Amusement parks and pregnancy

23
Aug
Posted by Sara

For a lot of people, summer means a trip to the amusement park or water slides. But are these activities still OK if you’re pregnant? Here are some tips:

  • Roller coasters and thrill rides can be a lot of fun. But it is important to make sure the rides are safe. Most amusement parks post warning signs if a ride is not safe for a pregnant woman—make sure you follow their guidelines.
  • Avoid rides that have a lot of jerky, bouncing movements. Research suggests that a jolting force can cause the placenta to separate from the uterus. This is known as placental abruption. Although the force is typically stronger than what you would experience on a ride, it is still best to not go on any rides that start and stop suddenly.
  • Stay away from water slides that cause you to hit the water with excessive force or drop you from a great height.
  • Be careful on rides that have a moving entry or exit. Your center of gravity may have shifted and you can lose your balance more easily.

While studies have not shown that amusement park rides pose a risk to pregnancy, they have not shown that they are safe either. For this reason, if you have any questions about whether a certain ride is OK during pregnancy, it’s probably best to avoid it. You can always return next year!

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

 

Pregnancy after a preterm birth: can you prepare?

21
Aug
Posted by Lauren

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant after having a premature baby, you may have many questions and concerns. Having had a premature baby in the past makes you more likely to have preterm labor and give birth early in another pregnancy.

When you’re ready to become pregnant again, schedule a preconception checkup with your health care provider. This is the best time to discuss your previous pregnancy and ask all of your questions and concerns about becoming pregnant again.

Not sure where to start? Here are some questions to ask your provider:

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

How to stay healthy and safe at work

18
Aug
Posted by Sara

Most women who work will continue to do so during pregnancy—some will work up to the day of their baby’s birth. But sometimes working during pregnancy can have some challenges. Here are some tips that can help you stay safe and comfortable at work throughout your pregnancy.

Common pregnancy discomforts

  • Nausea: Unfortunately morning sickness can happen at any time during the day. To help manage your nausea, try to avoid foods and smells that bother you and snack on crackers or other bland foods. And make sure you are drinking lots of fluids!
  • Fatigue: Being pregnant can be exhausting—especially during the first trimester. During your work day, try to get up and walk for a few minutes or even take a power nap in your car during your lunch break. Get to bed early, exercise, and eat healthy foods.

Workplace safety

  • Dangerous substances: If you work with metals (such as mercury or lead) chemicals, or radiation, talk to your health care provider. Describe your work environment and any safety equipment you or your company uses. Your provider can then tell you if it’s safe for you to keep working during pregnancy.
  • Heat: Working in places that are very hot can raise your body temperature. If your body temperature is too high, it could be dangerous to the baby. Make sure you talk to your provider.
  • Heavy duty jobs: If your job includes heavy lifting or climbing, it might not be safe during pregnancy. Nausea, fatigue and dizziness can make it hard to do these jobs safely. And your added weight can throw off your sense of balance and make you more likely to fall. You may need to talk to your employer about taking on other job responsibilities during your pregnancy.
  • Infections: If you work with children or in a health care setting, you may be at risk for infections. Wash your hands regularly. If you think you were exposed to an illness, talk to your provider right away.

Computers and desks

If you work on a computer or sit at a desk for most of the day, comfort is key. To avoid wrist and hand discomforts, neck and shoulder pains, backaches and eye strains, follow these tips:

  • Take short breaks often and walk around your office or building.
  • Adjust your chair, keyboard and other office equipment to be more comfortable.
  • Use a small pillow or cushion for lower back support.
  • Keep your feet elevated by using a footrest.
  • Be sure to use the correct hand and arm positions for typing.
  • Use a non-reflective glass screen cover on your computer monitor.
  • Adjust the computer monitor for brightness and contrast to a setting that is comfortable for your eyes.

It’s important that the work environment around you is safe for you and baby. If you have concerns, speak with your health care provider and your supervisor at work.

You can learn more ways to stay safe at work on our website

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

What vaccines do you need before, during, and after pregnancy?

16
Aug
Posted by Sara

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, it is very important to make sure that you are up-to-date on all of your vaccinations. Vaccines help protect you from infection and you pass this protection to your baby during pregnancy. This helps keep your baby safe during the first few months of life until he gets his own vaccinations.

Before pregnancy

These vaccines are recommended before you get pregnant:

  • Flu. Get the flu vaccine once a year before flu season (October through May). There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four flu viruses that are likely to make people sick during the upcoming flu season. If you come down with the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications, such as pneumonia.
  • HPV. This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts. The infection also may lead to cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine.
  • MMR. This vaccine protects you against the measles, mumps and rubella.
  • Varicella. Chickenpox is an infection that causes itchy skin, rash and fever. It’s easily spread and can cause birth defects if you get it during pregnancy. It’s also very dangerous to a baby. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and you never had the chickenpox or the vaccine, tell your provider.

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, schedule a preconception checkup, so your provider can make sure you are up-to-date with all of your vaccinations.

During pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy:

  1. Flu shot if you didn’t get one before pregnancy. The flu mist isn’t safe to use during pregnancy.
  2. Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy at 27 to 36 weeks. The Tdap vaccine prevents pertussis (also called whooping cough). Pertussis is easily spread and very dangerous for a baby.

