Posts Tagged ‘Planning for Baby’

New research on weight and pregnancy

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

scaleBeing overweight during pregnancy can cause complications for you and your baby. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to have pregnancy problems such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, c-section and even a miscarriage or stillbirth. If you’re overweight or obese during pregnancy your baby is more likely to be born prematurely, have a birth defect, or have heart disease, diabetes or obesity later in life.

More and more research is being done on how your weight can affect your pregnancy. In a recent study, researchers looked at information on more than one million children born to Swedish women who were followed for nearly eight years. They found that the overall risk of cerebral palsy (a birth defect) was nearly double in babies born to women with severe obesity. CP is a group of conditions that affects the parts of the brain that control muscles and movement.

The study authors say that obesity does not cause CP, but that there is an association between obesity in pregnancy and cerebral palsy risk. Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy and maintaining healthy habits throughout your pregnancy can help reduce this risk.

“There continues to be evidence of many different repercussions and outcomes associated with being overweight or obese,” said Dr. Siobhan Dolan, medical advisor at the March of Dimes. “All the data is pointing to the same issue — that it’s good to get to a healthy weight before pregnancy and to gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy,” she said.

What can you do?

If you are currently pregnant, now is not the time to lose weight. But there are things you can do to be as healthy as possible.

Here are some tips:

  • Get early and regular prenatal care. Go to every checkup, even if you are feeling fine.
  • Have a chat with your health care provider about gaining weight during your pregnancy. Every woman and every pregnancy is different – that’s why it’s important to talk to your provider about how much weight gain is right for you.
  • Eat healthy foods and do something active every day. Even getting up from your desk every hour at work and walking around the office can be helpful.

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

New report says babies born to healthy mothers get a boost for a healthier life

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

pregnant women walkingIf you’re thinking about pregnancy, now is the time to get moving. Staying active is just as important before conceiving as it is during pregnancy. In a new report released today, more than 60% of women in the U.S. are not meeting recommended activity guidelines and 22.5% are not active at all.

Eating nutritious foods and getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy, may help you and your baby avoid certain problems during pregnancy. In fact getting to a healthy weight beforehand is one step you can take to lower your risk of premature birth. Babies born before 37 weeks may have more complications or need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born full term. Premature birth is the greatest contributor to infant death and a leading cause of long-term neurological disabilities.

According to the AHR report (America’s Health Rankings– Health of Women and Children Report), “Babies born to healthy mothers and families start off on a promising path to health that has the potential to last a lifetime.” Furthermore, the report states that “markers of prenatal and childhood health are also significant predictors of health and economic status in adulthood.”

In addition, physical activity is not just good for your body, it can also:

Not sure where or how to start?

Walking is a great activity to get your heart rate going and your legs moving. Swimming, dancing and yoga are other activities that help you stay active and more importantly, are fun to partake in. Why not sign up for a local walk or fun-run this weekend or ask your local Y or family club about access to their pool. Many yoga studios will also let you try your first class for free. With all these benefits and available options you have lots of reasons to get moving.

If you’re having a hard time fitting some activities into your day, you might consider taking your social or business meetings on the go – literally. I met a friend for dinner yesterday and before we sat down to eat we took a long walk around the park. At work, sometimes we walk around the parking lot instead of sit in a conference room for our meetings.

If you become pregnant, you may need to modify your activity. For example, you won’t want to do any exercise that may increase your risk of falling (skiing, biking, horseback riding, gymnastics) or bumping your belly (ice hockey, kickboxing, soccer or basketball).  Read our article and watch our video to understand why physical activity is good for most pregnant women, and to learn which activities are safe.

Now that fall is here why not change your routine with the season. Have helpful tips? Please share them with us.

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

 

Folic acid – why is it important?

Monday, January 4th, 2016

folic acid vitaminFolic acid is a B vitamin that promotes cell growth and helps prevent certain birth defects. It is Folic Acid Awareness Week – a great time to become familiar with how this vitamin can help you and your baby.

Your body needs to make new cells every day for blood, skin, hair and nails. Folic acid also plays an important role in helping red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body.

How can folic acid help your baby?

Folic acid helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects, if taken before pregnancy and during the first few weeks of pregnancy.  So it is helpful to get in the habit of taking a multi-vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, before you become pregnant.

Even if you are not planning to become pregnant, your body needs folic acid for normal growth and development.

What if you’re already pregnant?

