Archive for the ‘Mommy’ Category

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.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Sharing Mommy Moments for Mother’s Day

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Family walking outdoorsMother’s Day is coming up this Sunday. Let’s take some time to share special moments and memories.

What are some meaningful memories you have of your mother?

Are you a mom? What are some of the most memorable moments with your child that you cherish?

Do you have any humorous stories that would be fun to share?

Here are a couple from me to start us off:

“Dinner’s ready! Wash your hands!” my mother calls. We all show up at the table and it’s obvious that my brother’s hands are not clean. “But I washed them!” he protested. “So why are they still dirty ?” my mother asks. He looks at his hands to see the dirt on the top of his hands (not on his palms) and says “Oh – I had to wash the top, too??”

When we got a new TV and I was having trouble figuring out how the remote control worked, my son picked up the remote and took over effortlessly. My daughter then turned to me and said “Mommy – you need to practice more!”

Here are some from my colleagues:

“Walk…don’t run” my mother said. I wish I had listened. I was so excited that “our” lake was frozen enough that I could ice-skate, so I started to run up the outside stairs from the lake to the house, and of course, slipped on the icy step and fractured my wrist.  No skating that season for me…

One great memory I have from growing up with my mom is her surprise lunches. Every day at school I would sit down and open my lunch box to see what she had put together for me. She always cut my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into fun shapes and designs and often included a little love note. It was as if I was getting a hug from her all the way at school and it always put a big smile on my face.

What’s your mommy moment? Please share.

And to all moms and moms-to-be, have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

 

Join the blog-a-thon for NIIW

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

niiw-blog-a-thon-badgeThis week is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a time to talk about vaccines.

Do you remember mumps? How about chicken pox? For so many children, these are diseases they never had or will never get. But I remember them well – the incredible pain and swelling from mumps, the constant itching and scars from chicken pox, not to mention the many days of school that I missed. I knew kids who were hospitalized due to complications from both mumps and chickenpox.

Even my kids had chicken pox – one more severely than the other – as the vaccine was not yet available. How I wish they could have avoided that disease!

Rotavirus is another potentially very serious condition that most babies and children can avoid today. My daughter ended up in the hospital for two days due to complications from rotavirus – a very scary experience!

But perhaps the one that hits home the most for me is polio. The March of Dimes would not be here if it were not for this devastating disease. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted this paralyzing disease, he called on our organization to raise money in order to fund research to develop a vaccine. The March of Dimes is named for the dimes that were “marched” to Washington from countless people to fund research into finding a vaccine in time to spare any more men, women, children and babies from getting this crippling disease.

We were successful. The polio vaccine was rolled out to the public in 1955 as a result of the pioneering work of March of Dimes’ funded researchers Drs. Salk and Sabin.

Due to the development of this vaccine, polio is practically a part of world history. It no longer exists in America, and is almost totally eradicated in other parts of the world. When you stop to think about it, that is really AMAZING. This little vaccine prevents lifelong paralysis and pain in millions of people.

What started with combating polio has led March of Dimes to continue working hard to ensure all babies get a fighting chance for a healthy start in life.

But vaccines are not just for babies

As important as it is for babies and children to receive their vaccines, it’s also critical that adults who come in contact with children stay up-to-date with immunizations. For example, pertussis (whooping cough) can be fatal for a baby. When parents and caretakers get the vaccine, they are ensuring that their baby will be protected until he is old enough to be immunized. In fact, it is so important to get this vaccine that all pregnant women are recommended to receive the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy.

There’s no doubt about it -even adults need vaccines. And women need them before, during and after pregnancy.

It would be a very different world without the lifesaving vaccines that have spared us from so many diseases. NIIW is a time to highlight the importance of protecting babies and children from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in the U.S.

We’re a healthier nation and world because of them.

Please share your support for childhood immunizations by participating in this week’s blog-a-thon. Here are the details.

 

Postpartum depression – don’t suffer in silence

Monday, March 27th, 2017

img_postpartum_depIf you keep up with celebrity news, you may have read about model and TV series host Chrissy Teigen’s recent struggle with Postpartum Depression (PPD). Chrissy was feeling all sorts of symptoms without knowing the cause or that there could be an explanation.

Postpartum depression (also called PPD) is a kind of depression that you can get after having a baby. PPD is strong feelings of sadness that last for a long time. It is the most common complication for women who have just had a baby; in fact 1 in 9 women suffer from PPD, which is different from the “baby blues.” Many women don’t know why they are suffering or are hesitant to reach out for help.

One of Chrissy’s greatest attributes is her ability to be truthful and “tell it like it is.” In her essay that was published in Glamour, she writes “I also just didn’t think it could happen to me… But postpartum (depression) does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling.”

Signs of PPD

You may have PPD if you have five or more signs that last longer than two 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 ending your life

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above or think you may have PPD, call your health care provider. There are things you and your provider can do to help you feel better. Reach out for help and support today. For more information about PPD, see our article.

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

 

Update! New guidelines on how to prevent peanut allergies in your baby

Monday, January 9th, 2017

peanut butterPeanut allergies have become a hot topic and for good reason. These allergies can be severe and lifelong.

I remember when I was in school, before my math class we would have to dispose of all peanut products before stepping into the room because a student had a peanut allergy. Even when all products were thrown in the garbage, if the food got in the air, it caused her to have a reaction and she needed to leave class immediately. For those people with a peanut allergy, it can seriously affect their everyday lives.

But good news has just arrived. New clinical guidelines have been issued to help prevent the development of a peanut allergy in children.

Why was there a change in the recommendations?

A new study involving more than 600 babies ages 4-11 months found that those infants who avoided peanut products had a higher rate of peanut allergy than those who ate peanut-products.

Babies and children (up to age 5)  who regularly ate peanut products were less likely to develop a peanut allergy. Specifically, high risk infants (babies who had severe eczema or inflammation of the skin and/or an egg allergy) had an 81% reduction in the development of a peanut allergy.

What are the new guidelines?

  1. Infants who are at high risk of developing a peanut allergy and already have severe eczema, egg allergy or both, should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diet as early as 4-6 months of age to reduce the risk of developing the allergy. But be sure to speak with your baby’s provider before beginning this process.
  2. Infants with mild to moderate eczema should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets around 6 months of age to reduce the risk of peanut allergy.
  3. Infants without eczema or any food allergy can have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets at any time after solids have successfully been introduced.

Important:  In all cases, your baby should start other solid foods before introducing peanut-containing foods. Never give whole peanuts or peanut pieces to children under the age of four. Be sure to speak with your baby’s health care provider before making any changes to your baby’s diet. For more information about peanut allergies, see this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Have questions about these new guidelines? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.