birth early to avoid serious problems for her and her baby.

Premature babies and low birthweight babies may have more health problems and need to stay in the NICU longer. And some of these babies will face long-term health effects that include intellectual and developmental disabilities and other health problems.

If you had preeclampsia in the past, there are things you can do now to reduce your future risk:

  • Talk to your health care provider. She can help you monitor your health now to reduce your risk for heart disease later.
  • Get a yearly exam to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar levels.
  • Add activity into your daily routine. No need to run laps around the track, though. Here are some tips to help you get moving, whether you are pregnant or not.
  • Stick to the good stuff. Eat from these five food groups at every meal: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and protein. Check out our sample menu for creative ideas.
  • Ask your provider if taking low-dose aspirin daily may be right for you.
  • If you are a smoker, quit. Try to avoid second-hand smoke as well. Tobacco can raise blood pressure and damage blood vessels.

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

Making vaccines easier for your child

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Mom calming crying babyIn recognition of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), March of Dimes is participating in a blog relay to discuss the critical role vaccines play in protecting children, families, and communities against vaccine-preventable diseases. NIIW is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can follow the NIIW conversation on social media using hashtag #NIIW.

Let’s face it – getting a shot is not a pleasant experience for you or your baby. But making sure your child receives her vaccines to stay healthy is so important! Vaccines allow children to become immune to a disease without actually getting sick from the disease. It is always better to prevent an illness than to treat it after it occurs.

Here are some tips to make getting vaccinations easier:

  • Provide comfort. Keep your baby cuddled in your lap and sing to her. Here are ways to hold your baby or young child while she receives her shot.
  • Bring her favorite toy, book or blanket.
  • Make eye contact with her and tell her everything will be okay.
  • Be honest with your child; tell her the she may feel a pinch, but the shot will keep her healthy.
  • After the shot, hug and praise your child. For your baby, swaddling, breastfeeding or a bottle may offer relief.
  • Before leaving the office, ask your provider to advise you about a non-aspirin pain reliever in case your child is uncomfortable after the shot.

Keep your baby on track

It is important to keep up-to-date with your child’s vaccinations. It may seem like your baby needs many shots, but remember, receiving multiple vaccines at one time does not overload her immune system. Several vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of what your baby is exposed to every day in her environment. And your baby needs more than one dose of certain vaccines because each one builds up her immunity. Here is a complete schedule of your baby’s vaccines along with answers to many of your questions.

Off track? Use this handy tool to help you get back on schedule.

For the top 5 reasons why vaccines are important to your child’s health, see this post. Still got questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Remember: CDC strongly recommends giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two as the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles. You can learn more by visiting the CDC website. Be sure to stop by the other #NIIW relay participants’ blogs to learn about the benefits of immunization– tomorrow’s post will be hosted by What to Expect.

 

Breastfeeding can reduce your stress

Monday, April 18th, 2016

2012d032_0483It’s true, breastfeeding releases hormones that help you feel more relaxed.

Oxytocin is one of the hormones your body makes to produce breast milk. Oxytocin is responsible for your milk letdown and also helps your uterus contract to the way it was before you became pregnant. But there’s even more that oxytocin does for moms; it helps you reduce your stress.

Oxytocin is often referred to as the “anti-stress” or “love” hormone and for good reason. Oxytocin is part of a complex interaction in your body that reduces stress and helps you bond with your baby. How does oxytocin do this? The hormone is associated with a decrease in blood pressure and cortisol levels (the hormone released in response to stress).  Oxytocin also increases relaxation, sleepiness, blood flow, digestion and healing. Studies have shown that moms who breastfeed also have a lower response to stress and pain.

So go ahead and take advantage of the benefits of breastfeeding. The deep relaxation may make you feel ready for a nap, so put your feet up while you nurse and take this time to refocus. After you put your baby back in her basinet or crib, take a cat nap to feel reenergized.

