Archive for the ‘Mommy’ Category

Do you know what CMV is?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

June is National Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to know about CMV. Here’s why:

CMV is a common viral infection that most of us get at some point in our lives, frequently during childhood. It is usually harmless and rarely causes any signs or symptoms. But if you are pregnant and get CMV for the first time, your baby can get the infection. This can lead to serious illness and lasting disabilities in some babies.

About half of all pregnant women have had CMV in the past. If you’ve already had it, you don’t need to worry about getting it again. Once you’ve been infected, CMV stays in your body for life. Although you can still pass it to your baby, this is rare and usually doesn’t cause any harm to your baby.

What do you need to know?

Most of the time CMV doesn’t cause any symptoms, which means you may not know for sure if you had it or not. Before you try to get pregnant, find out if you’ve ever been infected with CMV. Ask your health care provider for a blood test to know your CMV status. A CMV blood test detects antibodies for this infection. Your body will produce antibodies as a response from this virus. An antibody is a protein your body makes to help protect you from a foreign substance, like a virus.

The test may show:

  • Normal results: This means the test didn’t detect CMV antibodies. You will need to follow precautions to avoid getting infected with CMV.
  • Abnormal results: This means the test has detected CMV antibodies. Ask your provider if the infection happened recently or if it’s an infection that happened a long time ago. If you had a recent infection this can be dangerous when pregnant. Your provider will test your baby for CMV. If you are not pregnant yet, ask your provider how long you need to wait until it’s safe to get pregnant.

How can you get CMV?

You can get CMV by having contact with bodily fluid from a person who carries the virus. You may be more likely than other people to get CMV if you have young children at home, work with young children, or work in health care.

These precautions may protect you from getting CMV:

  • Don’t share food, glasses, straws, forks, or other utensils.
  • Don’t put a baby’s pacifier in your mouth.
  • Avoid kissing young children on the mouth.
  • Do not share personal items that may have saliva, like toothbrushes.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after changing diapers or being in contact with children’s body fluids.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org and National CMV Foundation.

Preeclampsia can also happen after you’ve given birth

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only happens during pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally. When preeclampsia happens shortly after having a baby, it is called postpartum preeclampsia.

Although postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition, it is also very dangerous. Postpartum preeclampsia most often happens within 48 hours of having a baby, but it can develop up to 6 weeks after a baby’s birth. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, postpartum preeclampsia can happen to any women, even those who didn’t have high blood pressure during their pregnancy. It can be even more dangerous than preeclampsia during pregnancy because it can be hard to identify.

After your baby is born, your attention is mostly focused on his needs. To identify the signs of postpartum preeclampsia you also need to make sure you are paying attention to your body and how you are feeling. Identifying the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia and getting help right away is extremely important. Postpartum preeclampsia needs to be treated immediately to avoid serious complications, including death.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia may include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing
  • Decreased urination
  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)

What can you do?

  • Go to your postpartum checkup, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • Know how to identify the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia.
  • If you have any of the previous signs or symptoms, tell your provider right away. If you can’t talk to your provider right away, call the emergency services (911) or ask to be taken to an emergency room.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org

Taking care of yourself while your baby is in the NICU

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Having a baby in the newborn intensive care unit (also called NICU) can be very stressful for you and your family. There’s so much you need to learn and so many unknowns. It is normal that you focus most of your attention on your baby’s needs, but you also need to think about your own needs. Taking care of yourself can help you stay healthy and feel better. When you are feeling well, you will be in a better state of mind to help your baby.

Here are five things you can do to take care of yourself when your baby is in the NICU:

  • Maintain a daily routine. Having a routine can help you reduce stress. Every day focus on doing things that are good for you, like: eating healthy foods and regular meals, taking a relaxing shower, drinking plenty of water, and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Make connections with other NICU families at NICU classes, in the family lounge or in the NICU hallway. NICU families may understand how you’re feeling better than friends and family who are not necessarily going through a similar experience.
  • Visit shareyourstory.org, March of Dimes online community for families. Here you can connect and share with moms and families who have a baby in the NICU. You can find support from these parents who also have a baby in the NICU, or are going through similar experiences with their babies.
  • Consider taking breaks from the NICU. It’s OK to make time for yourself and your family. Remember, you need to be ok to be able to help others.
  • Talk to a counselor. Counselors are professionals who specialized in mental health. Talking to a counselor may help you cope with your feelings. A counselor may be someone from the NICU staff or a social worker. The NICU Staff or your health care provider can help you find a counselor.

For more information about the NICU and how to take care of yourself and your baby visit marchofdimes.org

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.