Posts Tagged ‘pain’

Understanding preemie cues

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

preemie handFor parents, seeing your little one in the hospital, hooked up to tubes and machines can be scary and overwhelming. We want the best for our children, and it can be unbearable to wonder if your baby is in pain or uncomfortable. Worrying comes naturally, especially when your baby can’t talk and tell you how she is doing. But did you know that babies have certain expressions and behaviors or “cues” that can tell you a lot about how she is feeling? By observing your preemie, she will give you signals that tell you if she is happy, sleepy, in pain, or ready to interact with you.

Learn your baby’s behaviors

Here are a few cues that may help you understand your baby better:

• Happy and content – A calm baby will have relaxed arms, legs and face, stable breathing, an even skin color, and may look around.

• Stressed – Her fingers may splay out wide, she will frown or grimace. Her breathing may increase and her skin become blotchy or pale. She may arch her back or neck, cry and even suddenly become limp or fall asleep.

• Self-soothing – Your baby will try to soothe herself by sucking on her fingers, grasping something (like your finger or a blanket), put her hands on her face or clasp her hands together.

Your preemie’s cues will tell you what she needs. For example, if your baby is stressed, she may be getting too much stimulation. The stimulation can come from too much sound, light or even the combination of being touched AND spoken to at the same time. According to authors Linden, Paroli and Doron in Preemies – the Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition, “a premature baby is less able to shut out stimuli and to calm herself down after being disturbed.”

What can you do?

Ask the NICU nurse how to comfort your baby. For example, if your baby arches her back, hold back or change your touch. See whether she calms when you cup her head and feet with your hands.

If your baby turns toward you, offer her eye contact or a gentle voice — or both. If she turns away when you talk but toward you when you sing, she’s showing a preference for that kind of voice. Keep in mind that some preemies can only process one stimulus at a time. She may like and respond to touch but not touch in combination with your voice.

Your premature baby’s cues will change as she gets older. As you get to know your baby, you will be amazed at how well you interpret her movements and expressions, and understand how she is feeling or what she wants.

By knowing infant cues, you can learn how to connect with your baby, and respond to her needs. Hopefully, knowing how your baby is feeling will help you to relax and not worry so much.

Source: Preemies- The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition, by Linden, Paroli and Doron, 2010.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view the Table of Contents of prior posts.

Heavy backpacks hurt- how to lighten the load

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

backpacks-150x150Pain and strain. Did you know heavy backpacks can be the cause of posture and back problems? Many children with special needs have musculoskeletal issues. A very heavy backpack may add additional challenges to an already sensitive child.

Yesterday, on my way to work, I noticed a group of kids headed for the bus stop. I could not help but observe their gigantic backpacks, full to the brim, and noticeably heavy. One little girl was struggling to stay upright as she shifted the weight of her backpack from left to right, in an effort to hurry along and catch her bus.

The daily carrying of heavy packs can cause muscle strain and pain, and may lead to back, shoulder or neck injuries. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has designated today as National School Backpack Awareness Day. They are holding events in different areas of the country. Even if you don’t make it to a backpack event, it is well worth your time to read AOTA’s tip sheet on Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students.

AOTA offers strategies on how to lighten the load, pack the backpack properly and wear it correctly. For instance, did you know that the pack should not weigh more than 10% of your child’s weight? (If your child weighs 80 pounds, the loaded pack should not weigh more than 8 pounds.) Also, you can make hoisting a pack easier by packing the heaviest items close to your child’s back. Using both shoulder straps is also key to minimizing injuries. Learn more helpful tips on their sheet.

So, help your child “pack it light and wear it right.” You could well avoid injuries and pain with a few simple changes.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date.

If you have comments or questions, please send them to We welcome your input!

de Quervain’s tenosynovitis

Monday, September 21st, 2009

36237998_thbIn de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, the sheath of the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist becomes swollen. This restricts the tendons’ movement. The result with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is discomfort and pain EVERY time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.

This condition can occur in postpartum women due to the position of the thumb in abduction for extended periods of time while holding a baby. Additionally, prolactin levels in new mothers who are breastfeeding may have something to do with it.  Often, if a woman stops breastfeeding, de Quervain’s will disappear.

Your doctor may confirm a diagnosis of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis by doing a Finkelstein test. In this simple test, you bend your thumb across the palm of your hand and bend your fingers down over your thumb. Then you bend your wrist toward your little finger. If this causes pain on the thumb side of your wrist, the test is considered positive.

I was diagnosed with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis in BOTH hands several months ago. It’s a real pain (no pun intended). Movements like lifting the baby up from her crib, brushing my hair and picking up a pot off the stove are all very painful and aggravate the swelling. My doctor told me to immobilize my wrists and thumbs with braces (yeah, right – try doing that while taking care of a baby), ice it and take ibuprofen. Hopefully, once I stop nursing it will go away. I have no idea when that will be though, so for now I just have to grin and bare it.

Happy Monday!

Dental fillings during pregnancy

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

tooth-acheOuch! Your tooth hurts, and you wonder if you have a cavity. I don’t know about you, but I hate going to the dentist. But sometimes we have to put on our brave faces and make the appointment.

Is it safe to have a tooth filled while you’re pregnant? Some dental fillings contain mercury. When these fillings are placed in teeth and removed from teeth, they release a small amount of mercury vapor. Mercury vapor may also be released when a person with a filling chews.

In general, pregnant women should avoid exposure to mercury because it can harm the nervous system of the developing fetus. So it’s a matter of balancing the small risk of mercury exposure against the health benefits of dental fillings.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued its latest recommendation on fillings. The FDA says that mercury fillings are safe for most people, including pregnant women. (BTW: The FDA uses the technical term “amalgam” to mean “filling,” so don’t let the language confuse you.)

