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All Posts in Category: Pregnancy

Addiction and Babies? Help Us Raise Awareness!

April is Alcohol Awareness Month in the U.S. and a perfect time to raise awareness around prenatal substance abuse and how this affects both the fetus and the newborn. The U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in the past ten years in babies exposed to drugs and alcohol in the womb before birth.  Babies that are born to an addicted mother can suffer from withdrawal once born. Babies can’t consciously abstain. We know this and see stories about this in the news every day. 

The effects are far reaching and for the baby in utero, may result in low birth weight, slow growth, altered development and in some, lifelong health problems.  After the baby is born, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) may require intense intervention in a hospital, perhaps even NICU setting.

Neonates may be exposed to a wide range of substances and it’s hard to know what they may be exposed to due to self-reporting, not knowing the exact components of illicit drugs and wide range of prescription drugs the mother may be taking during pregnancy. All babies do not have withdrawal depending on the length of exposure, the cumulative dose and the baby’s gestational age at birth. Full term babies are more likely to experience withdrawal than preemies.

Symptoms for babies who are experiencing withdrawal often show up within 72 hours of birth, but may not become apparent until a few weeks after delivery. Specific symptoms may vary but include:

  • Irritability 
  • Poor Feeding    
  • High Pitched Crying
  • Fever  
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures  
  • Chronic pain

Most babies get better initially in 5-30 days and treatments for these conditions include:

  • Environmental manipulation (swaddling, holding, low lighting, mother-baby bonding
  • Pharmacologic therapy to wean them off of the  addictive substance
  • Social service intervention as family situations may be complex
  • Providing empathy and support  
  • Close follow up post hospitalization and these substances may affect their development

As with many health care issues, prevention is preferred over later intervention. Early intervention is a critical path to mitigating problems.  Consider:

  • If you are pregnant and on prescriptive drugs that may affect the fetus, notify your provider.
  • If you are pregnant and using, do not quit cold turkey without the direction of your provider, as it may negatively affect the baby.  Ask about medically-assisted treatment.                                           

To help us raise awareness, SHARE THIS MESSAGE to get information into the hands of people dealing with pregnancy and substance abuse.
~Tanya Mack, President
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“March” with Us Toward Greater Gestational Diabetes Awareness!

March 26 is Diabetes Alert Day! It’s a one-day wake-up call reminding everyone to find out you are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

It’s especially important for women who are pregnant to be checked for Gestational Diabetes. It’s a growing epidemic spurred on by increasing obesity in pregnant women.  Gestational Diabetes is caused by an insulin blocking hormone produced by the placenta, which in turn causes high blood sugar during pregnancy.

Here are key takeaways to increase awareness for all pregnant women and their families:

Testing: Gestational Diabetes is detected by an oral glucose tolerance test between 24-28 weeks gestation.

Symptoms:  Pregnant women may have no symptoms or may experience thirst and frequent urination.

Risk Factors:  Being overweight, history of gestational diabetes during a past pregnancy, delivery of a baby weighing over 9 lbs., PCOS (hormonal disorder), family history of Type 2 Diabetes

Potential Complications:  Mom – pre-eclampsia, Type 2 diabetes later in life; Baby premature birth, stillbirth, jaundice, higher than normal weight

Treatment: Treating gestational diabetes comes down to one key factor: controlling your blood sugar. It is very important to monitor your blood glucose level closely throughout pregnancy to ensure that your blood sugar remains in your target range. This is accomplished by:

  • Eating wisely. Pay attention to what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. Seek professional help to develop a meal plan that’s full of good-for-you and good-for-the-baby foods.
  • Physical Activity. When you’re active, your body uses more glucose, doesn’t need as much insulin to transport the glucose, and your body becomes less insulin resistant. Since your body isn’t using insulin well when you have gestational diabetes, a lower insulin resistance is a very good thing. Physical activity also helps control your weight during pregnancy, keep your heart healthy, improve your sleep and even reduce stress and lighten your mood. After checking with your doctor about what’s safe to do while you’re pregnant, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day… anything that gets you moving rather than sitting.
  • Insulin/Medications. Most people are able to control blood glucose levels through adjustments in diet and exercise. However, 10-20% of women with gestational diabetes may require insulin or another medication to assist your body in regulating your blood glucose level. These medications are safe for your baby.

Don’t be anxious!  Be informed!  Contact your OB provider to get tested!

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World Prematurity Day Highlights Education and Technology As Solutions

World Prematurity Day is Saturday November 17, a day designed to draw attention to the more than 380,000 babies who are born too soon in the United States every year. Alabama’s pre-term birth rate is 12%, as published in the annual report from the March of Dimes, earning the state a grade of “F” which is unchanged from the previous year.  Baptist East Hospital in Montgomery, Women’s Telehealth and Dr. Anne Patterson have launched a new MFM Clinic to support expecting Moms in the prevention of premature births.  Please click the link below to view the WSFA news report.


