Protecting the hearts of moms and babies
By Monica Money, R.N. Mar 2, 2016
Hello from the Ruth R. Ellbogen Family, Mother and Baby Center at Wyoming Medical Center.
Heart Disease Prevention Month doesn’t seem to be something that a labor and delivery unit would be all that concerned with. When people think about us, we are usually viewed with rose-colored glasses as a world where nothing goes wrong. I wish this was true.
In fact, cardiac disease can have drastic impacts on both our moms and babies.
Occasionally, we treat mothers who are at risk for heart disease, especially mothers who have gestational or type 2 diabetes. Diabetic mothers or those who have other chronic diseases or conditions are encouraged to limit consumption of carbohydrates, move more, practice healthy habits and breastfeed their babies. Breastfeeding has been shown to be beneficial to both mother and baby.
Many women never even think about diabetes until they are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a condition that goes away once the pregnancy is over, but is a strong predictor of Type 2 diabetes in the woman’s future. Diabetes is a strong predictor for cardiac disease because of the negative impact that high glucose levels has on blood vessels.
From the baby’s perspective, we screen every baby for congenital heart disease (defects in the heart structure) 24 hours after birth. While many mothers are ready to leave the hospital after 24 hours, this is an important screening to make sure babies are ready to go home as well. Some defects cannot be detected in a baby’s heart until after the 24-hour milestone.
One example is ductal-dependent congenital heart disease. Inside the womb, baby’s lungs don’t oxygenate the blood, so baby’s heart has a valve to bypass the lungs. This valve closes about 24-hours after birth. Babies with a ductal-dependent heart defect need this valve to remain open in order for their circulatory system to work properly.
In addition to screening for congenital heart disease screening, we encourage breastfeeding or breast milk for all our babies to start a lifetime of health and wellness. It is well known that “breast is best" because breast milk lowers the risk of type 1 diabetes, allergies and stomach problems such as Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Healthy hearts are vital at every age, and we’re happy that we get to help protect them -- in our babies and our mothers. On behalf of everyone at the Ruth R. Ellbogen Family, Mother and Baby Center, we wish you a happy and healthy Heart Month!
Monica Money, R.N.
Monica Money is a registered nurse and clinical education coordinator for the nursery at the Ruth R. Ellbogen Family, Mother and Baby Center at Wyoming Medical Center. She has been at the hospital for three years and has been an OB/Nursery RN for the past 11 years. She has a bachelor’s of nursing degree from the University of Wyoming and is a Certified Lactation Counselor. She also directs the Neonatal Resuscitation Program Education for Wyoming Medical Center.