Category Archives: My well-being

Kangaroo care for premature babies

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15 million babies are born pretermº every year. Being pre-term means that a baby is born before the 37th week of gestation. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, pre-term babies are at greater risk for respiratory diseases, mental disabilities, amongst other complications. Even their lives are at stake due to lack of intervention, resources and intensive care provided in some health care facilities. However, research has shown that if babies are given physical contact several hours per day, their risks diminish.

Kangaroo care involves a mother holding her baby skin to skin in full contact with her body. The baby’s back must be covered with a blanket to keep {him/her} warm. Studies show that this method improves pre-term babies vital signs, development, and could even save their lives.

Why does it work? Studies suggest that a baby’s development and certain body systems, like heart rate, are sensitive to maternal contact. Therefore, when babies are pre-term, the development of these systems is disrupted. Kangaroo care is able to simulate the environment of the uterus, providing the warmth and maternal contact that babies are supposed to get when they’re developing in the womb.

Nowadays, we know how important it’s for a baby, especially a pre-term baby, to be given lots of physical contacts. Due to its great benefits, experts suggest that mothers practice Kangaroo care on all babies, pre-term or not.

Postpartum depression

It’s totally normal to feel sad, irritable, anxious or tearful a few days after delivery. If you feel like this, don’t worry! Tiredness, hormonal change, and stress can lead to feelings of sadness or emotional vulnerability, which usually disappear within a few days. However, in some cases, they may persist for longer. If so, you could be suffering from postpartum depression, so you should go with a specialist.

These are some symptoms of post-partum depression that new moms tend to have:

• Sadness and crying
• Trouble sleeping
• Anxiety
• Crankiness/irritability
• Physical pain
• Tiredness/fatigue
• Changes in eating habits
• Lack of focus
• Feelings of guilt/being afraid of hurting the baby

Assess your feelings as strong or low, if they last long or not, and whether you feel them frequently or scarcely to identify if you need professional support. In the meantime, the following activities could make you feel better: sharing your feelings, exercising, resting, taking a stroll, and eating healthy meals and snacks.

Environmental risk factors

Prenatal exposure to radiation, heavy metals, plastics, and pesticides could cause birth defects, or affect the physical and cognitive development of babies. Taking precautions and care towards these risks is important during pregnancy. However, you can’t avoid them entirely. Exposure to small doses will probably cause no harm to your baby, so no need to be alarmed. What’s important is that you’re aware of the risks and take precautions in order to protect your baby.

After the nuclear distaste at Chernobyl in 1986, radiation took a toll on people’s DNA and the cases of Down’s syndrome and leukemia increased in Germany and Sweden. Studies have also shown that exposure to radiation can affect a baby’s neural development, especially during the first and second trimester. It can also cause problems in the bones, retina, growth, etc.

Heavy metals such as mercury and lead can also be toxic and cause delayed growth or neural deficits. Mercury is found in most seafood and goes into the placenta if ingested. To avoid hazardous elements in your food it is very important to mindful of your diet and activities during pregnancy. Lead is in a lot of objects like pigments, cables, and even toys.

Plastic can also harm your baby’s lungs, kidneys, testicles, and liver. The most dangerous and possibly carcinogenic plastics are: #3 (PVC) used to soften plastic, #6 (PS) used on trays, coverings, insulation or other construction products, and #7 (BPA) usually used in baby and sport’s bottles.

Finally, pesticides can also alter your baby’s development. Every year over 2,000 chemicals is introduced without proper laboratory testing. It’s believed that these chemicals affect the development of several species, including ours. If you’re pregnant, it’s better to be safe than sorry and steer clear from farming fields.

The importance of the Group B Streptococcus study

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a bacterium found in the digestive tract. Around 10 to 30% of people have GBS without being affected by it. However, this bacterium could harm your baby if transmitted during delivery. GBS can cause blood, lung, or brain infections. Luckily, early diagnosis and adequate treatment before birth can prevent your baby from getting GBS.

The GBS test is done a few weeks before delivery. If the result is positive, an antibiotic will be administrated. Furthermore, recommendations will be given to avoid your baby becoming infected with meningitis or septicemia. According to a published study by the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), this bacterium is harmful to babies, since it can mutate after being transmitted by the mother and disrupt the baby’s immune system.

It’s really important to get tested for GBS during the last few weeks of your pregnancy to know if you’re a carrier. Remember that early diagnosis is the best way to prevent risks and ensure your baby’s healthy development. Don’t forget to get tested for GBS a few weeks before your baby is born!

Possible risks of prenatal exposure to pesticides

Pesticide exposure during pregnancy could be associated with autism, a neurological disorder that affects 1 in every 100 children. Autism is characterized by an alteration in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behavior. That is, people with autism are intensely concentrated in their inner world and progressively lose contact with external reality. Health experts from the State of California researched this topic and found that a high amount of children who live near fields where pesticide are used have autism. The study suggests that prenatal exposure to pesticides is related to autism. Therefore, according to this study expectant mothers should be far away from fields where pesticides are used, as this may reduce the possibilities of having a child with autism. However, we know that autism has a genetic side to it; this is why it’s uncertain the effect that environmental factors have. More research and scientific evidence are needed to prove this connection.

Other studies have found connections between pesticides and neurological disorders, or other health issues such as asthma. It’s also believed that pesticides could be related to problems like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) as they take a toll on the baby’s brain, which is still developing. However, this possible correlation also needs more scientific evidence.

Even though this is just a possible connection, avoiding pesticides is recommended while you’re expecting a baby.

