Category Archives: Baby Your Baby

Cesarean delivery or vaginal birth – Which is right for you?

If you’re pregnant, you may wonder about how you want to deliver your baby, and how you might end up delivering your baby – either vaginally or via Cesarean section.

The body is designed for vaginal birth, and most babies are born vaginally, where the baby is delivered from the uterus, inside the pelvis, through the vagina to the outside world. But, babies can also be born surgically, through an incision in the abdomen, which is called a Cesarean delivery or C-section. Sometimes a C-section is needed to protect the health of the baby or mother or both, and other times, patients simply prefer a C-section delivery.

Jade Elliott spoke with Dr. Helen Feltovich, a maternal fetal medicine physician, an OB/Gyn who cares for patients with high-risk pregnancies, with Intermountain Healthcare, about the differences between C-sections and vaginal deliveries.

Advantages of a vaginal delivery

Delivering vaginally usually means you’ll recover faster from childbirth and your hospital stay will be shorter.

Common reasons a scheduled C-section may be recommended:

  • Baby is in breech (feet-first or bottom-first) or transverse (sideways) position, rather than cephalic (head-down) position.
  • Placenta previa—placenta is covering all or part of the opening to the birth canal.
  •  Maternal infection the baby can catch if delivered vaginally, such as HIV, or active genital herpes.
  • Multiple gestation (being pregnant with more than one baby).
  • A vertical incision on the uterus from a previous C-section or uterine surgery .
  • More than two previous C-sections.
  •  Baby’s head can’t fit through the maternal pelvis.
  •  Baby has a large birth defect that could rupture during vaginal delivery.

Common reasons for unplanned C-sections

  • Sometimes complications during labor or delivery necessitate a C-section birth.
  • Labor stops or isn’t progressing, or baby can’t fit through the pelvis.
  •  Placental abruption (placenta pulls away from uterine wall too soon, cutting off baby’s oxygen).
  • Umbilical cord becomes pinched or drops into the birth canal ahead of baby, which can lower baby’s oxygen supply.
  • Changes in baby’s heart rate that suggest baby may not be getting enough oxygen

How birth in an operating room is different from birth in a hospital room

While a C-section is a surgery, it is primarily a birth, and this is the focus. Patients are almost always awake and typically have their partner right by them. Mom and partner can see and touch the baby, just like in a vaginal delivery.

As soon as your medical care team is sure your baby is stable, you can hold your baby. Skin to skin contact as soon as possible is encouraged to promote bonding, whether the baby is born via vaginal or Cesarean delivery.

Intermountain is working to reduce unnecessary C-sections

A C-section delivery is major abdominal surgery and like any surgery comes with some risks. If it’s elective, your doctor or midwife can help you evaluate if the benefits of having a C-section outweigh the risks. If there are medical indications, your provider will explain these to you. Once you have a C-section, you have a choice about whether or not to have a C-section in the future, or try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). After you have had two C-sections, it’s not recommended to try a vaginal delivery.

With any surgery, there are risks for possible complications such as infection, injury to bladder or bowel, blood clots and in rare cases, brain damage or death. However, many of these risks apply to pregnancy or delivery in general and they are very, very low. Risks for the baby include a possible increased chance of breathing problems, and extreme sleepiness can occur in the unusual case that general anesthesia is needed.

The C-section rate in the U.S. is a public health issue because of the small increased risk of complication, and increased time of hospitalization. Average stay is two days for a vaginal delivery and 3-4 days for a C-section.

Intermountain was an early adopter of national recommendations to reduce the rate of C-section in American women, and has one of the lowest C-section rates in the country. That said, sometimes patients need to have a C-section for their safety or that of their baby, Intermountain is committed to adhering to evidence-based recommendations for C-section delivery while simultaneously honoring patients’ wishes for how their babies will be delivered.

