Archive for the ‘Mommy’ Category

Warning signs to look for after having a baby

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Your body worked hard during pregnancy, helping to keep your baby healthy and safe. But your body also changes after having a baby. While some changes are normal and help you recover from pregnancy, others may be a sign that something may not be right. Seeking medical care is the best thing you can do if you have any of the following warning signs or symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding (more than your normal period or gets worse)
  • Discharge, pain or redness that doesn’t go away or gets worse. These could be a sign of infection in your c-section incision or if you had an episiotomy.
  • Intense feelings of sadness and worry that last a long time after birth. These could be a sign of postpartum depression (also called PPD). PPD is a kind of depression that some women get after having a baby.
  • Fever higher than 100.4F
  • Pain or burning when you go the bathroom
  • Pain, swelling and tenderness in your legs, especially around your calves. These could be a sign of deep vein thrombophlebitis (also called DVT), a kind of blood clot.
  • Red streaks on your breasts or painful lumps in your breasts. These could be a sign of mastitis, a breast infection.
  • Severe pain in your lower belly, feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting
  • Vaginal discharge that smells bad
  • Severe headaches that won’t go away
  • Vision changes

Call your health care provider or dial 911 right away if you have any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Bleeding that can’t be controlled
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Signs of shock, such as chills, clammy skin, dizziness, fainting or a racing heart
  • Seeing spots

If you feel like something is wrong, call your provider. It is important to get help so that you can enjoy being with your new baby.

For more information

Is it postpartum depression?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Welcoming a new baby into your life is an exciting moment. But for some moms, feelings of happiness after giving birth mix with intense feelings of sadness and worry that can last a long time. These feelings can make it difficult for you to take care of yourself and your baby. This is called postpartum depression (also known as PPD).

PPD is a kind of depression that some women get after having a baby. But you’re not alone. In fact, up to 1 out of every 7 women has PPD, making it the most common complication for new moms. Postpartum depression can happen any time after having a baby. Often times, it starts within 1 to 3 weeks of having a baby.

How do you know if it’s PPD?

The exact causes of PPD are not known. We know that it can happen to any woman after giving birth, and that perhaps the changing hormones after pregnancy may lead to PPD. We also know that there are some things that may make you more likely than other women to have PPD, such as having a family health history of depression, and having had a stressful event in your life, like having a baby in the NICU. However, one of the most important things you can do is learn the signs of PPD.

You may have PPD if you have 5 or more of the following signs of PPD that 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 think you have PPD, call your health care provider right away. If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911.

PPD is a medical condition that needs treatment to get better. PPD is not your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause PPD and you can get help to help you feel better and enjoy being a mom.

For more information and support:

Emotional changes after having a baby

Friday, March 30th, 2018

It is common to have emotional changes after your baby is born.

You may feel excited, exhausted, overwhelmed, and even sad at times.

Taking care of a baby is a lot to think about and a lot to do.

On top of all that, after the birth of your baby, your hormones are adjusting again.

As a result, these changes can have an effect on your emotions and how you feel.

Here are few suggestion that may help you:

  • Tell your partner how you feel. Let your partner help take care of the baby.
  • Ask your friends and family for help. Tell them exactly what they can do for you, like go grocery shopping or make meals.
  • Try to get as much rest as you can. We know it’s easier said than done, but try to sleep when your baby is sleeping.
  • Try to make time for yourself. If possible, get out the house every day, even if it’s for a short while.
  • Eat healthy foods and be active when you can (with your health care provider’s ok). Eating healthy and getting fit can help you feel better.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or use drugs. All these things are bad for you and can make it hard for you to handle stress.

If you experience changes in your feelings, in your everyday life, and in how you think about yourself or your baby that last longer than 2 weeks, call your health care provider right away. These could be signs of postpartum depression.

How do you know if you have postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression (also called PPD) is different from having emotional changes. PPD happens when the feelings of sadness are strong and last for a long time after the baby is born. These feelings can make it hard for you to take care of your baby. You may have PPD if you have five or more signs of PPD that last longer than 2 weeks. These are the signs to look for:

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 think you may have PPD, call your health care provider right away. There are things you and your provider can do to help you feel better. If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911.

Recovery after birth: common discomforts vs. warning signs

Monday, December 18th, 2017

During pregnancy, your body changed a lot. Now that your baby is here, your body is changing again. As you heal after birth, it’s normal to feel some discomforts, like soreness and fatigue. However, other symptoms may be a sign that you need follow-up medical care.

