Archive for the ‘Mommy’ Category

Holidays are a time for family

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Family at Thanksgiving dinnerAnd learning about family health history! I recently visited some relatives that I had not seen in years. After we caught up, they mentioned to me that colon cancer runs in that side of the family. This was news to me, as I did not know much about our family’s health history. At my next doctor’s appointment I told my doctor what I had learned from my relatives, and we made a plan on how to manage my health care going forward.

At Thanksgiving, you may be getting together with your family over a delicious turkey dinner. This is a great time to bring up your family’s health history. You may discover important information to keep in mind at your next doctor’s visit like I did.

On our website, we have a lot of helpful tips on how to talk to family and relatives, how to use the information they share, and what to do if some family members don’t want to talk about their health.  You can also use our Family Health History form to help you start a conversation with your family.

Knowing your family’s health history is helpful, especially if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. If you learn that your family has a health condition that gets passed from parent to child, you may want to see a genetic counselor. This is a person who is trained to help you understand how conditions run in families and how they can affect your health and your baby’s health.

Enjoy spending time with your family this Thanksgiving, and learn about each other’s health at the same time. You may discover a few new things that can help you make healthy decisions for your future.

Time to chat about World Prematurity Day

Friday, November 14th, 2014

globeCome one…come all tweeters for the #WorldPrematurityDay 24-hour Twitter Relay beginning on November 13 at 7 PM EDT and ending November 14 at 8 PM EDT.  Join 28 global partners and friends from around the world, including member organizations from our World Prematurity Network, to commemorate World Prematurity Day and drive awareness to the issue of preterm birth.

The March of Dimes will tweet about preterm birth @modhealthtalk by hosting an hour on November 14 at 1 PM EDT on “Parenting in the NICU.”  Please join us, retweet, offer your tweets about your activities for #WorldPrematurityDay and help us surpass this year’s goal of reaching over 30 million people on Twitter!

Staying positive in the NICU

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

parents in the NICUHaving a baby in the NICU is stressful. Very stressful. When a baby is born prematurely, the roller coaster ride of the NICU experience is emotionally, physically and mentally taxing for parents.

Premature birth is the birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy. One in 9 babies is born prematurely, or 15 million babies globally! Of these babies, one million will die. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, intellectual disabilities and learning problems. Just knowing these statistics provokes anxiety and worry in parents. If you are a parent with a baby in the NICU, observing the ups and downs of your baby’s progress day to day can be heart wrenching and particularly wearing.

Depression more common in the NICU

Studies have shown that “in the month after delivery, parents of preemies are significantly more depressed and anxious than parents of term babies,” according to Linden, Paroli and Doron MD in the book Preemies – The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition. The authors report that “Besides depression and anxiety, they (parents) were more apt to feel hostile, guilty, and incompetent at parenting and to isolate themselves socially…An early delivery is itself so scary that even many parents of healthy preemies react with shock and anxiety.” Given the stress associated with seeing your baby in the hospital, and the ups and downs of slow progress – it is not hard to imagine that depression is seen more often in parents of preemies than in parents of children born at term.

Many new mothers experience the “postpartum blues” or the “baby blues.” Baby blues are feelings of sadness you may have three to five days after having a baby. These feelings most likely are caused by all the hormones in your body right after pregnancy. You may feel sad or cranky, and you may cry a lot. By about 10 days after the baby’s birth, the baby blues should go away. If they don’t, tell your health care provider who will determine if you may have postpartum depression (PPD), which lasts longer and is more serious than baby blues.

Signs of PPD include feeling tired all the time, having no interest in your usual activities, gaining or losing weight, changing your eating habits, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, and thinking about suicide or death. If you have five or more of these signs and they last for two weeks or longer, you may have PPD. Sometimes mothers of preemies develop postpartum depression as a result of the severe stress and anxiety experienced by having a premature baby. Even fathers of preemies can become depressed.

What can help?

There are many ways to feel better.  Treatments for depression may include all or some of the following: healthy eating, regular sleep and exercise, talking with friends, family or a professional counselor/therapist, lowering your stress by taking time to relax and avoiding alcohol. In addition, your health care provider may give you medication specifically designed to help with depression.

Talking to other parents who have gone through the NICU journey can be very helpful. The parents on the March of Dimes’ online community, Share Your Story, “talk” to one another and share their experiences. It is a comforting and supportive community, where all NICU families are welcomed.

When will you feel better?