Most pregnant women need to take a multi-vitamin with 600 micrograms of folic acid. Talk with your prenatal provider to see if this is the right dosage for you. A pregnant women needs extra folic acid throughout pregnancy to help produce the additional blood cells your body needs during pregnancy. Folic acid also supports the rapid growth of the placenta and fetus.

Can you get folic acid anywhere else?

Yes. Many foods have folic acid added to them. On packages of flour, breads, cereals and pastas, look for the words “fortified” or “enriched” – it means the product has folic acid added to it.

You can also get folic acid in its natural form – folate – in some fruits and vegetables. Folate can be found in spinach, black beans, peanuts and orange juice. Learn about the difference between folic acid and folate here.

Bottom line:

Even if you eat a well-balanced diet that includes fortified foods, fruits and veggies, it can still be hard to get enough folic acid every day.  By taking a multi-vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, you will be sure to get the amount you need.

 

Thinking about becoming pregnant? Are you worried about your diabetes?

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Diabetes and pregnancyDiabetes can cause problems during pregnancy, such as premature birth, birth defects and miscarriage. But don’t panic; with some planning ahead, you can become as healthy as possible before you become pregnant.

When you eat, your body breaks down sugar and starches from food into glucose to use for energy. Your pancreas (an organ behind your stomach) makes a hormone called insulin that helps your body keep the right amount of glucose in your blood.  When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin well, so you end up with too much sugar in your blood.

Too much sugar can cause serious health problems, like heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. High blood sugar can be harmful to your baby during the first few weeks of pregnancy when his brain, heart, kidneys and lungs begin to form. It’s really important to get treatment for diabetes to help prevent problems like these.

If you are thinking about becoming pregnant and have diabetes, here are a few tips:

  • Manage your diabetes to get your blood glucose levels in to your target range. Try to get it under control 3-6 months before you start trying to become pregnant.
  • Take a multivitamin that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
  • Talk to your provider about any medications you are taking to make sure that they are OK to continue taking when you do get pregnant. He or she may want to change some medications now, before you get pregnant.
  • Eat healthy foods and keep moving.
  • Get support and guidance. Talk with your provider, a diabetes educator or a dietician about how to manage your diabetes.

Not sure if you are at increased risk of developing diabetes? Read our post to find out.

Remember: If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, now is the time to talk to your doctor about getting as healthy as you can before you conceive. Take small steps now toward a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

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

World BD day gets word out globally

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Sick babyThe twitter-sphere was all aglow yesterday for the first-ever World Birth Defects Day. In fact, 6,154,146 people were reached worldwide! Yup. It’s not a typo.

Twelve leading global organizations including the March of Dimes, along with scores of other foundations, hospitals, health care providers, government agencies, parents and individuals with birth defects took to Twitter to raise awareness. People in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, and individuals from all over the United States participated. As the day progressed, #worldbdday tweets continually popped up on my computer screen. In case you missed it, here is a snapshot of important messages.

Birth defects are surprisingly common

Did you know that every 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the US?

In the US, about 1 in 5 babies die before their 1st birthday due to birth defects.

Birth defects affect 1 in 33 infants worldwide.

More than 8 million babies worldwide are born each year with a serious birth defect.

There are thousands of different birth defects, and about 70% of the causes are unknown.

The most common birth defects are heart defects, neural tube defects and Down syndrome.

In the US, a baby is born with a congenital heart defect every 15 minutes.

More than 300,000 major birth defects of the brain and spine occur worldwide each year.

Many birth defects are discovered after the baby leaves the hospital or within the 1st year of life.

More than 3.3 million children under 5 years of age die from birth defects each year.

Babies who survive & live with birth defects are at an increased risk for long-term disabilities & lifelong challenges.

Early intervention services may help babies w/ BDs; get your child help by starting early.

Birth defects are costly. Financial and emotional costs of birth defects take a toll on families and communities worldwide.

Learn how to decrease your risk of having a baby with birth defects

Taking folic acid before & early in pregnancy can help to reduce the risk for BDs of the brain & spine.

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of certain BDs. It’s never too late to quit.

We can’t prevent all birth defects. We CAN prevent FASD! (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders)

FASDs are 100% preventable.

Alcohol can cause your baby to have BDs (heart, brain & other organs). Don’t drink if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.

Being overweight before pregnancy can increase the risk for some birth defects.

Not all BDs are preventable, but women can take steps toward a healthy pregnancy.

Make a PACT: plan ahead, avoid harmful substances, choose a healthy lifestyle, and talk to your doctor.

