Archive for the ‘Mommy’ Category

Breastfeeding on demand vs. on a schedule

Monday, June 29th, 2015

breastfeedingWe often receive questions from new moms asking when they should start their newborn’s next feeding. If they breastfed their baby at 2pm, they wonder if they should wait to feed their baby until 5pm. The golden rule is to feed your baby when she’s hungry, called “on-demand” feeding. It is more important to watch your baby for cues that she’s hungry rather than worry about the timing of her feeding.

If you have ever gone to a party, the hostess usually will offer you food or a drink without first asking “are you hungry?” She offers you the food and then you can decide if you want to eat. The same should go for your baby. If she seems unsettled, try breastfeeding. If she is hungry and feeds, you made a good guess; but if not, then you know you can try to settle her in another way (rocking, walking, etc.)

Newborns may eat between 8 and 12 times over 24 hours, which is about once every 2 to 3 hours. If that seems like a lot, it is! Feedings may last about 15-30 minutes. But each baby is different and your baby may need to feed more often or for longer amounts of time.

Will you have enough milk for all these feedings?

The amount of milk a woman can produce and store varies greatly and is not determined by the size of her breasts. As your baby sucks on your nipple, she stimulates your hormones to send a message to your brain telling your body to produce milk. Your hormones, along with your baby’s suckling causes your breasts to “letdown” and provides the milk to your baby’s mouth. Letdown may also occur when you think about your baby, or hear her or even another baby cry.

The more often you nurse, the more milk your body will produce. Your milk production will slow between feedings when milk accumulates in your breast and will speed up when the breast is emptier. Your body is producing milk all the time, the only thing that changes is the speed of production. Your breasts do not need to feel “full” in order to produce enough milk for your baby. The key to breastfeeding on demand is to feed your baby when she wants for as long as she wants. Ignore the clock!

Still not convinced? Here’s the science behind milk production

Your body produces two hormones, prolactin and oxytocin. The hormone prolactin tells your body to use its proteins, sugars and fat from your blood supply to make breast milk. The oxytocin tells your body’s muscles to contract and push the milk into your ductal system and into your nipple as your baby sucks. As your baby continues to suck, your body releases more prolactin which triggers your body to make more breast milk. Between feedings your body’s prolactin levels off, but once you start feeding again, your milk production restarts. So, if you want to produce more milk, you will need to breastfeed or pump more often.

Tips to keep in mind

• If your baby feeds more often than every two hours, it does not mean there is a supply problem.
• For most babies, breast milk is easier to digest than formula. This is why a breastfed baby may feed more often than a formula fed baby.
• You do not need to wait for your breast to ‘refill’ before your baby’s next feeding.
• Certain factors can affect your letdown reflex such as being tired, being stressed or having pain in your breast. Seek support when you need it. 
• Read about common breastfeeding myths in Breastfeeding myths debunked -part 1 and part 2.
• Remember, any breast milk you provide your baby is beneficial. It’s important to find the methods and solutions that work best for you and your baby.

Worried if your baby is getting enough to eat? Visit our page.

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

The safer choice

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

saferchoice labelWhen I go to the store to buy cleaning products, I often find myself standing in the aisle looking at all the different bottles not knowing which one to buy. There are different brands, colors, scents and a different product for each room in your house. It’s hard to know which one to buy and which products are safe.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has come out with a new labeling system that may make decisions easier. The new product label will help you select products that have safer chemical ingredients with an option for fragrance-free, and maintain a high standard for quality.

What does the label mean for pregnant women?

It is EPA’s mission to protect your health while also helping to protect the environment. EPA’s new labeling system will make it easier for you to choose products that do just that. If you see their label on a bottle, it means that product meets EPA’s Safer Choice Standard and has passed rigorous human health and environmental criteria. The new label means each ingredient is among the safest and the packaging is environmentally friendly. Under the Safer Choice label, all ingredients must be included on the product or on the manufacturer’s website (other manufacturers are not required to list their ingredients or make them public.)

If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, it’s important you choose cleaning products that are safe for you. Products that have the label are safer for fish and other aquatic life, do not pollute the air or water and do not add harmful chemicals to the land. The ingredients in these products have also been tested to see if they are associated with causing cancer or reproductive harm, and if the chemical can accumulate in human tissue or the environment.

Where to find Safer Choice products

About 2,250 products qualify for the new label. You can find Safer Choice products in most of the stores where you already purchase cleaning and household products.

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

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Monday, June 8th, 2015

hand, food and mouthThe cold weather is over, along with those winter viruses, hurrah! But not so fast- you may still need to keep an eye out for hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), a viral infection most common in the summer and fall. There isn’t a vaccine to prevent the disease and there are limited treatment options, but you can take steps to reduce your family’s risk.