Necessary prenatal tests

Your doctor will ask for a series of tests during your pregnancy to make sure everything’s running smoothly. These tests will depend on the trimester you are in. Aside from these tests, your doctor will check your blood pressure, abdominal growth, and your baby’s heartbeat, every time you have an appointment.

Here’s a list of the tests you’ll have to get each trimester:

First trimester:
•  Ultrasound: it’s done at the beginning of pregnancy. These will be done at least two other times during your pregnancy
• Medical history: done in order to know the parent’s health, check for previous pregnancies, and rule out any illness or allergy
• Pap smear and colposcopy: to check for vaginal infections, cervical cancer, or human papillomavirus
• Urine test: it can detect urinary infections as well as your kidney’s functionality. Urine tests can be done every month
• Blood test: it can detect your blood type, hemoglobin levels, infections like syphilis or toxoplasmosis amongst other things

Second trimester:
• Fetal ultrasound: to check for the baby’s growth as well as {his/her} organs
• Diabetes test: it’s done to rule out or diagnose gestational diabetes

Third trimester:
• Fetal ultrasound: done to check your baby’s growth, amongst other things
• Streptococcus bacteria: a test is done to check for this bacteria through rectal and vaginal fluids
• Fetal monitoring: done to check the baby’s heart rate

Further testing can be suggested by your doctor depending on your age or medical background to rule out any abnormalities or pathologies, such as Down’s syndrome.

First doctor’s appointment

Once you suspect you are pregnant, you should attend to your gynecologist between weeks 6 and 9 for your first pregnancy control. An ultrasound will be done to confirm pregnancy, and you will get an approximate due date. You will also be asked about your clinical history to rule out any diseases and allergies, and so your doctor can gain all the necessary background information.

In this first prenatal visit you’ll get your arterial pressure checked, as well as your weight, and maybe get a blood and urine test. This test will inform your doctor your blood type, blood hemoglobin level, urinary tract health, amongst other important factors.

Even though your estimated delivery date can give you an idea of when will your baby be born, most babies are born before or after. This is why your date will only be approximate. It’s normal for babies to be born around week 38 to 42, or a few days around the estimated day.

Feeling a whole load of emotions and jitters is completely normal. Your first prenatal control visit is usually a big day; since it’s when you get assured that your baby is properly implanted in your uterus, and ready to grow and develop.

Self-care and vaginal infections

There’s a group of controlled microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in the vagina to maintain an adequate pH level, and protect it from other germs. However, if there is an alteration in the vaginal flora that these bacteria to reproduce, or let other germs colonize and cause irritation or vaginal infection.

Some factors that could cause vaginitis:

•Vaginal douches with cleaning products that have scent, condoms, deodorants or private soaps
•Allergy to synthetic underwear
•Hormonal changes and low estrogen levels that could cause irritation or infection
•Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) like chlamydia or herpes
•Trichonomas infection, microorganisms that enter when you have sexual relations

How can I prevent vaginitis?

•When wiping with toilet paper, do it from the front to the back, to avoid contamination of the vulva
•Drink enough liquid to pee before and after having sex
•Use cotton underwear
•Don’t wear a damp swimsuit for a long period of time
•Avoid tight clothing, especially if its synthetic
•Use a condom to decrease the chances of getting an STD

Get in touch with your doctor if you feel any kind of pain, irritation, swollenness, or any changes in your vaginal discharge. Getting diagnosed crucial in order to get an accurate treatment. Self-diagnoses could result in a very negative consequence.

Circumcision: risks and benefts

Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the foreskin, the skin that protects the penis from dryness and irritation, is removed.  In some cultures, circumcision is a part of a tradition, and it’s sometimes performed in a ceremony or ritual. In other cultures, circumcision is just a medical procedure. For example, in the countries in which Judaism is the main religion, all of the male babies are circumcised. On the other hand, in some European countries, only about 12% of male babies are circumcised.

Nowadays, there’s a big difference of opinions on whether all baby boys should be circumcised or not. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, circumcision is not for every newborn, since it poses some risks, and its benefits are not relevant enough. However, the AAP states that it’s the baby’s parents who should choose with their baby’s best interest in mind.

Some possible benefits are:
• Less probability of urinary infection
• Less probability of getting a sexually transmitted disease
• Less probability of getting penis cancer

On the other hand, the risks of circumcision include bleeding and infection after the procedure. Though this isn’t as common.

During pregnancy, it’s important that you and your partner talk about this issue, and make a decision that you consider is best for your baby.

Birthing methods

There are different ways to give birth. Natural birth is the traditional way, in which the high levels of oxytocin provoke your baby’s birth. Natural birth happens without the need of medication. After the baby is born, your body naturally discharges the placenta.

Vaginal birth is when some medication or instruments are used to help your baby be born. Sometimes the mother isn’t able to produce enough oxytocin; therefore, it doesn’t induce any contractions on the uterus. The doctor should make it happen with artificial oxytocin, a medication that imitates the effects of this hormone.

Abdominal birth, also known as cesarean delivery, happens when there are some complications and the baby is born through surgery in the abdomen. Some oxytocin must be injected when the baby is delivered through cesarean delivery, so the placenta can be discharged and thus ending the procedure.

On the other hand, water delivery is another method in which the mother is submerged in a tub with 10 cm of water at the moment she starts feeling contractions. Studies show that this style helps decrease the pain that the mother normally feels, and lets the baby have a more fluid transition.

Each woman should check her situation with her doctor to choose the way she wants her baby to be born. However, some women don’t have many options due to pregnancy complications. If you have any doubts on your delivery, be sure to talk with your obstetrician. You can also discuss it with your partner, and hopefully, that will help you to make a decision and create a birthing plan.