Category Archives: Interconception Care

Working Together for Healthy Families and Healthy Babies

village

By Juanita White, Community Building Manager
Binghampton Development Corporation

I have the honor of belonging to a special group of women of all ages who get together at various times throughout the year. We make up reasons to get together but we really do it because we grew to enjoy each other’s company over the year. We like to get together and do “women things” and talk “women talk.”

One of the women revealed to us about three years ago that she had a miscarriage. She told us months after the incident so that we wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. That would make her sad, she told us, and we respected that. She lost the baby early in her pregnancy but as any woman who has ever been pregnant knows, loss hurts and loss of a baby, your own flesh and blood, hurts worse than anything. So we understood that she and her husband wanted to bear that pain in private, away from questioning, though caring, friends.

We had a luncheon together in late 2014 to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of the women in the group. We were all in high spirits, having a grand old time. Our friend, “Gloria” I’ll call her though that is not her name, joined us. Gloria celebrated with us but she was not her usual self. Oh yes, she laughed at the over-the-hill jokes and the gag gifts but those big, light brown doe eyes seemed a little sad to some of us. Nobody pried; we respect each other’s privacy. We sensed that something was wrong but assumed she was still grieving the loss and maybe getting pregnant was difficult. We didn’t know. We didn’t ask.

One day Gloria’s sister, a friend of mine, told me that Gloria did indeed get pregnant again but lost that child too. I was heartbroken; I know how much she wants to be a mother. Her sisters have children and she, being the youngest, wanted to start a family too. Gloria is young – 32 – so she was in her late 20’s when her body started betraying her, giving her false hopes of motherhood, only to snatch her dreams away.

There was some reason to be hopeful, her sister told me. Gloria and her gynecologist worked together to determine the root cause of the problem. Gloria has a small medical issue that would not keep her from carrying a child to term but they needed to find the right medical interventions to help her carry the baby to term. The doctor did some research, found another doctor to collaborate with her on Gloria’s particular issue, and decided upon a plan. Gloria was generally healthy-she ate right, drank a little, not too much, exercised a bit. (Hey, who can hit the gym five days a week? Well, great for you but….) Anyway, together the three formed a team and determined to see Gloria become a mother one day.

Long story short: Gloria and her husband became parents of a 7 lb. healthy baby boy in early 2016.  We hosted the “bluest” baby shower in Memphis and named ourselves  “The Godmothers.”

The story here is that healthy women have healthy babies. Doctors who work with their patients can help women prepare for a healthy full term birth. Good health care is important. Birth spacing matters.  Being stress-free is a MUST. Having supportive family and friends means everything.   In the end “A Healthy Pregnancy= A Healthy Baby.”

Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy

Betty Marrero Public Health Coordinator - Chronic Disease

Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy

by Betty Marrero

Public Heath Coordinator- Chronic Disease

Shelby County Health Department

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout pregnancy, as well as before and after, is key for both baby and mother. A healthy pregnancy actually begins before you become pregnant. It’s important to know how health conditions and risk factors can affect you or your unborn baby if you become pregnant. For example, some foods, habits, and medicines can harm your baby — even before he or she is conceived. Some health problems, such as diabetes, also can affect pregnancy. The five most important things you can do for preconception health are:

  1. Take 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg or 0.4 to 0.8 mg) of folic acid every day if you are planning or capable of pregnancy to lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine, including spina bifida.
  2. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
  3. If you have a medical condition, make sure it is under control. Some conditions that can affect pregnancy or be affected by it include asthma, diabetes, oral health, obesity, or epilepsy.
  4. Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using. These include dietary or herbal supplements.
  5. Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause infection at work and at home. Stay away from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.

Important steps to a healthy pregnancy include eating a balanced diet; gaining the right amount of weight; enjoying regular physical activity; taking a vitamin and mineral supplement if recommended by a physician; and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and other harmful substances.

When you’re pregnant, what you eat and drink is the main source of nourishment for your baby. Eating well during pregnancy is more than simply increasing how much you eat. You must also consider what you eat.

A healthy diet includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water. The U.S. government publishes dietary guidelines that can help you determine how many servings of each kind of food to eat every day.

Scientists know that your diet can affect your baby’s health — even before you become pregnant. For example, recent research shows that folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects (including spina bifida) from occurring during the earliest stages of fetal development — so it’s important to consume plenty of it before you become pregnant and during the early weeks of your pregnancy.

Even though many foods, particularly breakfast cereals, are fortified with folic acid, doctors now encourage women to take folic acid supplements before and throughout pregnancy (especially for the first 28 days).

Calcium is another important nutrient. Because your growing baby’s calcium demands are high, you should increase your calcium consumption to prevent a loss of calcium from your own bones. Your best food sources of calcium are milk and other dairy products. However, if you have lactose intolerance or dislike milk and milk products, ask your doctor about a calcium supplement.

