Care Women Deserve

09
Jan
Posted by Sara

Today we are happy to help launch the Care Women Deserve campaign. Care Women Deserve is a partnership of organizations concerned about women’s health. It includes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Black Women’s Health Imperative, March of Dimes, National Women’s Law Center, Power to Decide, the campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy, UnidosUS, and the United State of Women. The goal of the campaign is to educate people about health services that are available to women with no out-of-pocket costs.

The Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA) requires insurance plans to cover recommended preventive health services without any additional cost to you. Preventive services are those that you get when you are not sick. They try to prevent health problems or detect them early so that you can get treatment. Many women may not be aware of these benefits or believe they have been eliminated.

If you have insurance, here’s a list of services that are available to most women across the United States at no cost:

“Under the Affordable Care Act, women gained access to a host of important preventive health services without having to pay out of pocket,” states March of Dimes President Stacey D. Stewart. “We want all women to understand these benefits, so they can be as healthy as possible at every stage of life.”

To learn more visit:

Join us to help all women get the care they deserve! Follow #CareWomenDeserve and #GetTheCare.

Are you getting your daily folic acid dose? Check the label

08
Jan
Posted by Lauren

Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for normal growth and development. It helps your body make red blood cells that carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. If you take folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (also called NTDs). Some studies show that it also may help prevent heart defects in a baby and birth defects in a baby’s mouth called cleft lip and palate.

How can you be sure you’re getting the right amount of folic acid?

The best way to get the right amount of folic acid is to take a daily multivitamin that has 400 mcg of folic acid. Check the back of your bottle for the label (also called supplement facts). Look for the word “folate” on the label to see how much folic acid you’re getting.

The label tells you this information:

• Serving size. This tells you how much of the product is in one serving. One multivitamin usually is one serving.

• Servings per container. This tells you how many servings are in a multivitamin bottle. For example, if two pills is one serving and the bottle has 30 multivitamins in it, that’s 15 servings.

• Nutrients, like vitamin D, folate and calcium, in each serving

• Daily value (also called DV) of one serving. DV is the amount of a nutrient in a serving. For example, if the DV of folic acid in a multivitamin is 50 percent, that multivitamin gives you 50 percent (half) of the folic acid you need each day.

What else do I need to know about the labels?

Multivitamin labels now give new information about folic acid. In the past, they just listed mcg of folic acid. Now they list “mcg DFE of folate.” For example, for folate you’ll see “400 mcg DFE.” DFE stands for dietary folate equivalent. It’s the amount of folate your body absorbs. If a serving has less than 400 mcg DFE of folate, you need more than one serving to get all the folic acid you need each day.

Can I get folic acid from food?

Some foods have folic acid added to them. Look for the word “fortified” or “enriched” on the package label on foods like:
• Bread
• Breakfast cereal
• Cornmeal
• Flour
• Pasta
• Products made from a kind of flour called corn masa, like tortillas, tortilla chips, taco shells, tamales and pupusas
• White rice

Some fruits and vegetables are good sources of folic acid. When folic acid is naturally in a food, it’s called folate. Folate is found in lentils, black beans, peanuts, leafy green veggies like romaine lettuce and spinach, citrus fruits and orange juice.

It’s hard to get all the folic acid you need from food. Even if you eat foods that have folic acid in them, take your multivitamin each day, too. Labels on food products don’t always list the amount of folic acid in the product. New food labels that list folic acid will list mcg DFE of folate, just like for multivitamins.

Read more about why folic acid is important to you and your baby.

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

Good hygiene can help prevent birth defects

05
Jan
Posted by Lauren

Now that winter has arrived, the temperatures are decreasing and the spread of germs is increasing. In an effort to stay healthy, I find myself constantly washing my hands and trying to maintain good hygiene. Hygiene refers to activities such as hand washing, bathing, and brushing your teeth, which help you stay healthy. Maintaining good hygiene is one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of infections.

Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by doing things to help reduce the risk of infection. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but by maintaining healthy hygiene, you can help prevent the spread of infection. Not sure where to start? We have tips:

Wash your hands

And wash them often. Wash them before preparing or eating food, after handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables. Wash them after being around pets or animals and after changing diapers or wiping runny noses.

Prepare food safely

Besides your hands, you should also wash all fruits and vegetables before preparing your food. Wash all surfaces and cuttings boards with warm soapy water after use as well. Separate raw meat and poultry from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Be sure to cook foods at their proper temperature and never eat cooked food that has been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours. Ready to cook a meal? We have your guide from prep to storage.

