Posts Tagged ‘Pregnancy’

What’s one often forgotten, but very important, “must do” during pregnancy?

Monday, June 19th, 2017

teethThere are so many “do’s and don’ts” during pregnancy that it’s sometimes hard to keep track of them all. But one important “do” that sometimes gets overlooked is the need to keep up with oral care.

Somehow, brushing your teeth and going for regular dental cleanings seem to fall down on the list. But did you know that at-home and professional dental care are also important parts of a healthy pregnancy?

Pregnancy can affect dental health

During pregnancy, your changing hormones may affect the way your body reacts to plaque that builds up on your teeth. The result can be redness, swelling and bleeding gums called “pregnancy gingivitis.” In fact, nearly 70% of women experience gingivitis during pregnancy.

You also have more blood flowing through your body and more acid in your mouth when you are pregnant. All these changes mean you are more likely to have dental problems, such as loose teeth, gum disease, non-cancerous “pregnancy tumors” which form on your gums, tooth decay and even tooth loss. (See our article for more details on any of these dental issues.)

What’s the answer?

Consider oral care a “must do” on your healthy pregnancy list. Regular professional dental care as well as a good daily oral routine (brushing, flossing) are very important parts of your pregnancy.

Brushing your teeth is something that you’ve done since childhood. Even going to the dentist is something that (hopefully) you are doing regularly. Dental exams help to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis (gum inflammation), and let’s face it – your teeth look sparkly clean afterwards!

Bottom line

Take your prenatal vitamins, get plenty of rest, eat well, stay active, keep up with brushing your teeth, AND go to your prenatal and dental appointments.

Your smile and baby will thank you.

 

Have questions? Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Heat and pregnancy – what’s dangerous and how to cope

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

heatIf you live in the northeast, you know we’ve been experiencing a heat wave. Just going from my car to the front door of the office seems too far to walk in this heat. If you’re pregnant, having an increased exposure to heat may cause problems for you or your baby.

Exposure to excessive heat affects people differently. When you are pregnant, your body works hard to cool you and your baby. So, if you are pregnant, you are more likely to develop a heat related illness sooner than someone who is not pregnant.

Heat illnesses occur when your body’s efforts to cool itself (eg. sweating) are no longer effective. Heat illnesses include a rash often known as “prickly heat,” cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include a headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating, weakness, thirst, being irritable, and having an increased body temperature.

Heat stroke is an emergency condition. It is when your body temperature goes above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms include hot and dry skin or extreme sweating, a rapid pulse, throbbing head-ache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, and seizures. If untreated, it could result in permanent organ damage or even death. Seek medical attention or contact 911 immediately if someone you know has these symptoms.

Prevention is key

It is important that you take steps to stay cool and prevent heat related conditions, especially if you are pregnant. Here’s how:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink water frequently. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Stay in rooms with air-conditioning.
  • Avoid going outdoors during peak heat hours (11am – 3pm).
  • If you must go outdoors, stay in the shade, limit your physical activity, and stay hydrated. Use a cold or wet cloth to cool down by putting it on the inside of your wrists or forehead so you don’t get too hot.

Keep kids out of the heat, too

One more thing…each year at about this time, we hear of children being left in a hot car “for just a few minutes.” Tragic deaths from heat stroke can occur from leaving a child in an overheated closed car for a very short while.

Never leave a child unattended in a closed car – NEVER.

Children don’t have the same chemical makeup as adults, making it harder for their bodies to regulate temperature. Take steps to protect your child from heat-related illnesses by setting reminders. Here are a few tips to prevent a tragedy, from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Allergies and pregnancy – can you get relief safely?

Monday, May 1st, 2017

allergies2It seems that everyone I know is struggling with allergy symptoms right now. The chief complaints are itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion, and generally feeling like a marshmallow invaded your head. Spring looks so beautiful but taking a deep breath outside can make you miserable!

There are many over-the-counter remedies and prescription medications available to help with symptoms, but if you’re pregnant it may not be wise to use any of them.

Here’s the low-down…

Pros and cons of possible allergy relief remedies during pregnancy

First of all, check with your health care provider before you take any over-the-counter medicine, supplement or herbal product to make sure it’s safe for you and your baby. Your provider will weigh the risks and benefits of taking any medication during pregnancy.

  • As a general rule, nasal saline (salt water) is good to use as it keeps your nasal passages moist and helps you blow away the allergens that accumulate in your nose. Avoid nasal steroids though, unless prescribed by your prenatal provider.
  • Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, usually should be avoided, especially during the first trimester, as there is a possible association between its use and certain birth defects in babies. There are too many brand name decongestants to list here. Your best bet is to ask your prenatal provider about a medication before you take it.
  • Antihistamines, such asdiphenhydramine, doxylamine and chlorpheniramine, block your reaction to an allergen. You may know them by their brand names, such as Benadryl, Nytol, Unisom, Triaminic, and others. Some are considered safe to use during pregnancy, with the ok of your provider.
  • Read labels. Many symptom relief medications contain more than one ingredient. Also, these meds are meant for short-term, not long-term use. Your prenatal provider is the perfect person to ask if/when/how long you should be on any particular medication.

