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ZIKA VIRUS and PREGNANCY

mosquitoZika Virus: Answers for Pregnant Women

What is Zika virus?

Zika is a virus that’s been around for actually dozens of years; it generally causes a mild viral syndrome and is prevalent in the Tropics—South America, the Caribbean islands, and Pacific islands.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness.  Most people who are infected with Zika virus have no symptoms. If they have symptoms, they are usually very mild such as fever, rash, red eyes, muscle pain or joint pain. People usually do not get sick enough to be hospitalized and they very rarely die.

Is there a link between the Zika virus and birth defects? Infection during pregnancy can be harmful to the fetus or the newborn. Zika virus has been associated with microcephaly, a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head and brain is smaller than expected. This birth defect is associated with developmental delays including trouble speaking, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss, and vision problems.

How is Zika virus transmitted? Women can be infected with the Zika virus directly by mosquito bite in an area where there is active Zika transmission or by sexual transmission from an infected male partner.

How can I prevent catching the Zika virus? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that pregnant women, or women who may potentially become pregnant, avoid travel to countries that have been affected by the virus, including a large number of countries in South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. Check the CDC website http://www.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information for a complete list of affected countries. Both pregnant women and their partners should avoid mosquito bites, particularly if traveling to a country that has been affected by Zika. If your sexual partner has recently visited an area with the Zika virus or is infected with the Zika virus, abstain from sex or use condoms throughout the pregnancy.

 If I am going to travel to an affected area, what should I do to prevent catching the virus? Travel to an affected area is not recommended for pregnant women. If travel is completely unavoidable, talk to your healthcare provider and take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. This should include use of EPA-registered insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats to cover exposed skin, and maximizing time spent indoors in air-conditioned or screened rooms.

The recommendations for people contemplating pregnancy are a little bit different. If the woman has been exposed to Zika and gotten sick—meaning she has flu-like symptoms, runny nose, sore throat, low-grade fever, red or itchy eyes—it is possible that it is due to the Zika virus and, currently for people who have symptoms that have been exposed, they can be tested to see if that is true.

For a woman who has been exposed and been sick from Zika, it is recommended  waiting 8 weeks before tyring to conceive. There’s concern for men that the virus can remain in their bodies and be spread through sexual contact. And so for a man who has been sick from Zika, again, been exposed, been in an area and had a viral syndrome, the man can now be tested and, if he’s been sick or tested positive, the current recommendation is that he not have unprotected intercourse with a pregnant woman or try to conceive for 6 months.

If I catch the Zika virus before my pregnancy, is my baby at risk? We do not yet have recommendations about the safe period between infection and conception. However, once the virus is cleared from the blood, prior Zika infection is not thought to affect future pregnancies.

For more information about Zika virus, visit www.ChildrensNational.org/Zika

If you are concerned that you have been exposed to the Zika virus, please talk to your doctor. The Fetal Medicine Institute at Children’s National can work with your doctors directly.

http://childrensnational.org/departments/fetal-medicine-institute

Phone number:  202-476-7409

*SOURCES: Information provided by Children’s National Health System Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

*Excerpts from The Zika Virus and Getting Pregnant, Eric A. Widra, Medical Director,  Shady Grove Fertility

What is a Perinatal Mood Disorder?

Recently, the media has reported several stories relating to perinatal mood disorders (more commonly considered to be post-partum depression, but are not limited to depression). Guidelines around who should get screened and when have taken center stage. Despite this attention, many don’t realize what perinatal mood disorders are or whether or not they are at risk for one.

black-and-white-person-woman-girl-mediumQuite simply, a perinatal mood disorder is a mental health concern that occurs either during pregnancy or post-partum. This can include depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, paranoid thinking, and thoughts to harm yourself or your baby. While these concerns exist prior to pregnancy for individuals, they can be exacerbated during pregnancy and after for several environmental reasons: changes in hormones and lack of sleep are two prevalent factors. Of course, not everyone who has a baby experiences changes in mood, and certainly, some people seem to be more resilient during this transition.

Common symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder may include:
*Changes in sleep (not being able to sleep at all, even when the baby is or
oversleeping)
*Irritability
*Fears of something happening to the baby (being dropped, not
breathing, etc)
*Concerns (despite weight gain) that baby isn’t eating enough
*Uncontrollable crying
*Disinterest or lack of connection to the babypexels-photo-48566-medium
*A feeling of not being yourself

Nearly 1 in 8 women (and 1 in 10 men) experience a perinatal mood disorder. Treatment is simple and can range from therapy, medication, or both. However, without treatment, there can be long-term consequences that are dangerous for both mother and baby, as studies of depressed mothers have shown difficulties in their children as they age. There is a simple screening that you can opt to take to see if you might be experiencing a perinatal mood disorder and it can be found here. People who are are risk for developing a perinatal mood disorder include those that have experienced depression or anxiety during pregnancy; those that have a family member who had a perinatal mood disorder; those with a history (or family history) of depression or anxiety; those that have suffered a pregnancy loss; those that conceived through infertility; those with a baby that was in the NICU; teenage mothers; those that are having financial/housing/medical concerns; and those that do not have a social support system or a limited one. Certainly, this is not an exhaustive list, but is inclusive of many “red flags”.

