Hey Mama!  May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It’s time to focus on the signs of high blood pressure, the risks, and what you can do to avoid it. This is especially important information for pregnant and postpartum women!   High blood pressure during pregnancy is called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a part of a spectrum of high blood pressure disorders that occurs during pregnancy:  gestational hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy), preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome. 

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).¹   Mama, I know smoking tobacco is one of the hardest habits to quit. Many smokers who successfully kick the habit lament that quitting smoking is like saying goodbye to an old friend. It takes a lot of personal strength and willpower to quit, as well as the right support system. If you’re smoking and pregnant, we hope there’s information here that will give you the conviction to quit.

What Foods and Beverages Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?

It might be a little unnerving to know that your unborn baby can be affected by a food borne illness when you don’t become sick or show symptoms of infection. Tragically, some food borne illnesses can cause devastating and permanent effects to a baby, like neurological damage and developmental delays. Sometimes the damage from an infection is obvious at birth; sometimes it takes years to become apparent.

3% of infants in the U.S. are born with birth defects.¹ If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant or just found out that you’re pregnant, you may also be thinking about birth defects. January is Birth Defects Awareness Month so it’s a good time to discuss the basics and learn how they occur. Knowing the risk factors can help reduce your baby’s risk of developing a birth defect in the womb.

Hey Mama!  December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. While pregnancy is not often associated with disability, there is one condition that affects some pregnant women and presents similar acute and enduring challenges: Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP). Pelvic Girdle Pain is usually related to Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). SPD happens when the ligament that joins the right and left pelvic bones becomes too soft and stretchy. The pelvic bones often lose alignment and become unstable.

Mother-to-baby HIV transmission disproportionally affects black/African American people. In 2019, 61% of new mother-to-baby HIV diagnoses were black/African American.²

What is Mother-to-Baby HIV Transmission?

Hey Mama! December 1 is World Aids Day and a time to bring awareness to HIV transmission from mother to baby. There is so much to plan and prepare for when you are thinking about becoming pregnant for the first time or growing your family. No matter your circumstances, it’s always best practice to get tested for HIV (and other sexually transmitted infections) before you conceive.

High blood sugar around the time of conception and throughout pregnancy increases risks of:  birth defects, still birth, preterm birth, c-sections, and the baby developing obesity and diabetes later in life.¹

What is Gestational Diabetes?

November is American Diabetes Month and a great time to put a spotlight on diabetes during pregnancy, which is a rising trend in the United States. In the United States, gestational diabetes (diabetes developed during pregnancy) has increased by 56% from 2000-2010.¹

5-10% of U.S. women of childbearing age have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and often find out when they are trying to have a baby.²
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of infertility of women in the United States. It affects all races and ethnicities. The good news is that it’s also a very treatable condition.

COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy reduces the risk of pregnancy complications if infected with the COVID virus.² The last two years have been a scary time for women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or newly postpartum. The novel Coronavirus is new to the medical landscape. Society, including medical providers, have been navigating month by month what it means to live, prevent and be sick with COVID-19.  For many women, the stakes are high as they consider the risks of contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy.

Scleroderma, a connective tissue disease, most often affects women of childbearing age (30-50).¹
Scleroderma is a fairly rare disease, affecting 75,000 - 100,000 people in the United States. Women are affected more than men, mostly during childbearing years from ages 30-50. For this reason, it’s thought that hormones play a role in the development of Scleroderma, but the cause is still unknown.¹

As summer approaches, it’s natural to want to break out of the confines of the house and get out and about, enjoying BBQs, beach days, June weddings, and more. Warm weather and sunny days make you want to let your hair down and go mask-less! In addition, there has been a lot of talk about the transition of COVID-19 from a pandemic (disease spreading over multiple countries or continents) to an endemic (disease with constant presence in a specific location). This may give you the feeling that COVID prevention measures don’t matter anymore, but keep in mind this is a “novel” virus, meaning we are still learning a lot about it, especially when it comes to its effects on pregnancy, new mothers, and newborns.

Babies whose mothers smoke are three times more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).¹
May 31st is World No Tobacco Day. It’s a day when the World Health Organization shines a light on the dangers of tobacco use and exposure for mothers, babies and children. Studies show that few smokers are aware of the serious risks to babies and children.²

Big changes are made one degree at a time, through small choices every day. Over time, these small changes lead to a 180 degree turn-around. This year, Mother’s Day kicks off a spotlight week on Women’s Health issues. For many women, stress management is a high priority on this list because it’s often an underlying factor in the development of physical and mental health conditions that affect women’s health.

Black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy related causes than white women.¹

What Factors Affect Black Maternal Mortality Rates?

April 11-17 is black maternal health week. It’s an inadequate window of time where there is an acute lens focused on the healthcare disparities that black women experience during pregnancy and postpartum.