Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Benefits of breastfeeding

Monday, August 31st, 2015

sg_breastfeeding1Breast milk is the best food for your baby during the first year of life and we recommend exclusively breastfeeding for about the first six months. Your milk helps your baby grow healthy and strong and can protect him from many illnesses. How does your breast milk do this?

Breast milk…

• has hormones and the right amount of protein, sugar, fat and most vitamins to help your baby grow and develop.
• has antibodies that help protect your baby from many illnesses. Antibodies are cells in the body that fight off infection.
• has fatty acids, like DHA (docosahexanoic acid), which help support your baby’s brain and eye development. It may lower the chances of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS, too (SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old).
• is easy to digest. A breastfed baby may have less gas and belly pain than a baby who is fed formula.
• changes as your baby grows so he gets exactly what he needs at the right time. For example, for the first few days after giving birth, your breasts make a thick, yellowish form of breast milk called colostrum. Colostrum has nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs in the first few days of life. It changes to breast milk in 3 to 4 days.
• is always ready when your baby wants to eat. Your body makes as much breast milk as your baby needs. The more your baby breastfeeds, the more milk your body makes.

What if you are sick? Should you still breastfeed?

In most cases, yes, you should continue to breastfeed. The antibodies your body produces to fight off an illness will be passed to your baby through your milk and protect him. If you stop breastfeeding when you are sick, you will reduce your baby’s protection and even increase his chance of getting sick. If you feel a cold coming on, rest, drink plenty of fluids and keep on breastfeeding. If you are uncertain about whether to breastfeed while sick, ask your Lactation Consultant or baby’s pediatrician.

Read our blog to learn how to keep your breast milk safe and other helpful posts in Breastfeeding 101.

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org. We are here for you.

Keeping track of feedings and diapers

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Mom breastfeeding (2)Did you know the March of Dimes developed a breastfeeding log just for busy moms? We hope it will make it just a little easier to see if your baby is getting what he needs to grow and thrive.

Being a new mom can be tough. You have so many things to think about and remember while caring for your little one, such as which breast your baby last ate from or how many wet or soiled diapers he had today. But it is important to keep track of this information to make sure your baby is eating well and gaining enough weight.

The breastfeeding log can be used to track:

• Day and times of your baby’s feedings
• How long your baby feeds from each breast
• Which breast you started nursing from at each feeding (so you can begin the next feeding from the other breast).
• How much breast milk you pump
• Number of wet diapers or bowel movements per day
• Breastfeeding problems or concerns

Our breastfeeding log is especially helpful if your baby is in the NICU. You can track how often and how much milk you express. Many moms struggle to make breast milk when their babies are sick and it may take a few days of pumping before you produce enough milk. If you have trouble making enough breast milk, ask for help and support. A lactation consultant can use the information in your log to make sure you’re on the right track.

To ensure your baby is gaining enough weight, bring your log to each of your baby’s visits with his health care provider. If your baby is slow to gain weight, the breastfeeding log can help you and your baby’s provider spot and take care of feeding issues before they become a problem.

See other breastfeeding posts here.

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org. We are here to help.

Thalidomide and Dr. Frances Kelsey

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Dr. Frances Kelsey & President KennedyThere aren’t many people who can singlehandedly claim that they prevented thousands of children from being born with serious birth defects. Yet, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey is one woman who is famous for that reason.

You may have heard of thalidomide. It is a drug that is used to treat a skin disease caused by leprosy, but in the 1950’s and 60’s it was given to pregnant women to lessen morning sickness. Unfortunately, thalidomide caused serious limb (arms and legs) defects in thousands of children around the world. But, due to the vigilance of Dr. Kelsey, medical officer at the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) thalidomide was never allowed to be licensed in the U.S.

On August 7th, Frances Oldham Kelsey, MD, PhD, passed away at the age of 101. She was a wife, mother, and a highly educated woman. She earned a doctorate degree (PhD) in pharmacology and was one of seven women in her class of 100 to graduate from the University of Chicago Medical School in 1950. She joined the FDA in 1960.