Vaginal birth after a C-Section for a previous pregnancy

A vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) delivery is possible for anyone who has had only one or two C-section deliveries. There is a small but serious risk of the uterus rupturing during a VBAC delivery because the uterus has a scar from the previous surgery. Talk with your provider about your specific medical history to see if you’re a candidate for a VBAC delivery. Factors involved in the decision include the reason for your previous C-section; the type of uterine incision (if it was low on the belly and done side-to-side, it’s more likely you can try VBAC); when your last delivery occurred (less or more than 18 months ago), and other factors.

Do’s and don’ts for recovery after a C-section


  • Take time to sit and bond with your baby.
  • Rest when you’re tired.
  • Walk every day to maintain strength, and prevent blood clots and constipation.
  • Hold a pillow over your incision when you need to cough or laugh to be more comfortable.
  •  Shower normally (or take a bath after two weeks).
  • Eat healthily
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids.
  • Take a fiber supplement daily to avoid constipation.


  • Lift anything heavier than your baby.
  • Use tampons or douche for at least six weeks.
  •  Take baths for about two weeks, until your incision is healed.
  •  Participate in rigorous activity or core muscle exercises until recommended by your doctor.
  •  Have sex until your body feels ready (at least two weeks).
  • Be afraid to ask for help from friends or family.
  • Soak in public pools or hot tubs for at least six weeks.
  •  Crash diet

C-Section incision care:

  • Keep the incision area dry and clean.
  • Use warm, soapy water to gently wash your incision daily (usually when you shower).
  • Pat the area dry, after cleaning.
  •  If your doctor used tape strips on your incision, let them fall off on their own. This usually takes about a week.

When to call your doctor:

  • Depression, sadness, hopelessness, or having troubling thoughts.
  • Signs of an infection including pain, pus, swelling, redness, swollen lymph nodes
  •  Fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  •  Difficulty breathing.
  •  Vaginal discharge that smells bad.
  • Severe pain in your belly.
  • Bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks through more than one pad in two hours or less.
  • Vaginal bleeding that gets worse or is still bright red more than four days after birth.
  •  Signs of a blood clot, including pain in your thigh, groin, back of knee, or calf.
  • Incision comes open.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Vaginal blood clots larger than a golf ball.
  • Trouble passing urine or stool.

For more information about Cesarean sections visit

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

New dietary guidelines for infants and toddlers

New USDA dietary guidelines are out – and for the first time include the needs of infants and toddlers.

Dietary guidelines are updated every five years to help people know what they should eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, promote health, and prevent disease.

Jade Elliott spoke with Alyssa Scordo, RDN, Intermountain Healthcare, to discuss the new guidelines and how parents should handle sugars and potentially allergenic foods.

This is the first time the guidelines have been differentiated for life stages, from birth to older adulthood, including pregnancy and lactation, said Alyssa Scordo, a registered dietitian nutritionist for Intermountain Healthcare.

“It’s never too early or too late to implement healthy eating – that’s what these new guidelines tell us,” Scordo said. “Introducing infants and toddlers to healthy foods can make a difference in their health and wellbeing throughout their lives.”

Research shows an individual’s eating habits have the greatest impact on their health. Nationally, more than half of all adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor diets and not enough physical activity. Childhood obesity continues to rise, with about one-fifth of children clinically obese nationwide.

Here’s what the new “Make Every Bite Count” dietary guidelines say for infants and toddlers:

Birth to 6 months: Exclusively feed infants human milk and continue through at least the first year of life. If human milk is not possible, feed infants iron-fortified formula during the first year of life. Provide supplemental Vitamin D soon after birth.

At 6 months: Introduce nutrient-dense complementary foods, and a variety of foods from all food groups. Include foods rich in iron and zinc, particularly for infants fed human milk.

Start introducing allergenic foods, such as peanuts, egg, cow milk products, tree nuts, wheat, shellfish, fish and soy. Introducing peanut-containing foods, for example, reduces the risk that an infant will develop an allergy to peanuts. For infants at high risk of peanut allergy, introduce peanut-containing foods between 4-6 months of age.

Hold off on giving babies foods and drinks with added sugar, and limit foods high in sodium.