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Breastfeeding: Giving Your Baby Their Best Start in Life

The decision to breastfeed is a personal choice for a mother and her baby, however, research shows many benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby. Breast milk is nutritious, rich in vitamins, and saves time and money. In support of National Breastfeeding Week, below are some of the reasons you may want to consider breastfeeding your baby.

Benefits to babies who breastfeed:

  • Breast milk provides the ideal amount of nutrients and vitamins for babies, and it’s provided in a more digestible form than formula.
  • Breast milk provides important antibodies to fight off viruses and bacteria.
  • The colostrum that is found in breast milk within the first few days of giving birth is rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect the baby from infections, as well as helps the baby’s digestive system function and grow.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma or allergies, and research shows that they have a lower risk of developing ear infections, respiratory illnesses, eczema, diarrhea and vomiting. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding can also help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and it has been thought to lower the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers as a child.

Benefits to mothers who breastfeed:

  • Breastfeeding can help mothers lose their pregnancy weight faster since breastfeeding burns extra calories.
  • Breastfeeding helps the mother and baby bond due to skin to skin contact, the closeness of the mother’s body to the baby, and close eye contact to each other. This closeness is beneficial to both the baby and the mother.
  • Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin which helps the mother’s uterus return to normal size and reduce bleeding after giving birth. It can also help calm the mother emotionally.
  • Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis as well as breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding saves time and money since there is no cost involved, nor time spent washing and sterilizing bottles and nipples.

Breastfeeding is a personal choice that a mother should make without being influenced by friends or family. There are many benefits, but there may also be some challenges, such as sore nipples, the baby not latching on, or not producing enough milk. Seek counsel from your health care provider, family members, or other mothers if these challenges arise. If breastfeeding is the right choice for you, it can help give your baby their best and healthiest start in life.

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Top Docs Radio Show About Women’s Health

Check out this week’s Top Docs Radio Show about women’s health with Women’s Telehealth President, Tanya Mack, and Dr. Hugo Ribot of Cartersville OB-GYN. The show show focuses on three areas: Laparoscopic Surgery, Maternal Fetal Telemedicine in the OB office and Zika virus recommendations for pregnant women. Click here to listen: http://businessradiox.com/podcast/topdocs/minimally-invasive-gynecologic-surgery/

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Staying Safe Throughout Pregnancy

Most pregnant women worry about what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy. Since June is National Safety Month, here is a list of some tips to keep you safe throughout pregnancy:

  • Drink a lot of water, especially during the hot, summer months to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • Do not sit for long periods of time to avoid circulation problems.
  • Wear flat, comfortable shoes to avoid slipping or falling. Also, your feet may swell during pregnancy so you should wear what is most comfortable.
  • Always wear seat belts while travelling in cars. Seat belts should fit across your chest and under your belly.
  • Avoid travelling during the last trimester of pregnancy. Most doctors do not recommend flying after 36 weeks of pregnancy when the chance of going into labor is greater.
  • Exercise during pregnancy is usually safe and even recommended to reduce the risk of complications throughout pregnancy. Check with your health care provider before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Eat a nutritious and healthy diet to help with fetal brain development and to reduce to risk of low birth weight and many birth defects.
  • Take prenatal vitamins to provide the extra nutrition that developing fetuses need.
  • Visit your prenatal health care provider regularly to monitor your pregnancy and the baby’s development.

Following these tips will contribute to a safe pregnancy for you and your baby, but be sure to talk to your health care provider about any questions or concerns that may arise throughout your pregnancy.

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Smoking During Pregnancy

There are numerous health risks associated with smoking, and smoking during pregnancy causes health problems for you and your baby. When you smoke, your baby smokes. The poisons you inhale in cigarettes, such as nicotine, carbon monoxide, and lead, cross the placenta and keep your baby from getting the proper nutrients and oxygen needed to grow. Smoking can make it harder to conceive, and smoking during pregnancy can lead to pre-term birth, birth defects, and even infant death.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause the following health problems:

  • Trouble conceiving
  • Increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Problems with the placenta, such as the placenta separating from the womb too early, which is dangerous to the mother and baby
  • Pre-term birth and low birth weight for the baby, leading to more health problems for the baby
  • Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Increased risk of the baby developing respiratory (lung) problems
  • Increased risk of birth defects, such as cleft lip or cleft palate

Stopping smoking will not only benefit your health, but it will significantly improve your baby’s health as well. Ask your health provider for details on programs to help you quit. START BY OBSERVING WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY – TODAY!

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