Posts Tagged ‘postpartum’

Midwifery – What does a midwife do?

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

midwifeThis is National Midwifery Week, created by the American College of Nurse Midwives to celebrate and recognize midwives and midwife-led care.

A certified nurse-midwife is a registered nurse with advanced, specialized training and experience in taking care of pregnant women and delivering babies. Certified nurse-midwives are licensed to provide care before, during and after delivery.

There are several different types of midwives, each holding different certifications based on their education and/or experience. Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) attend approximately 93% of all midwife-attended births in the United States, and as of 2010 they are required to have a master’s degree in order to practice midwifery.

Midwifery care fits well with the services provided by obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs), who are experts in high risk, medical complications and surgery. By working with OB/GYNs, midwives can ensure that a specialist is available if a high-risk condition should arise during pregnancy or labor and delivery.

Once your baby is here, a midwife can assist with questions about breastfeeding (it’s not as easy as you think.) Midwives can provide you with health care in the postpartum period and between pregnancies at well woman visits. They can provide pain medications, birth control, screenings and vaccinations. They treat women from the teen years through menopause.

Here is a link to more information about midwives from the American College of Nurse Midwives.

Your body after baby

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

young-woman-walkingKate, the Duchess of Cambridge, looked radiant as she presented her little Prince to the world for a first glimpse. You may have noticed her baby bump. It begs the question…what happens to your body after you give birth?

Lots of things are happening to your body right after you give birth, especially for the first 6 weeks! Your body is changing again. Some of these changes are painless; others may be uncomfortable.

During pregnancy, your uterus grows to hold your growing baby. After your baby is born, your uterus shrinks back to its regular size. But, it takes some time for your belly to get back to its regular shape after pregnancy. It took time to gain the weight and it will take time to lose it. But don’t get discouraged! Be active and eat healthy foods to help you lose the baby weight. Start slowly, perhaps with a daily walk, and listen to your body as you gradually become more active. And, be sure to ask your provider if you have any issues that you need to be aware of before you increase your activity or begin to exercise.

If you had swelling while pregnant, it may take a while for it to go away after giving birth. Lie on your left side or put your feet up. Stay cool and wear loose clothes.

Your breasts swell, too, as they fill with milk. This is called engorgement, and it can be painful. Once you start breastfeeding, the swelling should go away. If you’re not breastfeeding, it may last until your breasts stop making milk.

Breastfeeding your baby helps your body, too. It increases the amount of a hormone in your body called oxytocin. This helps your uterus (womb) go back to the size it was before you got pregnant. It also helps stop bleeding that you have after giving birth. And, it burns extra calories. This helps you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly.

Many women feel unprepared for postpartum health issues. For instance, many experience breastfeeding problems, hair loss, hemorrhoids, mood swings, and anxiety. Not all women have these problems, but they are fairly common. All the physical changes and demands of your new baby can make you really emotional, too. Feeling stressed and tired all the time are common for new moms. Some women have the baby blues for a few days after giving birth. If these sad feelings last longer than 10 days, tell your provider. You may need to be checked for postpartum depression.

Remember, it’s normal to feel some discomfort, like soreness and fatigue, as your body heals after giving birth. However, other discomforts and health problems may be a sign that you need medical care. Know the warning signs and be sure to seek help when you need it.

In time, your body should return to “normal.” Every woman is different – there is no one time clock or standard that you should compare yourself to. If you know what to expect, give yourself time and are patient, you will find that it will happen. In the meantime, enjoy every luscious moment with your little prince or princess!

HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY is here!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

book1Looking for a great gift for someone pregnant or thinking about pregnancy? Order a copy of HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY, brought to you by the March of Dimes! This new book clearly lays out all the must-know information about every stage of pregnancy, along with research-based advice to help stay healthy and full of energy!

Written by obstetrician gynecologist and medical advisor to the March of Dimes Siobhan Dolan, M.D. and award-winning health writer Alice Lesch Kelly, HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY (HarperOne; February 2013: Trade Paperback Original) is designed for women at all stages of pregnancy. It provides the most accurate, up-to-date pregnancy health information including information you need before pregnancy, throughout nine months, and into the newborn period. HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY is a practical, accessible, friendly guide with clear explanations, research-based recommendations, and sensible advice for the healthiest pregnancy possible, and explains the latest advances in:
• Prenatal testing
• Pregnancy nutrition
• Fitness recommendations
• Breastfeeding
• Infant screening and care
• Making your home environment safe
• Managing postpartum symptoms.

The book also provides practical advice every mom-to-be wants quick access to, including:
• A month by month guide showing your baby’s development
• A comprehensive checklist for labor, delivery and beyond
• A glossary of terms women are likely to hear over the course of their pregnancy
• A list of resources for specific circumstances (i.e. pregnant athletes; moms of multiples; and those lacking health insurance).

Learn more at this link.

New mom fatigue

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

wiped-outYou’ve welcomed your beautiful new baby to the world and have now brought him home. Having a new baby can be an exciting and joyous event. But it can also leave many new parents, moms especially, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Some moms might feel that compared to the first few weeks of life with a newborn, childbirth was the easy part!