At 12 months: Toddlers should consume between 700-1,000 calories per day through age 23 months, in a variety of food groups:

  • Vegetables (2/3 cup to 1 cup)
  •  Fruits (1/2 cup to 1 cup)
  • Grains (3 ounces, half of which are whole grains)
  •  Dairy (1 2/3 cup to 2 cups)
  •  Protein (2 ounces)
  •  Oils (1/2 tablespoon)

It’s also important to avoid added sugar and limit foods high in sodium. Juice should be 100 percent fruit juice, and limited to 4 ounces per day.

Here are a few simple changes to help toddlers eat healthier:

  • Replace sugary cereals with cereals containing minimal added sugar.
  •  Replace fried vegetables with roasted vegetables.
  •  Replace sugary fruit products with fruit canned in 100 percent juice.
  •  Replace high-sodium meats, like hotdogs, with lean ground meats.
  •  Choose unsweetened beverages over sugary drinks.

“Everyone, even young children, can benefit from making changes to what they consume to help build a healthy diet,” Scordo said. “Giving children healthy foods early on will help them make better food choices as an adult, and hopefully, help them to live happier, healthier lives.”

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

For more information:

What parents should know about birthmarks/Hemangioma

Many babies develop birthmarks in the first few weeks of life. Many of those birthmarks are harmless and will disappear with age. But some will need special treatment to prevent issues as the child grows.

Jade Elliott spoke with Dr. Kate Puttgen, Intermountain Healthcare, about birthmarks on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast.

Some infants develop a hemangioma, a non-cancerous tumor made of excess blood vessels. Hemangiomas can be superficial with a red color, or deep beneath the skin with a bluish color, or a mix of superficial and deep with both red and blue coloring, said Dr. Kate Puttgen, a pediatric dermatologist with Intermountain Healthcare. They grow rapidly in the first three to five months of life.

“It’s critical for hemangiomas to be detected early,” Dr. Puttgen said. “Most babies do fine with diagnosis and watchful waiting, but it’s important to work with a pediatrician who can refer the child to a specialist when necessary to ensure the hemangioma is not more dangerous.”

Hemangiomas occur in up to 10 percent of Caucasian infants, and are more common in babies of low-birth weight and who are born prematurely. They also are up to three times more common in girls than in boys.

Hemangiomas can develop anywhere on the body, and go through a period of growth and stabilization, and then decrease in size. Many will eventually disappear, but some can leave behind significant scarring or cause functional problems, such as with vision or feeding, depending on their size and location, Dr. Puttgen said.

Most hemangiomas present by about 2 weeks of age, and will at least double in size in the first two months of life. Eighty percent of the time, the maximum size will be reached by the time the baby is 3 months old, and by age 5 months, the vast majority have essentially finished growing. Deep hemangiomas and larger hemangiomas usually have a longer growth phase.

But in rare cases, a hemangioma can grow for longer periods of time or, if on the head or neck, can create distortion to the face, and result in disfiguring scar tissue or eye damage if left untreated, Dr. Puttgen said.

“The bottom line is, the majority of birthmarks in babies will not adversely affect their growth and development,” she said. “For other more complicated hemangiomas, we have excellent treatments, and can prevent the need for surgery or laser treatment before the child starts school if we start medicine as soon as possible in most cases.”

Beta blockers, commonly used for decades in babies with heart issues, are an effective treatment for hemangiomas, without significant side effects for most babies. The beta blockers shrink hemangiomas, and come in oral or topical versions. They are most effective when used in the baby’s first four months of life, though children as old as 5 years have benefited.

“Well-child checkups are a great time to talk to pediatricians about skin concerns, and address issues early on,” Dr. Puttgen said. “If a parent notices a birthmark, they should feel empowered to speak up and consult with their provider to determine whether a specialist is needed, and know that there are safe and effective treatments.”

For more information about birthmarks, go to

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

Prevent heat stroke in vehicles

As the weather warms up, parents and caretakers need to pay extra attention to protect children from accidental heatstroke in cars.

People should never leave a child in a vehicle – even for a minute – to prevent unintended injury or even death.

Jade Elliott spoke with Jessica Strong, community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, to discuss how to keep your children safe.