The length of time a parent feels down, anxious or depressed can vary, and may depend on the health of your baby, and the length of NICU stay. But usually, parents of preemies begin to feel more balanced as their baby grows, and “by the end of the baby’s first year, their psychological distress, on average, has been found to be similar to those of mothers of term babies” according to the Preemies book. But, each baby and NICU stay is unique, so each parent’s journey to feeling better is unique.

Bottom line

Having a baby in the NICU is extraordinarily stressful and difficult. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your baby. It is important to be aware of the signs or symptoms of depression and to speak with your health care provider if you have any concerns at all.

The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will feel better.

 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view the Table of Contents of prior posts.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Diabetes and premature birth: know the facts

Monday, November 10th, 2014

speak to your health care providerDid you know that having diabetes during pregnancy is a risk factor for preterm labor and premature birth? Diabetes is a serious health concern, especially when left untreated or undiagnosed. November is prematurity awareness month and we want to make sure you’re aware of the risks diabetes can have on your pregnancy.

About 9 out of 10 women in the U.S. have diabetes – a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. You can develop diabetes at any time in your life.

Some women also develop diabetes during pregnancy, which is called gestational diabetes. Four out of every 100 pregnant women (4 percent) develop this type of diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you give birth. But if you have it in one pregnancy, you’re more likely to have it in your next pregnancy. You’re also more likely to develop diabetes later in life.

Having diabetes or gestational diabetes can cause you to go into preterm labor, before 37 weeks gestation. Babies born this early can face serious health problems including long-term intellectual and developmental disabilities.

How can you find out if you have diabetes?

If you are not pregnant yet, speak with your health care provider about your concerns. He will ask you about your family health history, and evaluate your present health. He can give you a glucose tolerance test and measure your blood glucose levels to see if you have diabetes.

If you are pregnant already, you may get a glucose tolerance test at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, or earlier if your provider thinks you’re likely to develop gestational diabetes. You may have heard of other pregnant women having to drink an 8oz cup of a thick syrupy drink – this is part of the glucose tolerance test, along with measuring your blood glucose levels.

Who is at risk for developing gestational diabetes?

You may be more likely than other women to develop gestational diabetes if:

• You’re 30 years old or older.
• You’re overweight or you gained a lot of weight during pregnancy.
• You have a family history of diabetes. This means that one or more of your family members has diabetes.
• You’re African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander. These ethnic groups are more likely to have gestational diabetes than other groups.
• You had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
• In your last pregnancy, you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 1/2 pounds or was stillborn.

What else can you do?

It’s important for you to take care of yourself, but especially if you have diabetes or a risk factor for gestational diabetes. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider about taking a glucose tolerance test. Getting diabetes under control could help prevent preterm labor and premature birth. Being active, eating healthy foods that are low in sugar and losing weight may help reduce your chances of developing diabetes later in life.

Learn more about managing pre-existing diabetes and gestational diabetes.  And, as always, visit your health care provider before and during pregnancy.

 

Prematurity awareness month: here’s what’s happening

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

prematurity awareness monthIt’s November, and everyone at March of Dimes is excited because it is Prematurity Awareness Month. We will be very busy getting the word out about the serious problems of preterm birth. There are ways that you can participate in helping us end prematurity.

Take a look at what we have in store:

November 17th is World Prematurity Day

Help raise awareness by wearing purple (the color of prematurity and the March of Dimes).

Twitter chats

Join in the conversation on one or all of the following chats:

November 5th – Chat on premature birth with Mom’s Rising. What is premature birth? Are you at risk? Is it ok to schedule your baby’s birth? What if you had a prior premature birth – will it happen again? What can you  do?  Ask questions and get answers on this chat at 2pm ET. Use #WellnessWed.

November 11th –  Have you or someone you know lost a baby due to prematurity or birth defects? The loss of a child is so unfair. Please join us as we share stories at 8pm ET. Use #losschat.

November 13th – Chat on Early Intervention (EI) services with the CDC, NCBDDD and CPIR. Many preemies are developmentally delayed or have disabilities. In fact, premature birth is the leading cause of lasting childhood disabilities. Early Intervention services can help your child improve. Learn how to access them and get your questions answered at 2pm ET. Use #ActEarlychat.

November 14th  – A 24 hour chat relay is happening all across the globe! The March of Dimes will be chatting about parenting in the NICU at 1pm ET. Join us at that time and tune in any other time during the day for the 24 hour chat relay. Use #worldprematurityday to watch or participate.

