Maternal Health

Did you know that if you have a normal, healthy pregnancy, it’s important to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks? Dr. Karen Cassidy, market medical director for population health at UnitedHealthcare of Tennessee, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss maternal health and the importance of carrying your baby to full term. View her segment here.

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times of a woman’s life, but it can also be overwhelming. UnitedHealthcare encourages healthy pregnancies by providing access to prenatal, post-partum and well-child care. They also offer programs and online services to help moms stay healthy throughout their pregnancies and are committed to raising awareness of the importance of full-term deliveries.

One in three women in the U.S. has a C-section, which is a significantly higher rate than the rest of the world. If your pregnancy is healthy, it’s important to carry your baby to full term because babies born before 39 weeks are more likely to have breathing problems and developmental delays. And, premature births before 37 weeks of pregnancy account for 35 percent of all infant deaths. Unless there are medical reasons, give your baby all the time he or she needs to grow, and wait for labor to begin on its own rather than scheduling delivery around your or your doctor’s schedule.

Expectant moms can ensure a healthy delivery by eating well, staying active, getting enough rest, limiting stress, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and keeping up with prenatal appointments. Carefully choosing the right maternity care provider and your birth setting is an important, too. If you are thinking about giving birth at an out-of-hospital birth center or at home, call your insurance provider and make sure you understand your insurance coverage related to those services.

According to Dr. Cassidy, the best thing that an expectant mom can do for her baby is to take care of herself. What’s good for the mom is good for the baby. For more information on maternal care, visit ChildbirthConnection.org or marchofdimes.org/39weeks.

Childhood Bullying

160,000 children miss some school every day because they are frightened or intimidated by other students. By understanding the signs and symptoms of bullying, you can help your child implement best practices in bullying prevention for themselves and their peers. Eric Johnson, vice president of youth development of STARS Nashville, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss bullying. View his interview here.

Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and decreased academic achievement. They are also more likely to miss, skip or drop out of school.

With the rise of social media, cyber bullying has become a very serious issue, allowing kids to instantly and anonymously cause harm to other children. Cyber bullying suicides account for 4,400 annual deaths in teens and younger children, according to the CDC.

Unfortunately, bullied children are often too embarrassed or frightened to seek help. Statistics from the 2012 Indicators of School Crime and Safety show that an adult was notified in less than half of bullying incidents.

Some warning signs that could indicate a bullying problem are:

  • Unexplainable injuries or bruises
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry
  • Frequently faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like skipping meals or binge eating
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as running away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide

Seeking to fight against this bullying epidemic, the MOVE-2-STAND program at Stars Nashville is designed to help students recognize the harmful effects of bullying and harassment. The interactive one-day youth summit creates empathy and helps young leaders understand how bullying impacts school climate and communities.

A large part of the program focuses on the responsibility of bystanders to physically step in and protect the child being bullied. Bullying isolates a person. MOVE-2-STAND suggests that bystanders can support the bullied child by speaking to them, giving them a compliment or including them in a social activity.

If your child is the one being bullied, MOVE-2-STAND says they should be assertive and tell the bully to stop. Then, they should tell an adult like a teacher, principal or parent.

For more information about how to prevent bullying, visit StopBullying.gov and StarsNashville.org.

Did you know the ABCs of Safe Sleep can help keep your baby safe?  Unsafe sleep practices are the leading cause of infant deaths in Tennessee, so remember: Babies should sleep ALONE, on their BACK, and in a CRIB. To keep your baby safe, always practice the ABCs of safe sleep. For more information and materials in English and Spanish, visit SafeSleep.TN.gov.

Women who breastfeed have less of a risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. And the longer a woman breastfeeds one or more children, the higher the benefit. In addition, breastfeeding a baby girl can actually reduce her lifetime risk of breast cancer by 25%. For more information, visit Komen.org and search for “breastfeeding.”

Because you are using extra calories to feed your infant. On average, it takes between 500 and 1,000 calories a day to produce breast milk. Women are advised to consume an extra 400 to 500 healthy calories a day while breastfeeding to keep up their energy. For more information on eating healthy while breastfeeding, visit Health-Finder.gov and search for “breastfeeding.”

Breast milk is a unique nutritional source that is superior to almost any other food for infants, including formula. Discussing the benefits, challenges and helpful tips concerning breastfeeding is Jill Bennett, a Child Birth Educator with Saint Thomas Midtown.

Tennessee is one of the most challenging places in the U.S. to live with allergies. Pediatrician Hillary Hunt from Tennessee Medicine and Pediatrics joins us to discuss allergies, testing and treatment options in children.

Breast milk is a unique nutritional source that is superior to almost any other food for infants, including formula. Discussing the benefits, challenges and helpful tips concerning breastfeeding is Jill Bennett, a Child Birth Educator with Saint Thomas Midtown.
Brian Todd  from the Nashville Health Department to talk about ways to “Fight the Bite” to protect your family from mosquito bites and the importance of including immunizations in your back-to-school planning this summer.

March’s topics include overweight children, building young families and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Dr. Michelle Fiscus, president of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, talks about addressing the issue of overweight and obesity in children.

Representatives from March of Dimes discuss an innovative program called Tied Together, a dynamic parent education program designed to build on the strengths of young families.

Substance abuse during pregnancy can result in agonizing drug withdrawal for the newborn. Karen D’Apolito, director of the neonatal nurse practitioner program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and March of Dimes volunteer, talks about this growing concern and the steps being taken in Tennessee to help prevent it.

Substance abuse during pregnancy can result in agonizing drug withdrawal for the newborn. Karen D’Apolito, director of the neonatal nurse practitioner program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and March of Dimes volunteer, talks about this growing concern and the steps being taken in Tennessee to help prevent it.