“Even if it’s not that warm outside, the insides of cars heat up quickly and can present a serious hazard for children,” said Jessica Strong, community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “Everyone must remain vigilant to never leave a child alone in a car for any amount of time to prevent a tragedy.”

About 40 children across the country die each year after being left in a hot vehicle, Strong said.

In Utah, 13 children have died in hot vehicles since 1990, and others have suffered injuries in “close calls.”

Yet 2020 was one of the lowest years for heat stroke deaths in recent memory, at 25 deaths nationwide. In Utah, no hot car deaths were reported.

“My speculation is that with fewer people driving, and more parents working from home, there were fewer opportunities to leave children in cars, resulting in fewer deaths,” Strong said. “My hope, though, is that this decrease is the start of a trend in the right direction, which will continue until the number of deaths reaches zero.”

Strong says accidental heat stroke tragedies can happen to anyone, and often occur when caretakers forget a child is in the car.

Stress, fatigue, and change of routine can push a person’s brain into autopilot, making it easier to forget. Summer time can present more risk of injury due to hot weather and changes in routine, including children out of school and families staying up late for activities.

Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital is offering these tips to help caretakers remember that a child is inside a vehicle to prevent unintentional injuries:

– Never leave your child alone in a vehicle – even for a few minutes. A child’s body temperature can increase 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Cracking a window has very little effect on the temperature inside the car.

  • Always check your vehicle before leaving it.
  • Keep a visual reminder that a child is with you, like a stuffed animal or diaper bag in the seat next to you.
  • Place something you’ll need when you arrive at your destination, like your briefcase, backpack, purse or cell phone, in the back seat. That way, when you reach for the item, you’ll likely see the child.
  • If you see a child left alone in a car, contact the police or call 911.

For more information, visit

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

Keep kids safe from window falls this spring

It’s nice to open the windows to let fresh spring air circulate the home. But open windows also bring hidden dangers for children, said Jessica Strong, community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

“Windows are a fall hazard for kids, and the consequences can be severe,” Strong said. “Window screens are a great way to keep bugs out, but not kids in.”

Jade Elliott spoke with Jessica Strong, community health manager, Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, to discuss how to keep your children safe on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast.

Nearly 15,000 children are injured by falling out of windows every year. Often, children were leaning against window screens before they fell.

Window screens are designed to easily pop out in case of a fire or other emergency to help people easily escape. As a result, they give way with moderate pressure.

“The best way to keep children safe from window falls is to keep them away from open windows,” Strong said. “There are a number of precautions that can be taken, but it’s important to remember there is no substitute for adult supervision. Most window falls occur when children are alone.”

Here are some other tips for preventing window falls:

  • Keep windows closed and locked.
  •  Before opening a window, make sure it is inaccessible to children.
  • Keep furniture or anything children can climb on away from windows.
  • Teach children only to open windows with permission and help from adults.
  •  Consider installing window locks, guards, or other safety equipment to prevent children from opening windows too wide — or at all — without help from an adult.

For more information:

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

How dads can bond with baby

Bonding with a new baby is critical. But when the baby’s bond with the mother is very strong, dads may feel as if they are less important in the baby’s life.

Jade Elliott spoke with Dr. Neal Davis, pediatrician and medical director of pediatric community-based care for Intermountain Healthcare, on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast. Dr. Davis said a dad’s interaction with newborns and children as they grow up is critical in child development.

The strongest bonds start with a father’s interactions with the mother, Dr. Davis said.

“This cannot be overstated: The most fundamental way that dads can create that early bond with their babies is to be a supportive, healthy partner for the mother,” he said. “The relationship with the mother over time is connected to a dad’s ability to engage positively with the child.”

Data show that dads bring a different approach to interactions, from their voices to their choices of play, that help babies develop and grow, Dr. Davis said.

Yet some dads encounter barriers to engaging with their child. Mental wellness can be a challenge, be it depression – experienced before or after the birth of a child – lack of sleep, or financial stresses. Some infants and toddlers may cry if they’re not with their mother, which can be discouraging.