HFMD is caused by the Coxsackie virus. It is most often seen in infants and children younger than 10 years of age.

Signs and symptoms of HFMD include a fever and small painful sores in your child’s mouth, on the tongue and inside the cheeks. You may also see a rash, often with blisters on the hands and soles of the feet. Your child may experience headaches and loss of appetite, too.

Some children may have the virus and not show any symptoms at all, but they can still pass the virus on to others. HFMD can be spread through coughing, sneezing or contact with feces, especially when changing diapers.

What to expect

Your child’s provider will conduct a physical exam and evaluate your child’s symptoms. The provider may test specimens from the throat or stools and may test your child’s blood or urine to see if your child has the virus.

There is no specific treatment for HFMD, however medications such as acetaminophen may be taken to manage HFMD symptoms. Usually your child’s fever will last 2 to 3 days and the mouth sores will heal in 7 days. The rash on the hands and feet can last 10 days and will then start to peel. It is important for children with HFMD to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Your child may be dehydrated if she has fewer than six wet diapers in 24 hours, sunken eyes, or lack of tears when crying.

Nearly all patients recover from HFMD in 7 to 10 days without medical treatment. On occasion, complications do arise, which may become serious quickly. Call your child’s provider if you think your child is dehydrated, has a fever for more than 3 days or if you think her symptoms are getting worse.

Protection and prevention

• Make sure you and your family wash your hands frequently, especially after changing diapers.
• Avoid contact with anyone who is infected with the virus.
• If your child does get HFMD, keep her out of school, day care and swimming pools for the first few days of her illness.
• Be patient. It will only be a matter of time before your child is back to enjoying her summer.

Birth announcements for your preemie

Monday, June 1st, 2015

birth announcementThe birth of your baby is such an important and joyous time in your life. Many moms want to commemorate the birth by sending out birth announcements to friends and family. I remember when my nephew was born, my sister-in-law put together a small photo shoot in her living room in order to have the perfect picture to include on the birth announcement. Many parents, however, don’t anticipate giving birth early and having a baby in the NICU. If your baby was born weeks or even months ahead of schedule, how should you announce your baby’s birth?

As your baby is being cared for in the NICU, you may feel like you are riding an emotional rollercoaster. You don’t have to send out birth announcements right away. Your first priority is taking care of your baby (and yourself). Birth announcements are typically mailed out anywhere from a few days to a few months after the arrival of your little one, so wait until your baby’s health stabilizes and you feel ready to focus on it.

What if your baby was born weighing 3 pounds, or less – should you include the weight on the announcement?

This is totally up to you. If you feel uncomfortable sharing that information on a birth announcement, you don’t need to include it. Many parents of full-term babies often leave their baby’s weight off the announcement. You can include your baby’s name and date of arrival, which are the details family and friends really want to know.

Your baby’s birth may not have gone as planned, but as your rollercoaster ride starts to slow, you will want to give your child the welcome celebration that she deserves.

Preparing your child for a natural disaster

Friday, May 29th, 2015

storm clouds, hurricaneNatural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, or hurricanes, can affect children differently than they do adults. Disasters cause an extreme amount of stress for anyone but children have unique needs. According to the CDC:

Children’s bodies are smaller and more vulnerable than an adult’s.
• Children are more likely to get sick or severely injured in a disaster.
• They breathe in more air per pound of body weight than adults do and therefore will breathe in more toxins or debris.
• They have thinner skin that is more easily hurt.
• Since children have less fluid in their bodies, fluid loss (such as dehydration or blood loss) will have a more significant effect on their health.
• They are more likely to lose body heat.

In an emergency, children need help from adults.
• Children may not know how to react, so older children may look to adults for cues. Younger children may scream or cry.
• Some children may not be able to explain where or how they are hurt.
• Children cannot make medical decisions for themselves and will need an adult to get medical treatment.

Disasters can be more stressful for children.
• Children may feel out of control.
• They do not understand the situation.
• They have less practice recovering from difficult experiences.

If you have young children, one of the most important things that you can do to keep your family safe in a disaster is to make a plan.  Planning for a disaster means knowing what to do in each possible situation.

Prepare: Before creating your disaster plan, it’s important to know what types of emergencies are likely in your area and the best way to respond. Different events may require different strategies. You can find more information about tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes on our website. If you are pregnant or have a young infant, these factsheets will help you understand your unique needs and prepare for an unexpected event.

Talk: Spend time with your family discussing natural events that may occur in your area. Use simple words that even very young children can understand.

