Navigating Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes is a growing epidemic that affects adults and children, including 7.2 million people who are undiagnosed. In 2015, about 9.4% (30.3 million) of Americans had diabetes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). As rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes rise, so does the risk for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). While it’s hard to pinpoint the exact prevalence of GDM, estimates suggest that it affects as many as 14% of pregnancies in the United States each year (DeSisto, Kim, & Sharma, 2014).

While the diagnosis of GDM can be scary for moms, it can usually be managed under the care and guidance of their health care team. We recently sat down with Allison Penny, a mother of two who was diagnosed with GDM with both of her pregnancies. We asked Allison questions on how she was able to navigate her diagnosis and what advice she would give to mothers in a similar situation.

How did you feel when you were told you had diabetes with your first pregnancy?

I was surprised, but my healthcare provider assured me it was pretty common. They also told me that the diabetes goes away after the baby is born for most women. When I was diagnosed during my second pregnancy, I was a bit more worried. This pregnancy was unexpected, but thankfully I was already working out and trying to get into shape, and I was able to continue with my workouts. I was definitely more cautious with diet and working out the second time around. My first vaginal birth was complicated and scary, and I think a lot of it had to do with the large size of the baby. Larger babies are a definite risk with GDM.

What concerns did you have following your diagnosis? 

By the time I found out, I had been fulfilling all my cravings 🙂 So I had concerns about limiting junk and controlling my diet for both my baby and me.

What did your treatment plan consist of?

I had to measure my sugar first thing in the morning before eating anything. I also had to test my levels 30 minutes after my scheduled meals, like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While monitoring and tracking my levels, I was able to determine what foods I could eat and which ones I couldn’t. For example, after eating pasta or bread, I found that my levels would elevate. On the other hand, when I ate rice, my levels were at the appropriate number. As a lover of food, I found it frustrating not being able to indulge in cravings and the food that I wanted, but the health of my child was the priority.

Did you have to take medication? 

The first time I had GDM, I was able to control my glucose levels with diet. The second time I had it, I had to take pills throughout the rest of my pregnancy. I felt frustrated and defeated that I couldn’t control my glucose levels with diet alone like I had the first time, but later I accepted that pregnancy impacts and changes a woman’s body whether I liked it or not!

Who taught you about what GDM is, about checking your blood sugars, taking any medications? 

The doctor, nurses, and nutritionist taught me about GDM. The nutritionist demonstrated how to check blood sugars during my first pregnancy. I opted to not see the nutritionist for the second pregnancy. When I couldn’t control my glucose levels with diet for my second pregnancy, the doctors and nurses explained what dosage to take, how and when to take the medicine, and how it was affecting me.

Did you feel your healthcare providers answered all your questions about diabetes during prenatal visits? 

Yes, definitely—during prenatal visits and during labor. Afterward, they didn’t seem to address the diabetes. However, the doctors and nurses regularly pricked my baby girl post-birth to ensure her glucose levels were within a normal range.

Do you have any helpful information or advice for pregnant women who are in your shoes?

Definitely drink a lot of water, and try to exercise daily. Be sure to follow up with your primary care provider after you give birth. Less than 6 months after having my daughter, I went for a routine annual physical and learned that my glucose levels were slightly elevated, among some other health-related and perhaps postpartum-related issues. I also think it’s really important for pregnant moms and nurses to encourage other moms to get themselves thoroughly checked out—bloodwork, EKG, etc.—within a few months of having a baby, because it’s important that moms stay as healthy as possible for their little ones. (See also: Learn These Post-Birth Warning Signs)

You may also be interested in these AWHONN resources:

  • Evidence-Based Guideline: Nursing Care of the Woman with Diabetes in Pregnancy covers evidence-based recommendations for care of women with all types of diabetes during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum Immediate hospital care of the newborn of the woman with diabetes is also covered.
    • Enter promotional code DIABETES17 at checkout for a 10% discount (offer valid 11/14 only, expires at 12:00 midnight EST)
  • Webinar: Nursing Care of Women with Diabetes During Pregnancy: An Evidence-Based Approach (available in AWHONN’s Online Learning Center—just login and search for the webinar’s title)
  • Additional Publications: Manual of High Risk Pregnancy & Delivery, 5th edition describes how to screen for risk factors, provide preventive management, and intervene appropriately when problems arise.

AWHONN Journals:

Healthy Mom&Baby Resources

References & Resources

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (2005, reaffirmed 2016). ACOG practice bulletin. Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists. Number 60, March 2005. Pregestational diabetes mellitus. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 105(3), 675–685.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/basics/cdc-statistics-report-2017.pdf

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (2013). Practice Bulletin No. 137: Gestational diabetes mellitus. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 122(2 Pt. 1), 406–416. doi:10.1097/01.AOG.0000433006.09219.f1

DeSisto, C. L., Kim, S. Y., & Sharma, A. J. (June 19, 2014). Prevalence estimates of gestational diabetes mellitus in the United States, pregnancy risk assessment monitoring system (PRAMS), 2007–2010. Preventing Chronic Disease, 11. doi:10.5888/pcd11.130415

HAPO Study Cooperative Research Group, Metzger, B. E., Lowe, L. P., Dyer, A. R., Trimble, E. R., Chaovarindr, . . . Sacks, D. A. (2008). Hyperglycemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(19), 1991–2002. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0707943

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) occurs only in pregnant women and means that there is a degree of glucose intolerance during pregnancy. It’s usually diagnosed in the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy.

Diabetes can incur significant morbidity and mortality for the mother, fetus, and newborn into adulthood. Diabetes in all forms is the most common metabolic disease complicating pregnancy (ACOG, 2013). High blood glucose can also result in miscarriage or a stillborn baby (ACOG, 2005). Women who have GDM are also more at risk to develop preeclampsia and or to need a cesarean.

Since GDM can have detrimental results, it’s important that women begin treatment quickly and continue to monitor their sugar levels. Treatment typically includes special meal plans and scheduled physical activity and may also include daily blood glucose testing and/or insulin injections. Concerned moms-to-be should consult their care providers about prevention and treatment of GDM.  

Safe Sleep Advice from Real Moms

By Courtney Duggan

When I became pregnant with my first child, I did everything I could to prepare—from research on cribs, bottles, breastfeeding, you name it. Having suffered miscarriages in the past, I was very concerned and anxious about SIDS. I made sure that my daughter’s crib had nothing but the mattress and sheet. I even contemplated buying one of those boards that detects movement and alerts you when a baby stops moving.

