I know that I am alway putting my foot down about things on this website being “All about Mamas!!” But recently I received an e-mail from a mama of a preemie and as we talked, she told me about a product that had been used when her son was in the NICU. Prolacta Human Breastmilk Enhancer provides much needed nutrients and calories to premature infants. Prolacta is the only human breastmilk enhancer available and it is derived from donor breastmilk that is tested and purified and made available to NICU’s around the country. My daughter needed donor milk when she was first born and in the NICU, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart.
I had the grand opportunity to interview Ms. Terry Johnson, APN, NNP-BC, MN, CLEC. Terry has over 30 years of experience in a variety of clinical settings including the NICU, Special Care Nursery, Normal Newborn Nursery and Developmental Follow-Up Services. She is also a Certified Lactation Educator and Counselor. Today Terry shares insight into neonatal and preemie nutrition, the role of Prolacta and how parents can advocate for their babies and how Prolacta BioScience can help. She also offered another resource for parents, The Helping Hands MilkBank.
One of the perks of what I do is that I get to view and screen a lot of material as it is just hitting the market. A few weeks ago I was asked to review The Complete Guide to Medications During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding and received a complimentary copy. This guide is by Carl P. Weiner, MD, a perinatologist and Kate Rope, a journalist and health writer. I have to admit, once I review many of the books and things I receive, I forward them on to you mamas. But I am sorry to say no one is getting this guide-I’m keeping it! It’s an excellent resource!!!
This is the type of guide I would have loved to have had while I was a practicing Physician Assistant or even when I was having my own children. It is a large book, but it is so well organized and comprehensive, I quickly lost sight of the size and focused on the information. There are a few short chapters at the beginning; the introduction from the authors, why they wrote the book, how medications work in pregnancy and breastfeeding and how to take care of yourself and your baby. The rest of the book is literally a listing of hundreds of over the counter and prescription medications, their indications, potential side effects and then pregnancy and lactation categories. It’s similar to the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) but I think far easier to find what you need and the drug facts are far easier to read and understand.
I know many of you mamas are against taking any sort of medications. That is fine. But if you are prescribed something or are wondering what you can take if you have a little cold, this is a GREAT BOOK to refer to! For example, you can look up something like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and get the complete rundown on the drug and whether or not its safe in pregnancy and lactation.
I did wonder why some heavy duty medications were included, some that to me seemed very unlikely to be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, there are always emergencies and/or complications and if a mama is prescribed a medication, it’s great that she can get some quick information that is complete and easy to read and understand as she makes her treatment decisions.
This guide is not for everyone. But for those of us who want to know “every little detail” (I am speaking about myself here!!) the $29.99 investment is nothing for the information and peace of mind. The book is available at the Mamas on Bedrest Bookstore, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Walmart.com and from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press.
Did you know that it’s a really good thing to cuddle with your babies? Yeah, I know, a no brainer. Most of us may instinctively know this to be that case and find that it just feels so good we do it. But research reported in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing confirms that skin to skin contact comforts babies and helps them to sleep better and be less “fussy”, while also helping mamas ward off depressive symptoms and stress in the early post partum period.
Last week, I shared a link on the Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond‘s Facebook Page from The Post Partum Stress Center. The article entitled, “Skin-to-Skin Contact May Lower Risk for Postpartum Depression” reports findings from the aforementioned longitudinal study following mamas in the early post partum. Mamas in the study group were encouraged to hold their babies for approximately 5 hours daily in the initial week post partum and for at least 2 hours daily for the first month. Mamas’-whether or not they developed post partum depression- were followed for three months (at 1 week, 1 month, 2 months and three months), and completed depression questionnaires. The researchers reported the following results:
“Compared to mothers in the control group, mothers in the SSC group had lower scores on the depression scales when the infants were one week and marginally lower scores when the infants were one month; when the infants were age 2 and 3 months, there were no differences between groups in the mothers’ depression scores. Over their infants’ first month, mothers in the SSC group had a greater reduction in their salivary cortisol than mothers in the control group.”
I was following some of the comments on the Post Partum Stress Center’s page and was surprised that their moderator had the following comment,
“Conclusions from this kind of research makes me nervous. Too much room for misinterpretation and self-blame. What about moms who are practicing skin to skin contact and still get depressed? What about moms who are too sick to engage in skin to skin contact? What other variables are being considered when the moms in this study reported fewer depressive symptoms?”
As I said, this comment surprised me so I went and read the actual study myself. The study indicated that there was a beneficial reduction in depressive symptoms from skin to skin contact between mama and newborn in the early post partum period and this reduction was measured via salivary cortisol levels. It wasn’t clear what specific questions were asked in the depressive questionnaire and as one person commented on The Post Partum Stress Center’s thread, it was not known in what other activities/interventions mamas who were reporting fewer depressive symptoms were engaging. The researchers go on to say that skin to skin contact may be a way to lessen depressive symptoms and enhance the mother/infant bond.
There are a couple of reasons that I am seeing a discrepancy. First, the citation on the Post Partum Stress Center facebook page is from an article reporting on the study. Whenever I see such an article I immediately track down the actual research publication so that I can “get the scoop from the source.” This proved to be important here because the article had a couple of minor mistakes. The actual study indicated that mamas held their babies for about 5 hours of daily skin to skin contact for the first month. The article reported the skin to skin contact to be 6 hours daily. The study also indicated, and this is what I feel is the biggest area of discrepancy, that skin to skin contact may be a way to lessen depressive symptoms. From what I saw, it did not say that it skin to skin contact was curative, nor did it say that by doing skin to skin contact a woman would not develop post partum depression. Additionally, I did not read the study as the researchers saying that skin to skin contact could replace medication or cognitive behavioral (talk) therapy in depressed mothers, but seemed to see it as an adjunct to other treatments.
I completely see what the folks at the Post Partum Stress Center were talking about. Just reading the article, a “depressed” mama may be lead to believe that if she simply holds her baby, her depression will magically lift and, if she holds her baby she won’t get post partum depression at all. In my opinion, this is not the intended conclusion of the authors at all. Further, Post partum depression is a very complex and very serious medical condition. If a woman has symptoms of post partum stress, she should not try to “tough it out” nor should she try to self diagnose. She should be evaluated by a trained health care professional immediately, as untreated post partum depression can have serious negative effects on both mama and baby. And it is my firm belief that it is the job of the health care providers, the “trained professionals”, at each and every contact with a new mama to ask pointed questions about how mama is adjusting to motherhood. These questions should be both directed at the symptoms of post partum depression as well as open ended so that mama can elaborate on her particular situation and ask any questions she may be harboring.
With lots of open, direct communication and support, I believe that mamas can get the help and support that they need if they are suffering with post partum depressive symptoms. Mamas, post partum depression is nothing to play with. Seek help immediately if you feel that you have depressive symptoms.