Practice: Practice your family evacuation plan so that during an emergency you can leave quickly and safely. Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. For example, during an earthquake you would want to practice “drop, cover, and hold on” under a sturdy desk or table. During a tornado, you would want to seek shelter in a lower level room without windows.

Respond: Stay as calm as you can, since your reaction is likely to influence how your child responds. If you need to go to a shelter, bring any medications you or your children need. Also, bring small toys that will make them feel at home.

Recover: If appropriate, let children help in clean-up and recovery efforts. This can help to increase their sense of control. Try to get back into normal routines as soon as you can.

Ready.gov has a lot of information that can help you make an emergency preparedness plan. And if you have a baby or child with special needs, make sure you read our post Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs.

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Summer safety

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

keeping-your-baby-safe-in-the-sun_rdax_50Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. If you are pregnant or have little ones at home, there are a lot of safety concerns to think about as the warmer weather approaches.

Food:

Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing foods that are frequently associated with food-borne illness:
• CLEAN: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. And wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully.
• SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!  When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
• COOK: Cook to proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles. After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.
• CHILL: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying

Sun:

Sunscreen is important for everyone! During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

And a baby’s skin is thin and burns much more easily than an older child’s skin. This is especially true for babies younger than 6 months.

Here’s how you can stay safe in the sun:
• Do your best to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If your baby is younger than 6 months, it is best to keep her in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
• Make sure that both of you wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that have 99 percent UV protection.
• Dress everyone in lightweight clothes that cover arms and legs.
• Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. And reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. If you are at the beach or the pool, reapply more frequently. Water and sand increase sun exposure due to the reflection of the sun off these surfaces.

Water:

Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old? And it’s the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Here are some tips for keeping your baby safe around the water:
• Never leave your child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
• Avoid all distractions—including your cell phone! Young children need all of your attention when they are near or around water.
• Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests). For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support.
• Learn CPR. It is a great skill to know. You can usually find programs in your community.

Remember these summer safety tips and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

How much weight should I gain?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

During pregnancy, you need to gain a healthy amount of weight to support your growing baby. In this video, Dr. Siobhan Dolan talks about how much weight you should gain and what to do during pregnancy to maintain a healthy weight for you and your baby. It’s important to learn how gaining too much or too little weight can cause problems for your baby including premature birth. Don’t forget to talk to your provider about what is right for you.

Preparing homemade baby food safely

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Feeding baby homemade foodI was visiting my friend this past weekend while she was making her baby’s food for the week. Sweet potatoes and avocados were her son’s favorite. She’s a busy working mom and tries to make the food in bulk on the weekends to put in the freezer until she needs it. It seemed like she had her baby food making process perfected. Some parents buy baby food, others feed their babies homemade baby food. Some parents switch back and forth between the two. Whatever you decide, choose healthy foods and if you make your own baby food, learn how to safely prepare it.

Where to start

• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfed babies get only breast milk for the first 6 months of life, but some babies may be ready for solid foods between 4 to 6 months. Look for cues to know when your baby is ready for solid foods.
• Give your baby one new food at a time and wait 2-3 days before starting another. Watch for allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash or vomiting.
• At each meal, your baby should be eating 4 ounces, or the amount of one small jar of baby food.
• Your baby’s diet can include: Breastmilk and/or formula, meats, cereal, veggies, fruits, eggs and fish.

Keep foods safe

• Make foods soft and easy to swallow; do not serve any food that requires chewing.
• Avoid added salt, sugar, fat, seasonings or preservatives.
• Read our blog post on feeding your baby organic vs. non-organic foods.
• Wash all fruits and veggies with water before you cook them – even those with a peel.
• Remove all pits, seeds and skin before use, as these may cause your baby to choke.
• Make sure all of your kitchen counters and food utensils are clean. Always wash your hands before handling foods and feeding your baby.

Do not feed your baby these foods

• Beets, turnips, green beans, squash, carrots and spinach. These foods may contain a high amount of nitrates, which are chemicals that can cause methemoglobinemia, a type of anemia in young babies.
• Honey, which may contain Clostridium botulinum spores, is not recommended for children under 1 year of age.
• Raw or partially cooked eggs, due to the risk of Salmonella.

Food preparation

• Cook all veggies and fruits thoroughly so your baby can digest them better. Some foods such as avocados, bananas, plums, ripe papaya, peaches and apricots don’t need to be cooked.
• Use fresh produce within a day or two of buying them to maintain vitamins and minerals. Or try frozen or canned vegetables and fruits. Make sure to read the label to avoid added sugar and salt.
• Use a blender or food processor or mash soft foods with a fork before serving.
• Reheat foods to body temperature. The AAP recommends that if microwaving is used, to stir the foods thoroughly to even out the temperature and taste test before serving to your child.