Once my daughter was born, she slept in the bassinet in our bedroom. I was still recovering from my cesarean, so my husband was there to help put her in and take her out of her bassinet when it was time to nurse. I was very good about following the safe sleep guidelines, but we would sometimes take naps together while I nursed on my side. I knew in the back of my mind it wasn’t the best option, but we were both able to get rest.

Fast forward 2 years, and my son is born. Again, I was cautious as I prepared for a new baby: I purchased a firm mattress and was sure not to have any toys, bumpers, or blankets in his crib. I told myself I was going to be much better with following safe sleep guidelines than I was with my daughter.

He, too, was born via cesarean, and in the beginning I was very good about not allowing him in bed and always putting him back in his bassinet. When he was about 3 months old, it became harder and harder to follow the guidelines. My son wasn’t sleeping at night, he refused any kind of pacifier (I tried six different brands), and the only thing that soothed him was nursing.

Baby Maxwell in his sleepsuit

Around this time, I returned to my full-time job. I found it easier to nurse him while lying down and returning to sleep. He also seemed to sleep better when he was next to me. I knew it wasn’t right, but I just wanted him to sleep—and I wanted to sleep myself. I tried swaddling, sleep suits, white noise… everything. It’s not supposed to be this hard the second time around, I thought. I’d already been through this; they say the second kid is easier!

When he was about 8 months old, I woke up to a boom and a baby screaming: He had fallen out of the bed, and I felt like the world’s worst mother. Luckily he was ok, but it could have been worse. He could have really gotten injured, or worse, I could have lost him. I knew the rules, I knew that babies were supposed to sleep in their own space, but I ignored them because I wanted my baby to sleep during the night and I was exhausted.

After my son’s fall, I knew something had to change; my son could no longer sleep in my bed at night. I decided to move his crib from our room into another room, and I gave the pacifier another shot. While sleep training hasn’t been successful, he is now taking a pacifier. Instead of bringing him into my bed when he wakes up at night, I offer him his pacifier if it’s before 3 a.m. If he wakes up again, I stay in his room to nurse him and then place him back in his crib. In addition, I had to make the decision to go to sleep earlier to ensure that I got my rest, too.

This got me thinking: What are some ways to help moms follow safe sleep practices after the baby is home? I enlisted the help of nurse Sharon Hitchcock, DNP, RN-C and some fellow moms.

Sharon is an obstetrics nurse and teaches at the University of Arizona. She is quite passionate about the topic of SIDS and safe infant sleep as she now knows why most of these deaths occur and, more importantly, how to prevent them (at least most of them).

She routinely talks about the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep recommendations to students as well as parents and nurses. She’s also gotten a recent taste of some of the struggles, as she’s the happy grandma of a 9-month-old!

Naomi is mom of 9-month-old Samuel and became a safe sleep advocate long before having her baby. Heidi is almost finished with nursing school and has two kids, 3-month-old Eli and 4-year-old Sophia. Melanie, a mom of three, teaches obstetrics at the University of Arizona and is a childbirth educator at the local hospitals.

I shared with them my struggles of following safe sleep practices with my son and asked several questions about how parents can better follow safe sleep guidelines. Here’s what they had to say:

  1. Night feedings can be exhausting, especially when breastfeeding. What are some best practices to help resist the urge to nurse while lying down?  

NAOMI: I resisted the urge to nurse while lying down simply because I didn’t want to bring the baby into bed with me. There were some times when I nursed while sitting up in bed, but I also nursed in a rocking chair in my son’s room, just next to his crib, so I could immediately put him back to bed when he finished eating. I’m a light sleeper and didn’t worry much about falling asleep while feeding him, but I’ve heard it’s a good idea to use a timer, like the one on your phone, if you’re worried about falling asleep.

HEIDI: I was aware of the risks of breastfeeding while lying down from my OB classes in nursing school and had heard the horror stories of parents falling asleep with their infants and accidently suffocating them during their sleep. This was enough to make me take precautions the majority of the time that I was breastfeeding at night. I would feed him in my bed, sitting up, with him in the cross cradle position. I would set alarms just in case I did fall asleep with him, as studies have shown that the longer you are asleep with your infant, the greater the risk of SIDS. If mothers are truly so exhausted that they feel like they need to lie down while nursing, they should remove all pillows and blankets from around the baby and set alarms that will wake them should they fall asleep

  1. What are some ways to keep baby warm at night without using blankets?

NAOMI: Our son was born at the end of November, just when it really started to cool down here in southern Arizona. We kept the room warm and comfortable, and he wore footed pajamas.

HEIDI: For both of my children, I used sleep sacks that are available to buy online or in any baby store. They have worked well for me both times. I made sure the house was kept warm enough that they would be comfortable throughout the night.

MELANIE: It is recommended to keep the bedroom at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Overheating a baby is very dangerous, as they cannot just push the covers off.

  1. The risk of SIDS goes down once a baby turns 6 months—is it okay to bed-share then?

HEIDI: No. The baby can still roll over and suffocate on the softer mattress, pillows, and thick blankets that we have. In addition to the suffocation risks, I believe that getting the baby into a routine of sleeping in their parents’ bed will be one that is hard to break. Neither of my children have been able to sleep in my bed with me, mostly due to my concern for their safety. I am a hard sleeper and would not wake up if I rolled onto them. I also always wanted them to be able to sleep in their own rooms, once old enough.

MELANIE: It is true that most SIDS deaths occur before 6 months, but the infant is still at risk for SIDS until 12 months of age, and adult beds are not designed for infants. Most babies are rolling over by 6 months, and adult beds are usually too soft and have too many blankets and pillows. The other risks include the parents rolling onto the infant or the infant falling out of the bed.

  1. My baby has reflux and spits up during the night. Can I place a wedge or pillow in his crib?

HEIDI: No. This is another thing that infants could suffocate on if they rolled over. My son spits up a lot, too, but thankfully I knew from my OB class that it was safer for him to be on his back when he sleeps than on his stomach or wedged if he spits up. A baby is less likely to choke when on their back if they spit up because their airway sits above their esophagus (the tube going to their stomach), making it easier for the fluid to stay away from the airway and easier to swallow.

MELANIE: The AAP recommends that infants are always placed on their backs and not on their sides. Infants are quite good at protecting their airways while on their backs (unless they have a swallowing impairment, which your doctor would tell you). The U.S. FDA has stated that infant sleep positioners are not recommended as there have been several cases of infant deaths from the use of side positioners after the baby rolled to the stomach position or when their face got wedged into the positioner. Keeping the infant upright on a parent’s shoulder for 20–30 minutes after a feeding can decrease reflux.