Some common postpartum symptoms can include perineum soreness, afterbirth pains, cesarean section recovery, vaginal discharge, breast engorgement, nipple pain, swelling, hemorrhoids, constipation, urinary problems and sweating.

Chances are that you’ll be healthy after giving birth. But some moms may have some health problems, like:
• Cesarean wound infection
• Deep vein thrombophlebitis (DVT), a kind of blood clot
• Endometritis, an infection in the uterus (womb)
• Mastitis, a breast infection
• Postpartum bleeding
 Postpartum depression (PPD)

Call your provider if you have any of these warning signs:
• Bleeding that’s heavier than your normal menstrual period or that gets worse
• Discharge, pain or redness that doesn’t go away or gets worse. These could be from a c-section incision (cut), episiotomy or perineal tear (a tear that happens between the vagina and rectum).
• Feelings of sadness that last longer than 10 days after giving birth
• Fever higher than 100.4 F
• Pain or burning when you go to the bathroom
• Pain, swelling and tenderness in your legs, especially around your calves
• Red streaks on your breasts or painful lumps in your breast
• Severe pain in your lower belly, feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
• Vaginal discharge that smells bad

If something feels wrong, call your health care provider. Many of these issues can be easily treated. But the key is to receive treatment before they cause a more serious problem.

If you have bleeding that can’t be controlled, chest pain, trouble breathing or signs of shock (chills, clammy skin, dizziness, fainting or a racing heart) seek help immediately through your provider or by calling 9-1-1.

Just as pregnancy is different for every woman, recovery is too. Be sure to bring up any concerns you have with your health care provider.

Dads and breastfeeding

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

A breastfeeding relationship is often viewed as one that is between mom and baby. It’s easy for dads to feel left out. But dads are an important part of breastfeeding, its true! As a dad, there are many ways you can assist your partner with feeding and bond with your baby at the same time.

There are a lot of moving parts to breastfeeding. Moms needs to get situated and comfortable to feed. This is a good time for dads to play with your baby while mom gets ready. Be sure to bring your partner any extra pillows, pieces of equipment, such as a nipple shield or other items that she may need.

While your baby is breastfeeding, bring your partner a snack and glass of water. As she finishes up, be ready to burp your baby, wipe up any extra milk around her mouth or change her diaper as needed.

Before and after feeding, practice skin-to-skin care with your baby by holding her on your bare chest. Be in charge of cuddles and bathing your baby for extra bonding time.

Breastfeeding can also come with many discomforts and problems. The more you know about breastfeeding, the more you can help your partner and your baby. If your partner mentions a discomfort, offer to research the issue or call her Lactation Consultant to ask questions or schedule an appointment. Bring her warm compresses for her engorgement or ointment for cracked nipples, if she needs them.

Dads may not be able to breastfeed, but there are many other helpful things you can do to assist your partner and bond with your baby. And studies show that the more supportive you are, the longer your partner will breastfeed and the more confident she will feel about her ability to do so.  So go ahead and jump right in – both you and your baby will be happy you did.

Wash your hands for National Handwashing Awareness Week

Friday, December 8th, 2017

The easiest way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands. You should wash your hands before and after many activities, such as when you are preparing foods or eating, after you use the bathroom, and after changing diapers or helping your child use the toilet. The simple act of washing your hands can help protect you and others from germs.

Is there really a benefit to washing hands?

You may not be able to see the germs on your hands, but they can lead to illness. Think of hand washing as your daily vaccine for staying healthy. If you’re pregnant or thinking about pregnancy, washing your hands can help protect you from viruses and infections, like CMV and toxoplasmosis. These viruses can cause problems during pregnancy.

Washing your hands is easy, just follow these easy steps:

  • Wet your hands with clean water and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to lather the soap. Be sure you get the back of your hands as well.
  • Scrub! And sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to be sure you are scrubbing long enough.
  • Rinse your hands well.
  • And dry.

If you don’t have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Just be sure to check the label. Hand sanitizers are good in a pinch, but they don’t get rid of all types of germs, so hand washing is still the best way to stay healthy.

National Day of the Deployed: Our story

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

We’re so happy to share this guest post with you today in honor of National Day of the Deployed. Stacy is a mom to four beautiful babies, twins Emilyn and Hailey who passed away shortly after birth after being born too soon, a six year old son Elim, and a three year old daughter Isla. She has been a NICU nurse for the last year and a half and has been a volunteer for the March of Dimes for nearly eight years.  Her husband Charles is currently deployed and has been active duty Air Force for over thirteen years.