Not all vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider to make sure any vaccination you get is safe.

After pregnancy

If you haven’t caught up on vaccinations before or during pregnancy, do it after your baby’s born.

If you didn’t get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, make sure to get it right after you give birth. Getting the Tdap vaccine soon after giving birth prevents you from getting pertussis and passing it on to your baby. Your baby should get his first pertussis vaccine at 2 months old.

Until your baby gets his first pertussis shot, the best way to protect him is to get the vaccine yourself and keep him away from people who may have the illness. Caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby should also get a Tdap vaccine at least 2 weeks before meeting your baby. Babies may not be fully protected until they’ve had three doses of the Tdap vaccine.

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s safe to get routine adult vaccines, but ask your provider if you have concerns.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

How do you know if you are having a miscarriage?

14
Aug
Posted by Lauren

Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Among women who know they are pregnant about 10 to 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage, however we don’t know the exact number because many may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

Are there signs and symptoms?

Vaginal bleeding or spotting, period-like cramps and severe belly pain are all symptoms of a miscarriage. Many women have these signs and symptoms in early pregnancy and don’t miscarry.

When should you contact your health care provider?

If you have any of the signs or symptoms, call your prenatal care provider. Your provider may want to do some tests to make sure everything’s OK. These tests can include blood tests, a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. Call your provider if you have any bleeding or spotting, even if it stops. It may not be caused by anything serious, but your provider needs to find out what’s causing it.

If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, we have support and resources to help you during this difficult time. Visit our website to learn more.

Medical reasons you may need a c-section

11
Aug
Posted by Sara

A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus. If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any medical complications, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth. However, sometimes your health care provider may suggest that you have a c-section for medical reasons. In these cases, a c-section can help to keep you and your baby safe.

You and your provider may schedule a c-section because of known pregnancy complications, such as:

There are also situations that come up during labor and childbirth that may require you to have an unplanned (emergency) c-section. Here are some possible reasons you may need to have an unplanned c-section:

  • Your baby is too big to pass safely through the vagina.
  • Your baby is in a breech position (his bottom or feet are facing down) or a transverse position (his shoulder is facing down). The best position for your baby at birth is head down.
  • Labor is too slow or stops.
  • Your baby’s umbilical cord slips into the vagina where it could be squeezed or flattened during vaginal birth. This is called umbilical cord prolapse.
  • Your baby has problems during labor, like a slow heart rate. This is also called fetal distress.
  • Your baby has a certain type of birth defect.

Remember, if you’re scheduling your c-section for medical reasons,make sure to talk to your provider about waiting until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy, if possible. This gives your baby the time she needs to grow and develop before birth.

If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any medical reasons to have a c-section, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth. But for some women and their babies, a c-section is safer than a vaginal birth. If you have questions or concerns about whether a c-section may be right for you, talk to your health care provider.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Do you have questions? Ask us

09
Aug
Posted by Lauren

Have a question about becoming pregnant? Do you want to learn more about what to expect during your pregnancy? Is your baby in the NICU? Let us help.

Our Health Education Specialists provide women and families with evidence-based information about having a healthy pregnancy and reducing the risk of having a preterm birth. Our specialists have been answering questions from women and families since 1997.

How can you reach our specialists?

Our specialists can answer your questions in both English and Spanish. For English, text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org. For Spanish, text or email preguntas@marchofdimes.org. You can also submit your questions through our website. Just complete our online form and one of our staff will respond within 2 business days.

Health Education Specialists all have master’s degrees in health fields such as public health, health science, nutrition and genetic counseling. We also have a certified lactation counselor on staff.

What information can our center provide?

Our specialists can provide information on many topics including:

  • starting a family
  • how to have a healthy pregnancy
  • pregnancy complication and risks
  • newborn health
  • prematurity
  • the NICU experience
  • lasting effects of prematurity
  • birth defects and special needs
  • pregnancy and infant loss.

If you are looking for information related to any of the topics listed, you’ve come to the right place. Reach out for resources and support. Our Health Education Specialists are here for you.

Fact vs. fiction: the truth about vaccines

07
Aug
Posted by Sara

Vaccines are important. They help protect your baby from serious childhood diseases and help keep children healthy. Vaccines work by helping children become immune to a disease without actually getting sick. However, there are still a lot of misconceptions about vaccines. So, to debunk some common myths, here are the facts:

Myth: Spacing out vaccines is better for my baby.

Truth: There are no known benefits to following a delayed vaccination schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) childhood immunization schedule is the ONLY vaccination schedule for children that has been studied and tested for safety and effectiveness.

The CDC immunization schedule is based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This is a group of medical and public health experts that make recommendations about what vaccines should be given and when these vaccines should be given based on a number of factors, including when the vaccine is expected to produce the strongest immune response.

The CDC immunization schedule is designed to help protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to serious and often life-threatening diseases. Children are immunized early because they are susceptible to diseases at a young age, and the consequences of these diseases can be devastating.

Myth: Too many vaccines will overwhelm my baby’s immune system.