SHARON: Some parents may think it’s a good idea to elevate the head of the crib to help with the reflux. However, multiple studies have shown this does not help and actually puts the baby at risk for sliding down to the foot of the bed and getting into an unsafe sleeping position.

  1. If I nurse while lying down, should I remove everything from my bed in case we fall asleep?  

NAOMI: This is what the newest recommendations advise you to do. Make sure all the blankets, pillows, etc., are moved out of the way, so that in the event you fall asleep, the bed will be a little bit safer.

HEIDI: Absolutely. This is the safest practice if you must nurse while lying down. This is what I did. I also asked my husband to adjust his pillow, and if possible, stay awake with me to ensure that I didn’t fall asleep with the baby. We aren’t perfect, though, and there were a couple of times where we dozed off with him, but fortunately I had alarms set to wake me within 15 minutes of beginning nursing. Once I knew he was full and had a clean diaper on, I set him back down in his crib and went to sleep.

  1. Sometimes the baby falls asleep on my chest. It’s recommended that babies sleep on their backs, but since he’s on my chest is it okay?

HEIDI: I believe so, as long as you are rested enough that there is no risk of you falling asleep and you are able to monitor the baby while he is asleep on his tummy. I did this a lot with both of my children during the day and think it is the perfect opportunity for skin-to-skin time.

SHARON: Make sure you can see your baby’s face (to make sure it is not covered or does not become wedged into your breasts) and you are awake and attentive to him.

  1. The only way to get my baby to sleep is if I nurse him; when I go to transfer him into his own bed, he wakes up and cries. Is it okay to let him cry it out?

NAOMI: This is a hard topic. There are so many opinions out there, and it’s hard not to get discouraged by all the articles in my Facebook newsfeed that highlight how awful it is to let your baby “cry it out.” It became important for me to consider our circumstances and the fact that every baby is different. I didn’t use the formal “cry-it-out” method for sleep training, but there were, and still are, so many times when I have to let my son cry for a while before he’ll give in and go to sleep. He’s fed. His diaper is clean. He has burped. He’s still crying. He’s not comforted by me holding him close. I’m starting to go a little crazy, and my left ear is ringing from his screams. I know he’s exhausted. What he needs is sleep. It’s okay to place him in his crib and walk away. It’s OKAY to let him cry. I had to learn this early on. It’s made a huge difference.

MELANIE: Crying is a baby’s language and the only way they have to communicate. They cry because they are hungry, tired, uncomfortable, and sometimes just because they are fussy and need to get rid of excess energy. If they have burped and their diaper is clean, you can try to console them with rhythmic noise, music, or gently stroking their head. If the baby is tired, they will usually fall asleep quickly.

Safe sleep is harder than it appears, at least for some of the recommendations. This is an extraordinarily complex topic, and we know it’s hard. In order to keep your baby  as safe as possible, learn  the recommendations, start them at birth, do the best you can, and know that you are not alone in your struggle.

Do you have safe sleep tips/advice you want to share with parents? Share them at www.awhonn.org/SafeSleepTips

Resources


References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Updated 2016 recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics, 138(5), 1–12. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2938

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Sudden unexpected infant death and sudden infant death syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sids/data.htm

Gradisar, M., Jackson, K., Spurrier, N. J., Gibson, J., Whitman, J., Williams, A. S., . . . Kennaway, D. J. (2016). Behavioral interventions for infant sleep problems: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 137(6), 1–10. doi:10.1542/peds.2015-1486

Hitchcock, S. C. (2017). An update on safe infant sleep. Nursing for Women’s Health, 21(4), 307–311. doi:10.1016/j.nwh.2017.06.007

Moon, R. Y., & Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (2016). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Evidence base for 2016 updated recommendations for a safe infant sleep environment. Pediatrics, 138(5), e1–e29. doi.org:10.1542/peds.2016-2940

Storrs, C. (2016). It’s OK to let your baby cry himself to sleep, study finds. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/24/health/cry-it-out-sleep-training-ok/index.html


Courtney Duggan is a digital marketing manager in the Washington, D.C. area and is a mother of 2.

Child Passenger Safety “What Every New Parent Should Know”

By Kerry S Foligno, RN MSN CPSI

We have all been at the baby shower when the parents-to-be  open the biggest box in the room and the crowd cheers! “Ooooh I love the color”, “Check out the cup holders”—“It matches the stroller perfectly”. In my head I’m saying “I hope they keep the receipt!” The truth is not every car seat fits every car. And not all parents’ needs fit all car seat.

Here are the facts. Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly (Safe Kids Worldwide).  Unfortunately as our new parents are walking out the door of the hospital while embracing one of the most stressful times of their life they realize that car seat installation is not a joke. As nurses, educators and parents we agree that learning happens most effectively when done in a calm, comfortable environment. Our program appropriately titled CPS Safety at Memorial Hospital West started with staff members recognizing a lack of research-based information available for parents and families about child passenger safety. We were very aware, though, of the overwhelming amount of information on convenience features and style and color choices for car seats. To begin we enlisted the help and support of our administrative team. With their involvement we were able to get approval for our first nurse to attend a certification class to become a certified car seat technician. We were able to start community seat inspection stations as additional nurses in our family birthplace department became certified. Our technicians now include registered nurses, social workers, community liaisons and patient care assistants from multiple departments of the hospital.

I am fortunate to work for Memorial Healthcare System that recognizes the importance of education for our community. We incorporate child passenger safety education in many settings. Within my hospital, which is a 384 bed delivering hospital, we have safety classes for families in the community, daily education classes for our inpatients and a car seat inspection station that all incorporate the importance of child passenger safety.

About Child Passenger Safety Education

The child passenger safety education includes classroom information and hands on instruction on car seat installation, how to properly put a child into the car seat and review of other safety concerns. We provide parents and families with information on how to choose the right car seat for their child and the  location where the car seat should be installed within their vehicle. We use teaching equipment that simulates a seat in a car and demonstrate how to properly install a child car seat. We empower our families to educate themselves utilizing the instruction manuals from the car seats and the owner’s manuals from their cars.

The goal is to provide families with multiple opportunities to be educated on decisions about restraining their new baby or older sibling. If they have the opportunity to participate in any of these programs, they are better prepared for that day of discharge from the hospital and their first car ride home. We are also aware that the opportunity for education at the bedside makes for easier transition to correct installation at curbside by the parents.

