Posts Tagged ‘postpartum’

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 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.

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!

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!

Take us home!

Friday, September 18th, 2009

20615173_thbMy roommate was very uncomfortable. She pressed the call button every hour complaining of pain. Sharing a bathroom postpartum was icky.  The laundry carts squeaked up and down the hallway. Dietary dropped off and picked up trays. Some guy woke me up to ask if I wanted the phone turned on.  The nurses constantly took my vitals and the baby from me every time their shift changed. Sixteen relatives showed up at once during visiting hours.  Exams and discharge instructions from my doctor and the pediatrician created an endless stack of paperwork. We were surrounded by strangers and noise and fluorescent lights.  I wanted my baby out of this chaotic environment. She belonged at home with me and her Dad. I wanted those bulky hospital bracelets off her tiny ankles. Her bassinet was waiting for her. I desperately needed a nice big mug of tea and some privacy.  Taking our baby home from the hospital couldn’t come fast enough.

It was a cold February afternoon. She was all bundled up and snug in her car seat. I sat nervously beside her in the backseat. Pink balloons and flowers surrounded us.  I reminded my husband not to drive too fast. We arrived in our driveway and I sighed. We made it.  Now what do we do? LOL!

No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t rest or relax in the hospital. I wanted to care for my baby by myself and in the space that we so lovingly prepared for her at home. Did you feel anxious during your hospital stay?

Losing your hair?

Monday, August 24th, 2009

hairYou’re home with baby, you’ve got the breastfeeding thing under control, life is good… except you’re going bald!  Yikes!  You’re probably losing hair, but don’t panic – contrary to what the drain cover in the tub may be suggesting, you’re not going bald.

Over the course of about six years, each of the hairs on your head goes through a growing and resting cycle before it finally falls out at the rate of roughly 100 hairs per day.  During pregnancy the hair on your head may appear thicker because higher hormone levels prevent normal hair loss. Your hair tends to stay in the resting phase longer than usual (most hairs are in the resting phase at any one time), and fewer hairs fall out each day, causing your hair to seem thicker and fuller.  Oh, you could have been a sexy shampoo model!

After pregnancy, forget the commercials.  Once you have your baby, your entire body will try to return to its pre-pregnancy shape, including your hair. After delivery, the resting phase shortens. Normal hair loss that was delayed by pregnancy tends to take place all at one time, causing your hair to seem thinner than usual. (Hair thinning is usually not serious enough to cause bald spots or permanent hair loss, though.)  While more hairs fall out, you start to grow new hair and your normal hair growth cycle begins to return.  You may go through a limp and wimpy stage for a while, but by six months your hair should be back to its old self.  In the meantime, your hairdresser probably can hook you up with a shorter, flattering “do” that will be easier to maintain in your new life as a mom.

Postpartum – perineum soreness

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I just visited my daughter and new granddaughter.  Oh, how sweet it was to see them – and big sister and Dad, too.  Spending time with my daughter reminded me of how sore and uncomfortable a woman can be after giving birth, so I thought I’d do some posts on postpartum issues.

The perineum is the area between your vagina and rectum.  It stretches during labor and vaginal birth.  It often is pretty sore after giving birth and it can take a couple of weeks before you’re comfortable enough to sit on a hard chair again.  This is especially true if you have stitches from a tear or an episiotomy (a cut made at the opening of the vagina to help widen the passage).

Here are some things you can do to help you feel more comfortable and heal sooner:
• Kegel exercises – These strengthen the muscles in the pelvic area, which helps the perineum heal.  They’re easy to do – just squeeze the muscles you use to stop yourself from peeing.  Hold the muscles tight for ten seconds, then release.  You can do this anytime, anywhere (in the car, at the grocery store, in an elevator…) so do them whenever you think about it.
• Put a cold pack on your perineum – just be sure to wrap it in a towel so you don’t freeze any skin!
• Sit on a pillow.  My daughter has a great donut pillow she used and highly recommends.
• Soak in a warm bath.
• Be sure to wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom.  This will help prevent infection while the area heals.

If you try all this and you’re still really uncomfortable, ask your health care provider about pain medication for a few days.  You might want to watch this video with Dr. Dolan and women discussing some of their postpartum discomforts, including tips on how they handled them.

Can’t fit back into those pre-pregnancy jeans yet?

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

pre-preg-jeansPregnancy changes your body.  With a little effort, most women will eventually lose the weight, but the body has shifted and those jeans just might not fit the same any more.  (BTW, my jeans never fit like these, except in my dreams!)

My youngest sister is always moaning over the fact that she can’t fit into her old jeans.  She really can’t.  But she didn’t deliver last month – her child is in kindergarten.  I happened to be at their house for dinner not long ago and I think I got a glimpse at her particular problem.  Her daughter is a very picky eater and leaves half of her food on her plate – always.  That night, my sister, following the “waste not, want not” adage that our parents drummed into us, absent mindedly scarffed up what was left on Julie’s plate before she put it in the dishwasher.  Ah Ha!  She has inadvertently been eating about a meal and a half at each sitting.  Well, that’ll keep those tiny jeans at bay.

Having been guilty of this same technique, I tried to be as tactful as possible when I broached the subject. She not-so-calmly replied, “What? Shut up! I did not!  Did I really?  You’re kidding, right?”  She had been oblivious to this.  Now she gives Julie slightly smaller portions (she can always ask for more) or takes what is left on the plate, sticks it in a container and offers it for lunch the next day.  She’s looking forward to a thinner summer.