Raise awareness

Awareness of birth defects & the importance of care for children with these lifelong conditions is key.

The mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

March of Dimes has invested more than $50 million in birth defects research in the last 5 years.

Genetics has long been a main theme of March of Dimes research.

MOD grantees have discovered genes that cause or contribute to a number of common birth defects, including fragile X syndrome, cleft lip and palate, and heart defects.

These discoveries pave the way for treatments and preventions for these birth defects.

 

For more information, email AskUs@marchofdimes.org. See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.

Thinking about another baby?

Friday, December 20th, 2013

sibs

After giving birth, there are some women who want to have another baby right away.  Others need a bit more time in between children.  Although there is no right or wrong time to have another child there are certain health considerations that point to optimum birth spacing.

Timing pregnancies less than 18 months or more than five years apart could raise the odds of the second baby being born prematurely, at low birth weight, or small for gestational age.  With too short an interval, researchers theorize, the problem may be that a mother’s body needs more time to recover from the stress and depleted nutrients of the first pregnancy.  With longer spacing, the problem could be that fertility gradually declines after a woman delivers.

Some research (although limited) suggests that a pregnancy within 12 months of giving birth is associated with an increased risk of placental abruption or placenta previa in women who previously had a C-section.

While waiting may be ideal, we understand that not all women can wait 18 months before trying for another child.  If you are thinking about having another baby, make sure you schedule a preconception checkup with your health care provider.  The two of you can discuss any health concerns.  Also, if you have had a premature baby, make sure you discuss ways to reduce your risk of having another premature birth.    Together you and your health care provider can choose the best time for you to add to your family.

Chat on pregnancy after age 35

Monday, May 13th, 2013

texting21How old were you when you had your baby? Today, 1 in 5 women in the US has her 1st child after age 35. Halle Barry currently is pregnant at age 46! The good news is most have healthy pregnancies & healthy babies. There are, however, a number of challenges and concerns. 

Join us on Twitter Tuesday May 14th at 1 PM ET for our next pregnancy chat. Learn about these issues and things you can do to help start a family when you’re no longer in your 20s. Join in the conversation by using #pregnancychat.

Chat on genetic counseling

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Susan Klugman, MDEver wonder if genetic counseling is for you? Join us for a #pregnancychat on genetic counseling and why it’s important. Dr. Susan Klugman, Director of Reproductive Genetics at Montefiore Medical Center, will be our guest to answer your questions, such as: What ethnic groups are more at risk for a genetic disorder? What does a family health history entail? Which prenatal tests are right for you? and more.

Dr. Klugman is a “medical detective” who works to identify the possible genetic risk factors for many inherited diseases. She encourages couples to consider genetic testing even before they get married so they can be as informed as possible when planning their families. She serves on the Board of Directors of the New York State Genetics Task Force. 

Dr. Klugman has appeared on many broadcast media outlets including ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer. Take this unique opportunity to learn from her and ask questions. Join us on Twitter Wednesday, March 6th at 1 PM. Don’t forget to use #pregnancychat to make sure we see your questions.

Family history awareness

Monday, December 6th, 2010

generations-at-the-tableOver the holidays, most of us try to get together with family members for fun and feasting. While you’re gathered to share a meal, you’ll be in a perfect situation to share your family health history, too. For those of us who are young and hoping to start a family some day, it’s important to know if anyone has had heart disease or diabetes, hearing loss or a serious vision problem, a child with a birth defect or genetic disorder.  Find out what’s “all in the family.”   I was surprised to learn that my grandmother had two brothers who died young from the same heart condition. Nobody ever mentioned it before.  Family health history information can help health care providers determine which tests and screenings are recommended to help family members know their health risks for certain conditions.

Here is a link to more information on the importance of keeping a family health history.   We have created some tools to make it easier for you to collect information.  Here is a questionnaire for adolescent and adult family history collection.  If you would like a handy form to help you collect your family’s health history for preconception/prenatal purposes, click here.   Take advantage of this time to have your past shed light on the future.

Before Pregnancy site

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

We have written about many topics related to preconception health.   You can find articles from being ready emotionally, physically, or financially, to finding a good vitamin, getting fit, signs of pregnancy, fertility treatments, pregnancy after a premature birth, etc.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) created a web page for women thinking about starting a family.  Before Pregnancy  is a page on the CDC Pregnancy site that talks about planning and preventing problems and it gives 5 tips to get ready for a healthy pregnancy.  You might want to check it out.