Community Feedback

The feedback from our community is overwhelmingly one success story after another and a multitude of appreciative emotions. Parents-to-be, grandparents with visiting grandchildren, fellow staff and patients have all benefitted from our hospital-based community program. Grandparents have told us how “impressed” their own children were with the seat installation and correct education that they received. New parents have overwhelmingly expressed their gratitude with sighs of relief that their newborn is traveling home safely.

I am hoping this has inspired all of you to pursue child passenger safety education in your workplace and community. A great place to start is to make research-based information about car seat installation available to your colleagues and to parents and families.

To find out more information on how to become a certified technician, visit http://cert.safekids.org

Great resources include:


Kerry S Foligno MSN RN CLC
Kerry is a Registered Nurse with 30 years of experience including, Adult Surgical ICU/Trauma and Mother Baby. Currently she is at Memorial Hospital West Family Birthplace in Pembroke Pines, Florida working as a Perinatal Educator. Her passion is teaching. Her focus is moms to be, new moms and nursing students. She is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Instructor and coordinates the Car Seat program At Memorial West.

The Power of Touch & Infant Massage

Lori Boggan, RN, Certified Infant Massage Instructor

The power of human touch is unmatched and irreplaceable.  It is an innate need of every human being, especially the infant.  I recently sat down and picked the brain of an expert in the field of infant massage.  Peter Walker, a London based physical therapist, who has been working with babies, children, and their parents for over 40 years. He travels the world and has trained nearly twenty thousand or more midwives, nurses, and other health professionals through his Developmental Baby Massage and Movement program. In his words “touch is the newborn’s first language-it is her prime means of communication and plays an essential role in the forming of early parent-child relationships.”  The following are just a few of the many benefits of touch and massage to both the infant and parents.

Skin to Skin

Study after study has shown the unbelievable benefits of placing an infant skin to skin with its parent.  The power of touch is evident from the first moments after birth when the infant is placed skin to skin. Remarkably, the infant’s temperature, heart rate, breathing, and blood sugar stabilize while being comforted on their mother or father’s chest.  Touch begins here.  A bond between parent and infant begins here.

Enhanced Immunity

The simple act of skin to skin with the mother sets forth an intricate orchestration of colonization and antibody formation that is transferred from mother to baby through the breastmilk.  A study done at John Hopkins University found a significant reduction of nosocomial infections in  infants massaged daily with sunflower seed oil however a Cochrane review of this practice published in 2016 found the evidence lacking that emollient therapy would prevent invasive infections and cautioned that more research was needed..

Hormonal Influence

Done regularly, massage may reduce the level of the stress hormone, cortisol circulating in an infant’s bloodstream.  In turn, it may increase the level of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates as well as oxytocin, the love hormone.  Both leave the infant with a sense of well being and further promote attachment between parent and child.

Colic & Gas Relief

The jury is still out on the exact the cause of colic.  Colic starts as early as the few weeks after birth and results in crying for long periods of time-particularly at night.  Massage may relieve a distressed and colicky baby.  Regular tummy time and massage of the stomach may ease gas, constipation, and aid in digestion.  It is best to avoid tummy time and massage directly after a feed.

Joint Flexibility & Increased Muscle Strength

 According to Peter, developmental massage, practiced according to his program “releases ‘physiologic flexion’ imposed by the fetal position from the time the infant spends in utero.  Gentle massage together with soft stretching can allow the infant to relax and coordinate their muscles to improve the circulation to their body’s extremities, open the chest to deepen their breathing volume, relax the tummy to assist digestion and disposition, and strengthen the muscles of the head, neck and back in preparation for (upright postures and movement).”

Develops Trust & Confidence

Infants learn through touch.  The gentle, reassuring hand of a parent teaches the infant early on that his or her needs will be met.  Touch and massage further foster a deep bond between infant and parent.  The infant learns to trust and the parent develops confidence in his or her ability to care for the infant.

Benefits to Parents

A 2011 study in the Journal of Perinatal Education found “participating fathers were helped by increasing their feelings of competence, role acceptance, spousal support, attachment, and health and by decreasing feelings of isolation and depression.”  Other studies have shown that mothers that massage their infants have improved mood and decreased symptoms of depression.

Educating Parents

Nurses and midwives at the bedside have an excellent opportunity to teach the benefits of skin to skin and massage.   Early education should start right at birth by encouraging immediate and regular skin to skin contact.  In addition, parents can be taught simple techniques as seen here.  It is best to use oil for massage so the hands move nicely against the skin. For sick or unstable infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care, teaching parents and family members the importance of touch in the form of a gentle hand is essential.  By simply placing and holding a steady hand over the infant that is confined to an incubator or radiant warmer, we are still able to convey trust and reassurance.  Early massage can begin when the infant is stable and willing.

Peter sums it up perfectly, “from the very beginning, the mother should remain at the center of any “treatment” offered to her baby.  Most mothers want to hold their babies and establish skin to skin contact before the baby is removed, weighed, measured, bathed, or dressed.  From his mother’s womb into her arms, touch becomes the primal language of the newborn, and it is through holding and caressing that a baby is made to feel welcomed and loved.”

 

AWHONN Resources

Additional Resources


Lori is an American Neonatal Intensive Care nurse that has made her way to Sweden.  Her passion is maternal and infant education.  She incorporates her years of work in maternal and infant health with a passion for wellness through her Prenatal Yoga, Mommy & Me Yoga, and Developmental Infant Massage classes in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Follow her adventures on Instagram or through her nursing blog, Neonurse.

 

Stress The Modern Day Predator

Holly A. Lammer, RNC-OB C-EFM

“The history of man for the nine months preceding his birth would probably be far more interesting and contain events of greater moment than for all the three score and ten years that follow it.”

~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Decreasing the amount of stress that we encounter daily is beneficial to our health.   Stress initiates the body’s ‘emergency response system’ which activates the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol and adrenaline.  Cortisol is important for energy (glucose metabolism), blood pressure regulation, immune function and inflammatory response, but is secreted in higher levels during increased stress.  Heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, chronic inflammatory disorders, mental health issues, obesity can all in some way be linked to how the chemicals of stress wreak havoc on our bodies.   Statistics paint a grim picture:

  • Preterm birth in the U.S. is higher than in other developed countries (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2015).
  • Stress is associated with an increased chance of preterm birth (PLos One, 2012)
  • High rates of anxiety and depression, according to WHO, the U.S. has one of the highest rate of mental disorders of any other developed country. (U.S. News, 2016)
  • High rates of obesity – females affected more than males (World Obesity, 2017)
  • Immune and allergy disorders, chronic diseases have increased drastically in the last few decades (overwhelming majority affecting women)(Molecular Metabolism, 2016)

One concern is how these chemicals affect a woman and her growing fetus during pregnancy.  Many pregnant women  are exposed to chronic stress;  examples are the stress of jobs, finances, family responsibilities, the expectation and drive for success, high fat and low nutrient diets, lack of time for physical activity,  lack  of community and family support, intimate partner violence, effects of racism and social marginalization.  Stress chemicals can pass to the developing baby through the placenta.