 

If you are concerned about you or someone you know that might be having difficultly adjusting to life postpartum, you can contact your OB-GYN/Midwife/Primary Care Physician about a mental health referral. It is important that the clinician you meet with has experience and training in treating perinatal mood disorders as it is not something that most graduate programs cover.

By Julie Bindeman,  Psy-D

http://www.greaterwashingtontherapy.com/

The Story of the butterfly

strugglesbutterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours
as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge
and expand enough to support the body,
Neither happened!
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around.
It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness
and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon and the struggle
required by the butterfly to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body
into the wings so that it would be ready
for flight once that was achieved.
Sometimes struggles are exactly
what we need in our lives.
Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us.
We will not be as strong as we could have been
and we would never fly.
So have a nice day and struggle a little and teach well.

Author Unknown

presented by Ursula Sabia Sukinik

http://www.Birthyoudesire.com

 

TIME – the Most Precious Commodity of All

breastfeeding momMost mothers are stressed when they have a new baby. I absolutely remember how tiring it is to be a mother – and especially when you’re a breastfeeding mother. Being tired is on my mind right now, because in the midst of working with a new breastfeeding mother of a six-day-old, she flat-out told me that, “this breastfeeding thing is taking way too much of my time.” I was left flabbergasted and flap-jawed. What I wanted to say and what I did say were two very different things. What I wanted to say was “Well, what were you expecting? Did you think you were going to drop the baby in the umbrella stand on the way in and out of your front door?” What I actually said is “Tell me how I can help you.”

The mom went on to explain that nursing every two hours was beginning to grate on her nerves. I went on to explain that babies had tummies the size of golf balls and that breast milk was a “perfect food” that made it digest and move through the stomach very rapidly. I quoted how each DROP of colostrum had 3 million cells (the majority being immune cells). Breastfeeding is as much nurturing as nourishing (hoping the old adage would help). I also described cluster feeding as being analogous to a camel getting ready to cross the desert; feed, feed, feed and then you get the big sleep (maybe 4-5 hours max). In my first book “Start Here; Breastfeeding and Infant Care with Humor and Common Sense” I tried to call the hours between 6-10PM the “arsenic hours,” but the publisher opted for something safer like “the witching hours.” I guess that “every hour on the hour” cluster thing is what put this new mother “over the edge.”

So, here are some suggestions I’ve come up with to help you save time during your busy breastfeeding days.

  • If you have an exceptionally sleepy baby (or just have to get the show on the road once in a while), I find that you can feed on one side while you simultaneously pump on the other: Tarzan Pumping (at least that’s what I call it). That trick alone can save you up to a half hour per feeding and maximize your milk supply. Your body will react as it you’re feeding twins (because both sides are going at the same time) and perhaps even increase supply a bit. It will also expedite your feeding and have your baby feel as though a bigger, stronger twin was on the other breast helping him or her out. Now you’ll want to feed that milk to your baby at some point (perhaps during cluster feeding time), as when I previously instructed another mom to do this, she was giddy with her new frozen stash; problem was the baby hadn’t gained any weight in a week…whoops; I should have been more clear with my instructions.
  • Anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps probably doesn’t shower, do laundry, use the bathroom, open the mail or eat; I never understood that suggestion. I mean, that’s the only time you have to do ANYTHING, isn’t it? So, ALLOWING others to do things for you will help put time back in your day. You shouldn’t feel as though you’re not a good mother if you don’t do everything and do it well (do as I say, not as I do/did). I remember 28 years ago how I came creeping out of my house to get the mail and was spotted by my neighbor. She promptly sent her “nanny” over to my house with instructions to “help that poor woman out.” Problem is that I wouldn’t let the well-meaning nanny in! As I look back on it, I was afraid that I’d be found out; that I’d be “exposed” and my neighbor would know how I wasn’t really holding things together as a mother “should.” In my experience, many mothers feel that same way. They’re overwhelmed but think that they’re the only mother experiencing that. I’m here to tell you that MOST mothers feel overwhelmed in the beginning and if they tell you otherwise, I’d be wary.
  • Remember the saying “time is fleeting,” so are these stages!  Many times these cluster feeds will pass quickly and after a couple days you’ll have an entirely new baby.  It’s important to keep in mind that babies patterns change quickly and you won’t always be feeding around the clock. 