Do’s and don’ts

• Do steam, microwave, bake or broil as cooking methods for your baby’s food, but don’t boil or fry.
• Do save time by making more than just one meal.  Don’t use leftover food to make homemade baby food. For information on putting leftovers in the fridge and freezer, read our web article.
• Do give your baby single ingredient meals, whether home-made or store bought.
• Do throw out any leftovers from your baby’s dish. Saliva from your baby’s feeding spoon can spoil the food left on the dish or in the jar.
• If you have concerns about the foods your child is eating or you are wondering if he is gaining enough weight, DO contact your baby’s health care provider.

Have questions about preparing food for your baby? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Can your meds cause drug withdrawal in your baby?

Friday, May 15th, 2015

pillsNeonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of conditions a newborn can have if he’s exposed to addictive street or prescription drugs before birth. If you take drugs during pregnancy, they can pass through the placenta to your baby. After birth, the baby is still dependent on the drug, however, now that the drug is no longer available, the baby experiences drug withdrawal. Today, one of the most common causes of NAS is maternal use or abuse of opioids during pregnancy.

Using these drugs during pregnancy can cause NAS:

• Opioids, including the prescription medicines codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin®), morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®) and oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®). The street drug heroin also is an opioid.
• Barbiturates, like phennies, yellow jackets and Amytal®
• Benzodiazepines, like sleeping pills, Valium® and Xanax®

Signs and symptoms of NAS:

• Body shakes (tremors), seizures (convulsions), overactive reflexes (twitching) and tight muscle tone
• Fussiness, excessive crying or having a high-pitched cry
• Poor feeding, poor sucking or slow weight gain
• Breathing fast
• Fever, sweating or blotchy skin
• Trouble sleeping and yawning frequently
• Diarrhea or vomiting  (throwing up)
• Stuffy nose or sneezing

Signs and symptoms of NAS can be different for every baby. Symptoms may appear within a few minutes after birth or as much as two weeks later. NAS can last from 1 week to 6 months after birth.

Testing and treatment:

Your provider can see if your baby has NAS by testing his first bowel movement or urine. Your provider can also use what is called a neonatal abstinence scoring system which gives points for each NAS symptom depending on how severe it is. Treatment can include medicines to manage severe withdrawal symptoms, getting fluids through a needle into the vein, or giving higher-calorie baby formula to newborns that have trouble feeding or slow growth.

How can I prevent NAS?

If you’re pregnant and you use any of the drugs that can cause NAS, tell your health care provider right away. But don’t stop taking the drug without getting treatment from your provider first. Quitting suddenly (sometimes called cold turkey) can cause severe problems for your baby, including death.

If you’re addicted to opioids, medication-assisted treatment (also called MAT) during pregnancy can help your baby. NAS in babies may be easier to treat for babies whose moms get MAT during pregnancy. Medicines used in MAT include methadone and buprenorphine.

Even if you use a prescription drug exactly as your provider tells you to, it may cause NAS in your baby. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, talk to your provider about any drug or medicine you are taking.

Our website has more information on where you can find help.

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

Research shows a consistent bedtime routine helps children

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

parents reading to child“Dinner, bath, books, bed.” That was my mantra when my kids were little. They knew the routine once I started getting dinner ready. The moment the dishes were in the dishwasher I would bring them straight upstairs to get ready for bath time, and to pick out a book. Once the story was read, it was time to hop into bed.

It helped ME to keep them in this routine. (After all, a mom needs to be off-duty, too!) And now, new research has shown that it helps KIDS to have a consistent bedtime routine, as well.

In a multinational study, mothers of 10,085 children (from infants to age 5) in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed about their children’s sleep habits – both daytime naps and nighttime. They completed a questionnaire which was then analyzed by the researchers.

The results?

The children who had a consistent bedtime routine slept better, longer, and woke up less during the night. They also fell asleep sooner than those who did not have a consistent routine.

Parents reported fewer behavior problems the next day in the kids that had a consistent bedtime routine. (I know that if I have not had a decent night’s sleep, I can be grouchy and irritable the next day. It seems reasonable that the same would be true for our kids.)

It is interesting that the results were consistent across many different countries. Kids are kids, no matter where they live. They all need good, solid, restorative sleep. These data suggest that a bedtime routine can be key in helping your child sleep well every night.

More good news

It is never too late to establish a routine. Also, this study suggests that the younger your child is when you start, and the more consistent you are with keeping up with the routine, the better the outcome will be. Plus, reading to your child has many known benefits for language development.

Do you have a bedtime routine for your child? How is it working?

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org

See other topics on how to help your child, here.