Watering the Seeds of Peace:

But pregnant women can seek to balance and reduce their stress in order to pass on positive neurological chemicals to their babies.  In particular, mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation have profound impacts on the human brain and, when practiced in the prenatal period, can also influence the growing brain of the fetus. (PLos One, 2012)These types of practices produce changes in the neural pathways and hormonal centers that support parasympathetic response and as these neural connections are strengthened, sympathetic hypersensitivity is decreased. Mindfulness has the potential to reduce the effect of stress chemicals in the body (Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 2009) since these chemicals are being sent directly to the fetus, through the placenta.

Mindfulness may also reduce the effects of stress chemicals in the baby.  Research shows increases in gray matter concentration in the left hippocampus, which affects learning, memory, and emotional control.  Infants  born of mothers who practice meditation have been shown to have better self-regulation and more emotional control. (Infant Behavior and Development, 2014)

Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can also “create change in the brain that support feelings of peace, contentment, self-confidence and joy.  As these connections in the brain are strengthened, states of anxiety, worry and anger are decreased. Consequently, incidence and severity of stress related conditions are decreased and may, at the very least, become easier to manage.  Mindfulness practice has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, insomnia, hyperactivity, substance abuse and chemical dependency.  It can also increase bonding and connection to others.

Preparation for Birth

In addition to all the above mentioned benefits, mindfulness has the added benefit of decreasing sensation of chronic and acute pain and possible subsequent psychological distress caused by pain.  This effect has been correlated to altered function and structure in somatosensory areas and an increased ability to disengage regions in the brain associated with the cognitive appraisal of pain, basically ‘reframing’ the sensation.  Most childbirth methods are based on meditative techniques (Lamaze and Bradley breathing, Hypnobirthing, etc.)  Mindfulness practices also enhance immune function – extremely important in pregnancy where it is already suppressed.  If there is a complication that is present (obesity, immune disorder, mental illness) or one that is diagnosed during the pregnancy (gestational diabetes, hypertension, multiples) or that happens during birth (prolonged labor, surgical intervention), regular meditative practices can help prime the immune system so that the effects of these events may be milder.

It’s as simple as ‘ABC’

One of the great things about mindfulness is that it can be practiced literally anytime, anywhere.

A is for Awareness:  Simply pause or stop and become AWARE of the present moment. An easy way to do this is just notice the body in space… the arrangement of the legs or arms, the overall tone in the body… the sensations in the body. Use the senses to drive your awareness:  the feel of the coffee cup in your hand, the sound of a bird chirping or the rain on the roof, the warmth of the sun on your skin.

B is for Breathing:  Bring your awareness to your breath.  The breath is always present.  Notice the inhalation and the exhalation.  Just by noticing the breath without changing it in any way, nervous system shifts to parasympathetic activity. You can enhance this shift by guiding the breath to be longer and deeper. Regulating the breath in this way also decreases blood pressure and heart rate.  Imagine your breath bringing oxygen to your growing baby. Imagine your baby listening to your deep rhythmic breaths and the slowing of your heart beat.  Calm, serene.

C is for Consciousness:   Or ‘thinking’. Now you have the space in the nervous system to examine your thoughts. Notice that they come and go like clouds on a windy day.  If there is a particular thought or sensation that is troubling you or seems uncomfortable, you have the ability to CHOOSE your reaction instead of unconsciously reacting with habitual patterns of response.

When we practice in this way, even for a few minutes a day, our nervous system slowly begins to rewire and connections of peace and joy are strengthened.  In the pregnant mom, this benefit is wiring the baby’s brain from the very beginning of development.

Helpful Resources and Links

We May Have Different Religions

By Evgeniya Larionova

“We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race”. –Kofi Annan (Ghanian Diplomat, 7th UN Secretary-General, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winner)

What is exactly childbirth? Some people compare it to a miracle, a heroic act, or a surge of love accompanied by strenuous and intense hours of labor. It’s absolutely one the most unique experiences that can happen to a woman’s body. The time when she is particularly vulnerable and in need of much support and care.

For me, a nurse practitioner student on labor and delivery floor at Massachusetts General Hospital, witnessing childbirth was something that I would never forget. Thrown into the action on a first clinical day, I had mixed feelings of joy, excitement and a slight nervousness. I felt extremely privileged and grateful to witness a natural delivery and I was hoping to help a future-to-be mom during the process.

From the morning report I found out that the woman I was assigned to follow was a recent immigrant from Guatemala who belongs to the indigenous Mayan population. Mayan was the patient’s native language but she was also able to understand Spanish. Her husband had been residing in the United States for 5 years. She moved here a year ago and the family has finally reunited.

My patient was accompanied by a traditional nurse midwife known as comadrona. Comadronas are trusted women leaders in their communities who accepted a spiritual calling. They usually don’t receive any formal training but have years of experience delivering babies. Comadronas regard birth as a natural process and rely heavily on God and prayers. The nurses established a plan of care recognizing my patient’s spirituality and personal support system. The Mayan midwife was present during labor and helped with comfort measures. The nurses also invited a qualified interpreter.

When I entered the room, a nurse and a midwife, along with the comadrona, surrounded the tiny woman. One of the nurses was checking her vital signs and the nurse-midwife was encouraging the woman to take slow deep breaths and relax. The comadrona, wearing a traditional colorful embroidered dress, was gently massaging her back. The room was dimly lit and the scent of fresh lavender floated in the air. My patient’s contractions were increasing steadily and were becoming more regular. This was active labor –she was ready to give birth.

The whole atmosphere struck me. There was no other language present in the room but the language of trust, respect and compassion between these women. I immediately wanted to become connected with what was happening- just by holding this woman’s hand and talking to her.