For even more benefits of breastfeeding, read our post.

Have questions? Email or text us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org.

Pregnant? Feeling forgetful? Absentminded?

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Pregnant with mugYou may be experiencing “pregnancy brain” also referred to as “momnesia.”  We hear from many women that they have a hard time concentrating and experience forgetfulness during their pregnancy and after their baby is born. So what exactly is going on?

Unfortunately, there has been limited research conducted on the effects that pregnancy has on memory. And research findings are inconsistent. However, we do know that your hormones are increased during pregnancy, which may have an effect on your mind as well as your body.

In addition, many pregnant women and new moms are busy, stressed and tired, which greatly affects one’s ability to remember things. It is hard for your mind to stay sharp when you are exhausted.

So what can you do to help with pregnancy brain?

  • Prioritize what’s necessary for the day and concentrate on those tasks. Better yet, decide on 3 “must do” tasks for the day and focus on those. Anything beyond that needs to wait til tomorrow.
  • Simplify your life; get help with your to-do list by designating tasks to your partner, friends and family.
  • Keep a detailed calendar for events and appointments. Having a post-it notepad handy for to-do lists, reminders and phone numbers helps a lot!
  • Get more sleep. This may be difficult, but what you probably need is more zzzz’s. Take a quick nap whenever you can or ask your partner/family member or friend to watch your baby for an hour while you lie down. Make sleep a priority.
  • Keep keys and other important items in designated areas in your house so you can easily find them.
  • Eat well and drink plenty of water. Good nutrition doesn’t only feed your body – it feeds your brain, too!

Have you experienced pregnancy brain? Share your tips and tricks.

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

Is donor milk right for your preemie?

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

feeding in the NICUFor premature babies, breast milk can be lifesaving. It is more easily digested and provides protection against many diseases. Providing breast milk, however, can be a challenge for some moms. Many moms are not able to provide their baby with their own breast milk for various reasons, they:

  • are recovering from surgery or have certain medical conditions that make it difficult to initiate and maintain a milk supply;
  • find it difficult to pump enough milk to meet their baby’s needs;
  • have chronic conditions and need to take medications that may make their breast milk unsafe.

In these cases, donor milk may be the best option for your preemie, and a better alternative to formula.

What is donor milk and where does it come from?

A milk bank is a service that collects, screens, processes and distributes safe human milk to babies in need. All donated milk goes through a pasteurization process to eliminate bacteria while keeping the milk’s essential nutrients. The milk is then packaged, stored and ready to ship to hospitals or individual recipients at home. Lactating women who wish to donate their breast milk may do so through a milk bank.

Does your preemie need donor milk?

The nutritional needs of each baby depends on many different factors. It’s important to talk to your baby’s doctor to see if donor milk is right for your baby. Some hospitals have their own donor milk bank or have a partnership with a milk bank near them. If your baby’s doctor indicates that your baby will benefit from donor milk, he can write a prescription. For more information about the milk bank closest to you, visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

Can you buy breast milk from another mom who has milk to spare?

There are risks with getting breast milk from a stranger or a friend; this milk is not tested or screened for infectious diseases or contamination. A study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that out of 101 samples of milk purchased online from different mothers, 74% of samples were contaminated with bacteria and 21% of samples contained cytomegalovirus (CMV) bacteria.

It’s important to be informed when making feeding decisions for your preemie. If you have any questions about donor milk or your baby’s nutritional needs, speak with your baby’s healthcare provider.

Pregnancy after a preemie

Friday, November 13th, 2015

You may know that having had a premature baby increases your risk to give birth early in your next pregnancy. No one knows for sure what causes a woman to have a premature baby. However, it is important to understand what factors may make you more likely to give birth early and understand how you may be able to reduce your risk.

When you are ready to think about having another baby after you have had a preemie, here are some things to consider:

When to get pregnant again

Getting pregnant too soon after having a baby increases your chance of giving birth early. If possible, wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again. This gives your body time to recover.

