Bringing up baby

HOUGHTON – Deciding to have a child involves considering many issues, and getting help to deal with those issues is available locally from many sources.

Katie Stanaway, nutrition and lactation coordinator for the BHK Child Development Board, said although that organization provides services to people who are high risk with medical problems or are at a certain income level, they don’t restrict who can get information.

“Anyone can call,” she said.

For women who come to BHK for assistance before birth, Stanaway said she recommends the woman becomes familiar with the various community resources in the area, which can provide information about the home environment, nutrition and financial concerns.

Some of those issues are dealt with by BHK staff, Stanaway said.

“We help families understand what to expect with a new baby,” she said.

With its Parents as Teachers program, Stanaway said BHK offers a pre-birth home visit, during which an examination of safety of the home will be examined for such things as lead paint and the safety of electrical outlets. Questions about cribs and car seats can be answered, also.

The BHK Parents as Teachers program can also answer questions about such things as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Stanaway said.

“The curriculum we use is very helpful and appropriate for their child,” she said.

Dealing with unfamiliar emotional issues can be difficult for a mother- or father-to-be, and Stanaway said there is help available for that, also. The BHK Parents as Teachers program can offer advice. Postpartum depression is a real psychological condition which can be eased with support, also.

“We talk very openly with the families about how to recognize the signs (of postpartum depression),” she said.

There are other emotions, which could become problematic regarding pregnancy, for which there is help, Stanaway said.

“There’s excitement,” she said. “There’s anxiety, and maybe a little fear.”

To ease those emotions, Stanaway said it’s important the parent- or parents-to-be surround themselves with people they trust, both before and after the birth.

Although the various services available locally to people about to be parents are well used, Stanaway said not everyone is using them.

“I know there are some who fall through the cracks,” she said.

For more information about service available to parents-to-be, either at BHK or other local agencies, call the BHK Child Development Board at 487-6600, or go online to

Being physically ready to become pregnant is obviously necessary, and Dr. Spring Madosh, family medicine and obstetrics physician with the Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital Laurium Clinic, said she urges her patients who want to become pregnant to have a physical examination first.

“Usually for a woman it takes the place of her annual (doctor) visit,” Madosh said.

At the examination, Madosh said she asks the woman if she’s on any medication, some of which may be incompatible with pregnancy. However, there may be alternatives to those medications which won’t cause any problems.

“We try to maximize safety and minimize risk,” she said. “There are some medications that are unsafe for pregnancy.”

Proper nutrition is very important during pregnancy, Madosh said.

“We’re looking for a well-balanced, well-rounded diet,” she said.

During pregnancy, Madosh said a high protein diet is important, and prenatal vitamin supplements should be taken.

Because some of the medications used during dental care can be harmful to a developing fetus, Madosh said dental work shouldn’t be done during pregnancy.

“Have that done before the pregnancy,” she said.

Madosh said some fathers-to-be actually have an increase in what are called “empathy hormones” during their mate’s pregnancy, and they can cause changes for the man.

“You’ll often find men who eat more during a pregnancy,” she said.

Exercise during pregnancy is important for the woman, also, Madosh said.

“Certainly, physical activity is a key part of pregnancy,” she said. “Walking is a great option.”

There are gentle exercises, which are performed in water. They take weight off the joints, Madosh said.

However, Madosh said she recommends abdominal exercises not be done during pregnancy.

Madosh said something she advises pregnant women not to do is clean a cat litter box, because there are organisms in the cat waste which could adversely affect the pregnancy.

A woman has a lot to deal with before, during and after a pregnancy, and Madosh tells her patients to talk to people who have gone through it, such as their mothers, sisters or other relatives.

“Sometimes family traits can be similar,” she said.