In her autobiography, she writes “I had been hired as a medical officer and this meant that I would review the medical part rather than the pharmacology of new drug applications.” Despite considerable pressure to allow thalidomide to be available in the U.S., Dr. Kelsey followed her instinct (aided by her excellent education and training) to not allow the drug to be licensed. She says it was particularly important to investigate this drug because “When you give a drug to a pregnant woman you are exposing, in fact, two people to the drug, the mother and the child.” Dr. Kelsey felt that until it was established that the drug was safe for pregnant women, it should not be given to them. “Our objections… were really on theoretical grounds, largely based on the fact that there was no evidence that it was safe. Until we had such evidence we had to question the safety.”

Dr. Kelsey recalls that this near-miss disaster “caught the eye of the persons who were pressing for drug reform… In next to no time, the fighting over the new drug laws that had been going on for five or six years suddenly melted away, and the 1962 amendments were passed almost immediately, and unanimously.”

Later, an important amendment to the law provided that patients must know about and consent to taking a new, unapproved drug in a clinical trial – a very important aspect in drug testing that continues to this day.

Dr. Kelsey notes that “Nowadays we know exactly what is being tested and who is testing it and we get results back as soon as possible. Then if we get reported adverse reactions, we may stop the studies…”

Dr. Kelsey received the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service in August 1962, from President John F. Kennedy. She received numerous other awards, commendations and honorary degrees. According to the FDA, “in October 2000 Dr. Kelsey was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 2010 Commissioner Hamburg conferred the first Dr. Frances O. Kelsey Award for Excellence and Courage in Protecting Public Health on Dr. Kelsey herself.”

We are grateful for Dr. Kelsey’s vigilance and tireless efforts in protecting babies, women and all individuals in the United States. Her honorable legacy will never be forgotten.

 

Photo: Courtesy of US National Library of Medicine. Frances O. Kelsey receives the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service from President John F. Kennedy, 1962.

Questions?  Text or email them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Car seat recall

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

minivanBritax is recalling over 200,000 child car seats regarding concerns about the harness adjuster buttons.  According to the company’s website “certain ClickTight model convertible car seats may contain a defect with the harness adjuster button, which would pose a safety hazard. The harness adjuster button may remain down in the ‘release’ position after the harness is tightened. This will enable the shoulder harnesses to loosen from a child’s movements while secured in the seat. A loose harness may not adequately protect a child in the event of a motor vehicle crash.”

The voluntary safety recall includes certain Advocate ClickTight, Boulevard ClickTight, and Marathon ClickTight model convertible car seats manufactured between August 1, 2014 – July 29, 2015 with the following US model numbers: E9LT95Q, E9LT95Z, E9LT95N, E1A025Q, E9LT86F, E1A135Q, E9LT86G, E9LT85Q, E9LT86A, E9LT86H, E9LT85S, E1A015Q, E1A016A, E1A016H, E1A166F, E9LT87J, E1A116L, E9LT76P, E9LT71Q, E9LT76N, E9LT76B, E9LT75R, E9LT76L, E1A006B, E1A005R.

Britax is automatically mailing a free remedy kit to all registered owners of the recalled car seats within 7-10 business days of the announcement. The remedy kit includes one (1) non-toxic food-grade lubricant, a label indicating that the remedy has been completed, as well as an instruction sheet for applying the lubricant to the harness adjuster button (red).

Owners can confirm if their product is included in the recall by visiting www.BritaxClickTightConvertibleRecall.com or by verifying the model number and date of manufacture.

Questions? Text or email them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding and hair treatments

Monday, August 17th, 2015

breastfeeding and hair treatmentsYou’ve given birth to your little peanut, congrats! You may be thinking that now you can finally return to some of the activities you enjoyed before becoming pregnant. For example, you may have stopped dying your hair during pregnancy. The fall season is around the corner and a new cut and color may be in order, but if you’re breastfeeding now, is it safe to head to the salon?

Hair treatments include hair coloring, curling (permanents), bleaching and straightening agents. Low levels of hair dye can be absorbed through the skin after application, and the dye is excreted into the urine.

But, according to the experts at Mother to Baby, “There is no information on having hair treatments during breastfeeding. It is highly unlikely that a significant amount would enter the breast milk because so little enters the mom’s bloodstream. Many women receive hair treatments while breastfeeding, and there are no known reports of negative outcomes.”

