Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Is your baby sleeping safely?

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Did you know that each year there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among babies in the U.S.? Causes include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation, and deaths from unknown causes.

After the “Back to Sleep” safe sleep campaign was introduced in the 1990s, the number of sleep-related deaths were greatly reduced.  But since the late 1990s the decline has slowed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that looked at safe sleeping practices. They found that:

  • About 1 in 5 mothers (21.6%) placed their baby on their side or stomach to sleep.
  • More than half of mothers (61.4%) reported any bed sharing with their baby.
  • 2 in 5 mothers (38.5%) reported using any soft bedding in the baby’s sleep area

How can you keep your baby safe when you put her to sleep?

The best place for your baby to sleep is in a bassinet or crib. If you have multiples (twins, triplets or more), put each baby in his own bassinet or crib. Here’s what else you can do to make sure your baby is sleeping in a safe place:

  • Place your baby on her back at all sleep times until she’s 1 year old – this includes naps and at night.
  • Use a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved mattress and crib.
  • Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area. This includes blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys.
  • Share a room with your baby, but not the same bed.

And remember that while you may know about how to create a safe sleep environment for your baby, other people may not. Grandparents, babysitters, and anyone else who may take care of your baby should be made aware of the importance of safe sleep.

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

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

The flu and your baby

Monday, December 11th, 2017

You know that the best way to protect your baby from the flu is to make sure he gets a flu shot each year before flu season (October through May). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot each year. It’s especially important for children younger than 5 to get the flu shot because they’re more likely than older kids to have serious health problems caused by the flu.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

However, even if your baby gets the flu shot, he can still get the flu. And the flu can be dangerous for all children, even healthy children. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of the flu so that you can contact your baby’s health care provider. Your baby may have the flu if he has these signs or symptoms:

  • Very tired
  • Loud dry cough and sore throat
  • Fever (usually above 101 F), chills or body shakes
  • Headache or muscle or body aches
  • Not being hungry
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting (throwing up) and diarrhea

Babies who have the flu are usually sicker, fussier and appear more uncomfortable and unhappy than babies with a common cold.

Treatment

To treat or prevent the flu in your baby, his provider may prescribe an antiviral medicine. An antiviral is a medicine that kills infections caused by viruses. Antivirals can make your baby’s flu milder and help your baby feel better faster. Antivirals also can help prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For flu, antivirals work best if used within 2 days of having signs or symptoms.

If your baby is at high risk for flu, his provider may prescribe an antiviral as soon as he begins to have flu symptoms. All children younger than 5 are at high risk for flu, especially children younger than 2. Children who were born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or who have chronic health conditions, like asthma or sickle cell disease, also are at high risk.

It’s not too late to get you and your baby a flu shot if you haven’t dome so already. Your baby’s provider can give the shot, and many pharmacies and other places offer it. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find out where you can get a flu shot for your baby.

Have questions? Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Many babies, even those born very premature can learn to breastfeed. Breast milk provides many health benefits for all newborns, but especially for premature or sick babies in the NICU. Feeding a premature baby may be much different than what you had planned. If you must pump, you may feel disappointed that you are not able to feed your warm baby on your breast. But, providing breast milk for your preemie is something special and beneficial that you can give him.

Here are tips to help you breastfeed your premature baby while in the NICU.

If your baby is unable to feed or latch:

• Start pumping as soon as you can to establish your milk supply. Ask a nurse for a pump and assistance.

• If your baby is tube feeding, your baby’s nurse can show you how to give your baby his feedings.

• Pump frequently, 8 to 12 times during a 24 hour span of time.

• Practice skin to skin or kangaroo care if your nurse says it is ok. Both are beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines and tubes.

If your baby is able to suckle:

• Ask to feed him in a quiet, darkened room, away from the beeping machines and bright lights.

• Many mothers find the cross cradle position very helpful for feedings. Start with kangaroo care. Then position the baby across your lap, turned in towards you, chest to chest. Use a pillow to bring him to the level of your breast if you need to.

• Babies born early need many opportunities at the breast to develop feeding skills regardless of gestational age. This requires practice and patience.

• You may need increased support to breastfeed your premature baby. Look for support from your nurses, the hospital’s lactation consultant, friends or family.

Not every tip will work for every mom. Try to find the feeding methods and solutions that work best for you and your baby. More information on how to feed your baby in the NICU can be found here.

If you have questions about how to feed your baby, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is reflux?

Friday, November 10th, 2017

All babies spit up at times. But if your baby spits up more than usual, she may have gastroesophageal reflux or simply reflux. Reflux is common among premature babies. Most babies outgrow it after a few months.

What happens when your baby has reflux?

  1. Food first passes through the mouth and the esophagus into the stomach. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth and the stomach.
  2. Once the food is in the stomach, it comes back up the esophagus and out of the mouth.
  3. Most babies with reflux are less bothered by it than their parents. They grow and develop normally.

What can you do?