Reflecting back on this experience, I understood that nurses not only created the environment that made this woman feel comfortable and that was respectful of her spirituality but that the environment also had a significant impact on the labor and birth process. Although childbirth is unique and at the same time a unifying biological event for any woman; providing therapeutic communication, physical, emotional, spiritual care and comfort during the labor process is crucial.

The comadrona shared her knowledge and experience with the American nurses. It was important for my patient to have a traditional midwife near the bedside who comforted and prayed with her. There was interplay between modern and traditional medicine that contributed to the positive outcome. Nurses in this particular case were not only culturally sensitive and able to understand cultural values, beliefs and attitudes of clinicians and patients, but also culturally competent and had knowledge, capacity and skills to provide high-quality care (Jernigan et al, 2016).

It’s essential for any nurse in such a unique, heterogeneous country like the United States to be cognizant and open-minded of cultural diversity and the patient’s cultural perspectives. I will take this amazing experience to my future nursing practice and strive to always treat my patients with dignity, respect and compassion. I also hope to continue to integrate a holistic model and culturally sensitive care into our modern childbirth practices.

This woman gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter whom she named after a nurse taking care of her during her labor and birth.

Additional Resources & References
http://prontointernational.org/
https://he-he.org/en/
http://www.mayamidwifery.org/
http://midwivesformidwives.org/guatemala/
http://www.birth-institute.com/study-abroad-guatemala/
http://www.acog.org/
Jernigan, V. B. B., Hearod, J. B., Tran, K., Norris, K. C., & Buchwald, D. (2016). An Examination of Cultural Competence Training in US Medical Education Guided by the Tool for Assessing Cultural Competence Training.Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, 9(3), 150–167.


evgeniya-headshotEvgeniya Larionova received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from MGH Institute of Health Professions. She is a founder and an Artistic Director of AMGITS Drama&Poetry Club at the Boston Living Center. She is a member of the student Leadership Committee of the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care. Evgeniya is passionate about infectious diseases, community health and integrating holistic care in modern practices.  In her spare time she plays in the Russian theater, enjoy reading, playing the guitar and hiking.

When A Baby Dies

by, Debbie Haine Vijayvergiya
Stillbirth Parent Advocate • Founding Member of The Action for Stillbirth Awareness and Prevention Coalition • Founder of the 2 Degrees Foundation Fund

I won’t lie, I cringe when I think back to how frustrated and concerned I was when after two months of trying, I still wasn’t pregnant.

A friend had recently told me how she achieved pregnancy success with the help of a pricey fertility monitor so I tried that and luckily for me, I found out I was pregnant soon after.

My first pregnancy and delivery were the definition of text book. My post birth complications, which consisted of a late presentation of Group B Strep, C. difficile, and a blood clot, were not in my birth plan BUT I quickly made peace with it. I refused to allow myself to be consumed by my unexpected hospital stay or my lengthy recovery period ahead of me. I had a beautiful baby girl to focus my energies on; I would heal and get better; life was good.

I didn’t have a problem getting pregnant after that. Actually the opposite happened. When we weren’t trying; I would get pregnant. After two miscarriages, the second which occurred after a two week period of bed rest, ended in an ambulance ride, D&C, and 10 hour ER visit, I didn’t think much worse could happen. When I became pregnant for the 4th time in four years I was very anxious, but by the time I rolled into my 2nd trimester I was able to settle into the excitement of being pregnant and was finally able to feel confident that we were in for smooth sailing. At that point I had convinced myself that I had paid my dues to the pregnancy gods and nothing else could go wrong.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. During a routine 2nd trimester checkup my obstetrician could not detect my baby’s heartbeat. It was any expectant mom’s worst nightmare. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you find out that your baby is laying lifeless inside of you. Nothing. My life has never been the same since….

Unbeknownst to many, stillbirths cause approximately 24,000 deaths a year in the United States resulting in approximately 2000 babies dying each month – more than deaths resulting from SIDS and prematurity combined. Even with numbers like these, stillbirth remains one of the most understudied and underfunded public health issues today.

I was completely overwhelmed and unprepared to handle the unthinkable tragedy that I was facing. And I quickly learned I wasn’t alone. Soon after I was admitted to the hospital, I realized that the hospital staff – doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers – didn’t always know what to say or how to say it. In retrospect I realized that many were lacking the tools needed to handle stillbirth. It seemed that my nurses found it difficult to switch gears between the “lively” hustle and bustle of the Labor & Delivery floor and the “barren” dark hole that my room signified. I felt neglected by my nurses. Not once did any of my nurses stop to see how were coping. I felt like a leper; as if my stillbirth was contagious.

With that being said, if I take a step back, I completely get it. The death of an unborn baby is completely out of most people’s comfort zones.

Nurses play such an integral part of the recovery process; it is critical that they are provided with the most relevant and appropriate training. In my case it would have made such a difference in my journey if the nurses were better equipped to handle the delicate nature of my experience while in their care.

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all advice on how to help a family suffering through a stillbirth. But what I can suggest to a nurse faced with a patient (or family member) who is struggling is to not be afraid to find the empathy and compassion that is needed to address the situation. Nurses are some of the most caring people on the planet – they went into one of the hardest and most caring professions out there. That said, even the most caring people benefit from refreshers on the effective and sensitive responses when patients have difficult circumstances. There is a lot of pressure to offer up the perfect words that will make the family “feel better” but the truth is, just being a caring presence is what is most necessary.

Stillbirth is a taboo subject across all levels of society, but if we work together to break the silence and remove the stigma around stillbirth, we will be better equipped to further the care needed to improve stillbirth outcomes for all involved.

There are many resources for nursing and parents including:

Additional Resource Lists

Some Helpful Tips from a Mom to Nurses

  • Acknowledge their loss; tell the grieving family that you are sorry for their loss.
  • Be patient with them.
  • Refer to the baby by their name, if one was given.
  • Make yourself available to the family if they want to talk
  • And if they do want to talk, listen to the family. Don’t feel like you need to have a response.
  • Let them cry, offer tissues.
  • Please continue to be patient.
  • Wait to talk about “arrangements” until after labor and the family has some time to let their new reality settle in.
  • Continue to offer to the family the option to hold the baby, any sort of mementos, pictures such as Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
  • Please be respectfully persistent. Don’t give up. The family may say they don’t want pictures, a memory box, or to hold the baby- but that could change. There are no “do-over’s”.
  • Please make sure that all hospital staff that enters the mothers room is aware of the situation and are sensitive to it.
    It’s ok to not have the answers; no one is expecting you to.
  • Please don’t say- “sometimes these things just happen” or “you’re young, you can have more”.
  • Please encourage them to consider a perinatal autopsy or additional extensive testing. It is in the best interest for them with regards to subsequent pregnancies and for the future understanding for us to understand why stillbirths occur and how we can begin to improve outcomes.
  • Never forget to validate their feelings.
  • And one of the most important things you can do is to reassure the mom that they are not at fault. I can assure you, they are blaming themselves and you have the power to take that weight off their shoulders.

