Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy complications’

Pregnancy-related death, maternal death and maternal mortality

Friday, June 29th, 2018

There are nearly 4 million births every year in the United States. Although most pregnancies and births go smoothly, some do not. Sadly, some women die from pregnancy-related causes. You may have heard about pregnancy-related death or maternal death (also called maternal mortality) in the news lately. Although pregnancy-related death and maternal death have similar meanings, they are not the same thing. So what’s the difference?

Pregnancy-related death is when a woman dies during pregnancy or within 1 year after the end of her pregnancy from health problems related to pregnancy.

Maternal death is when a woman dies during pregnancy or up to 42 days after the end of pregnancy from health problems related to pregnancy.

How common is pregnancy-related death?

The good news is that pregnancy-related death is not very common. About 700 women die each year from pregnancy-related problems. While only a small number of women are affected, this continues to be a serious problem. Unfortunately, pregnancy-related death in this country has increased over the last 25 years and continues to rise.

What causes pregnancy-related death and who is at risk?

Pregnancy-related death and maternal death may be caused by:

  • A health condition (like heart disease) that you had before pregnancy that gets worse because of pregnancy
  • A pregnancy complication, like preeclampsia (a serious condition that affects blood pressure that can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth). Other complications include infection (illness caused by bad germs) and hemorrhage (heavy bleeding).
  • Treatment you get during pregnancy

In the United States, women age 35 to 39 are about 2 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as women age 20 to 24. The risk for women who are 40 and older is even higher. Some racial groups are at higher risk as well. For

What can you do to reduce your risk?

Getting regular health care before, during and after pregnancy helps you and your health care provider find out about health problems that can put you at risk. Learning warning signs of complications can help you get early treatment and may prevent death.

Always trust your instincts. If you’re worried about your health or your pregnancy or if you have signs or symptoms of conditions that can cause problems during pregnancy, call your provider right away or go to the hospital.

March of Dimes supports efforts to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and the unacceptably large disparities in rates experienced by black women. To learn more visit marchofdimes.org/wontstop.

 

 

The last weeks of pregnancy are important

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

In the last weeks of pregnancy, lots of important things happen to your baby. These changes help your baby have a healthy start. If your pregnancy is healthy, it is best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks, and wait for labor to begin on its own. If you choose to induce labor, talk to your provider about waiting until you’re at least 39 weeks pregnant. Inducing labor or scheduling a c-section should only be for medical reason.

In the last week of pregnancy:

  • Your baby’s brain is still growing and developing. At 35 weeks, your baby’s brain weighs just two-thirds of what it does at 39 weeks.
  • Important organs like the lungs and liver need this time to develop and function properly. Babies born too early may have breathing problems and jaundice after birth.
  • Your baby is gaining weight. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small.
  • Your baby is still learning how to suck and swallow. Learning these skills will help your baby feed better and avoid certain feeding problems.
  • Your baby’s eyes and ears are going through important changes. Babies born too early are more likely to have vision and hearing problems.

Your due date may not be correct

It’s hard to know exactly how many weeks of pregnancy you are. An ultrasound can help estimate your due date, but it can still be off by as much as 2 weeks. This means you may not be as far along in your pregnancy as you might have thought. This is why, if your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best if your baby is born at least at 39 weeks. This gives your baby the time he needs to grow.

However, in some instances, you may not have a choice about when to have your baby. If there are problems with your pregnancy or your baby’s health, you may need to have your baby early. If this happens, here are some questions you can you ask your provider about scheduling your baby’s birth before 39 weeks?

  • Is there a problem with my health or the health of my baby that may make me need to have my baby early?
  • Can I wait to have my baby until I’m closer to 39 weeks?

About inducing you labor:

  • Why do you need to induce labor?
  • How will you induce my labor?
  • Will inducing labor increase the chance that I’ll need to have a c-section?

About c-section:

 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

It’s time to celebrate the old and welcome in the new! All of us at the March of Dimes and News Moms Need want to wish you and your family a very happy and healthy year ahead.

We will be on vacation between December 29, 2017 through January 1, 2018. We will return to answer your questions on January 2, 2018. Please contact your health care provider, go the the hospital, or call 911 if you believe that you are in preterm labor or have a medical emergency. The following pages on our website may be helpful to you:

Signs and symptoms of preterm labor

Pregnancy complications

Labor and birth

The newborn intensive care unit (NICU)

Loss and grief

 

September is Infant Mortality Awareness month

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Infant mortality is the death of a baby before his or her first birthday. According to the CDC, in 2015 the infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. That means that in 2015 over 23,000 infants died before their first birthday.

