Listed below is a variety of information we think may be useful to new Moms
Swaddling babies is not always safe
Dr. Claire McCarthy, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, feels that to swaddle a baby is to wrap cloth (such as blankets or large towels) tightly around the baby, making it harder for the infant to move his or her arms and legs. My mother said that when I was an infant, I used to bang on the bars of my crib with my hands and feet. I guess, even at 6 months old, I longed for freedom and independence. Or maybe I was just ornery. In any event, when I got that way, she swaddled me.
Perhaps you have swaddled your babies and with no ill effects. In fact, swaddling has been part of caring for babies for centuries — millennia, really. It makes a baby feel like he’s back inside the womb, or being snuggled close. It calms many babies and helps them sleep better.
It also can really help some parents get their babies to fall and stay asleep on their backs. And that’s what pediatricians recommend to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, which is more likely when babies sleep on their stomachs.
Babies who are swaddled are also less likely to startle themselves awake.
But there are downsides to swaddling.
Because swaddling keeps the legs together and straight, it can increase the risk of hip problems. And if the fabric used to swaddle a baby comes loose, it can increase the risk of suffocation.
The most recent warning about swaddling comes from a study published in the journal Pediatrics. Although swaddling can help babies to sleep on their backs, that’s not what parents sometimes do. The study found that when swaddled babies were put on their sides or bellies, instead of their backs, their risk of SIDS went up a lot. For those put on their bellies, especially babies more than 6 months old, the risk doubled.
The study can’t tell us exactly why the risk doubled. But one can imagine that a tightly swaddled baby might not be able to get her head up if she started having trouble breathing. And if that swaddling blanket came loose and she was face down, it also might make smothering more likely.
Here’s what parents should consider when they think about swaddling:
• Always put your baby to sleep on his back. This is true no matter what, but is especially true if he is swaddled.
• Make sure that whatever you are using to swaddle can’t come loose.
• Babies’ legs need to be able to bend up and out at the hips for healthy development. If your baby is going to spend a significant amount of time swaddled, use a swaddling sleep sack that lets the legs move. It may not be quite as effective in calming the baby, but it is safer for the baby’s hips.
• Dr. Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. For questions, go to AskDoctorK.com.
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Raising awareness of infant mortality
The DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) is joining the Illinois Department of Public Health, EverThrive Illinois, and other healthcare partners throughout Illinois and the United States to raise awareness during September of the high rate of infant mortality. September is National Infant Mortality Month and has been sponsored since 1991 by the National Healthy Start Association
The death of a baby before his or her first birthday is called infant mortality. Unfortunately, over 23,000 infants died during 2013 in the United States. The loss of a baby remains a sad reality for many parents and takes a serious toll on the health and well-being of families.
Fortunately, most newborns grow and thrive. However, for every 1,000 babies born in the United States, 6 die during their first year. This figure, 6 deaths for every 1,000 births is referred to as the infant mortality rate. “The infant mortality rate is commonly accepted as a measure of the general health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also affect infant mortality rates,” said Karen Ayala, DCHD Executive Director.
The U.S. infant mortality rate in 2013 was 5.96, and overall Illinois ranks 30th among the 50 states with an infant mortality rate of 6.48 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012. Disparities still exist; there are differences in infant mortality by age, race, and ethnicity.
The DuPage County infant mortality rate has decreased by 12% over the last five years, from 5.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2009 to 4.4 in 2013. While the preliminary 2013 infant mortality rate appears to have increased from 2012, it stills remains the second lowest recorded in the county since 1991, and is below the Healthy People 2020 national health goal of 6.0 set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010.
The Health Department promotes several community-based maternal and child health programs that focus on the reduction and prevention of infant mortality, racial disparities, and low birth weight. These programs, such as Better Birth Outcomes (Great Start), Nurse-Family Partnership, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and case management programs, provide outreach and coordination of health services toward goals of a healthy pregnancy, healthy baby, and healthy early childhood. Outreach is prioritized for households with risk factors or special needs, with over 40,000 women and children participating in programs to reduce premature death and improve health outcomes.
A healthy pregnancy begins before conception and continues with appropriate prenatal care and addressing health problems if they arise. For questions about the Health Department’s maternal and child health services, please call (630) 682-7400.
Medical advances over the last 60 years have helped save babies and dramatically reduced infant mortality. However, the United States still has a relatively poor global standing compared with other developed nations. A main reason for this is because the United States has a high percentage of preterm births which contributes to a higher infant mortality rate.
The good news is we can help reduce infant mortality among babies born preterm by addressing key risk factors such as prenatal smoking that contribute to low birthweight, preterm delivery, preterm-related death, and SIDS. Also, parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death by taking action to create safe sleep environments.
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The Importance of breastfeeding
College of DuPage Nursing Student Cecile Fonanih has found out that according the WHO, breastfeeding is a normal way for a mother to feed her young infant with the necessary nutrients and for healthy growth and development. Mothers can breastfeed, but it helps if they have accurate information about the importance of breastfeeding, the support of their family and the health care system as a whole.
Have you ever wondered how often people do not consider the importance and benefits of breastfeeding? The following paragraphs will provide important information for both mother and baby, emotionally and also physical health.
Firstly, breastfeeding your child is an amazing time for both the mom and the baby. The breastfeeding period is a time when the mom relaxes and enjoys feeding her baby, creates eye contact with the baby as well as a special relationship or bond between the mom and her baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians breastfeeding your baby provides an emotional relationship between the mom and the baby, and this communion is enhanced by the release of the hormone prolactin. Prolactin enables the mom to be in a peaceful and nurturing state, keeping mom relaxed so she can focus and care for her child. The hormone oxytocin is also released when a mom breastfeeds her child. This hormone promotes a sensation of love and attachment between the mom and the baby.
