Posts Tagged ‘high blood pressure’

Medical reasons you may need a c-section

Friday, August 11th, 2017

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.

Why is prenatal care so important?

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Doctor with pregnant woman during check-upGetting early and regular prenatal care can help you have a healthy and full-term pregnancy. However, a recent report shows that the preterm birth rate in the US has increased for the second year in a row. This is an alarming indication that the health of pregnant women and babies in our country is getting worse. As Stacey D. Stewart, president of the March of Dimes states, “Every mother needs healthcare throughout her pregnancy to help avoid preterm birth and birth complications, with the goal of every baby being born healthy.”

So, what can you do to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby? You should call your health care provider to schedule your first appointment as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Make sure you’re ready to talk to your provider about:

  • The first day of your last menstrual period (also called LMP). Your provider can use this to help find out your baby’s due date.
  • Health conditions. Such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and not being at a healthy weight. Conditions like these can cause problems during pregnancy. Tell your provider about your family health history.
  • Medicines. This includes prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicine, supplements and herbal products. Some medicines can hurt your baby if you take them during pregnancy, so you may need to stop taking it or switch to another medicine. Don’t stop or start taking any medicine without talking to your provider first. And tell your provider if you’re allergic to any medicine.
  • Your pregnancy history. Tell your provider if you’ve been pregnant before or if you’ve had trouble getting pregnant. Tell her if you’ve had any pregnancy complications or if you’ve had a premature baby (a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), a miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs and abusing prescription drugs. All of these can hurt your baby.
  • Stress. Stress is worry, strain or pressure that you feel in response to things that happen in your life. Talk to your provide about ways to deal with and reduce your stress. High levels of stress can cause complications during pregnancy.
  • Your safety at home and work. Tell your provider about chemicals you use at home or work and about what kind of job you have.

Make sure you go to all of your prenatal care appointments, even if you feel fine. Going to all of your checkups gives your provider the chance to make sure you and your baby are healthy and allows you to ask any questions you may have (write them down before your appointment so you don’t forget).

The March of Dimes work to give every baby a healthy start is more vital than ever. We urge everyone concerned about the health of babies to make their voices heard by going to marchofdimes.org.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Headache? Nausea? Could be more serious then you thought

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

2014d037_1495We receive many questions from expectant moms who are experiencing symptoms such as headaches or swelling. They worry it might be something serious, like preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a kind of high blood pressure some women get after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth.  Along with high blood pressure, a pregnant woman can have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly.

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or pain in the shoulder
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands and face
  • Trouble breathing

Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for both you and your baby. The condition can cause kidney, liver and brain damage for you and premature birth, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) or low birthweight for your baby.

Many of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia are just normal discomforts of pregnancy.

So how do you know if your symptoms are a sign of something more serious?

Your health care provider can diagnose preeclampsia by measuring your blood pressure and checking your urine for protein – both of these are routinely checked at every prenatal care visit.

If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia, your provider can help you manage most health complications through regular prenatal care. This is why it’s important to go to every appointment, even if you are feeling fine.

So, to know if your severe headache or sudden swelling is cause for concern, reach out to your health care provider. He can determine if your symptoms are normal pregnancy discomforts or something more serious like preeclampsia.

For more details about this serious condition, visit our website.

 

Life-long effects of preeclampsia for mom and baby

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Pregnant couple with doctorPreeclampsia is serious; it affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide. And it’s the cause of 15% of premature births in the U.S.

Preeclampsia is a condition that can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or right after you give birth. It’s when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly. Some of these signs include having protein in the urine, changes in vision and severe headache.

What does this mean for moms?

If a woman had preeclampsia during a pregnancy, she has 3 to 4 times the risk of high blood pressure and double the risk for heart disease and stroke later in life. She may also have an increased risk of developing diabetes. And for those women who have had preeclampsia and delivered preterm, had low-birthweight babies, or had severe preeclampsia more than once, the risk of heart disease can be higher.

These facts are scary, especially since heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. But having preeclampsia does not mean you will definitely develop heart problems, it just means that this may be a sign to pay extra attention to your health.

What about babies?

Women with preeclampsia are more likely than women who don’t have preeclampsia to have preterm labor and delivery. Even with treatment, a pregnant woman with preeclampsia may need to give birth early to avoid serious problems for her and her baby.

Premature babies and low birthweight babies may have more health problems and need to stay in the NICU longer. And some of these babies will face long-term health effects that include intellectual and developmental disabilities and other health problems.