With time, reflux usually goes away on its own. However, there are some changes you can make to how you feed and position your baby that may help:

  • Hold your baby upright during feeding.
  • Try smaller, more frequent feedings.
  • Burp your baby often, especially if you are feeding her with a bottle.
  • Try a different nipple on your baby’s bottle so she swallows less air.
  • Ask your baby’s provider if you can thicken expressed breast milk or formula with a small amount of rice cereal.
  • Keep your baby still after feeding.
  • Raise the head of your baby’s bed 30 degrees or so.

If changes to how you feed and position your baby don’t seem to help, talk to your baby’s provider to see if medication may be an option.

When should you call your baby’s health care provider?

Some babies may have other problems digesting food. Call your baby’s health care provider if she has any of these symptoms:

  • The spit-up is bright yellow or green.
  • There is a large amount of spit-up.
  • Your baby arches his back or cries during feeding.
  • Your baby vomits with great force (projectile vomiting).
  • Your baby refuses to eat or is irritable after feeding.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

October is RSV Awareness Month

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Almost all babies get it before the age of 2. Your baby can get RSV at any time of year, but it’s most common from November to April.

Symptoms of RSV

For most healthy children, the symptoms of RSV are similar to those of a cold and can last about two weeks. They can include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sluggish or being inactive
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing

Some babies have a high risk of getting severe RSV. This includes babies who were born premature, have lung problems, heart problems or other chronic illnesses. Severe RSV may lead to other serious infections, like:

  • Bronchiolitis, an infection that causes swelling in the smallest air passages in the lungs
  • Pneumonia, an infection in one or both lungs

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your baby’s health care provider right away:

  • Cough that gets worse or she coughs up yellow, green or gray mucus
  • High fever. High fever is a temperature greater than 100.4 F in babies younger than 2 months, 101 F in babies aged 3 to 6 months or 103 F in babies older than 6 months.
  • Looks dehydrated
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Trouble breathing or mouth and fingernails look blue

Prevent the spread of RSV

You can help protect your baby from RSV by:

  • Keeping her away from people who are sneezing or coughing
  • Making sure everyone who touches the baby has clean hands
  • Keeping your baby away from crowds of people
  • Not allowing anyone to smoke near your baby

Treatment for RSV

There is no specific treatment for RSV. If your baby has RSV, you can help to relieve the symptoms by making sure she drinks lots of fluids, using a rubber suction bulb to help clear mucus from her nose, and using a cool-mist humidifier. If your baby has a fever, talk to her health provider about using acetaminophen.

Babies who are at high risk from severe RSV may benefit from medication that helps prevent RSV from becoming severe. This medication is called palivizumab. It is given in monthly injections during the fall and winter months. However, this medication does not prevent infection with RSV and it does not help cure or treat children who already have severe RSV. If your baby is a high risk for severe RSV, talk to her provider about whether palivizumab may be an option.

Have any questions? Email or text us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding basics

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Today’s post is from Nancy Hurst, director of Women’s Support Services at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, who will be discussing #Breastfeeding101 with us on Twitter on September 28, 2017 at 1pm EST / 12pm CST.

Here is a brief preview of the breastfeeding insight she will be providing in our #Breastfeeding101 chat.

As a board certified lactation consultant at Texas Children’s Hospital, I have heard it all! No breastfeeding experience looks the same and moms, whether it’s their first or last child, generally have many questions. Here is a look at what to expect:

The first few hours:

It’s important for new moms, when they are able, to attempt breastfeeding as quickly as possible after their baby is born. It is in this first round of feeding that babies get colostrum, a valuable, immune-boosting fluid.

While most babies are eager to latch onto their mother’s nipple, some infants need a little help the first few times. Moms, if your baby isn’t latching right away, don’t worry! It will happen.

You can help encourage latching by giving your newborn the best opportunity with extended skin-to-skin contact. This contact helps your baby relax and, eventually, you will begin to see signs that he or she is ready to feed. These signs can include: light fussing, increased alertness or changes in facial expression, rooting (opening their mouth and searching to suck on contact).

Positioning the baby is also key. Mothers should make sure to hold the baby in a position that has them facing your breast with your nipple near their mouth. Once you see a wide, open mouth, pull your baby in close and they are likely to latch on.

The first few days:

In the first few days, many moms may wonder if their baby is getting enough milk.

Remember the old saying, “What goes in, must come out?” The easiest way to figure out if your newborn is getting enough milk is to keep count of their wet and poopy diapers each day. If you have a smartphone, there are many apps that can help track this.

In the first few days of life, the number of diapers should equal about how many days old your baby is. Then, by the end of the first week, moms can expect at least six wet diapers and several poopy ones a day that are yellow and seedy.

Some moms may find themselves unable to breastfeed. In these cases, I cannot stress enough how valuable your support team is! This includes your obstetrician, pediatrician, lactation consultant, hospital staff, and your friends and family.

If a mom finds herself unable to breastfeed for any reason, there are now more resources than ever to still provide breastmilk to babies, such as pasteurized donor milk from a milk bank.

My one note of caution for moms turning to donor breast milk is to use only donor milk. Without thorough screenings of both the donor mother and the milk, you may be exposing your newborn to risks such as bacteria or viruses.

The first few weeks:

After the first few weeks, moms may begin to plan their return to work – this is where pumping comes in!