Don’t share cups, foods or utensils with your children

Keep these items out of your mouth. Children’s saliva may contain cytomegalovirus or CMV, a kind of herpesvirus that women can pass to their baby during pregnancy. CMV can cause problems for some babies, including a birth defect called microcephaly. CMV is also found in urine and other bodily fluids so be sure to wash your hands every time after changing diapers, wiping runny noses, and picking up toys.

Stay away from wild or pet rodents

This includes mice, hamsters and guinea pigs. They may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (also called LCMV) that can be harmful to you and your baby. LCMV can cause severe birth defects and miscarriage. To help prevent LCMV, keep pet rodents in a separate part of your home, wash your hands after petting and caring for them. Ask your partner or a friend to care for the pet and clean its cage. If your home has wild rats or mice, use pest control.

Let someone else clean the litter box

Dirty cat litter might contain a harmful parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis. If you have toxoplasmosis within 6 months of getting pregnant, you may be able to pass it to your baby during pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis can cause pregnancy complications such as preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks) and stillbirth. The earlier in pregnancy you get infected, the more serious the baby’s problems may be after birth.

So have a friend, partner or family member clean your cat’s litter box during your pregnancy. If you are changing the litter yourself, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands well afterward. You can also come in contact with the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis through eating raw or undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and veggies, touching utensils and cutting boards used to prepare raw meat, fruits and veggies or by touching dirt or sand. So we recommend avoiding sand boxes as well.

Practicing good hygiene daily can help you stay healthy and prevent the spread of infection.  Have questions? Email us at mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Prevent infections to protect your baby

03
Jan
Posted by Sara

January is Birth Defects Prevention month. Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. This means that a baby is born with a birth defect about every 4 ½ minutes. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth and can cause problems in overall health, in how the body develops or works. Some infections before and during pregnancy can have serious consequences, including causing certain birth defects. Not all birth defects can be prevented. But there are some things that you can do before and during pregnancy to protect yourself and your baby.

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often.
  • Take precautions when preparing food.
  • Make sure to wash hands after changing diapers or wiping runny noses. Don’t share cups or utensils with young children.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards, and turtles.
  • Do not clean a cat litter box during pregnancy.

Talk to your health care provider     

  • Talk to your provider about what you can do to prevent infections, such as Zika.
  • Discuss how to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
  • Make sure you are getting the right amount of folic acid. Most women should be taking 400mcg of folic acid before pregnancy.

Get vaccinated

  • Your provider can make sure that you are up to date on all your routine adult vaccinations before you get pregnant.
  • The CDC recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy: the flu shot and the pertussis vaccine (Tdap) at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is an extremely contagious disease that causes violent coughing and is dangerous for a baby. Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, to protect their baby.

Prevent insect bites

  • Take precautions to protect yourself from animals known to carry diseases and insects that may carry infections, such as Zika.
  • Avoid travel to Zika-affected areas. Be sure to discuss any travel plans with your provider.
  • When mosquitoes are active, prevent mosquito bites using an EPA-registered bug spray containing one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535.
  • Wear appropriate clothing when outside, such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt, pants, shoes, & socks.
  • Don’t have sex with a male or female partner who may be infected with Zika virus or who has recently traveled to a Zika-affected area.

And don’t forget that there are many other steps that you can take to get ready for a healthy pregnancy:

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

Happy New Year!

27
Dec
Posted by Sara

It’s time to celebrate the old and welcome in the new! All of us at the March of Dimes and News Moms Need want to wish you and your family a very happy and healthy year ahead.

We will be on vacation between December 29, 2017 through January 1, 2018. We will return to answer your questions on January 2, 2018. Please contact your health care provider, go the the hospital, or call 911 if you believe that you are in preterm labor or have a medical emergency. The following pages on our website may be helpful to you:

Signs and symptoms of preterm labor

Pregnancy complications

Labor and birth

The newborn intensive care unit (NICU)

Loss and grief

 

Cheers! with alcohol-free alternatives

20
Dec
Posted by Lauren

Tis the holiday season, and often that means lots of parties and gatherings, usually involving alcohol. But if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you need to steer clear of alcoholic beverages. No amount of alcohol has been proven safe at any time during pregnancy. However, here are some delicious substitutions.

