6 must-do’s to prepare for your baby

At some point during your pregnancy, you may feel like it’s never going to end. But every day, you move closer to the big event. Before you get there, though, you have to prepare.

Here are some things to do during your final trimester to make sure you’re good to go before labor starts.

  1. Don’t miss any appointments with your healthcare provider. As your due date nears, your provider will want to see you often – perhaps even once a week. Since things change so quickly during the final stage of pregnancy, it’s important to attend each appointment to ensure everything’s going as expected. Plus, your provider will talk through a delivery plan so you know what to do when you go into labor.
  2. Review the symptoms of labor. Every woman is different, but some common signs you’re going into labor include feeling the baby move lower into your pelvis, cramps, back pain and increased vaginal discharge. If any of the following symptoms occur, it’s time to go to the hospital:
    • Your water breaks
    • You experience bleeding or bright red discharge.
    • Your contractions have hit the consistency and frequency discussed with your provider.
  3. Make sure you have enough baby supplies. Welcome your new addition home with:
    • A properly installed car seat
    • Adequate clothing (onesies, sleepers, etc.)
    • Fitted crib sheets and receiving blankets
    • Diapers, wipes and diaper cream
    • Baby soap/shampoo and washcloths
    • Gentle laundry detergent
    • Feeding supplies
    • A first-aid kit with a baby thermometer
  4. Set up the crib. Select a crib manufactured after 2011, and place only a mattress covered by a fitted sheet inside. To reduce their risk of suffocation and SIDS, babies sleep best Alone, on their Backs, in a Crib, or other Safe Sleep Surface. This means your child’s crib should not have bumper pads, blankets, pillows or stuffed animals. To find out more about reducing your infant’s risk of SIDS, visit this blog post. [link to http://www.bootheelbabies.org/no-1-thing-can-reduce-infants-risk-sids/]
  5. Pack your hospital bag. Once labor starts, there’s no time to search for what you need to take to the hospital. Pack your bag in advance and set it in a convenient place, so you can grab it and go. Some things you’ll need include:
    • Insurance card, photo ID and birth plan
    • Phone charger
    • Robe and warm, nonskid socks
    • Toiletries
    • Loose, lightweight clothes to wear home
    • Maternity bra
    • Snacks
    • Outfit for your baby to wear home
  6. Take time to de-stress. A lot happens during the third trimester, and doing too much can take a toll on your health. Set aside time to do something you enjoy, whether it’s shopping, getting your nails done or watching a movie. Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Aim for around seven hours each night, and take naps throughout the day if you’re sleepy. Your baby needs you to be healthy and as relaxed as possible when he or she makes an entrance.

Find more pregnancy and child care tips here. [link to www.bootheelbabies.org]

Disclaimer: If your baby has a fever or other symptoms, or you have concerns about the growth and development of your child, always seek care with your healthcare provider.


The Bootheel Opioid Crisis Affects Moms and Babies

The Bootheel of Missouri is in the epicenter of a region with the highest opioid prescription rates in America (see 2016 CDC figure below). While rates have improved recently, over 210 million prescriptions for opioids are filled in the USA annually, with 2% of Americans using opioids “regularly”.

Most women in our region receive excellent prenatal care. While there are no published statistics available for opioid use by pregnant women in southeast Missouri, large studies using insurance claims data suggest about a third of women fill a prescription for opioids during pregnancy.

Increases in neonatal abstinence syndrome have been temporally correlated with increases in opioid pain reliever use by pregnant women. With at least one infant with neonatal abstinence syndrome born every hour in the United States, the hospital charges alone are more than $1.4 billion a year. Opioid use in pregnancy also contributes massive additional costs through prematurity, birth defects, and abnormal neurocognitive and behavioral development.

Maternal risks associated with prescription and illicit opioid overuse include overdose, hepatitis, blood stream infections, incarceration, and job loss. Mental health disorders both contribute to and exacerbate substance use.

Unfortunately, public resistance to invest in care and prevention for depression and substance abuse remains, even though far more expensive care for potentially preventable heart attacks, strokes and cancers face minimal public resistance. Depression and addiction are both treatable chronic diseases. The costs of treating these diseases are minimal relative to the health and economic benefits for individuals and society.

Recent passage of HB 2280 allows substance abuse treatment for the entire postpartum year. Portions of SB 951 designate 2018-2028 “Show Me Freedom from Opioid Addiction Decade” and instruct the Department of Health to establish “Improved access to Treatment for Opioid Addiction”. While the exact implications of this bill are unclear, it is encouraging that opioid addiction and suboptimal delivery of mental health care are being acknowledged and addressed.

Gibson Recovery Center (www.gibsonrecoverycenter.org) and Family Counseling Center (www.fccinc.org) are two local treatment and counseling centers focused on caring for pregnant women with substance misuse.

My college roommate, Matt Miofsky, is an articulate pastor who describes compassion as “Not mere niceness. Compassion means to suffer with, understanding another not through preconceptions but through the other’s experiences. It means setting aside our judgments long enough to see life through their eyes. When we can begin to get a glimpse of another’s experiences, it is much harder to judge them, and much easier to begin to understand them.” It can be difficult for health care providers to display this compassion for parents whose actions may have contributed negatively to pregnancy outcomes. Pragmatically and ethically, the infant, mother, family, healthcare providers and society need compassion to be displayed toward the mother. Each mother loves her newborn. Her involvement is key to optimizing care and reducing hospitalization time and need for medications. The time in the NICU provides an excellent opportunity for health care providers and counselors to connect with mothers. While some of these mothers need medications and/or inpatient rehabilitation, all individuals (myself included) can benefit from improving coping mechanisms vital in caring for an irritable infant.

How can you can help? First, display compassion. Second, support efforts to improve prescription drug monitoring. Missouri remains the only state in America without a prescription drug monitoring program; HB 90 failed to be approved again this year.  Third, thank legislators for addressing the opioid epidemic and supporting infant and mental health care services.

Missouri House Representatives Holly Rehder, Don Rone, Kathy Swan, Herman Morse, and Donna Lichtenegger and Senators Wayne Wallingsford and Doug Libla are our southeast Missouri state legislators. Please make sure they are aware of the needs and benefits of providing compassion toward mothers and families challenged by opioid use during pregnancy. Their contact information is available at www.house.mo.gov and www.senate.mo.gov.

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