If you had preeclampsia in the past, there are things you can do now to reduce your future risk:

  • Talk to your health care provider. She can help you monitor your health now to reduce your risk for heart disease later.
  • Get a yearly exam to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar levels.
  • Add activity into your daily routine. No need to run laps around the track, though. Here are some tips to help you get moving, whether you are pregnant or not.
  • Stick to the good stuff. Eat from these five food groups at every meal: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and protein. Check out our sample menu for creative ideas.
  • Ask your provider if taking low-dose aspirin daily may be right for you.
  • If you are a smoker, quit. Try to avoid second-hand smoke as well. Tobacco can raise blood pressure and damage blood vessels.

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

Pregnancy after a premature birth

Friday, November 13th, 2015

You may know that having had a premature baby increases your risk to give birth early in your next pregnancy. No one knows for sure what causes a woman to have a premature baby. However, it is important to understand what factors may make you more likely to give birth early and understand how you may be able to reduce your risk.

When you are ready to think about having another baby after you have had a preemie, here are some things to consider:

When to get pregnant again

Getting pregnant too soon after having a baby increases your chance of giving birth early. If possible, wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again. This gives your body time to recover.

Manage preexisting health conditions

Having diabetes or high blood pressure puts you at a higher risk to have a premature baby. Talk to your health care provider about how to best manage these conditions before you get pregnant again. And weighing too much or too little can also be a risk factor. Try to get to a healthy weight before you get pregnant again.

Prevent infections

Having an infection during pregnancy may increase your chance of giving birth early. Always wash your hands thoroughly and practice good hygiene. This won’t prevent all infections, but it can help. Also, get tested for STDs before you become pregnant.

Treatments for preterm labor

Some women may be able to receive progesterone treatment or cerclage in their next pregnancy to reduce their chances of giving birth early again. Talk to your provider to see if these treatments may be right for you.

In the video below, Dr. Siobhan Dolan discusses who may be a good candidate for progesterone treatment:

If you are planning on getting pregnant again, make sure you talk to your health care provider about what you may be able to do to reduce your risk of premature birth. Together, the two of you can make a plan so that hopefully your next pregnancy can be closer to 40 weeks. You can also go to our online community Share Your Story to talk to other women who gave birth early and are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant again.

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

Thinking of getting pregnant? Get your blood pressure checked.

Friday, February 6th, 2015

blood pressureWhen was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Nearly one in three adults has high blood pressure or hypertension. And yet, many of us do not even know that we have it. High blood pressure can be especially dangerous for both mom and baby during pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure and are thinking about getting pregnant, it is very important that you talk to your health care provider and get it under control as soon as possible.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body). When the pressure in the arteries becomes too high, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.

If you are 20 pounds or more overweight or if you have a family history of hypertension, you are at an increased risk to have high blood pressure yourself.

If you do have high blood pressure, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can make to get it under control, and to help prepare your body for pregnancy:
• Eat healthy foods and reduce your intake of salt, cholesterol, and saturated fats
• Exercise regularly
• Get to a healthy weight
• Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

Not all medications for high blood pressure are safe to continue during pregnancy. If you are taking any prescriptions to manage your hypertension, make sure you discuss them with your doctor. You should never stop taking any medications without talking to your provider first.

About 8 percent of women have problems with high blood pressure during pregnancy. Although most health problems can be managed with regular prenatal care, pregnant women with high blood pressure are more likely than women without high blood pressure to have these complications:
• Low birthweight: when a baby weighs less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. High blood pressure can narrow blood vessels in the uterus and your baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients, causing him to grow slowly.
• Premature birth: birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A pregnant woman with severe high blood pressure or preeclampsia may need to give birth early to avoid serious health problems for her and her baby.
• Placental abruption: the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. It can separate partially or completely. If this happens, your baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients.

Work with your provider before and during your pregnancy to control your blood pressure. Making a few changes now can help you to have a safer, healthier pregnancy.

National Preeclampsia Awareness Month

Monday, May 20th, 2013

The US Department of Health and Human Services has designated May 2013 as the first National Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Throughout the month, several organizations educate about preeclampsia, a serious and common complication of pregnancy and the postpartum period. This condition is dangerous to both the mother and her unborn baby. Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and can also include signs and symptoms such as swelling, headaches and visual disturbances. It’s so important for pregnant women to keep all their prenatal appointments and to alert their health care providers if they have any of the symptoms.