If you are pregnant and need to have a tooth filled, talk to your dentist about the options available to you. Healthy teeth are part of having a healthy pregnancy.

Infections after c-section

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

mom-with-newborn1Did you know? Women who have a c-section are more likely to develop a postpartum infection than women who have a vaginal delivery.

A new study from Denmark looked at the records of over 30,000 women who had given birth. Those who had a c-section were at increased risk of having a urinary tract infection (UTI) or a wound infection within the first 30 days after delivery. (A wound infection affects the area where the incision was made.) Other studies have also found an increased risk of infection after cesarean.

So if you have a c-section, be on the alert for these signs:

* For a UTI, watch for pain or burning when you go to the bathroom, blood in your urine, fever and the urge to go often.

* For  wound infection, watch for redness, swelling or pus around the incision site. Sometimes, the wound may open, and you may run a fever.

For more information, read the March of Dimes article on cesarean birth. Or watch our video C-Section: Recovering After Surgery.

Concerns about the painkiller Darvon: Risk of overdose, death

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking several steps to reduce the risk of overdose from Darvon (also called Darvocet and propoxyphene). Darvon is usually prescribed for pain. Every year, some people die when they take too much of this medication.

As a result of the FDA decision, label warnings will be strengthened, and new research will be done.

If you need a painkiller, talk to your health care provider about the choices available to you, including aspirin, ibuprofen, oxycodone and codeine. For all medications, take only the recommended amount and no more. If you are pregnant, don’t take any painkillers without first talking to your health care provider.

Preventing overdose: Experts discuss acetaminophen

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Several news organizations have reported that the Food and Drug Administration is hosting a meeting this week about how to prevent people from taking too much acetaminophen. Known as Tylenol, this medication is also used in pain relievers such as Excedrin.

Although acetaminophen is in almost everyone’s medicine cabinet, it can be a dangerous drug if you take too much of it. Every year people in the United States die from an overdose of this drug. Acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S.

So when you or your children are taking acetaminophen, be sure to follow the instructions exactly. Acetaminophen is also used in some medications that contain more than one drug (for example, in some cough syrups and pain relievers). Again, follow the directions exactly.

For more on acetaminophen, click here. Of course, if you’re pregnant, don’t take acetaminophen without first talking to your health care provider.

Lessen baby’s pain during vaccines

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

crying-babyTo me, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than hearing a baby cry from being hurt.  Whenever I’m at the doctor’s office and I hear a baby crying from an examination room down the hall, I can usually guess what happened – time for baby’s vaccine shots.  Some vaccine shots are more painful than others, but they all are important in helping a baby stay healthy.

The New York Times recently reported on a study showing that it might be possible to lower a baby’s pain by switching the order of the DPTaP-Hib vaccine (diphtheria, polio, pertussis, tetanus and Haemophilus influenzae Type B) and the PCV vaccine (pneumococcal disease). Most babies receive the DPTaP-Hib and PCV vaccines during the same health visit. The study, which appeared in this month’s issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that babies who got the DPTaP-Hib vaccine first experienced less pain than those that got the PCV vaccine first. The researchers found that if the PCV vaccine (the more painful of the two) was given first, the baby was more likely to focus his attention on the situation at hand, which could make him more aware of the pain and could speed up his response to the hurt he feels. In other words, a baby is already hurting from the PCV vaccine, which can make him more sensitive to the less painful DPTaP-Hib vaccine.

Keep in mind that this study is very small, so we don’t know anything for sure. But since a baby usually gets both vaccines on the same health visit, it wouldn’t hurt (no pun intended) to talk to your baby’s provider about giving the DPTaP-Hib vaccine shot first, followed by the PCV vaccine. The March of Dimes article on vaccines has more information.

Migraine headaches during pregnancy: Is there an increased risk of stroke?

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

migraine2I don’t have migraine headaches, but my sister does. And they cause her serious pain.

This week we may have learned something new about migraines. Pregnant women who have migraine headaches may be at increased risk of stroke and other problems related to their blood vessels. Researchers just reported this information in a study published in the British Medical Journal.

A migraine is a very painful type of headache. The pain may pulse or throb in one area of the head. During migraines, people are very sensitive to light and sound. They may also become nauseated and vomit.

Often when a woman is pregnant, she stops having migraines. But if they don’t stop, she may be more likely to have a stroke, heart attack or other serious health problem.

More research is needed to confirm or disprove the findings from the new study.

In the meantime, if you are pregnant and having migraines, talk to your health care provider about what this new research may mean for you.

Skin-numbing products: Words of caution

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

cream-thumbOuch! Nobody likes pain, soreness or itching. We want relief, and we want it fast.

Many of us have tried skin-numbing products. We may use them in advance to prevent discomfort. For instance, some women have spread them on the skin before laser hair removal. When used properly, these items work and are safe.

A lot of these products, also called topical anesthetics, are available at the local drug store. For some, you need a prescription. Many of them come in the form of creams, ointments or gels.

These products contain anesthetics such as lidocaine, tetracaine, benzocaine, and prilocaine. When applied to the skin, these anesthetics can be absorbed into the blood stream and cause health risks.

Because two women died after using skin-numbing products before laser hair removal, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning. Here are the FDA’s recommendations:

* Don’t apply these products over large areas of skin.

* Use the lowest strength and the smallest amount possible.

* Don’t apply skin-numbing products to broken or irritated skin.

* Don’t wrap or cover the treated skin with plastic wrap, bandages or other materials.

* Don’t put a heating pad on the skin that you’ve treated.

Of course, if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t use any medication (over-the-counter or prescription) without first talking to your health care provider. And if anyone is using a prescription product, read the instructions carefully.

To learn more from the FDA, click here. Note: This warning from the FDA does not apply to products that contain camphor, menthol or arnica.