I routinely recommend that mothers wait to introduce a bottle for four to six weeks until breastfeeding is well established. Ideally, moms would have another person introduce the bottle to get baby used to food coming from someone else.

In order to get the best results, moms should aim to start pumping right after the first morning feeding.

Finally, I recommend the following three pieces of advice to breastfeeding moms:

  1. Be informed. Learn about the importance of establishing milk production and the health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and mother.
  2. Build your support network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from any and all resources available to you.
  3. Have confidence in yourself and your body! Use this time to enjoy this special relationship with your baby. Remember that it is not unusual to feel some discomfort. You can always turn to your lactation consultant for advice and to answer your questions.

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

What is newborn screening?

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Newborn screening looks for rare but serious and mostly treatable conditions. Babies with these conditions often look healthy at birth, but if the disorder is not diagnosed and treated early, a baby may develop serious health problems. Newborn screening identifies babies with these conditions so they can get the treatment that they need. Newborn screening includes blood, hearing and heart tests.

When is newborn screening done?

All babies in the United States get newborn screening before they leave the hospital, when they are 1 or 2 days old. Some states require that babies have newborn screening again, about 2 weeks later.

If your baby is not born in a hospital, talk to her provider about getting newborn screening before she is 7 days old.

What happens if your baby is in the NICU?

Babies in the NICU may require a special process for newborn screening. If your baby is born prematurely, at a low birthweight, or needs special care in the NICU, it’s possible that some of the treatments and procedures she’s receiving may affect newborn screening results. Often, babies born early will require more than one newborn screening blood draw to make sure that the results are accurate. Talk to your baby’s NICU team if you have questions about newborn screening.

How is newborn screening done?

Newborn screening is done in 3 ways:

  1. Your baby’s baby’s heel is pricked to get a few drops of blood. The blood is collected on a special paper and sent to a lab for testing. The lab then sends the results back to your baby’s health provider.
  2. For the hearing screening, the provider places a tiny, soft speaker in your baby’s ear to check how your baby responds to sound.
  3. For heart screening, a test called pulse oximetry is used. This test checks the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood by using a sensor attached to his finger or foot. This test is used to screen babies for a heart condition called critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). CCHDs are the most severe heart defects. Babies with CCHD need treatment within the first few hours, days or months of life. Without treatment, CCHD can be deadly.

When will you get the results?

In most cases after your baby has had newborn screening, you won’t hear any more about them. Most newborn screening results are normal and if that is the case, families are not contacted. But you can always ask your baby’s health care provider for the results.

In rare cases when the screening results are out-of-range, you will receive a phone call about 2-3 weeks following the screening. This call can come from either the state newborn screening program or your baby’s health care provider and it usually means that your baby simply needs more testing.

How many health conditions should your baby be screened for?

The March of Dimes would like to see all babies in all states screened for at least 34 health conditions. Many of these health conditions can be treated if found early. Each state decides which tests are required. You can find out which conditions your state screen for here.

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

Preparing for a natural disaster

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

As Hurricane Irma makes its way to the Florida area, residents are preparing for the worst. Natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes or hurricanes can cause extreme stress and affect your everyday life. If you’re pregnant or have a baby at home, being prepared for a disaster can help you cope.

Here’s some ways you can prepare:

  • If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider. Make a plan together about what to do in case of a disaster, especially if you’ve had pregnancy complications or you’re close to your due date. If your baby is in the NICU, ask about the hospital’s plan.
  • Follow local and state evacuation instructions. If you do evacuate to a shelter, make sure to let staff there know if you are pregnant.
  • Tell your providers where you plan to go if you’re evacuated and how to contact you.
  • Write down important phone numbers and get copies of important medical records for you, your partner and children.

Pack a “disaster bag” of supplies that may be helpful if you need to leave your home. Here’s what you can put in your bag:

  • Clothes and medicine for you and your family. Make sure everyone has comfortable shoes.
  • Diapers, toys, pacifiers, blankets and a carrier or portable crib for your baby.
  • Food, snacks and bottles water. If your baby eats formula or baby food, pack those items. Include chlorine or iodine tablets to treat water from a faucet.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Batteries & flashlights
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • If you’re breastfeeding, a manual pump and clean bottles

Being pregnant during and after a hurricane can be very hard on your body.  Rest when you can, drink plenty of clean water, and make sure you eat throughout the day. Go to your regular prenatal care appointments as soon as it is safe for you to do so. If you cannot get to your regular health care provider, ask the shelter or local hospital where you can go for care.

Following a disaster, some women may experience preterm labor. Make sure you know the signs of preterm labor. 

  • Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucus or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual
  • Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby is pushing down
  • Constant low, dull backache
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Regular or frequent contractions that make your belly tighten like a fist. The contractions may or may not be painful.
  • Your water breaks

Contact your provider, go to a hospital , or tell someone at the shelter if you have ANY signs or symptoms. Even if you have just one sign or symptom, it is important to contact a health care provider. Getting help quickly is the best thing you can do.

Learn more about how to prepare and cope with a natural disaster.

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.