February is American Heart Month!

Happy Friday the 13th! What a pre-Valentine’s day celebration, right? Red roses and black cats! Good luck charms aside, today’s blog post is a guest post from one of our community-based doulas, Teffanie, writing about heart health for babies and mamas. -Zola

Heart

There are so many problems that a baby could have before it comes into this world, and most people never think about heart disease. This is unthinkable for some people, but many babies face it every day. Heart defects are the most common, in birth they are called “congenital heart defects”. They affect 1 in 100 babies every year. These heart defects can affect the heart’s structure, how it work, or both. Heart defects develop in the early weeks of pregnancy when the heart is forming. Severe congenital heart defects are usually diagnosed during pregnancy or soon after birth. Less severe heart defects often aren’t diagnosed until children are older. No one is sure what causes most heart defects, but some things that may play a role include diabetes and obesity (being very overweight).

If you are trying to become pregnant or you are currently pregnant, you can cut down on the risk by:
**Not smoking
**Not drinking alcohol
**Talking to your healthcare provider about any medicine you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal products/supplements
**Maintain a healthy diet and exercise 30 minutes a day, if you can
**Go to all of your prenatal visits

After birth, your baby may be tested for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) as part of newborn screening before your baby leaves the hospital. All states require newborn screening, but not all states require screening for CCHD. You can ask your healthcare provider if your state tests for CCHD.

These are some signs to look for after you have had your baby that may be symptoms of heart defects:
**Fast breathing
**Gray/blue skin coloring
**Fatigue (feeling tired all of the time)
**Slow weight gain
**Swollen belly, legs or puffiness around the eyes
**Trouble breathing while feeding
**Sweating, especially while feeding
**Abnormal heart murmur (extra or abnormal sounds heart during a heartbeat)

If you see any of these signs, call your baby’s healthcare provider right away.

photo credit: Love via photopin (license)

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