Between the endless feedings, sleepless nights and other responsibilities, many women feel really, really tired in the weeks after birth. You may find it hard to balance taking care of a new baby, yourself, your family and your home. Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. These feelings are normal. You can take steps to help you find more energy and overcome new mom fatigue.

Get plenty of rest – When there’s a new baby in the home, sleep is on everyone’s mind! Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day, often in about 3-hour periods. In the first few weeks of a baby’s life, it can be hard, if not impossible, for mom to get a solid stretch of 6 to 8 hours sleep at night. Try these steps to help you get the rest you need.
• Sleep when the baby sleeps, even if it’s just for a quick nap.
• Place the baby in the baby’s room.
• Put off other household responsibilities (laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc.).
• Limit visitors.

Eat healthy and be active – Eating healthy foods and getting exercise can help you have much needed energy and feel rested.
• Eat healthy foods.
• Drink lots of water.
• With your health care provider’s OK, get active.

Look to family, friends and others for help – As much as you may want to be “super mom,” no woman can be everything to everyone. If someone offers to help, say yes! Ask your partner, family and friends for help when you need it.
• Share nighttime parenting jobs.
• Ask guests to help out.
• Take advantage of babysitting offers.
• If you can afford it, hire some help for a little while.

Caring for a new baby can be a wonderful time in your life. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, remember that the newborn days won’t last long. Soon, you’ll be better able to manage your time and energy and enjoy these first precious moments in your child’s life.

What’s WIC?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program – serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk.  WIC provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care.

The WIC target populations are low-income, nutritionally at risk:
• Pregnant women (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or after pregnancy ends).
• Breastfeeding women (up to infant’s 1st birthday)
• Nonbreastfeeding postpartum women (up to 6 months after the birth of an infant or after pregnancy ends)
• Infants (up to 1st birthday). WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States.
• Children up to their 5th birthday.

WIC participants have longer, healthier pregnancies and fewer premature births than those in these categories who do not participate.

If you think you or someone you know may be eligible to receive WIC services or you just want to find out more, visit the WIC website at http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/. The WIC Prescreening Tool can be used to determine if you may be eligible for WIC benefits. This Prescreening Tool is not an application for WIC, however. To apply for WIC benefits, you must make an appointment at your WIC local agency and you can find your local agency on the WIC site.

New recommendation on birth control after delivery

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

It’s best for a woman’s health to wait 18 months before getting pregnant again. It gives your body time to heal, rebuild its energy stores, and it lets you get used to being a mom. And short birth intervals can have negative outcomes for both mom and baby. Since ovulation can take place as soon as 25 days after delivery, it’s important to establish a contraceptive plan to ensure you’ve got the time you need.

If you plan to go back on the pill, when should you start taking it again? New recommendations from the CDC say it’s very important to wait at least three weeks after giving birth before starting estrogen-progestin combined oral contraceptives. Why? Studies have shown that there is a significant increase in the risk of serious, potentially fatal blood clots, called venous thromboembolism or VTE, in women who use the combined contraceptive during the first 21 days postpartum.

The recommendations go on to say that 21-42 days postpartum, women without risk factors for VTE generally can begin combined hormonal contraceptives, but women with risk factors for VTE (e.g., previous VTE or recent cesarean delivery) generally should not use these methods. After 42 days postpartum, no restrictions apply to the use of combined hormonal contraceptives based on postpartum status.  Any other medical conditions, however, need to be taken into account.  Women who are breastfeeding also should steer clear of the combined pill because of the side effect it has of reducing milk production.

What about the other forms of contraception?  It’s still safe to immediately start using other birth control methods like progestin-only contraceptives (pills, injections, and implants), intrauterine devices (IUDs), and contraceptive methods other than combined hormonal contraceptives. It’s a good idea to plan ahead with your health care provider before you deliver so that you can start your preferred method of contraception at the best time for you once you deliver.

HCG diet – is it a good idea?

Monday, April 4th, 2011

The baby has arrived and is growing, but you’d like to be shrinking a little faster.  It takes time to get back to your previous weight and crash diets, while tempting, aren’t really good for you.  It seems the diet fad of the day is the HCG diet. Claims of rapid weight loss and a flat tummy and tush have made this diet quite popular again. But does it work and is it safe? Not so much.

HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone that a woman’s body produces during pregnancy. It sometimes is given to women who have fertility issues. HCG was first proposed to be used as part of a weight loss plan in the 1950s. The HCG diet combines either injections, or nowadays supplements of the HCG hormone (lozenges), with a severely restricted calorie intake – roughly 500 calories per day.  Sure, at 500 calories per day you will lose weight, regardless of what supplement you may be taking, but is that safe? No. As with other crash diets, it is unlikely that you will meet your body’s nutritional needs over time, especially if you’re breastfeeding, through only 500 calories per day. And rapid weight loss can lead to gallstones which can be excruciatingly painful.

