Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy health’

Medications and pregnancy

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

pills-2You may have seen a lot of news coverage on a study linking some over-the-counter pain relievers to miscarriage. The Canadian study found that using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can be found in common pain relievers like Advil®, Motrin® and Aleve®, can put women at risk for miscarriage if taken in early pregnancy.

While more research needs to be done on the safety of these pain relievers during pregnancy, it’s a good time to remember to talk to your health provider before taking any medicines during pregnancy. If you’re already taking medication to keep you healthy, talk to your provider to make sure it’s safe to continue taking the medication during pregnancy. Your provider may want to keep you on the same medicine or switch you to a safer medicine during pregnancy.

Learn more about medicines and other drugs, herbs and dietary supplements during pregnancy.

Get your vaccinations before summer travel

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

family-at-the-beachAfter a very rough winter and a rainy spring, summer is finally here! In a few weeks, my husband, my baby girl and I (with Lola in tow) will be traveling and heading to the beach for a couple of weeks. My baby girl just had her well baby visit this week, so she’s up to date on all of her vaccines and is ready to travel.

Summer is a great time to make sure your family’s vaccinations are up to date, especially this year. There’s been a recent outbreak of measles (an infection caused by a virus) in this country – the largest measles outbreak in 15 years. Most people who recently caught the measles were not vaccinated. They caught the measles in Europe (which is the middle of a major epidemic) and brought the disease back to the U.S.

Measles is easily spread and causes rash, cough and fever. In some cases, it can lead to diarrhea, ear infection, pneumonia, brain damage or even death. Measles can cause serious health problems in young children. It can also be especially harmful to pregnant women and can cause miscarriage.

Talk to your provider to find out if your and your family’s vaccines are up to date, especially when it comes to the measles. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, wait 1 month before trying to get pregnant after getting the measles vaccine (MMR, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella). If you’re already pregnant, you’ll need to wait until after giving birth to get the vaccine.

If you’re  traveling out of the country with your baby and she’s 6-11 months old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that she get her first shot of the MMR vaccine before traveling. If your baby is 12-15 months, then she should get two shots (separated by 28 days) before traveling.

Moderate caffeine OK during pregnancy

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I always loved chocolate, but now that I’m pregnant, I found a deeper passion for it! Even then, I try not to go too nuts with it because I don’t want to have too much caffeine. But now, I can rest a little easier.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that it’s OK for pregnant mommies to have moderate amounts of caffeine per day. Research has shown that a reasonable amount of caffeine (about 200mg or 12oz) per day doesn’t appear to lead to miscarriage or preterm birth.

So if you’re pregnant, you can go ahead and have your daily cup of coffee. As for me, I’ll be making brownies!

Stay safe in summer heat

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

summer-heat-wave1If you’re in the Northeast like me, you’re in the midst of a heat wave. Temperatures reached over 100 degrees in some areas. I can usually deal with heat waves. But with the pregnancy, I’m finding myself feeling more sluggish, exhausted and thirsty!

It’s important to stay safe in summer heat, especially if you’re pregnant. If your body temperature gets too high during pregnancy, it can be very dangerous to your baby. We wrote a post with some helpful tips to keep cool during last year’s summer heat wave. But as a quick reminder, follow these tips:
• Drink plenty of fluids (preferably water) even if you’re not being very active.
• Avoid drinks that are high in sugar or have alcohol because they can make you even more dehydrated. (If you’re pregnant, you should be keeping away from these kinds of beverages anyway!)
• Stay indoors or in areas that are cool.
• If you need to go out, try to do so in the morning or evening, when it’s not as hot as midday.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and wear a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses.
• NEVER leave anyone (or any pets) in a closed, parked vehicle.

Get out and get moving

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

exercisingSpring is here and I’m so excited! Where I live, the past few days have been absolutely gorgeous. Between all the snow and rainstorms we experienced earlier this year, Lola (my dog) and I are happy to finally take our exercise outdoors in the warm weather and sunshine.