Breastfeeding your child is beneficial for both the mom and the baby in other ways. The baby gains antibodies from their mother to protect them from contracting diseases. If do contract a disease their antibodies might be able to fight it off. Even though the antibodies do not last for a life time, they are important until the baby is able to develop its own immune system, and even then, so long as the baby keeps breastfeeding they keep gaining new antibodies that protects them against certain diseases.
Also, a mother who breastfeeds recovers from child birth more quickly and easily. When a baby is breastfed the hormone oxytocin is released, which helps return the mom’s uterus back to its original size more quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding.
Finally, as an added bonus to moms who breastfeed exclusively, human breastmilk is inexpensive, readily available and it is at the right temperature. So, mothers should consider breastfeeding their babies for their health and for the health of their babies as well as creating an incredible emotional bond between themselves their babies.
You’re ready to bring home your baby…is your home?
Submitted by a College of DuPage Nursing Student
Congratulations on your new family member! Now, along with all the joys and chores of being a parent, you NEED to get your home ready and SAFE for your little one. Childproofing your home can be a nerve-racking, but fun-filled task.
Here, we address some target areas of a typical home.
Stairs can be a serious issue for the safety for children of all ages. For little ones, it’s wise to use a safety gate at both the top and bottom of all stairways. Mounting the gate to open out can prevent falls from children leaning into them.
Since the kitchen offers many hazards, addressing the obvious will be discussed first. Proper use of high chair straps to keep baby seated, using oven knob protectors and a lock mechanism on the oven door, and turning panhandles away from the front of the stove can all help in the prevention of accidents in the kitchen.
Cabinets contain may things. Unfortunately, a good portion of these items can be very harmful to a child. Please keep in mind that most items in the refrigerator can harm a baby, whether it be poisoning or pose a choking hazard. Please latch your refrigerator. Keep all chemicals up high in a locked cabinet. Secure all other items in cabinets and drawers. Secure cabinets and drawers with a latch or lock system.
Baby proofing the bathroom requires keeping your baby close, using temperature appropriate (<120*F) bathwater, and keeping your baby away from the faucet and all bath supplies. Also, install a toilet guard to prevent drowning and pinched little fingers.
Secure all tall standing and free-standing furniture to walls with proper mounting equipment or adjustable straps. Do not forget to secure T.V.s and decorative items.
Be sure to identify and cover all corners with soft corner-guards. Tables, counters and even some baby toys may pose a threat to a baby’s well-being. Also, do not forget to cover all outlets with plastic outlet-protectors and be sure that all fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors are up to date and operational.
Though this is just an abbreviated list of childproofing ideas, each home has unique hazards. Please be sure to do a thorough assessment of your home.
Good luck and happy parenting! For more information, look up “Babyproofing” on the Parents Magazine website.
Postpartum depression affects more women than you think
Amy Joyce of the Washington Post commented that the news that “Nashville” actress Hayden Panettiere is in treatment for postpartum depression is getting a lot of attention. And, frankly, that’s great. Why? Because a huge number of new moms suffer from it and many suffer in silence. Or they don’t know how to get help, or even that they should get help.
How huge is the number? It could be about one in seven new moms, according to Aimee Danielson, director of the Women’s Mental Health Program in the department of psychiatry at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington. However, she added, we need to think even wider than just postpartum depression, because many women actually start to become depressed during pregnancy. And depression is often only a part of it. What many call the joy of pregnancy and new motherhood can also be a time for obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety and panic disorders for many mothers and mothers-to-be.
About 50 percent of postpartum depression cases go untreated and unrecognized, Danielson said. “There’s a tendency for mothers to suffer in silence. Mothers dismiss and minimize the difficulty . . . There’s shame and stigma – it seems like everyone else is doing okay,” she said.
And so seeing a celebrity suffer from and talking about postpartum depression makes it less stigmatized.
Many women suffer from some variation of what is referred to as baby blues. And no wonder: you get home from the hospital, you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, feel horrible and this new little being keeps waking you up, needing to feed, crying. You’ve never been so emotionally or physically challenged, and you can’t just take a day off. No wonder we cry and feel hopeless or anxious at times.
But the difference between baby blues and depression is stark. The blues strike about 85 percent of new moms, Danielson said, but women get better in two to three weeks. Postpartum depression continues — and gets worse.
Symptoms for postpartum depression include depressed mood, anxiety and mournful feelings. Some women will say they don’t feel depressed, they feel terrified. The disorder can be a clustering of “mood instability,” Danielson said. Women may
have a diminished or absent bond with their baby. There might be thoughts of death or intrusive images hurting themselves or their baby. They may have sleep problems where, even though they are exhausted, they can’t fall into a deep sleep. They may have difficulty breastfeeding or connecting with their partner.
(Also to note: Postpartum psychosis is another very dangerous issue, but thankfully much less prevalent. “It’s extraordinarily rare, but extraordinarily dangerous,” Danielson said. Most episodes begin 48 to 72 hours after giving birth and can include hallucinations, sleeplessness, profound guilt and feelings of worthlessness. If there is any thought that this might be going on, it’s important to get the mother immediate hospitalization.)
Untreated postpartum depression can last for months or even longer. It can start right after birth, or may begin later, like 6 months after birth.
Luckily, many doctors now ask about moods and feelings at the first check up to see if there might be anything to be concerned about. But that typically only happens at the six-week appointment, and “if we don’t catch her and refer her for treatment then, that opportunity is lost,” Danielson said.
Treatment typically includes medication or therapy, and is often successful, which is the key message to get across to new moms and their partners. “One of the reasons I love this work,” Danielson said, “is that there’s a lot we can do about this, and women get better.”
For help: Go to Postpartum Support International:postpartum.net/.