When I heard this mother complaining about time, as I think more about it, I’m suspicious there might be something else going on. Is she depressed? Is she lonely and needs to get out of the house for companionship, does she simply have cabin-fever, or are her expectations unrealistic as to how much time infants take out of a mothers day? What do you think?

Blog written by  Kathleen F. McCue, DNP, FNP-BC, IBCLC-RLC, 

Owner of Metropolitan Breastfeeding

Building a Strong Foundation for Your Pregnancy

Contemplating pregnancy?  Nutritional and optimal health should be priority number one!  Women contemplating pregnancy must keep in mind that healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle behaviors should be established before pregnancy to make sure proper nutrient levels for early embryo development and growth.

Eating a balanced diet that includes the proper amount servings of protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables is key. Protein is essential to the very foundation of your baby’s growth. Eating enough protein ensures that your little one, from the very beginning, is getting adequate food stores to support cell growth and blood production.  Regular exercise should also be incorporated in your daily routine to prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy. Habits such as drinking or smoking must be avoided to allow for optimal health and development of the child during pregnancy and after birth.  Good habits should  include taking a daily multivitamin or a daily prenatal vitamin.  Even if you are consuming healthy foods daily, you can miss out on key nutrients.  A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help fill any gaps.  A quality, fast absorbing prenatal vitamin is necessary for all the basic micronutrients needed during pregnancy.eat-well-teaser

Through the course of pregnancy there is an increased need for nutrients and calories to make sure proper fetal growth. The increased need for vitamins and minerals such as folate, calcium and iron is necessary to prevent birth defects, ensure proper bone formation/retention, and to reduce the risks of preeclampsia or anemia. Folic acid intake increases to a daily amount of 800 mcg, calcium to 1200 mg, and iron to 30 mg. Your Vitamin D levels should be checked with your initial prenatal labs to be sure you levels are not insufficient or deficient.  Fetal needs for vitamin D increase during the latter half of pregnancy, when bone growth and ossification are most prominent. Vitamin D travels to the fetus by passive transfer, and the fetus is entirely dependent on maternal stores. Your body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It may also have an impact on birth weight.  Therefore, maternal status is a direct reflection of fetal nutritional status.

Researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood.

Blog by Shelia Kirkbride

Grief and Self-Care

This blog was originally published (by the author) on Reconceiving Loss in July 2015.

It’s the time in your life when the hardest thing to do is to be selfish. Yet, that is how you might feel in terms of your emotions. The sadness, tears, heaving sobs that are unrelenting threaten to unhinge you. You yearn to stop, but you can’t. Those around you try to offer you comforting words or platitudes. Sometimes they help, but often they don’t. This is what grief can look like, particularly the soul-crushing grief of losing a pregnancy or baby.

Through this grief, you often feel alone. Friends and family don’t seem to understand that one month later, you haven’t “snapped out of it” and “moved on.” Your partner is also at a loss for words or actions that might be comforting as he embraces you for the hundredth time. Perhaps he sees the loss differently. Or maybe more time has passed and you even have another baby, yet you still feel some numbness that this new baby hasn’t been able to fully eclipse.

This is the time when you just want everything to disappear. Or you throw yourself back into your life, willing the everyday motions to undo the feelings. You want to be cared for, but all of the attempts of asking aren’t helpful. Perhaps there are a few people that get it, but you don’t want to burden them. The temporary salve they provided in just talking and listening has worn off, and reaching out seems too hard.

A compounded loss in grief is the temporary loss of your sense of self and the idea that you have a semblance of control in your life. Taking this back and reclaiming you can be important and healing through your grief journey. But how? Taking tiny steps to care for yourself. Yes, take care of yourself.

In the throes of grief, it can be difficult to even get out of bed in the morning and go through your hygiene routine. Even past this phase, doing anything pleasurable can seem like plodding through molasses. Often, grieving mothers fear that if they start to engage in life again, that somehow this means that they are forgetting the baby that died. There might be continued focus on trying to achieve a new pregnancy (from yourself or from those around you) as if this is the answer to healing. Ultimately, at the end of the day, you are your own best resource. You are your own best advocate. To do either, you need strength and perhaps the permission that it is OK to matter. It is OK to indulge. It’s OK to ask for a break and to take charge of your needs.

What might self-care look like? It can be as minimal as taking time to journal, take a bath, go on a walk, or sing. Self-care doesn’t have to cost money (as the previous examples suggest) but it’s also fine if it does. Examples might be: a manicure, massage, a weekend retreat, signing up for a class or learning a new skill.) The only limit is you. And you are the only one who is fully able to care for yourself in the way that feels best.

by  Julie Bindeman, Psy-D, Co-Director of Integrative Therapy of Greater Washington

http://www.greaterwashingtontherapy.com/