Causes of infant mortality

In the US, the leading causes of infant mortality are:

  1. Birth defects
  2. Premature birth and low birthweight
  3. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  4. Maternal pregnancy complications
  5. Injuries (such as suffocation).

What can you do?

Not all causes of infant mortality can be prevented. But there are some steps that you can take to reduce the risks of certain birth defects, premature birth, some pregnancy complications, and SIDS.

Take a multivitamin with 400mcg of folic acid. While there are many different types of birth defects, taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs). Some studies show that it also may help prevent heart defects and cleft lip and palate.

Get a preconception checkup before pregnancy. Being healthy before pregnancy can help prevent pregnancy complications when you do get pregnant. Your provider can also identify any risk factors and make sure they are treated before you get pregnant.

Get early and regular prenatal care. This lets your provider make sure you and your baby are healthy. She can also identify and treat any problems that may arise during your pregnancy.

Stay at a healthy weight and be active. Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy may help you to avoid some complications during pregnancy.

Quit smoking and avoid alcohol and street drugs. Alcohol, drugs and harmful chemicals from smoke can pass directly through the umbilical cord to your baby. This can cause serious problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage, birth defects and premature birth.

Space pregnancies at least 18 months apart. This allows your body time to fully recover from your last pregnancy before it’s ready for your next pregnancy. Getting pregnant again before 18 months can increase the chance of premature birth, low birthweight, and having a baby that is small for gestational age.

Create a safe sleeping environment for your baby. Put your baby to sleep on his or her back on a flat, firm surface (like a crib mattress). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you and your baby sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed, for the first year of your baby’s life, but at least for the first 6 months.

The March of Dimes is helping improve babies’ chances of being born healthy and staying healthy by funding research into the causes of birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

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

 

 

 

Medical reasons you may need a c-section

Friday, August 11th, 2017

A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus. If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any medical complications, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth. However, sometimes your health care provider may suggest that you have a c-section for medical reasons. In these cases, a c-section can help to keep you and your baby safe.

You and your provider may schedule a c-section because of known pregnancy complications, such as:

There are also situations that come up during labor and childbirth that may require you to have an unplanned (emergency) c-section. Here are some possible reasons you may need to have an unplanned c-section:

  • Your baby is too big to pass safely through the vagina.
  • Your baby is in a breech position (his bottom or feet are facing down) or a transverse position (his shoulder is facing down). The best position for your baby at birth is head down.
  • Labor is too slow or stops.
  • Your baby’s umbilical cord slips into the vagina where it could be squeezed or flattened during vaginal birth. This is called umbilical cord prolapse.
  • Your baby has problems during labor, like a slow heart rate. This is also called fetal distress.
  • Your baby has a certain type of birth defect.

Remember, if you’re scheduling your c-section for medical reasons,make sure to talk to your provider about waiting until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy, if possible. This gives your baby the time she needs to grow and develop before birth.

If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any medical reasons to have a c-section, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth. But for some women and their babies, a c-section is safer than a vaginal birth. If you have questions or concerns about whether a c-section may be right for you, talk to your health care provider.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Can a mosquito cause birth defects? Listen to this interview on Zika virus and pregnancy

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Get the latest update on the Zika virus – what it is, how it spreads, signs and symptoms, how it can affect a pregnancy, and what you can do to stay safe.

March of Dimes Senior Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Edward R.B. McCabe MD PhD, was interviewed by The Coffee Klatch on Blog Talk Radio. Listen to the entire interview to get answers to your Zika questions.

You can text or email your questions to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.
 

 

Twitter chat on preeclampsia- how it affects you and your baby

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

texting2Ever wonder why your provider takes your blood pressure and has you pee in a cup at every prenatal visit?  Ever heard of preeclampsia? It is a serious complication of pregnancy that can affect you and your baby. If you are worried about it or have had it, join us tomorrow for our pregnancy chat on Preeclampsia.  We are glad to partner with the Preeclampsia Foundation.

It’s on Twitter tomorrow, May 29th at 1pm ET.  Just follow # PreAM14. Jump into the conversation at any time to ask questions or tell us your experience. We hope to see you then!

Could Aspirin help prevent preeclampsia in some women?

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Could Aspirin help prevent preeclampsia in some women? That’s what a panel of experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is suggesting in this month’s Annals of Internal Medicine. The panel reviewed research and evidence and found that low doses of Aspirin may help prevent preeclampsia in women who are at risk of developing the condition.

Preeclampsia is condition that happens when a pregnant woman has both high blood pressure and protein in her urine. With early and regular prenatal care, most women with preeclampsia can have healthy babies, but it can cause severe problems for moms. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause kidney, liver and brain damage. It also may affect how the blood clots and cause serious bleeding problems.