November 19th – Chat on Preemies with NICHD. One in 9 babies is born preterm. Learn who is at risk, what you can do to have a healthy baby, and what is being done to help end prematurity. Join us at 2pm ET and use #preemiechat.

November 20th – Chat on all things prematurity with Johnson & Johnson Global Health. Join us at 1pm ET and use #prematuritychat.

News Moms Need blog topics

We will be blogging throughout the month on topics related to prematurity including: NEC, diabetes, new research, “who’s who” in the NICU, and other important topics.

Facebook

“Like” and follow us on Facebook on the World Prematurity Day page and on the March of Dimes page.

These are just a few of the events we have on our calendar. Check back throughout the month for the most up-to-date prematurity news and information. We hope you join us and tell all your friends! With your help, we will get closer to achieving our mission of ending prematurity.

 

Halloween safety

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Happy HalloweenToday is Halloween and the little ghosts and goblins in my house woke up excited and ready for trick-or-treating. Everyone wants Halloween to be fun but it should also be safe. Here are some great tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

Costumes:
• Try to buy light-colored costumes. Make sure they fit appropriately and are not too long so your little one does not trip. Also, make sure young children choose appropriate shoes—no high heels!
• Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags so that drivers can see children more easily.
• Masks can interfere with vision. Instead try using make-up. Make sure hats or wigs do not drop below the line of sight. Also, do not allow children to wear decorative contact lenses. These can be very dangerous. Contact lenses should only be worn with a doctor’s prescription.
• Make sure all costumes and any accessories are flame resistant.
• Swords should not be too sharp or too long.
• Have flashlights for everyone.

Trick-or-treating:
• Young children should never go trick-or-treating by themselves. Make sure a parent or other adult accompanies them.
• Children should make sure they only go to houses with porch lights that are on and they should never go inside a house or car for a treat.
• On Halloween children are most often injured while they are out walking. To keep them safe, make sure they:
o Stay in a group at all times. Someone should have a cell phone in case of emergencies.
o Make sure costumes and trick-or-treat bags are visible (use reflective tape or carry glow sticks and flashlights).
o Use sidewalks if available and stay on streets that are well-lit.
o Never cut across yards or use alleys.
o Never cross the street between parked cars or dart out of driveways.
o People driving may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Make sure you stop and wait for all cars to pass.

Healthy ideas:
• Try getting your little ones to eat a healthy meal before they start trick-or-treating. This will help them avoid the urge to devour all their candy right away.
• You may want to have non-food items at your house for children with food allergies and sensitivities—or just as a fun alternative.
• It is best to wait until you are home to go through all of the candy. Throw away anything that appears expired or dangerous.
• Save some treats for later! And you may want to consider giving some away. Some dentist offices have Halloween candy buy-back programs. My children’s dentist is offering $3 per pound!

Make sure to go to AAP’s website for a lot more helpful information about making Halloween safe and fun for the whole family.

Safe sleep for babies

Friday, October 24th, 2014

cropped sleeping babySafe sleep can help protect babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related dangers, like suffocation (not being able to breathe). Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day, so it’s important to make sure that where and how they sleep are safe.

Here are some things you can do to help keep your baby safe when she sleeps:

Where to put your baby to sleep
• Put your baby to sleep on her back on a flat, firm surface—a crib is best. Use only the mattress made for your baby’s crib. The mattress should fit snugly in the crib so there are no spaces between the mattress and the crib frame.
• Keep crib bumpers, loose bedding, toys and other soft objects out of your baby’s crib. They put babies in danger of getting trapped, strangled or suffocating. This is important even as your baby gets older. A study recently published in Pediatrics showed that “rolling to prone [stomach], with objects in the sleep area, is the predominant risk factor for older infants.”
• Share your bedroom with your baby but not your bed. Co-sleeping means that babies and parents sleep together in the same bed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that babies should not co-sleep with their parents and studies have shown that bed-sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in children under four months. Instead, put your baby to bed in her own crib and keep it close to your bed during the night. This will allow you keep an eye on your baby and to breastfeed her easily.
• Don’t put your baby to sleep on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or other soft surface. “Of nearly 8,000 infant sleeping deaths in the United States, researchers found that about 12 percent were sofa-related. And nearly three-quarters of those infants were newborns.”

How to put your baby to sleep
• Put your baby to sleep on her back every time, until she’s 1 year old. It’s not safe for babies to sleep on their side or tummy. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month; but start them out on their backs.
• Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Keep the room at a temperature that’s comfortable for you. If your baby is sweating or her chest feels hot, she may be overheated.
• Give your baby a pacifier for naps and at bedtime. Pacifiers may help protect against SIDS. Don’t hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck or attach the pacifier to your baby’s clothing or a stuffed animal.
• Don’t use products, such as special mattresses or wedges, that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no evidence that they do.