No level of alcohol consumption is considered safe during pregnancy. And although many doctors feel that one or two 6- to 8-ounce cups per day of coffee, tea, or soda with caffeine won’t harm your baby, it’s probably wise to avoid caffeine altogether if you can. High caffeine consumption has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and other problems, so limit your intake or switch to decaffeinated products.

Fish and shellfish can be a healthy part of your pregnancy diet because they contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and are high in protein and low in saturated fat. Some types of fish contain high levels of mercury, which can cause damage to the developing nervous system of a fetus. Almost all fish and shellfish contain small amounts of mercury, but you can safely eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, such as salmon, shrimp, clams, Pollock, catfish, and tilapia.

As a new mom, or even if this is your second or third child, you’ll need plenty of energy to take care of baby. Choosing the right foods — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy — is especially important if you are breast-feeding. To ensure adequate milk supply, you’ll need to meet your energy needs and include essential nutrients in your diet. For most post-partum women, calorie intake should be in the 1,800 to 2,200 range with an extra 300 to 400 calories more per day while lactating, depending on how much milk the mother is producing.

6 Tips for Mom’s Healthy Meal Plan

  • Don’t skip meals.
  • Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water. If breast-feeding, get into the habit of filling a tall glass of water to keep with you all day.
  • You need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. You can get this easily by consuming three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy throughout the day.
  • Consume at least 2 cups of fruits and 2½ cups of vegetables.
  • Include protein at each meal.

For more information, follow these links:

http://www.familydoctor.org

http://www.womenshealth.gov

http://www.usda.gov

http://www.medplus.com

Everyone Loves HUGS—Have you had YOUR HUG today?

HUGS Pic2

Everyone Loves HUGS

By: Linda Busby,RN

Shelby County Health Department

901-222-9703

Everyone Loves HUGS

Have you had your HUG today?

As we know there are many different kinds of hugs ranging from the polite hug to the never-ending rocking side to side embrace hug. And just as there are so many ways to hug there are endless reasons why hugs are wanted and needed. Today I want to share HUGS with you!

What is HUGS?

HUGS is an acronym which stands for Help Us Grow Successfully. HUGS is a home-based care coordination program developed by the Tennessee Department of Health. Home visitation provides a way to help decrease infant mortality. The Shelby County Health Department HUGS program provides assessment of family needs, assistance to seek solutions for these needs, and also includes client centered education.

In an effort to reduce the infant mortality rate one of the specific focus areas for the HUGS program is educating families on the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by providing a safe sleep environment for infants.

Who qualifies for these services?

  • Families living in Memphis and Shelby County
  • Prenatal/postpartum women
  • Children through 5 years of age
  • Parent/guardian of the client referred to the program.
  • Families who have experienced the loss of a child less than 2 years old (due to SIDS, prematurity, etc.) 

How does the HUGS program help a family?

A health care professional is assigned to each family. These services are provided at no cost to the families. The care coordinator encourages a healthy pregnancy to promote positive birth outcomes. Families are assisted in accessing health care and other social and educational services. Attention is placed on enhancing family strengths. Education is provided regarding pregnancy, growth, development, and parenting education. Emphasis is placed on SIDS counseling and ways to decrease the risk of SIDS.

Who can I contact if I am interested in the program or to make a referral to HUGS?

Linda Busby, RN

HUGS Supervisor

Phone: 901-222-9703

Fax:  901-222-7976

Email- linda.busby@shelbycountytn.gov

My Tooth Hurts!

Claudia Haltom ASAF

By: Claudia Haltom

A STEP AHEAD FOUNDATION

When I was pregnant with my first child, my tooth started hurting. It was a terrible tooth ache. My dentist told me that my body needed more calcium to build the baby and it was drawing off of bones and teeth. But, I could not have an x-ray because of the pregnancy and they wanted to limit the drugs they gave me. It was awful. I had to have a root canal.

I waited three years to have my next child. During those three years I took lots of calcium supplements, ate lots of yogurt and kept my teeth and my bones healthy. During the second pregnancy, my teeth were fine and my baby boy was a rough tumbler who never broke a bone in childhood!

I got ready to have a baby, planned him and spaced him. The first one was out of diapers before the second one came along. I was rested and a lot less stressed. A Step Ahead Foundation provides the most effective birth control methods free of charge to any woman in Shelby County, thus helping her space her babies safely and effectively. A Step Ahead Foundation works with 19 clinics in the Memphis area, including Shelby County Health Department clinics, providing women with a free well-woman exam, STI test, and the birth control method of her choosing. The methods offered are the Paragard IUD, Mirena IUD, and the Nexplanon implant. IUDs are the most popular form of birth control that female health providers choose for themselves and all three methods are safe to use while breastfeeding. To make an appointment, call (901) 320-STEP(7837) or visit www.astepaheadfoundation.org for more information.