Despite this good news, if you are still hesitant, you might consider highlights or streaks, as the dye is not placed directly on the scalp.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding, speak with a lactation consultant or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We are happy to help!

The importance of childhood vaccines

Friday, August 14th, 2015

WELLBABYIt is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs. That is why vaccines are so important. They protect your baby from serious childhood diseases and keep her healthy. Vaccines allow children to become immune to a disease without actually getting sick from the disease.

The CDC has some great reasons why vaccinating your child is so important:

•Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies (special disease-fighting cells) they got from their mothers. However, this immunity goes away during the first year of life.

•If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because babies are protected by vaccines, we don’t see these diseases nearly as often.

•Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who cannot be immunized (children who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who can’t receive certain vaccines for medical reasons), and the small number of people who don’t respond to a particular vaccine.

•Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths.

You can learn more about how vaccines work and vaccines before and during pregnancy from other News Moms Need posts.

Over the years vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives. Make sure your baby gets vaccinated. This schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years. It also shows how many doses she gets of each vaccine and when she gets them.

Questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Brain bleeds in premature babies

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

brainThe younger, smaller and sicker a baby is at birth, the more likely he is to have a brain bleed, also called an intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). If you or someone you know has a baby with a brain bleed, it can be a very scary and upsetting experience.

Bleeding in the brain is most common in the smallest of babies born prematurely (weighing less than 3 1/3 pounds). A baby born before 32 weeks of pregnancy is at the highest risk of developing a brain bleed. The tiny blood vessels in a baby’s brain are very fragile and can be injured easily. The bleeds usually occur in the first few days of life.

How are brain bleeds diagnosed?

Bleeding generally occurs near the fluid-filled spaces (ventricles) in the center of the brain. An ultrasound examination can show whether a baby has a brain bleed and how severe it is. According to MedlinePlus.gov, “all babies born before 30 weeks should have an ultrasound of the head to screen for IVH. The test is done once between 7 and 14 days of age. Babies born between 30-34 weeks may also have ultrasound screening if they have symptoms of the problem.”

Are all brain bleeds the same?

Brain bleeds usually are given a number grade (1 to 4) according to their location and size. The right and left sides of the brain are graded separately. Most brain bleeds are mild (grades 1 and 2) and resolve themselves with few lasting problems. More severe bleeds (grade 3 and 4) can cause difficulties for your baby during hospitalization as well as possible problems in the future.

What happens after your baby leaves the hospital?

Every child is unique. How well your baby will do depends on several factors. Many babies will need close monitoring by a pediatric neurologist or other specialist (such as a developmental behavioral pediatrician) during infancy and early childhood. Some children may have seizures or problems with speech, movement or learning.

If your baby is delayed in meeting his developmental milestones, he may benefit from early intervention services (EI). EI services such as speech, occupational and physical therapy may help your child make strides. Read this series to learn how to access services in your state.

Where can parents find support?

Having a baby with a brain bleed can be overwhelming. The March of Dimes online community, Share Your Story, is a place where parents can find comfort and support from other parents who have (or had) a baby in the NICU with a brain bleed. Just log on and post a comment and you will be welcomed.

You can also leave a comment here on our blog, or send a question to AskUs@marchofdimes.org where a health education specialist is ready to assist you.

 

Breastfeeding 101

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

If you’re breastfeeding or thinking about breastfeeding, you’ve come to the right place. This post is your one-stop-shop for all things breastfeeding. Stop in for a quick glance or stay for a while and browse the different blog posts below. We’ll keep adding new ones as they are published. If you have questions, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We are here to help.

• Breastfeeding myths debunked
• Breastfeeding myths debunked part 2 
• The do’s and don’ts of bottle-feeding 
• Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging 
• Breastfeeding a baby with a cleft lip/palate  
• Breastfeeding and returning to work 
• Formula switching, what you need to know 
• Alcohol and breastfeeding 
• Breastfeeding on demand vs. on a schedule 
• Keeping breast milk safe
 “Can I continue breastfeeding now that I am pregnant again?”