It’s important to recognize that children go through different phases and attachments, Dr. Davis said. “Dads staying engaged, nurturing, and active with children matters, because phases and attachments change.”

Dr. Davis provides these tips to help new dads bond with baby:

-Put the phone down! Texting, talking, or scrolling disrupts meaningful interactions with children.
-Go outside, take a walk, and explore the bigger world together. Look at trees, smell flowers, sit on the grass. This could ease the initial emotional reaction of the child’s attachment to mom.
-Attend well-child and medical appointments.
-Understand the child’s development phases, and be flexible. For young children, dads can make funny faces, animal sounds, or sing; turn on music and dance; wrestle or play chase.
-Read books together. This could mean finding a tiger in a picture book, roaring together and chasing each other around like tigers.
-Be patient, be engaged and be yourself.

“Dads are different than moms, they’re going to parent differently than moms, and that can be very good for the child to pick up on nuances from a different parent,” Dr. Davis said. “There are no perfect parents, and we’re all trying and engaging with children the best that we can. Just keep on going.”

Click here to listen to our dads and postpartum depression podcast mentioned in this episode.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

Avoiding toxic substances during pregnancy

When you find out you’re pregnant, it seems to change everything. Suddenly you’re thinking not just about yourself, but about the baby you’re carrying. You may have questions about what substances or environmental exposures may be harmful to you or your baby while you’re pregnant.

There’s the usual medical advice about avoiding alcohol or illegal or prescription drugs when you’re pregnant. Plus, it seems many people are much more aware of their environment these days and the products they use. If you’re pregnant, that adds an additional layer of wondering what over the counter medications are safe to use, and if chemicals or poor air quality could cause harm to you or your baby.

Jade Elliott spoke with Virginia Homewood, an OB/Gyn with Intermountain Healthcare on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast to explain some of the substances to avoid, some obvious and some you may not be as familiar with.

Why is it important to avoid toxic substances when you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant? Is it to protect you or the baby?

When we think about toxic exposures during pregnancy, some things can be somewhat harmful to mom, but often we’re typically more concerned about the effect of the exposures on the developing fetus.

What are the most important substances to avoid when you’re pregnant?

Alcoholic beverages – We don’t know if there’s a safe level you can consume when you’re pregnant, so the best advice is to not consume any. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Drinking alcohol has been linked to severe developmental issues, learning difficulties, attention deficit disorders, and other developmental problems that don’t appear until later in a baby’s life.

Illegal Drugs – There are so many types of illegal drugs and the effects are varied depending on the drug. With narcotics, we see addiction in the baby. Then the baby suffers from withdrawal symptoms. It can cause neurodevelopmental problems as well. Other drugs affect the pregnancy and can cause complications for the mother, like high blood pressure or preterm labor.

Smoking – Smoking cigarettes can increase your chance of miscarriage or preterm labor. It also can affect fetal growth, and increases the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Vaping during pregnancy would also be harmful, since e-cigarettes contain nicotine. E-cigarettes are less-regulated than regular cigarettes and that means the amount of nicotine or other substances in them is harder to determine.

What other toxins should be avoided during pregnancy?

Mercury – Pregnant women should limit mercury, which is found in some fish. Mercury affects neurodevelopment and the brain of the developing fetus. Limit your choices to low-mercury fish. Fish is an excellent source of lean protein and the fish oil found in fish is especially healthy, so it’s important to find the balance. A good goal is to eat two servings of low mercury fish per week. Lake fish and shellfish are safe to eat.

Avoid these types of fish if you’re pregnant:

King mackerel
Orange roughy
Tilefish (from Gulf of Mexico)
Big eye tuna
Fish with lowest levels of mercury include:
Canned tuna,
Trout (freshwater)
For more information see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendations for pregnant women about fish.

Hair and nail salons

We don’t know if the chemicals to color or perm your hair or do your nails are harmful or not. If you can smell it, it’s probably not good. Skip the salon temporarily or make sure the area is well-ventilated.