If you’re an expecting mommy, spring is the perfect time to get some fresh air and get moving! For most women, exercising while pregnant is safe and healthy. It can help prevent gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that sometimes develops during pregnancy. For women who already have gestational diabetes, regular exercise and changes in diet can help control the disease. Exercise can also relieve stress and build the stamina needed for labor and delivery. It can also help women cope during the postpartum period by keeping “baby blues” at bay, regaining their energy and losing the weight they gained during pregnancy. Some research suggests that exercising during pregnancy can also keep baby healthy at birth and later in life.

So let’s get out there and get moving!

Using fetal heart monitors at home

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

sonogramEvery woman wants to know that her baby is doing well and is healthy during pregnancy. Health providers use their training, skills and special equipment to monitor your baby during your pregnancy. During labor, some providers will keep an eye on your baby’s heart rate by using a fetal heart monitor.

Last month, the New York Times Well Blog featured a tragic story about a woman’s use of a fetal heart monitor at home. The woman described in the post was experiencing a healthy pregnancy and nearing the end of her term. She bought the home fetal heart monitor to regularly check in on how her baby was doing by listening to her baby’s heartbeat. One day when she didn’t feel her baby move, she used the fetal heart monitor to ensure everything was alright. When she heard what she thought was the baby’s heartbeat, she went about her business for a few days until she finally went to her health provider’s office a few days later. Sadly, she learned her baby had died in the womb. Using the fetal heart monitor at home gave this woman false reassurance that her baby was OK, and that false reassurance delayed her decision to see her health provider.

Home fetal heart monitors and other medical equipment are sometimes advertised online or in parenting and pregnancy magazines. They’re marketed to consumers as equipment that’s safe and easy to use in the convenience of their home. While it might be neat to be able to listen to the baby’s heartbeat at home (or use a home sonogram machine if you’re Tom Cruise or Katie Holmes), it’s important to know that only health providers have the experience and training to be able to truly tell that everything is OK or alert you if something is wrong. Only these trained professionals know how to properly use these kinds of equipment by following medical guidelines, such as those set by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG).

Health info on the Web

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

woman-on-laptopOK, I confess; sometimes, if I’m not feeling well or some part of my body is bothering me, I turn to the Web first to try and find the culprit. I don’t intend to diagnose myself, but sometimes the convenience of having all that information at my fingertips makes it too easy. And I don’t think I’m alone. The Washington Post published an article earlier this month on the increasing use of the Internet to search for health topics. The article also mentions a new term, “cyberchondriac,” which is similar to a hypochondriac except that the person uses the Web to further her fears and anxiety about her health. Thankfully, that’s not me!

But even though I’m turning to the Web for more information, I try not to let my amateur medical research get in the way of me seeing my health provider regularly or when there’s a problem. While the Internet can be a useful tool, there’s also a lot of junk out there, so I try to make sure that the information I’m getting is from a good source.

Here are some tips that can help you know if a Web site is a good source for health information:

• Find out who sponsors the Web site. Knowing what organization or company pays for the site can help you determine if the site’s information is credible.

• Look at the Web address to know what kind of organization it is. Government sites end in .gov; educational institutions end in .edu; professional organizations (scientific or research) end in .org; and business or commercial sites end in .com. Some health Web sites that end in .com can offer credible information (for example, hospitals or health organizations). Be sure that the .com site discloses any sponsorship for its health information or if it endorses any products or services.

• Science and medical recommendations change over time. Make sure the Web site and information is updated frequently and lists when the information was last revised.

• Information on the site should be based on facts and able to be verified. Any opinions should be clearly identified as such.

Some good Web sources for health information include:
www.CDC.gov
www.WomensHealth.gov
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/
www.MarchofDimes.org
www.MayoClinic.org

Air Travel Safe During Pregnancy

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

airplane-2Thanksgiving is just two weeks away! Where did the time go? Between family get-togethers, holiday gift shopping and my husband’s birthday (which usually falls on or around Thanksgiving), the end of the year feels like one big race to New Year’s. Thankfully, both my and my husband’s families are just a few hours drive from our home. But plenty of my girlfriends are hopping on a plane to see their loved ones.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently strengthened its position on air travel during pregnancy. The organization reassures women that air travel is safe for most pregnant women. So long as a woman’s pregnancy is healthy and free of complications, it’s safe for her to travel by air. Most airlines allow women who are up to 36 weeks in their pregnancy to travel, but it’s a good idea to double check with your air carrier.