No one knows what causes preeclampsia. But some women may be more likely than others to have preeclampsia. Some risks include:
• Having your first baby
• Having preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
• Having a family history of preeclampsia
• Being pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more)
• Being older than 35
• Being overweight or obese

If you’re pregnant and at risk for preeclampsia, talk to your health provider. While the research may be promising, more needs to be done. In the meantime, don’t take any medicine during pregnancy without checking with your health provider first. Learn more about preeclampsia.

Breech birth

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Most babies prepare to enter this world head first. A small percentage of babies, however, don’t make that final turn and end up offering themselves feet or fanny first. This is called breech presentation.

We’re not sure why these babies don’t turn, but it does appear more common under these circumstances:
  • When there has been a previous breech presentation
  • In pregnancies of multiples (twins, triplets…)
  • When the amniotic fluid is abnormally low or high
  • If a woman has placenta previa
  • If her uterus is abnormally shaped or if she has fibroids
  • If there is a history of premature delivery

If a breech presentation is suspected, an ultrasound will confirm it. Most breech babies are born healthy, but there may be a slight increase in the risk of the baby having a birth defect and closer examination may be offered.

When a baby is in a breech position, health care providers will try to encourage it to turn into the head down position some time between 32 and 37 weeks. There are different ways to attempt this and it’s important for a woman to discuss the options with her provider to determine which is safest for her pregnancy. These are a few of the options (no guarantees that any of them will work, though):
  • External version – This may require medication to relax mom’s uterus. Essentially, this involves the provider pushing on the lower abdomen to rotate the baby. It is monitored by ultrasound and the fetal heart rate is checked regularly. This is not an option for women carrying multiples, in cases of low amniotic fluid, or when a woman has had previous c-sections.
  • Chiropractic care – The Webster technique is used to reduce stress on the woman’s pelvis, optimize its mobility, decrease the tension on the uterus and relax supporting ligaments. This regional relaxation makes it easier for the baby to turn on his own.
  • Breech tilt – Mom lies flat on her back and then raises her hips about 12 inches off the floor and supports them with pillows. She stays in this position for about ten minutes, three times per day. This can be alternated with Mom resting her head on a pillow and raising her hips up, resting on her knees. These positional shifts let gravity help move her baby. 
  • Hypnosis – A good hypnotherapist may be able to place a woman in a state of deep relaxation which might make it easier for her baby to turn.
  • Moxibustion – Used to stimulate the baby’s movement, this is an ancient Chinese technique that involves burning herbs and focusing on acupressure points, typically performed by an accupuncturist.

When babies still don’t turn, most will be delivered by cesarean section, though not before 39 weeks if all is going smoothly. While most providers will not consider it, there are occasional circumstances when a vaginal delivery might be possible in a breech position. In such cases, a woman wants to be sure that her provider is well experienced in these types of deliveries. She should be mindful that cesarean may still be a necessary final outcome.

Watching the new PBS series “Call the Midwife” last week inspired this post. Did you see it? What did you think?

What are fibroids?

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths made up of muscle tissue. They range from pea-size to 5 to 6 inches across. If you have them, you’re in good company. About 20 to 40 percent of women develop fibroids during their reproductive years, most frequently in their 30s and 40s.

Many women with fibroids have no symptoms, while others have symptoms such as:
– Heavy menstrual bleeding
– Anemia (resulting from heavy menstrual bleeding)
– Abdominal or back pain
– Pain during sex
– Difficulty urinating or frequent urination

Your health care provider may first detect fibroids during a routine pelvic exam. The diagnosis can be confirmed with one or more imaging tests.

Small fibroids usually don’t cause problems during pregnancy and usually require no treatment. However, fibroids occasionally break down during pregnancy, resulting in abdominal pain and low-grade fever. Treatment includes bedrest and pain medication. Multiple or large fibroids may need to be surgically removed, generally before pregnancy, to avoid potential complications associated with pregnancy. Due to pregnancy hormones, fibroids sometimes grow larger during pregnancy. Rarely, large fibroids may block the uterine opening, making a cesarean birth necessary.

Most women with fibroids have healthy pregnancies. However, fibroids can increase the risk of certain pregnancy complications, including:
– Infertility
– Miscarriage
Preterm labor
– Abnormal presentation (such as breech position)
– Cesarean birth (usually due to breech position)
Placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus before birth)
– Heavy bleeding after birth

If a health care provider determines that a woman’s infertility or repeated pregnancy losses are probably caused by fibroids, he may recommend surgery to remove the fibroids. This surgery is called a myomectomy. In some cases, myomectomy can be done during hysteroscopy.