The Preeclampsia Foundation has launched a month-long campaign of education including infographics, Twitter chats, blogs and more. Learn as much as you can to help keep yourself and your baby as healthy as possible.

Pregnant at 46

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

pregnant2Most of us have heard that Halle Berry is pregnant at the age of 46. Wow, you go girl!  And did you see the recent episode of Call the Midwife where a first-time pregnant woman (a twin) in her 40s gave birth to twins of her own? Some women are asking us “If they can, why can’t I?”  Good question, complicated answer.

Women over age 35 may be less fertile than younger women because they tend to ovulate (release an egg from the ovaries) less frequently. Certain health conditions that are more common in this age group also may interfere with conception. These include endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes and fibroids.

If you are over 35 and haven’t conceived after 6 months of trying, make an appointment to see your health care provider. Studies suggest that about one-third of women between 35 and 39 and about half of those over age 40 have fertility problems.  At age 47, most babies are conceived with some form of fertility treatment.  This can be time consuming and expensive and there is no guarantee the treatment will work.

Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester for women of all ages, but the risk of miscarriage increases with age. Studies suggest that about 10 percent of recognized pregnancies for women in their 20s end in miscarriage. The risk rises to about 35 percent at ages 40 to 44 and more than 50 percent by age 45. The age-related increased risk of miscarriage is caused, at least in part, by increases in chromosomal abnormalities.

The good news is that women in their late 30s and 40s are very likely to have a healthy baby. However, they may face more complications along the way than younger women. Some complications that are more common in women over 35 include: gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, placental problems, premature birth, stillbirth.  About 47% of women over age 40 give birth via cesarean section. You can see why it’s so important to keep all appointments with your health care provider.

All these things taken into consideration, many women who do conceive in their late 40s, either on their own (unlikely but not impossible) or with some fertility treatment, do manage to have healthy babies.  The important thing to remember is to have a preconception checkup and early and regular prenatal care. Know the signs of preterm labor, and give your doc or midwife a call whenever you have a question or concern.

We are proud to be partners in the Show Your Love national campaign designed to improve the health of women and babies by promoting preconception health and healthcare.

Are you watching your soda intake?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

drinking sodaThere has been an interesting debate in the media lately about New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to regulate the size of sugary soft drinks.  He says he is doing it for health reasons. Well, he is right that there is an enormous (all puns intended) portion of the population that is overweight in this country, and that’s a concern for everyone.

Obesity leads to significant health problems. Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can cause complications for you and your baby. The more overweight you are, the greater the chances for pregnancy complications. You can read about many of the problems (infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes…) here.

It’s important to get to a healthy weight before you conceive. This way you’re giving your baby the healthiest possible start. Before you have a baby, take the time to get fit, exercise and eat healthy.  Cutting out the empty calories that do you no good is a good idea. It will be interesting to watch what happens in New York. What do you think?

Preeclampsia is not a thing of the past

Monday, January 28th, 2013

downton-abbey1Did you watch Downton Abbey? What a shocker! But did you know that losing a mother and/or baby to eclampsia resulting from preeclampsia still happens today?

Preeclampsia is a condition that happens only during pregnancy (after the 20th week) or right after pregnancy. It’s when a pregnant woman has both high blood pressure and protein in her urine. We don’t know what causes it and we don’t know how to prevent it.

Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies, but it can cause severe problems for moms. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause kidney, liver and brain damage. It also may affect how the blood clots and cause serious bleeding problems. In rare cases, preeclampsia can become a life-threatening condition called eclampsia that includes seizures following preeclampsia. Eclampsia sometimes can lead to coma and, in Lady Sybil’s case, death.

It has been nearly 100 years since the time of the story portrayed on Downton Abbey, yet to this day there still is no cure for preeclampsia except immediate delivery of the baby, often via cesarean section. Preeclampsia can turn into full eclampsia fairly quickly and it’s important that medical professionals keep an eye out for signs.

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:
High blood pressure
Protein in the urine
Severe headaches
Vision problems, like blurriness, flashing lights, or being sensitive to light
Pain in the upper right belly area
Nausea or vomiting
Dizziness
Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
Swelling in the legs, hands, and face

It’s true that many of these signs and symptoms are normal discomforts of pregnancy. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to receive regular prenatal care. If you’re pregnant and have severe headaches, blurred vision or severe upper belly pain, call your health care provider right away.

You can read one woman’s personal story here, and for more information about preeclampsia, go to this link.