Manage preexisting health conditions

Having diabetes or high blood pressure puts you at a higher risk to have a premature baby. Talk to your health care provider about how to best manage these conditions before you get pregnant again. And weighing too much or too little can also be a risk factor. Try to get to a healthy weight before you get pregnant again.

Prevent infections

Having an infection during pregnancy may increase your chance of giving birth early. Always wash your hands thoroughly and practice good hygiene. This won’t prevent all infections, but it can help. Also, get tested for STDs before you become pregnant.

Treatments for preterm labor

Some women may be able to receive progesterone treatment or cerclage in their next pregnancy to reduce their chances of giving birth early again. Talk to your provider to see if these treatments may be right for you.

In the video below, Dr. Siobhan Dolan discusses who may be a good candidate for progesterone treatment:

If you are planning on getting pregnant again, make sure you talk to your health care provider about what you may be able to do to reduce your risk of premature birth. Together, the two of you can make a plan so that hopefully your next pregnancy can be closer to 40 weeks. You can also go to our online community Share Your Story to talk to other women who gave birth early and are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant again.

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

Caring for yourself as you care for your preemie

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Mom holding babyGetting through a pregnancy, having a baby in the NICU, and caring for a baby with special needs at home can take a physical and emotional toll on a woman’s health. This month is a good time to remember to take care of yourself, so that you are in top form to take care of your family. Not only is November Prematurity Awareness Month, it is also National Caregivers Month.

By nature, moms tend to be wired to care for their babies. The daily routine (which goes well into the night) seems to blend into the next day and week. The 24/7 job of being a mom can often feel like a blur. Have you ever asked yourself what day it was only to be surprised when you learned that it was only Tuesday? Weekends, in the sense that most people think of them – free time, sleeping late, etc. – don’t exist. In fact, a Saturday feels much like a Tuesday in the new-mom world. It consists of the same routine: feedings, diaper changes, and caring for the special needs of your preemie.

It is not surprising then, that many moms experience exhaustion and burnout. Who wouldn’t? Every human being needs rest. Constant stress coupled with loss of sleep is a recipe for a downward spiral.

Just as moms care for others, they must learn to care for themselves. Unless you were really good at doing this before your baby was born, it may take a bit of practice. Carving out bits of time to care for yourself should be top on your list. I like to call it using “snippets of time.” Here are some examples:

  • Got five minutes? Give your best friend a call. Just hearing her voice for a few minutes will give you a lift.
  • Ten minutes may not seem like a long time to you, but that is how long it takes to take a shower and feel refreshed. You don’t need to plan a long chunk of time to do that – seize it whenever you have someone you trust watching your baby.
  • Got 30 minutes alone? A walk or yoga video will help to create the energy you didn’t know you had. (Yes, exercise creates energy.)
  • Too tired to walk? Try a quick nap (best done when your baby is also sleeping). Even 15 minutes will feel like you have been turbo charged.
  • Schedule time with your spouse. Somehow, if it isn’t scheduled, it isn’t as likely to happen. If it is on the calendar, it is much more apt to become a reality. After all, if you went through the trouble to make sure someone you trust is watching your baby, then you will probably be sure you spend time together. But, again, it doesn’t have to be for hours. Even one hour out together will help to break up the 24/7 routine and give you a fresh perspective.

Somehow, your preemie caretaking will not seem so overwhelming when you get little breaks. Here are a few more ideas to help you.

How do you take care of yourself? Please share your tips.

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

 

Postpartum depression

Friday, October 30th, 2015

contemplative woman facePostpartum depression (PPD) is the most common health problem for new mothers. For most women, having a baby brings joy and happiness but about 1 out of every 8 women experience postpartum depression. It is the most common complication for new moms. Recently actresses Hayden Panettierre and Drew Barrymore publicly discussed their struggles with PPD.