The best strategy is to adopt the mindset that fewer exposures is better. Reduce your exposure to things that are harmful.

What toxic exposures might there be in your own home?

Chemicals used in plastics such as phthalates. BPA is example. BPA has been removed from most baby products, but it’s replaced with other BPP or other similar bisphenol molecules.

Be aware of plastics and use them safely. Don’t reuse disposable plastic bottles. Don’t re-heat food in the microwave in plastic, like Tupperware or plastic wrap. Heat food in a dish or in glass. Cover the dish with waxed paper or a paper plate. The plastics leach into the food. Especially avoid plastics marked #7 and #3.

Toxins in food or personal care products

Read packages and labels and understand what is in your food or beauty products. Organic food costs more, but is a good option if you’re concerned about pesticides. The Environmental Working Group has a list of produce that rates those highest in pesticides, called The Dirty dozen as well as a list of produce with low amounts of pesticides, called The Clean 15. They also have a page called Skin Deep that has information about the ingredients in personal care products.

Eating and preparing food

Pregnant women should make sure meats are cooked all the way through before eating. Deli-meats, need to be heated and not eaten cold. And if you’re pregnant, only eat dairy products that are pasteurized.

Keep your house dust free. Mop your floors. Use a HEPA filter on vacuum. This will help reduce toxins in your home.

Opt for natural cleaning products. You can create your own with vinegar. You can soak citrus fruit in it for a better scent. A lot of cleaners are not studied in pregnant women, so we just don’t know if they’re safe. When you are using cleaning products, keep the room well-ventilated.

Avoid flame retardants. Try to buy infant clothing without flame retardants, because they contain toxins. Flame retardants are common in pajamas, costumes, and furniture.

Are there certain over the counter medications that should be avoided during pregnancy?

Any medication has a potential for harm during pregnancy. It’s best to not take anything before you talk to your doctor or midwife. They can help you know if over the counter medications are safe and when it is safe to take them. They can also help review any prescription medications you have. For pain relief, Tylenol is preferred over Advil or aspirin for pregnant women.

Are there certain prescription medications that should be avoided?

Medications that should not be taken when you’re thinking of getting pregnant or during pregnancy would include the acne medication Accutane, ace inhibitors, and some blood pressure or diabetes medications.

If you’re taking medication and thinking of getting pregnant go in for a check-up. Many women have put off going to the doctor during the pandemic, but Intermountain has many safety protocols in place to protect you and your provider from COVID-19.

Does it matter what trimester you’re in as far as reducing exposure to environmental toxins or medications?

Generally, during the first trimester, in the early development stages, is when your baby is most at risk of being affected by exposures. But it varies, from medication to medication. Some are a concern later in pregnancy.

What about toxic exposures in the workplace?

Let your doctor or midwife know about your work environment. You’ll want to minimize your exposure if you work with cleaners or chemicals, whether you work in a factory, warehouse, dry cleaners, salon or in healthcare.

Where can women go for more information? Talk with your provider about any medications you’re taking or substances you’re concerned about.

Another great resource is Mother to Baby, the nation’s leading authority and most trusted source of evidence-based information on the safety of medications and other exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. It’s a no-cost information service available to mothers, health professionals, and the general public via chat, text, phone, and email in both English and Spanish. It’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health.

The phone number for Mother to Baby is 1-866.626.6847.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

Air pollution and pregnancy: Why it’s important to reduce your exposure

If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant have you ever wondered if air pollution might have an effect on your unborn baby?

Jade Elliott spoke with Virginia Homewood, an OB/Gyn with Intermountain Healthcare, on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast to provide some important tips to help you reduce your exposure to air pollution if you’re pregnant.

Why can air pollution be harmful if you’re pregnant?

Studies have shown that air pollution can increase your risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It may also lead to a slightly lower rate of fetal growth. High air pollution levels can have an effect even during the time when you conceive.

So, you may want to take that into consideration if you’re planning to get pregnant.

Why is the Wasatch Front prone to air pollution?