One of the easiest drink alternatives is simply mixing a fruit juice with seltzer water. If you use cranberry or pomegranate juice, you’ll have a “mocktail” with a festive red color. Add a twist of lime, and serve it in a martini glass or champagne flute. This is one of my favorite drinks every day. You can really play around with this basic recipe, changing juices and garnishes to your specific taste—and cravings.

Also, there are so many flavored seltzers available that you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching juices and seltzers to create some really unique combinations. If you freeze the fruit juice in ice cube trays, you can then add them to your favorite flavored seltzer. The combinations are really endless. And when it is time to ring in the New Year, ginger ale or sparkling cider make great alternatives to a glass of champagne. You can read our past post on Bodacious Beverages for some more great recipes.

Although alcohol may not be on the menu this holiday season, you can still share a toast with family and friends. Cheers!

Recovery after birth: common discomforts vs. warning signs

18
Dec
Posted by Lauren

During pregnancy, your body changed a lot. Now that your baby is here, your body is changing again. As you heal after birth, it’s normal to feel some discomforts, like soreness and fatigue. However, other symptoms may be a sign that you need follow-up medical care.

Some common postpartum symptoms can include perineum soreness, afterbirth pains, cesarean section recovery, vaginal discharge, breast engorgement, nipple pain, swelling, hemorrhoids, constipation, urinary problems and sweating.

Chances are that you’ll be healthy after giving birth. But some moms may have some health problems, like:
• Cesarean wound infection
• Deep vein thrombophlebitis (DVT), a kind of blood clot
• Endometritis, an infection in the uterus (womb)
• Mastitis, a breast infection
• Postpartum bleeding
 Postpartum depression (PPD)

Call your provider if you have any of these warning signs:
• Bleeding that’s heavier than your normal menstrual period or that gets worse
• Discharge, pain or redness that doesn’t go away or gets worse. These could be from a c-section incision (cut), episiotomy or perineal tear (a tear that happens between the vagina and rectum).
• Feelings of sadness that last longer than 10 days after giving birth
• Fever higher than 100.4 F
• Pain or burning when you go to the bathroom
• Pain, swelling and tenderness in your legs, especially around your calves
• Red streaks on your breasts or painful lumps in your breast
• Severe pain in your lower belly, feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
• Vaginal discharge that smells bad

If something feels wrong, call your health care provider. Many of these issues can be easily treated. But the key is to receive treatment before they cause a more serious problem.

If you have bleeding that can’t be controlled, chest pain, trouble breathing or signs of shock (chills, clammy skin, dizziness, fainting or a racing heart) seek help immediately through your provider or by calling 9-1-1.

Just as pregnancy is different for every woman, recovery is too. Be sure to bring up any concerns you have with your health care provider.

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

What is twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome?

15
Dec
Posted by Sara

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a serious condition that occurs in about 10-15% of identical twin pregnancies where the babies share a placenta (monochorionic).

In TTTS, the blood vessels in the placenta form abnormal connections and blood does not flow evenly between the babies. One twin becomes a “donor” and the other becomes a “recipient.” The donor twin pumps blood to the recipient twin. This means that the recipient twin is bigger, has more blood, and makes more urine. This results in too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) and an enlarged bladder. The extra fluid can also strain the recipient twin’s heart. However, the donor twin is smaller, has less blood, little to no amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios), and a smaller bladder.

How do you know if your twins have TTTS?

TTTS is usually found during an ultrasound in the second trimester. Once TTTS is identified, your health care providers will evaluate how serious the TTTS is. They will look at how much amniotic fluid is in each sac, how the donor twin’s bladder is working, and they will look at blood flow in both babies. They may also do an amniocentesis and echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the baby’s heart) if needed.

What treatment is available for TTTS during pregnancy?

The treatment plan will depend on how severe the condition is. Options for treatment include:

  • Monitoring with regular ultrasounds: Monitoring allows your providers to regularly check on your twins and look for any signs that TTTS is getting worse.
  • Removing amniotic fluid from the recipient twin: Extra amniotic fluid is removed from the larger (recipient) twin. This is only a temporary option and may need to be repeated.
  • Laser surgery (known as selective fetoscopic laser photocoagulation or SFLP): This procedure uses a laser to stop the transfer of blood between the babies. It is often the

Without treatment TTTS can cause serious problems for both babies. So it is important that you go to all of your prenatal checkups—even when you’re feeling fine. Twins with mild to moderate TTTS may be at increased risk for premature birth.

Have questions? Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Dads and breastfeeding

13
Dec
Posted by Lauren

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

11
Dec
Posted by Sara

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