If you’re pregnant and plan to travel by air this holiday season, follow these tips (which are helpful for everyone as well):
• Wear comfortable, loose clothing. You may want to wear support stockings.
• When it’s safe to move about the plane’s cabin, take a walk up and down the isle. This can help improve your circulation and avoid the risk of blood clots.
• Stay hydrated, but avoid foods and beverages that may cause gas. Gas in your belly expands at high altitudes, making you feel less comfortable.
• Always wear a seat belt when seated to avoid injury in the case of turbulence.
• When making air travel arrangements, try getting an isle seat so you don’t have to climb over other passengers to go to the bathroom. Also, try sitting towards the front of the plane, where the ride feels smoother.
• If you’re experiencing nausea during pregnancy, you may want to take a preventative anti-nausea medication before getting on the plane. Talk to your health provider about a medication that’s safe during pregnancy.

New guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

pregnant-woman-on-weight-scale-shrunkIf you’re an expecting mommy or a woman trying to get pregnant, listen up. The Institutes of Medicine (IOM) released a report today with new recommendations for how much weight a woman should gain during pregnancy, including how much weight they should gain week by week.

The authors of the report stressed how important it was for women to get to a healthy weight BEFORE getting pregnant. That’s because women who are overweight or obese before pregnancy face greater health risks to herself and her baby during pregnancy. For women who are overweight or obese and already pregnant, the authors recommend that women, working with their health providers, carefully monitor their weight gain so that both mom and baby have a greater chance of staying healthy.

The pregnancy weight gain recommendations are as follows:

BMI* Before Pregnancy

Total Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Weight Gain Week by Week** in 2nd and 3rd Trimester

Underweight (BMI less than 18.5)

28-40 pounds

1 pound

Normal weight (BMI is 18.5-24.9)

25-35 pounds

1 pound

Overweight (BMI is 25.0-29.9)

15-25 pounds

½ pound

Obese (BMI is greater than 30.0)

11-20 pounds

½ pound

Use this calculator to find out your BMI
**  These figures assume a 1st trimester weight gain between 1-4½ pounds

Remember, all women need to make sure they eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and get their folic acid, both BEFORE and DURING pregnancy. With your health provider’s OK, most pregnant women should try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days.

Check out ChooseMyPlate, an online tool from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It can help you plan a healthy diet based on your age, weight, height and physical activity. There’s even a special section for pregnant and breastfeeding moms.

Pets during pregnancy

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

lola-2My husband and I had a recent addition to our home. Her name is Lola – a 4-month-old Boston Terrier that we adopted from an animal rescue center. Lola is such a cutie pie! She’s as playful as any other puppy and loves to cuddle when I pick her up. As the first addition to our family, Lola knows she’s the star of the show. But one day, when my husband and I are getting ready to welcome our first baby into the world, Lola will have to make room!

Pets can bring much fun and joy to the household dynamic. But pregnant women and mommies with young kids need to be careful about the kinds of animals they keep in their home and particularly how to handle them. Some things to keep in mind:

• Dogs with bad habits (biting or pouncing) should be broken of these habits before the baby arrives.

• If you have a cat, have someone else change its litter box to avoid getting toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. This infection can cause birth defects or loss of pregnancy.

• Hamsters, guinea pigs and pet mice may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV), which can cause severe birth defects during pregnancy. Keep these pets in a separate part of the home and have someone else feed the pet and clean its cage.

Turtles, reptiles and other exotic pets may carry salmonellosis (salmonella infection). Pregnant women and children under age 5 are at increased risk of this bacterial infection, so it’s best if they stay away from these kinds of animals.

Learn more and get helpful tips about how to handle pets and other animals during pregnancy.