My babies seeing their daddy for the first time in six and a half months during his two week R&R:

 

 

When my husband joined the military a little over thirteen years ago we knew to expect deployments, although we hoped that they would be few and far between.  His first one was just one year after we were married, I was in nursing school, and we had no kids unless you count our fur-child Molly.  The first days and weeks were so incredibly lonely but I quickly got into a routine and one week dragged into the next and four months later I was welcoming him home. Back then we only had a few phone calls here and there with calling cards and emails almost daily.

Five years later he went again.  This time he left behind not only me, but our fifteen month old son.  I was a stay at home mom which left me with virtually no adult interaction on most days.  I quickly learned that I needed to take care of not only my son but also myself.  We were lucky enough to be stationed near my parents who were more than willing to babysit, which allowed me to go out one night every week to visit with friends, enjoy delicious foods and adult conversations.  Technology had advanced and we were now able to video call several times a week.  Our son was able to see his daddy and while at that age, he wasn’t really interested or able to participate in any conversations, he was able to see him and hear his voice which is so important for one so little.

Five years later we find ourselves in the midst of another deployment, this one more than twice as long as the first two.  He has been gone for nine months with three months left to go.  In addition to our fur-child Molly and our now six year old son he also left behind our three year old daughter.  This deployment is tougher in so many ways.  I am now working full time and trying to balance my time between work, kids activities and therapies and squeezing in some time to take care of myself.  This time, the kids are older and able to understand what a year means.  They miss their daddy terribly, but are able to keep in contact with both messages and video calls as often as they want.  A very common sight in our house is my six year old son sitting in his room playing Legos with our tablet propped up on his dresser so his daddy can see them and they can talk as he is building things.  He came home in August for his two week mid-deployment rest and relaxation leave and the joy on my kids faces as we surprised them at daycare with their daddy is something I will never forget.  I can’t wait to see it happen all over again when he returns for good at the end of this deployment.  But being a military family we know that for good really means until the next time.

Today on National Day of the Deployed, I share a few of my secrets for surviving a deployment:

  • Take time out for yourself no matter the ages of your kids.  Take advantage of the programs that your branch family support center offers.  It is so, so important that you not burn yourself at both ends of the candle.
  • Build a support network starting before the deployment.  Meet people at church, or spouse socials, MOPS or other moms club and find your tribe!  Online options are also helpful for the hours after the kids go to bed if you’re not able to get out. One great option is missionhealthybaby.org where you can connect with other moms whose spouses are in the military!
  • Make family traditions while your military member is deployed.  Our family has instituted the one kiss from daddy a day. A bowl was filled up with Hershey’s kisses and the kids each get one every day counting down to when daddy returns and the bowl is empty.
  • Set up times to video chat with your spouse when the kids are engaged in other activities, find ways to connect like watching the same shows. Chatting about daily life gets dull when your military member is most likely either not able to talk about what they are doing or it’s the same day after day.
  • Set up times for your kids to chat with your spouse!  Keeping the connection with their parent is so so important no matter the age!  Even if your child is a baby, hearing the sounds of their voice can help them maintain their connection.
  • Make videos with your deployed spouse reading bedtime stories for your kids so they can hear mommy or daddy every night before bed.
  • Plan activities for after the deployment that your whole family can look forward to!  Also activities to help you and your spouse reconnect.
  • Learn to accept help when you need it and find people that you can lean on.  If you need help with your lawn, or cleaning your house or taking care of your kids, ask for it before you’re completely overwhelmed!
  • Take time to rest, you need it!  It’s so easy to stay up half of the night and then be exhausted in the morning when your kids get up.  Find a manageable bedtime and try to stick to it.
  • Pamper yourself.  Whether that’s going to a salon to get a haircut or pedicure or doing it yourself at home, take care of you. You deserve it!
  • Take advantage of all the programs the family readiness center offers to prepare for deployment and homecoming.
  • Remember that it takes time to adjust once your spouse is home and reintegrate back into the family.
  • Take advantage of counseling through military onesource, they can offer counseling free of charge and off the books for up to twelve sessions if there is need for it.

The March of Dimes expanded the Mission: Healthy Baby program, which provides free pregnancy and newborn health information and support services to military families, with the launch of the site missionhealthybaby.org. This web portal, exclusively for military families, will connect you with other moms-to-be who face many of the same challenges.