Mom and baby care
• Feed your baby only breast milk for at least 6 months. Continue breastfeeding your baby until at least her first birthday.
• Don’t smoke and don’t let anyone smoke in your home or around your baby.
• Take your baby to all her well baby visits and make sure she gets her vaccinations on time.
• Give your baby tummy time every day. Tummy time helps your baby develop her neck, shoulder and arm muscles.

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

Did you get your pertussis vaccine?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Pertussis VaccinePertussis, also referred to as whooping cough, is a respiratory infection that is easily spread and very dangerous for a baby. Pertussis can cause severe and uncontrollable coughing and trouble breathing. Pertussis can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age. And, about half of those babies who get whooping cough are hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 17,325 cases of pertussis from January 1-August 16, 2014, which represents a 30% increase compared to this time period in 2013. The best way to protect your baby and yourself against pertussis is to get vaccinated.

If you are pregnant:

Pregnant women should get the pertussis vaccine. The vaccine is safe to get before, during or after pregnancy, but works best if you get it during your pregnancy to better protect your baby once he is born. Your body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to your baby before birth, which provides short term protection after your baby is born.  Your baby won’t get the first of the 3 infant vaccinations until he is 2 months old, so your vaccination during pregnancy helps to protect him until he receives his vaccines. The pertussis vaccine is part of the Tdap vaccine (which also includes tetanus and diphtheria).

The CDC recommends women get the Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy. The best time to get the shot is between your 27th through 36th week of pregnancy.

The vaccine is also recommended for caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby.

Click here for more information or speak with your prenatal health care provider.

Bottom line
Get vaccinated for pertussis  – it may save your baby’s life.

Keeping safe from Ebola

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Lots of people are talking about Ebola. Here’s the deal. Ebola is a rare, but very serious disease caused by a virus. It’s spread by coming in direct contact with body fluids (like blood, breast milk, urine or vomit) from a person sick with the disease. You also can get Ebola if you have direct contact with items, like needles or sheets, that have an infected person’s body fluids on them.

Ebola can start with flu-like symptoms, but over time it can cause more serious health problems. Eventually, it can cause heavy bleeding, organ failure and death. Some research shows that Ebola in pregnancy can cause pregnancy loss.

The question many people have is: how can you keep safe from Ebola? Right now, there’s no vaccine to help prevent Ebola infection, but researchers are working to develop one as well as other treatments. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to help keep you and your family safe:

Wash your hands often! This helps prevent many viruses from spreading, including Ebola.
Avoid travel to places where there are Ebola outbreaks.
• Avoid coming in contact with someone who may be sick.

For the latest news on Ebola, visit the CDC website. Read our article to learn more about Ebola and pregnancy.

Unexplained muscle weakness in children

Friday, October 10th, 2014

We have all heard of the children in Colorado who have been hospitalized with unexplained muscle weakness. It has so far affected 10 children with an illness involving the brain and spinal cord.  Let us be clear, we have been told the children have been tested and it is NOT polio. The CDC and the California Department of Health have been looking further into the cause of some cases of paralysis earlier this year. However, differences exist between the California and Colorado cases, including age of the patients, timing of cases, etc.  You may have also heard that some of the children in Colorado have had cold-like symptoms and have tested positive for Enterovirus D68; while others have not.  As the doctors, labs, various health departments and the CDC work on finding out why the children are sick, there are some things you can do:

• Be up to date on all recommended vaccinations, including polio, flu, measles and whooping cough. It is important that you and your children are vaccinated.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom or changing a diaper.
• Avoid sick people.
• Clean and disinfect objects that have been touched by a sick person or by a visiting child.

One thing is key!  If your child is having problems walking, standing or develops sudden weakness in an arm or leg, contact a doctor right away.

According to the AAP, “Doctors and nurses who see patients with unexplained muscle weakness or paralysis in the arms or legs are testing them to see if they might have this sickness. They also are reporting information to their state or local health department.” The CDC will be issuing treatment guidelines in the next several weeks. The American Academy of Pediatrics is also monitoring cases of Enterovirus D68.

CDC features: Unexplained Paralysis Hospitalizes Children, 2014

AAP News: CDC continues investigation of neurologic illness: will issue guidelines, 2014