Truth: A baby’s immune system fights off thousands of germs every day. Vaccines are made with weakened or killed viruses. But, they look enough like the live virus to make your baby’s body react and produce antibodies.  This allows your baby to become immune to the disease without first getting sick.

According to the CDC, “Even if babies receive several vaccinations in one day, vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens [parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to go to work] that they encounter every day in their environment. Vaccines provide your child with the antibodies they need to fight off the serious illnesses for which they have been vaccinated.”

Myth: Vaccines cause autism.

Truth: Vaccinations do not cause autism. Studies have shown and continue to show no association between vaccines and autism. Some people are concerned that thimerosal, a chemical that contains a form of mercury and is used in some vaccines, causes autism. Research has shown that thimerosal in vaccines does not cause autism. In 2001, thimerosal was removed from nearly all vaccines as a precautionary measure. Today, certain types of flu vaccines contain small amounts of thimerosal to help prevent contamination. You can ask for a thimerosal-free flu vaccine if you want. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about thimerosal in vaccines.

Myth: Vaccines are not necessary because the diseases are no longer found in the United States.

Truth: It is largely due to the success of vaccines that many of the vaccine-preventable diseases are no longer seen in the US. However, some diseases, like pertussis (whooping cough) and chickenpox, are still common.

If people stopped vaccinating, it is likely that we would start to see more and more cases of vaccine-preventable diseases. Also, some of the diseases that are not seen in the US still exist in many other countries. If a child who is not vaccinated comes into contact with someone who has a vaccine-preventable disease, the unvaccinated child can become very sick and possibly spread the disease throughout the community.

Myth: My child is sick, so she can’t be vaccinated.

Truth: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “a child with a minor illness such as low-grade fever (<100.4°F), an ear infection, cough, a runny nose, or mild diarrhea can safely be immunized.”

There are children with certain health conditions that may not be able to be vaccinated or who may need to get vaccinated later. In order for these children to be protected, other people need to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of contagious conditions throughout a community. Vaccinating your baby helps protect her as well as those around her.

Over the years, vaccines have helped to prevent countless cases of disease and save millions of lives. Make sure your baby gets vaccinated. This schedule shows every vaccine recommended for your baby up to 6 years of age. It also shows how many doses your child should receive of each vaccine and when the vaccines are needed.

 

This post is brought to you in partnership with Sanofi Pasteur, a global immunization leader. To learn more about our work together, please visit marchofdimes.org/Sanofi-Pasteur.

The March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.

Heading on a vacation? If you’re pregnant, check our list first

04
Aug
Posted by Lauren

vacation-family-carSummer is here, which is a busy time for fun in the sun. If you’re like me, your summer schedule is filled up. I’m heading out on a vacation in a couple of weeks.

Whether you are driving or flying, a vacation requires planning and packing. If you’re pregnant, we recommend you check our travel list before you head out the door.

Before your trip:

  • Did you talk to your health care provider already? If not, reach out before your trip. If you have pregnancy complications, your provider may recommend you limit travel or take certain precautions.
  • How do you feel? Many pregnant women like traveling during their second trimester when they don’t have as much morning sickness.
  • Flying? Be sure to check your airline to see if they have a cut-off time for traveling during pregnancy.
  • Print a copy of your medical records, provider’s phone number, insurance cards and be sure to pack your prenatal vitamins and any medicine you need. Pack these in your carry-on luggage or purse.
  • Visit the CDC’s website for travel notices and avoid traveling to areas with Zika.

During your trip:

  • Eat snacks and drink lots of water.  Be sure to wear loose clothes when traveling.
  • If traveling by car, stop and take breaks. Take a loop around the rest area to help keep your blood flowing. If flying, be sure to get up and walk around every hour. You can also do ankle circles while you are sitting, to help prevent swelling in your feet.
  • If you have symptoms such as belly pain or cramps, leg swelling, vaginal bleeding, severe headaches or contractions, contact your prenatal care provider right away.

Taking some extra time before you head out will ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. If you have concerns, reach out to your health care provider and read our article.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding and support: two peas in a pod

02
Aug
Posted by Lauren

sg_breastfeeding1You may have heard that breastfeeding is natural. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s why breastfeeding women need support. Support can come in many different forms and from different people. Studies show that with a supportive partner, women breastfeed longer and feel more confident about their ability to breastfeed. Whether you are a partner, friend, or family member, there are many things you can do to help support mom while she breastfeeds her little one.

How can you provide support?

  • If mom is experiencing a breastfeeding problem, offer to research the issue online to see if you can learn about solutions to relieve any discomfort.
  • Does mom need to schedule a visit with a Lactation Consultant or her health care provider? Find one in your area and offer to bring the phone, a notebook and pen and the phone numbers to her.
  • Be available to greet guests, run errands or bring mom items she may need such as water, snacks or pillows.
  • Before feedings, bring baby to mom and soothe her until mom is ready to feed. After feedings, offer to burp her.
  • Offer to cuddle baby with skin-to-skin, bathe, or read to her while mom relaxes.

Let the breastfeeding mom in your life know you are there to support her and help give her baby the best start.

Read about other helpful tips in our Breastfeeding 101 series.