Salt Lake City and the nearby cities along the Wasatch Front are surrounded by mountains and have high elevations, and these factors can lead to more bad air days, especially in the winter when cold air becomes trapped in the valley and we experience temperature inversions, where it is warmer at high elevations in the mountains than at lower elevations in the valley.

Summer can be a bad time for air as well. Summer wildfires, fireworks and high temperatures all play a role in increasing the amount of summer air pollution. And of course, a big source of air pollution any time of year is automobile exhaust.

Five simple things you can do to avoid outdoor air pollution

1. Check your local daily air quality at

2. Don’t exercise outside on high pollution days

3. Don’t exercise outside at peak traffic times like rush hour

4. Don’t let your car idle

5. Use the recirculation setting in your car, to reduce the amount of exhaust fumes you breathe.

Indoor air pollution can also be a problem

Many people don’t realize air pollution can occur indoors. Outdoor air pollution is a major contributor to indoor air pollution. But you can take steps to help reduce the amount of fine particulate pollution particles in your home.

Seven things you can do to avoid indoor air pollution

1. Make sure you change your furnace filter regularly

2. Use a portable indoor HEPA air filter in the room you use most

3. Use HEPA air filters with a MERV rating of 13-16

4. Do use an exhaust fan in the kitchen

5. Don’t use a wood burning fireplace or burn candles or incense

6. Don’t allow smoking inside the home or nearby

7. Don’t spray volatile chemicals or cleaners inside your home

Recommended air filters – understanding the rating system

A High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of 13-16 is most effective at removing the smallest pollution particles. HEPA filters remove more than 99 percent of particulates. (These should not be confused with air purifiers that use UV light or electrostatic charges to kill viruses or bacteria).

HEPA filter MERV ratings range from 1 to 16. A low MERV rating (1 to 4) means the filter only traps large particles such as dust. A high MERV rating (13 to 16) means that particles less than 1 micron are removed, such as the PM2.5 particles in outdoor air pollution that cause poor health outcomes. However, HEPA filters do not remove radon or ozone, which can also be harmful to the lungs. For more information visit:

An indoor air filter can help reduce the pollution particles in a room in your home. Kitchens and rooms with wood burning fireplaces can also be a major source of dirty air. Place it one of those areas or where you spend most of your time. You could move it to your bedroom at night.

How to improve overall air quality

It takes a whole community to improve air quality. We are all contributing to and affected by air pollution, whether we are young or old or have heart or lung disease or not. The solutions to better air quality must be addressed by all of us as a community. If we don’t take action, we will continue to see increased health costs and lower quality of life in our communities.

For more information visit

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

What if my pap smear is abnormal?

If you’re over age 21 and have had a well-woman exam, you’ve probably had a pap smear. It’s a quick test, and can be briefly uncomfortable, but what does it check for and how often should you get one?

Jade Elliott spoke with Martie Nightingale, a certified nurse-midwife with Intermountain Healthcare, to answer your questions about pap smears, why they’re important and what it means if your test comes back abnormal.

What is a pap smear and what does it check for?

A pap smear is a test that detects precancerous changes on the cervix. The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus, located inside the vagina. A virus called the human papillomavirus or HPV, often causes cervical cancer. HPV can be passed during sexual contact.

A pap smear requires your provider to place a speculum into the vagina to view the cervix, then scrape away cells from the cervix using a brush. Once removed, the cells are tested for abnormal changes.

Why is it important to get a pap smear?

Getting regular pap smears allows these precancerous changes to be detected and treated before it turns into cervical cancer.

Women with early cervical cancers usually have no symptoms.

Symptoms of cervical cancer often do not begin until the cancer is growing quickly and begins to spread to other body parts. When this happens, the most common symptoms are:

Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Unusual vaginal discharge
Pain during intercourse

What to know before your appointment?

Schedule your pap smear for a day when you are not having heavy period bleeding. If you must go during your period, avoid putting anything in your vagina for at least 24 hours before your appointment.
Avoid douching.
Abstain from sexual intercourse for one to two days before your Pap smear.

At what age should you get your first pap smear? How often should you get a pap smear?