• Breastfeeding and hair treatments

 

Breastfeeding a baby with a cleft lip or cleft palate

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

cleft lipBreastfeeding can be challenging for any mom. But, for the mother of an infant with a cleft lip or cleft palate, it can be daunting.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I am featuring a very helpful post on breastfeeding a baby with a cleft lip or cleft palate, written by our March of Dimes blogger and Lactation Counselor. Thank you Lauren, for this post filled with useful, practical tips.

 

A cleft lip is a birth defect in which a baby’s upper lip doesn’t form completely and has an opening. A cleft palate is a similar birth defect in a baby’s palate (roof of the mouth). A baby can be born with one or both of these defects. If your baby has a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both, he may have trouble breastfeeding. It is normal for babies with a cleft lip to need some extra time to get started with breastfeeding. If your baby has a cleft palate, he most likely cannot feed from the breast. This is because your baby has more trouble sucking and swallowing. You can, however, still feed your baby pumped breast milk from a bottle.

Your baby’s provider can help you start good breastfeeding habits right after your baby is born. The provider may recommend:

• special nipples and bottles that can make feeding breast milk from a bottle easier.

• an obturator. This is a small plastic plate that fits into the roof of your baby’s mouth and covers the cleft opening during feeding.

Here are some helpful breastfeeding tips:

• If your baby chokes or leaks milk from his nose, the football hold position may help your baby take milk more easily. Tuck your baby under your arm, on the same side you are nursing from, like a football. He should face you, with his nose level with your nipple. Rest your arm on a pillow and support the baby’s shoulders, neck and head with your hand.

• If your baby prefers only one breast, try sliding him over to the other breast without turning him or moving him too much. If you need, use pillows for support.

• Feed your baby in a calm or darkened room. Calm surroundings can help him have fewer distractions.

• Your baby may take longer to finish feeding and may need to be burped more often (2-3 times during a feed).

• It may help to keep your baby as upright as possible during his feeding. This position will allow the milk to flow into his stomach easier, which will help prevent choking.

How breastfeeding can help your baby:

• His mouth and tongue coordination will improve, which can help his speech skills.

• His face and mouth muscles will strengthen, leading to more normal facial formation.

• If your baby chokes or leaks milk from his nose, breast milk is less irritating to the mucous membranes than formula.

• Babies with a cleft tend to have more ear infections; breast milk helps protect against these infections.

If your baby is unable to breastfeed: 

• Feed your baby with bottles and nipples specifically designed for babies with clefts. Ask your baby’s health care provider for recommendations.

If you are concerned if your baby is getting enough to eat, or if he is having trouble feeding, speak with a lactation counselor, your baby’s provider or a nurse if you are still in the hospital.

If you have any questions about feeding your child with a cleft lip or palate, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Breastfeeding in public is getting easier

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Alcohol and BreastfeedingIf you are a mom who is breastfeeding your baby, you may feel that your social life is sometimes curtailed. Breastfeeding every two to three hours, can make it very difficult to go out to public places if you can’t find a clean, safe place to feed your baby when she is hungry.

Now, take me out to the ballgame just got a little bit easier.

Thanks to lactation rooms and breastfeeding pods which are popping up in all sorts of places, nursing moms can escape to a quiet, private place to breastfeed and not miss any of the fun.

Breastfeeding pods (portable enclosed spaces designed specifically for breastfeeding or expressing milk) are already at somebreastfeeding pod airports, making travel much easier for a mom on the go. They are also popping up at ball parks. Recently, Fenway Park in Boston, MA, added a breastfeeding pod, so baseball enthusiasts need never miss a game.

Before you head out of the house to a public place, call ahead and ask if they have accommodations for breastfeeding moms. You may not have ever noticed or seen a lactation room or pod at the venue. But if you know it is there, you may feel more comfortable bringing your baby along. You will enjoy yourself without missing a feeding. You can also go to the Mamava pod website or use their app to locate a pod.

Another option is to use the Moms Pump Here lactation room locator. It tells you where you can find quiet, clean, safe places to breastfeed or pump. Use their website or download their app for info on the go.

So much has changed from the days when women would breastfeed their babies in a ladies room (ugh) or worse yet – stay home and miss special events. With the known benefits of breastmilk, it is logical that more accommodations are being made for lactating moms, so that they can feed their babies when they are away from home.