How about allergy tests and shots?

  • If you’re thinking about being tested for allergies, either test before you become pregnant, or wait until after your baby is born. Allergy skin testing is not done during pregnancy due to a small risk that a severe reaction can occur. Reactions such as hives, swelling of your tongue and throat and even loss of consciousness may occur. During pregnancy, a severe reaction may be harmful to your baby.
  • If you are currently receiving allergy shots (known as immunotherapy), be sure you let your allergist know you are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant. He may decide to continue the shots, adjust your dosage or stop them entirely during your pregnancy.

Other suggestions

  • Decreasing exposure to allergy triggers is key in helping you breathe easier. Some allergy healthcare providers recommend keeping windows and doors shut and running an air conditioner to keep the indoor air as free from outdoor allergens as possible. You may find it helpful to run a small air purifier in the bedroom at night to help you sleep.
  • Breathing steam or taking a warm shower may also help to decongest your nasal passages.

Bottom line

Every woman and every pregnancy is different; your provider will know the remedy that is best for you. The good news is that once you give birth, you will have more options available to you to combat Mother Nature’s pollen parade.

Have questions? If you are wondering about taking a specific medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, you can text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

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

Where does all the weight gain go during pregnancy?

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Now that you’re pregnant, your body is changing to get ready for your baby. Gaining weight is an important part of pregnancy.

If you gain too little or too much weight during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other women to have certain complications such as a premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).

You may be wondering – where does all the weight go? If you’re at a healthy weight before pregnancy and gain 30 pounds during pregnancy, here’s where you carry the weight:

pregnant woman on scale

  • Baby = 7.5 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid = 2 pounds. Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby in the womb.
  • Blood = 4 pounds
  • Body fluids = 4 pounds
  • Breasts = 2 pounds
  • Fat, protein and other nutrients = 7 pounds
  • Placenta = 1.5 pounds. The placenta grows in your uterus (also called womb) and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
  • Uterus = 2 pounds. The uterus is the place inside you where your baby grows

Gaining weight slowly and steadily is best. You may not gain any weight in the first trimester, or you may gain a little more or a little less than you think you should in any week. Try not to worry about it.

Gaining weight is necessary for your pregnancy, but gaining the right amount is also important. Talk to your prenatal care provider about the weight gain that is best for you and your body.

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

“Why am I crying all the time?”

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

cryingIf you’re pregnant, you may notice that tears come more easily to you. One of my pregnant friends started crying as she watched a Flintstones cartoon rerun of Pebbles and Bam-Bam as they got married. Another girlfriend burst into tears while watching a pet adoption commercial!  You may find that you cry much more easily at events or situations that previously would never have made you shed a tear.

What causes the extra tears?

Your changing hormones.

From the time you conceive, the hormones estrogen and progesterone start rising. This increase in your hormones causes changes in the chemicals that send signals to your brain to regulate your mood. You may find yourself crying more often or becoming irritated easily. These mood swings are a normal part of pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.

New responsibilities and impending life changes.

A lot is happening in preparation for your newest addition and your to-do list just got longer, especially if you are pregnant around the holidays. The change may be welcomed, but it can also make you feel stressed. The realization that your baby will be entirely dependent on you soon  can seem overwhelming.

Ways to cope

  • Join our online community Share Your Story. You may find it helpful to connect and talk with other women going through a similar experience – you may even find someone getting teary eyed at the same rerun episode.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep every day or take cat naps.  Getting enough Zzzs will help you handle any irritation or stress that comes your way.
  • Eat healthy meals and snacks.
  • Try relaxation activities, like prenatal yoga or meditation. Or squeeze a walk into your afternoon – even ten minutes of brisk walking can reduce stress!
  • Chat with your prenatal care provider. Often, just voicing your concerns and listening to a trusted professional can be enormously calming.

Fortunately, many women find their moods become more manageable in the second trimester. But, if you find you are feeling down or have symptoms of depression that last more than two weeks, or are feeling overly stressed, speak with your prenatal provider. There is much that can be done to help you feel better.

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

 

Got Zika questions?

Friday, December 9th, 2016

The March of Dimes is pleased to announce our partnership with Mother-to-Baby. Together, we are able to provide answers to your Zika questions by phone, email, text or live chat. Check this out:

MOD and mothertobaby org infographic ENG

Please reach out to us with your concerns. Our teams of trained health information specialists are available to answer your questions. Be sure to see our resources to learn how to keep yourself and your family Zika free.

 

Due to changing hormones during pregnancy, dental care should be a priority

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Smiling pregnant woman lying on couchPregnancy is a time of many changes to your body. Some are exciting and amazing, while others are not as much fun. Did you know that because your hormone levels increase, your gums and teeth may change during pregnancy? You’re more likely to have some dental health problems that you did not have before you became pregnant.