Current recommendations for cervical cancer screening include pap testing every three years beginning at age 21, and beginning at age 30 a pap test with HPV testing (co-testing), every five years, or pap testing alone every three years. Women with HIV or a weakened immune system may require more frequent or additional testing.

What does it mean if your pap smear comes back abnormal?

Most abnormal test results don’t mean you have cancer. An abnormal pap can result from temporary changes like a vaginal infection, or reactive or repairing cells that may need to be monitored a bit more frequently.

What would be the next steps if it’s abnormal?

Recommended next steps depend on your age, type and severity of abnormality, and previous history, and may include additional testing for high-risk HPV, repeat testing in one year, or a colposcopy exam with cervical biopsy.

Where can women go for more information?

American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) is a great resource for patient information.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Abnormal Pap Test results

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.

Safe weight loss after childbirth

Weight gain during pregnancy occurs because you’re growing another human and a placenta. Your blood volume also increases. Many women are concerned about losing that extra weight after childbirth.

Jade Elliott spoke with Martie Nightingale, certified nurse midwife with Intermountain Healthcare, who is also a plant-based endurance athlete and certified yoga instructor, to help answer your questions about how to lose weight safely after pregnancy.

Why does it seem like it takes a long time to return to your pre-pregnancy weight?

If you consider it takes nine months to gain the pregnancy weight, it makes sense it will take some time to lose it. If you’re a first-time mom, it’s helpful to know it takes a minimum of six weeks for your body to fully recover from childbirth, so have realistic expectations about weight loss. During the first six weeks, primary goals may include physical recovery, baby care and adjusting to being a new mom. Self-care is vital in the first few weeks and should include getting adequate sleep, minimizing stress, eating healthfully and hydrating. A focus on self-care and healthy lifestyle will often lead to a natural weight loss during the first few weeks.

Can breastfeeding help you lose weight?

According to research, breastfeeding helps with weight loss. Plus, breastfeeding is so healthy for babies. Babies who are breastfed have less risk for obesity, diabetes, and asthma. There are also antibodies in breastmilk that help prevent infections.

If you are breastfeeding, you need more calories and to stay hydrated

Here’s what’s recommended:

275 calories above normal if pregnant

500 calories above normal, if breastfeeding

75-80 grams additional protein if breastfeeding

Have a healthy snack with protein almost every time you breastfeed. You need approximately four liters of water per day to provide for your hydration as well as milk production needs.

You won’t get down to your pre-pregnancy weight when breastfeeding. Set realistic expectations. That last bit of weight may not come off until weaning. This is due to weight in the breasts and extra body weight and fluid to support breastfeeding.

Returning to exercise

By naturally returning to exercise, you’ll start to lose weight. During the initial two weeks after childbirth, limit exercise to gentle walking as you feel up to it. Pay attention to your postpartum bleeding and don’t over-exert. From two to six weeks postpartum, slowly integrate exercise like longer walks and gentle yoga. An incremental increase in exercise over six weeks is preferred to being sedentary for six weeks and then abruptly beginning exercise.

What kind of diets are best to help you lose weight?

Focus on eating a whole-foods plant-based (WFPB) diet that doesn’t include meat, dairy, or processed foods. The WFPB has been shown in research to result in the most weight loss when compared to other diets like Mediterranean or keto and has the best health outcomes, including lowest risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Patients following a WFPB diet also report improved mood, increased energy and reduced constipation.

Try to limit processed foods and focus on increasing whole grains, and fresh vegetables and fruits. Enjoy a colorful diet of vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes. Nutrition experts are talking about plant-based diets, where most of the protein you eat is plant-derived, and now there’s much more availability of plant-based proteins and recipes. Focus on including beans, legumes, tofu and tempeh, using meat substitutes and analogs only sparingly as they are processed foods.

Avoid diets that are a fad, or extreme diets that are not proven by research.

Where can women go for more information?

Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine 21 Day Kick-Start
Nutrition Facts
There are a variety of smart phone tracking Apps that can help you monitor healthy intake and/or activity.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.