Depression during pregnancy: what you need to know

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s a medical condition that affects your thoughts, feelings, and even causes changes to your body. You may have depression if you have any of these signs that last for more than 2 weeks:

Changes in your feelings 

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
  • Feeling restless or moody
  • Crying a lot
  • Feeling worthless or guilty

Changes in your everyday life 

  • Eating more or less than you usually do
  • Having trouble remembering things, concentrating or making decisions
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Losing interest in things you usually like to do

Changes in your body 

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

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your health care provider.

Depression during pregnancy

If you’ve had depression before, you’re more likely than other women to experience depression during pregnancy. Being pregnant can make depression worse or make it come back if you’ve been treated in the past and were feeling better.

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

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

Treatment for depression during pregnancy

It’s best if you work with a team of providers to treat your depression during pregnancy. These providers can work together to make sure you and your baby get the best care. They may include your prenatal care provider and a professional who treats your depression (such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or counselor).

There are several treatment options available for depression during pregnancy including talk therapy, support groups and medicine, such as antidepressants. Make sure you talk to your health care provider about the best choice for you.

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

Breastfeeding is beneficial for moms and babies

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

In the United States, most new moms (about 80%) breastfeed their babies. And about half of these moms breastfeed for at least 6 months. You may know that breastfeeding is best for your baby, but did you know that you can benefit as well? Here is some information about why breastfeeding is good for both you and your baby.

For your baby, breast milk:

  • Has the right amount of protein, sugar, fat and most vitamins to help your baby grow and develop.
  • Contains antibodies that help protect your baby. In general, breastfed babies have fewer health problems than babies who aren’t breastfed.
  • Has fatty acids, like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), that may help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. It also may lower the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Is easy for your baby to digest. A breastfed baby may have less gas and belly pain than a baby who is given formula.
  • Changes as your baby grows, so he gets exactly what he needs at the right time. For the first few days after your baby is born, your breasts make colostrum. This is a thick, yellowish form of breast milk. Colostrum has nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs in the first few days of life. In 3-4 days the colostrum will gradually change to breast milk.

For you, breastfeeding:

  • Increases the amount of a hormone in your body called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract. These contractions help your uterus to go back to the size it was before pregnancy and help you to stop bleeding.
  • Helps to reduce stress. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “anti-stress” hormone. It 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 have a lower response to stress and pain.
  • Burns extra calories (up to 500 a day). This can help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight in a gradual and healthy way.

Want more information about breastfeeding? Check out Breastfeeding 101.

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

 

Heat and pregnancy – what’s dangerous and how to cope

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

heatIf you live in the northeast, you know we’ve been experiencing a heat wave. Just going from my car to the front door of the office seems too far to walk in this heat. If you’re pregnant, having an increased exposure to heat may cause problems for you or your baby.

Exposure to excessive heat affects people differently. When you are pregnant, your body works hard to cool you and your baby. So, if you are pregnant, you are more likely to develop a heat related illness sooner than someone who is not pregnant.

Heat illnesses occur when your body’s efforts to cool itself (eg. sweating) are no longer effective. Heat illnesses include a rash often known as “prickly heat,” cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include a headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating, weakness, thirst, being irritable, and having an increased body temperature.

Heat stroke is an emergency condition. It is when your body temperature goes above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms include hot and dry skin or extreme sweating, a rapid pulse, throbbing head-ache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, and seizures. If untreated, it could result in permanent organ damage or even death. Seek medical attention or contact 911 immediately if someone you know has these symptoms.

Prevention is key

It is important that you take steps to stay cool and prevent heat related conditions, especially if you are pregnant. Here’s how:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink water frequently. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Stay in rooms with air-conditioning.
  • Avoid going outdoors during peak heat hours (11am – 3pm).
  • If you must go outdoors, stay in the shade, limit your physical activity, and stay hydrated. Use a cold or wet cloth to cool down by putting it on the inside of your wrists or forehead so you don’t get too hot.

Keep kids out of the heat, too

One more thing…each year at about this time, we hear of children being left in a hot car “for just a few minutes.” Tragic deaths from heat stroke can occur from leaving a child in an overheated closed car for a very short while.

Never leave a child unattended in a closed car – NEVER.

Children don’t have the same chemical makeup as adults, making it harder for their bodies to regulate temperature. Take steps to protect your child from heat-related illnesses by setting reminders. Here are a few tips to prevent a tragedy, from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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