Changes in hormone levels can affect your body’s response to dental plaque bacteria, causing swelling, sensitivity and tenderness in your gums. Most pregnant women have some bleeding of their gums, especially while brushing or flossing. Your gums are more likely to become inflamed or infected. Gum inflammation is called “gingivitis;” it’s an early form of periodontal disease, which can ultimately result in tooth loss or other oral health problems.  Other dental issues that may occur include loose teeth, tooth decay or loss, and lumps or non-cancerous tumors which form on gums in-between teeth. Also, you may notice that your mouth produces more saliva.

Here’s what can do if you are pregnant:

Step up your oral care routine; fight plaque at home every day.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush thoroughly twice a day. If you have a lot of sensitivity, try using toothpaste designed for sensitive gums. If your gums hurt after brushing, apply ice to soothe the pain.

Make sure the toothpaste and mouthwash you use fight gingivitis. Read product labels as many toothpastes and mouthwashes do not contain gingivitis fighting ingredients. A toothpaste containing stannous fluoride is a great choice as it not only fights cavities and sensitivity, but also helps reduce gingivitis. Floss once a day to clean in between your teeth. If you’re vomiting (so sorry), be sure to rinse your mouth with water or clean your teeth afterward to get rid of extra stomach acids in your mouth.

Cut down on sweets

Candy, cookies, cake, soft drinks and other sweets can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Instead, have fresh fruit or make other healthy choices to satisfy your sweet tooth. Watch out for some dried fruits, like raisins and figs, that can stick in the crevasses of your teeth. They’re delicious but contain lots of natural sugar, so remember to brush!

Get regular dental care

If left unchecked, some conditions, like gingivitis, may lead to more serious gum disease. Be sure to have a dental checkup early in pregnancy to help your mouth remain healthy. You may even want to see your dentist more often than usual. Although it’s best to have your teeth cleaned and checked for any trouble spots before pregnancy, being pregnant is no reason to avoid your dentist.

Don’t put off dental work until after delivery

Decaying teeth can cause infection that could harm your baby. If you think you need a dental filling, don’t panic. Go get it checked out. Always be sure to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant and how far along you are in your pregnancy.

Bottom line

A good daily oral care routine, keeping up with seeing your dentist, and regular visits to your prenatal care provider are all essential parts of a healthy pregnancy.

Looking for more information? Learn how pregnancy affects your dental health and check out if you are at risk for gum disease.

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

March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.

If I had CMV in a previous pregnancy will I get it again in my next pregnancy?

Monday, October 17th, 2016

This is a question we frequently receive through AskUs@marchofdimes.org

2014d037_1623Cytomegalovirus (also called CMV) is a kind of herpesvirus. You can get CMV by coming in contact with bodily fluids (like saliva, semen or urine) from a person who carries the virus. Women usually get infected by having sex with someone who has CMV, but many become infected by having contact with young children who have CMV. As many as 70 percent of children between 1 and 3 years of age who go to daycare may have CMV.

CMV is the most common virus passed from mothers to babies during pregnancy; you have a 1 in 3 chance of passing it to your baby (33 percent). Most babies born with CMV don’t have health problems caused by the virus. However, for some babies, CMV can cause conditions like microcephaly.

Many women who have had CMV in a pregnancy, express concern that they might become infected with CMV again, in another pregnancy. If you’ve already had it, you don’t need to worry about getting CMV again. Once you’ve had CMV, it stays in your body for life. During pregnancy your body produces antibodies against the virus which protect your baby from a more serious illness. In rare cases, you can still pass it to your baby, but it usually doesn’t cause any harm.

If you have concerns, speak with your health care provider.

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

 

If my first baby has a congenital heart defect, what are the chances my second baby will have one, too?

Friday, September 30th, 2016

pregnant mom with childThis is a question we received through AskUs@marchofdimes.org from a mom who is pregnant with her second baby. Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common types of birth defects and if you already have a child with a CHD, you may wonder if your second child will have the same defect. The answer, though, is not a simple “yes” or “no.”

We don’t know the cause of most congenital heart defects. For some babies, their heart defects were caused by changes in their chromosomes or genes (which are passed from parents to children). Researchers have found about 40 gene changes (also called mutations) that cause heart defects. About 30 in 100 babies (30 percent) with a heart defect also have a chromosomal condition or a genetic condition. So if you, your partner or one of your other children has a congenital heart defect, your baby may be more likely to have one, too.

But CHDs are also thought to be caused by a combination of genes and other factors, such as things in your environment, your diet, any medications you may be taking, and health conditions you may have. Conditions like diabetes, lupus, rubella and even obesity can play a role in causing CHDs.

So what is your risk?

The chance of having another child with a CHD depends on many factors. It is best to meet with your health care provider and a genetic counselor who can better assess your risk. A genetic counselor is a person who is trained to help you understand how genes, birth defects and other medical conditions run in families, and how they can affect your health and your baby’s health.

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