Postpartum depression is different than the baby blues. The baby blues are caused by the sudden change in hormones after childbirth. This leaves many women feeling sad or moody and is very common. The baby blues usually peak about 3-5 days after delivery. Postpartum depression is more severe and long-lasting. PPD is strong feelings of sadness that last for a long time. These feelings can sometimes make it difficult for you to care for your baby. PPD can happen any time after childbirth, although it usually starts during the first three months. PPD is not your fault. It is a medical condition and it requires medical treatment.

Causes of postpartum depression

We’re not sure what exactly causes PPD but it can happen to any woman after having a baby. We do know that certain risk factors increase your chances to have PPD:

  • You’re younger than 20.
  • You’ve had PPD, major depression or other mood disorders in the past.
  • You have a family history of depression.
  • You’ve recently had stressful events in your life.

Warning signs

You may have PPD if you have five or more of the signs below and they last longer than 2 weeks.

Changes in your feelings

  • Feeling depressed most of the day every day
  • Feeling shame, guilt or like a failure
  • Feeling panicky or scared a lot of the time
  • Having severe mood swings

Changes in your everyday life

  • Having little interest in things you normally like to do
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Eating a lot more or a lot less than is normal for you

Gaining or losing weight

  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Changes in how you think about yourself or your baby
  • Having trouble bonding with your baby
  • Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby
  • Thinking about killing yourself

If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911 right away.

Treatment

If you think you may have PPD, call your health care provider. Your provider may suggest certain treatments such as counseling, support groups, and medicines. Medicines to treat PPD include antidepressants and estrogen (estrogen is a hormone. Hormones are chemicals in your body).  If you’re taking medicine for PPD don’t stop without your provider’s OK. It’s important that you take all your medicine for as long as your provider prescribes it.

PPD is not your fault. It is a medical condition that can get better with treatment so it is very important to tell your doctor or another health care provider if you have any signs. The earlier you get treatment, the sooner you can feel better and start to enjoy being a mom.

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

Eating during labor

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Woman in laborYou may have heard a news report saying that it is okay for a pregnant woman to eat a light meal during labor. In fact, they even said it may be a good idea for some women, based on new research from Canada (not yet published). But, don’t rush out for a cheeseburger on your way to the hospital; you need to know all the details.

Current medical guidelines say that a woman should not eat solid food once she is in labor. The reason is to protect her from aspirating (breathing) food into her lungs. If a woman eats and then needs an emergency C-section, she could be at risk of aspirating during the surgery. Aspiration may lead to pneumonia, too. So, not eating any solid foods during labor is a guideline to protect the mother. (It is also the rule for scheduled C-sections and other surgeries.)

Labor is physically demanding, even grueling. A particularly long labor can leave a woman totally exhausted and lacking in energy, especially for when she needs to push. A little bit of food may go a long way in boosting her energy level. And, this study found that due to medical advances in anesthesia, eating a little bit of light food would probably not have a bad effect on a woman in labor.

The Canadian review looked at 385 prior studies and concluded that anesthesiologists and obstetrical doctors (OB/GYN) should work together to identify women for whom a light meal may be beneficial. They emphasized that doctors must identify women at low risk for aspiration – this is extremely important. And, each woman needs to be assessed individually.

But what does ACOG say?

As of the writing of this blog post, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) has not changed their position on eating during labor. Their position remains that “solid foods should be avoided in laboring patients.”

How about liquids?

ACOG says “Although there is some disagreement, most experts agree that oral intake of clear liquids during labor does not increase maternal complications…modest amounts of clear liquids may be allowed for patients with uncomplicated labor.” So, if you can’t eat solid foods, clear liquids (such as broth) may help increase your energy level. But whether it is safe for you to drink anything at all is something you should discuss with your prenatal health care provider.

What’s the bottom line?

Remember, this study has not been published yet, and ACOG has not changed its guidelines.

As with all medical procedures, talk with your health care team to determine what is best for you.