The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

by, Lori Boggan, RN

The popularity of yoga has grown exponentially over the last many years in the western world. More and more studies are proving the benefits of a regular yoga practice. So how can yoga benefit the expectant mother? A 2015 study from Brown University suggests that yoga can be an effective alternative treatment for women suffering from depression during pregnancy. Another study from The University of California, Irvine, showed decreased cortisol levels and higher affect on the days the pregnant yoga group practiced. While most women can safely practice prenatal yoga during pregnancy, there are some conditions that may preclude yoga so women should always ask their midwife or doctor before starting. Conditions such as increased risk for preterm birth, placenta previa, premature rupture of membranes, or preeclampsia are other likely contra-indications. The following are just a few of the many benefits of prenatal yoga.

Connection to Breath

Prenatal yoga teaches the mom-to-be how to connect deeply to the breath, a breath that taps into the parasympathetic nervous system. In this state of deep relaxation, the baby benefits as well. The breath is the earliest bond that connects mom and baby on the deepest level. Also, the deep breathing that is practiced in prenatal yoga can relieve stress and anxiety and improve sleep. The breath learned and practiced week after week in prenatal yoga class can be used as a tool to guide her through the labor process.

Increased Flexibility

Gentle stretching and opening of the hips and pelvic floor muscles prepare the body months in advance to yield for the baby’s passage. Regular modified squatting as practiced in prenatal yoga can open the pelvic outlet by as much as 30 percent. The mom-to-be learns positions in class that can be used in labor to ease baby’s passage and possibly shorten labor.

Mental Preparation & Increased Strength

I tell my prenatal students to imagine they were about to run a marathon and had not prepared physically or mentally in any way. While they would of course make the finish line, had they prepared they will have been more apt and conditioned to face the challenges along the way. Prenatal students are guided through poses that test their strength and breath in preparation for their journey through labor. The added benefit of these exercises is strong legs for pushing and strong arms for baby holding.

Connection to Baby

Showing up every week to yoga class allows the expectant mom an hour of uninterrupted connection with her baby. Prenatal yoga allows her to connect to the living, growing being in her womb. It is a sweet meditation between mom and baby in anticipation of their first encounter.

Alleviation of Pregnancy Aches

Depending on the ailment of the day, there is almost guaranteed a yoga pose that can in some way alleviate it. Prenatal class allows a woman to practice in a safe environment guided by a teacher with knowledge of the common aches and complaints of pregnancy. From headaches to heartburn, carpel tunnel, constipation, low back pain, and/or achy feet, the yoga instructor guides the students through poses that can help relieve and soothe some of their complaints.

Creation of Community

Prenatal yoga brings women together during the most exciting, challenging and, rewarding days of their lives. Friendships are made out of the sheer desire to know that the mamas truly are not alone in this journey. These friendships and their support continue to grow long after their babies arrive.

While more research will likely prove the benefits, it is easy to witness in a class full of focused, happy mamas. Childbirth educator and Prenatal Yoga Teacher/Director of Mama Tree in San Francisco, Jane Austin, sums it up perfectly. “It is very common that when a woman gets pregnant, she looks outside of herself and her own experience for answers. Yoga gives women the opportunity to look within, to pay attention to how she is feeling not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. When a mama tunes into her own experience and really pays attention, it often amazes her what she discovers. She has a wealth of wisdom and an inner knowing that can surface if she creates the space to listen. Yoga helps create that space.” Stay tuned for my interview with Jane on the benefits of postnatal yoga.

img006Lori is a neonatal nurse that has made her way to Sweden. She is also a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher and Certified Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga Teacher. Follow her adventures working and traveling through Europe in her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.

References

Yoga during pregnancy: effects on maternal comfort, labor pain and birth outcomes.
The effect of prenatal Hatha yoga on affect, cortisol and depressive symptoms.
Potential for prenatal yoga to serve as an intervention to treat depression during pregnancy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24767955
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25747520

The Cornucopia of Contraception

by, Susan A Peck, RNC, MSN-APN

In 2000, as a new Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, the provision of contraception to my patients was actually pretty simple.  Most every woman who wanted hormonal contraception used the pill, and there were only a handful of brand name oral contraceptives that we all knew and regularly used.

Shortly thereafter, in 2001, the contraceptive patch and the contraceptive vaginal ring were approved by the FDA.  These other two options quickly became competitors to the oral contraceptive market and gave patients and clinicians more choice, and ways to avoid the sometimes daunting responsibility of daily pill intake.

In the background was the IUD – only ParaGard and Mirena were available at that time.  Still holding on to the worries of the unsafe IUDs of the 1970s and 1980s, most women and clinicians were not supportive of these devices at that time – fortunately that has dramatically changed!  In 2013, the Skyla IUD became available and the Liletta IUD followed in 2015.  And let’s not forget about the contraceptive implant, Implanon (now Nexplanon) that was approved in 2006.

Barrier methods have also always been accessible to women, such as condoms (male and female) and various spermicidal formulations, as well as the diaphragm – did you know the “old” diaphragm is no longer available, but that there is a new one, Caya?

So, when we consider all of these options, and factor in the complexity of some women’s medical conditions or social practices, how can women’s health clinicians consider not only which method might be most acceptable to a woman, but also which method is the safest??  There certainly is a lot to keep track of with all of today’s contraceptive choices.  And if a woman does not use her method correctly, what can a clinician advise?

Fortunately, the CDC has recently published two documents, the 2016 US Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (MEC) and the 2016 Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use (SPR).  The references are invaluable for any clinician who is providing contraception to women.  I have a copy of both at my desk in my office and even after 16 years of practice, I regularly rely on their guidance to make the best, safest recommendations about contraceptive choices for my patients.

I’d like to tell you about two recent patients, for which both references helped guide my decision making. 