Prescription HCG was developed to help women overcome fertility problems. It can have unpleasant side effects, like headaches and fatigue. It was not made for use as a diet drug and has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. In searching professional literature, no reliable studies have proved that HCG has any weight loss properties, despite years of study.  The best way to lose the baby weight is to eat healthy, exercise and be patient.  It was a good thing to gain that weight while you were pregnant because it helped you have a healthy baby.  But remember you didn’t put that weight on overnight — it took 9 months to gain it and it will most likely take a few months or more to lose it.

After you deliver: Do you know what to expect?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

mother-and-newbornIf you’re pregnant, you’ve probably thinking a lot about your delivery. What will it feel like? How bad will the pain be? Will the baby be healthy? 

But have you talked with your health provider about your own health after the baby has arrived? What can you expect during the postpartum period?

In a recent study, researchers surveyed 724 women 2 weeks after they had delivered a baby. Many of these women said they felt unprepared for postpartum health issues. For instance, fewer than half were prepared to expect breastfeeding problems, hair loss, hemorrhoids, mood swings, and anxiety. Not all women have these problems, but they are fairly common.

So next time you see your provider, take a few moments to talk about the postpartum period. The March of Dimes has several articles and videos that can help.

The new study of postpartum women appears in the February issue of the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Exercise during pregnancy – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

pregnant-exerciseIt used to be that pregnancy finally offered a good reason to sit down and put your feet up. But times have changed.  Most pregnant women in good health should try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, dancing) on most, if not all, days. Dang!  No excuse to snooze here!

Most of us are aware of the many benefits of exercise, but when you’re pregnant and feeling wiped out?  Actually, regular exercise gives you a healthy buzz helping you feel better physically and emotionally, and the calories burned help prevent outrageous weight gain.  Exercise can relieve stress (what stress?) and build up stamina needed for labor and delivery.  It can help prevent gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that sometimes develops during pregnancy. It can also help women cope during the postpartum period (did someone say stress again?) Exercise can help new moms keep the “baby blues” at bay, regain their energy and lose the weight they gained during pregnancy. All good stuff, so go for it!

But before you go out and run a marathon, talk with your health care provider. Not all pregnant women should exercise, especially if they are at risk of preterm labor or suffer from a serious ailment, such as heart or lung disease. So check with your doc or midwife before you start an exercise program.

Next, pick things you think you’ll like. Who’s going to stick with a routine that’s a total drag, even if it is good for you?  Make it fun – try several things. Check out running, hiking or dancing, if you like.  (Belly dancing for pregnant women is an absolute hoot!)  Brisk walking for 30 minutes or more is an excellent way to get the aerobic benefits of exercise, and you don’t need to join a health club or buy any special equipment. I found swimming at the local YWCA a great sport, especially in the third trimester when my knees were hurting me. The water supports the weight of your growing body, protects your joints and provides resistance that helps bring your heart rate up. Our colleague Anne got a real charge out of yoga classes designed for pregnant women. You may find that a variety of activities helps keep you motivated to continue exercising throughout your pregnancy – and beyond.

Be careful when choosing a sport. Avoid any activities that put you at high risk for injury, such as horseback riding or downhill skiing. Stay away from sports in which you could get hit in the belly, such as ice hockey, kickboxing or soccer. Especially after the third month, avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. Lying on your back can restrict the flow of blood to the uterus and endanger your baby. Finally, never scuba dive. As great as the water feels to you, this sport may lead to dangerous gas bubbles in the baby’s circulatory system.

When you exercise, pay attention to how you feel. Don’t overdo it—try to build up your level of fitness gradually. If you have any serious problems, such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, decreased fetal movement or contractions, stop exercising and contact your health care provider immediately.

With a little bit of caution, you can achieve or maintain a level of fitness that would shock your grandmother. You’ll feel and look better. And yes, you can still put your feet up—after you’ve come back from your walk.

For more information, read the March of Dimes fact sheet Fitness for Two.

Jogging with baby

Monday, October 5th, 2009

jogging-with-strollerSome folks are avid runners and can’t imagine a day without zipping around for a few miles in a pair of great sneaks.  Some women, if health and doc permit, run through most of their pregnancy and can’t wait to get back at it post delivery.  If you’re one of these fleet-footed moms or dads, here are a few things to consider before hitting the jogging paths with Junior (thanks to an interesting recent article in the New York Times) .

– Running with a stroller is very different from running solo. The mechanics of running change as does the required utilization of certain muscles.  And not being able to swing your arms can be a real challenge.  It’s not as easy as you might think.

– Go slowly – Too much too soon can set you up for an injury or surprise exhaution.

– Use a stroller with a single front wheel that can swivel or be locked straight.

– Practice.  Start by walking, then mix with periods of jogging, eventually building up to uninterrupted running.

– Take a few test runs with an empty stroller before you take Junior along. You might try a practice run with a 15 pound pumpkin strapped into your stroller!

– Keep at least one hand on the stroller handle at all times.

– Don’t overdo it.  Pushing a stroller taxes your system far more than running alone.  Take breaks and drink plenty of water.

And have fun!