First, Jennifer, a 32 year old woman living with multiple sclerosis, has used oral contraceptives successfully for five years.  She enjoys the regular, very light periods she has with the pill, and is a very responsible pill taker – never misses one!  But, this year, when I see her for her annual exam, I learn that her MS has unfortunately taken a turn for the worse.  She is currently in a wheelchair more the 50% of the time and her mobility is greatly limited.  She is very hopeful that this period of immobility will be short lived – there is a new MS drug she is starting next month.  So, I begin to wonder whether an oral contraceptive is the best, safest method for Jennifer.  I use my 2016 MEC App on my phone and determine that due to her immobility related to MS (increased chance of hypercoagulable state) it may be time to change methods.  She and I discuss all options and she decides on the Mirena IUD.  Not only is she pleased with a long term method, she feels more comfortable knowing she is safe – it is one less thing she has to worry about.

My next patient is Mary, a 20 year old healthy college student who tells me that she wants to use the contraceptive implant, Nexplanon.  She is going back to school out of state in two days, and would really like to have the implant inserted today.  In the past, some clinicians have traditionally preferred to insert LARC methods during a woman’s menstrual period to “make sure she is not pregnant”.  However, this is often cumbersome for scheduling and delays an opportunity to provide effective contraception.  So, I use my 2016 SPR and review the section ‘how to be reasonably certain a woman is not pregnant’.  I determine that since Mary has consistently and correctly used condoms since her last period, it is safe to assume she is not pregnant. After receiving her informed consent, I safely place the Nexplanon and she is able to return to college with a highly effective long term method of contraception.

It is important to remember that in nearly all situations the use of a birth control method is safer than an unintended pregnancy. These CDC resources are invaluable guides for clinicians so we can be confident our contraceptive recommendations are based on the latest evidence.  Both the MEC and the SPR are available free – of- charge with the option of downloading an APP for your device.

Tell your colleagues and have these references close at hand!

RRWJMS20150428

Susan A. Peck, RNC, MSN, APN is a practicing Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. For 20 years, Ms. Peck’s career has focused on women’s health care, first as a labor and delivery staff nurse and for the last 16 years as an Advanced Practice Nurse. She currently works in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology within Summit Medical Group, a large multi-specialty practice group in Northern New Jersey.

Ms. Peck’s areas of expertise include contraception, osteoporosis, general gynecology and prenatal care. She has spoken at several national and state conferences including the AWHONN National Convention.

 

 

 

Like Mother, Like Daughter: Working to Wipe Out Diaper Need

by, Jade Miles

Michelle and Corinne

Michelle Delp and daughter Corinne

Helping mothers and babies comes naturally to mother-daughter team Michelle and Corinne Delp. This dynamic duo has made a big impact on families experiencing diaper need in their hometown of Rome, PA.

Michelle Delp, RN, has been a nurse for 30 years, and for the last 7.5 years she has worked as a maternal-child home visiting nurse for Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) of Bradford, Sullivan, and Tioga counties in Pennsylvania. She works with first-time low-income moms beginning in the second trimester of pregnancy through their child’s second birthday. NFP nurses offer the support these women need to deliver healthy babies, become confident parents, and achieve their life goals. Michelle is certified as a childbirth educator, birth and bereavement doula, and lactation counselor.

It’s no wonder that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; Michelle’s daughter Corinne starts nursing school at Arnot Ogden Medical Center this fall. Corinne has had many opportunities to learn from her mother. She shadowed her mother when Michelle was a camp nurse, and they have even found themselves helping out side by side at the scene of several accidents. Corinne’s natural caring instincts and up-close-and-personal experiences with her mom have put her on the path to becoming a nurse.

Before graduating from North Rome Christian School this past spring, Corinne needed to complete a senior year service project. Driven by her love for babies and children, Corrine—who also works as a nanny—chose to organize a diaper drive for the Endless Mountain Pregnancy Care Center (EMPCC) in Towanda, PA. She called it “Bottoms Up for EMPCC.”

delp photo 1Corinne first learned of EMPCC when they came to speak at her church and became increasingly familiar with the organization by serving at their yearly fundraising banquets. Knowing that EMPCC is frequently in short supply of diapers and moms can’t use food stamps to pay for them, Corinne felt certain that a diaper drive would be perfect for her project and would also serve a great need in the community. She fulfilled her 30-hour requirement while working tirelessly to market and organize the drive, as well as collect, transport, and stock diaper donations at EMPCC.

They advertised the diaper drive on Facebook for just under a month, and word soon spread about the event. The volume of donations exceeded Corinne’s expectations: The grand total came to 6,212 diapers; they had also had several people donate wipes. Michelle credits their success to the true sense of community in her small town.

Another clever idea? Add a little incentive to encourage folks to donate. Michelle and Corinne took advantage of a Target promotion and created a Target registry with diapers in a variety of sizes and also some wipes to help people reach the free shipping total. The promotion the first week was to purchase three packs of diapers and receive a $20 gift card; the second week, it as a $30 gift card with a purchase of two bulk packs or a $10 gift card with the purchase of two giant packs.

delp photo 3All items were delivered to Michelle and Corinne’s home, and they personally delivered everything to EMPCC. Both ladies said that hearing the UPS truck come by was always exciting because it signaled the arrival of more donations. In fact, North Rome Christian School administrator and EMPCC board member Lee Ann Carmichael decided to request that more shelves be built to accommodate the influx of diapers at EMPCC. At the end of the drive, Corinne’s senior class of 10 students filled those shelves to the brim, all as a result of the kindness and generosity of their friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

The experience left a lasting impression on this mother-daughter pair, and they were both touched to see people coming together to make a difference. “People are generous, even when they don’t have enough for themselves,” said Michelle, referring to several of her clients from NFP who wanted to donate leftover diapers from their children as they had changed sizes (Note: Most banks will accept loose diapers or open packs; just call ahead to ask).

“I learned that being able to reach out and communicate with others outside of my normal social circle is an excellent skill to develop,” said Corinne. “I live in a community that is very supportive of others’ endeavors. It’s beautiful to see a large number of people rally behind a cause.”

 Corinne and Michelle’s diaper donations are just one example of what nurses are doing to end diaper need—and their efforts will count toward our 2016 Healthy Mom&Baby Diaper Drive goal of 250,000 diapers donated. We want to hear your story, too! Go online to AWHONN.org/diaperdrive to let us know what you’re doing to help the 1 in 3 families who experience diaper need.

For more information on how you can start a diaper drive in your community, contact Healthy Mom&Baby Diaper Drive consultants Jade Miles (jmiles@awhonn.org) and Heather Quaile (hquaile@awhonn.org).

Jade HeadshotJade K. Miles, BA, BSN, RN, is a nurse consultant for the Healthy Mom&Baby Diaper Drive and lives in Raleigh, NC.