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All Posts Tagged: Pregnancy

Breastfeeding: Giving Your Baby Their Best Start in Life

The decision to breastfeed is a personal choice for a mother and her baby, however, research shows many benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby. Breast milk is nutritious, rich in vitamins, and saves time and money. In support of National Breastfeeding Week, below are some of the reasons you may want to consider breastfeeding your baby.

Benefits to babies who breastfeed:

  • Breast milk provides the ideal amount of nutrients and vitamins for babies, and it’s provided in a more digestible form than formula.
  • Breast milk provides important antibodies to fight off viruses and bacteria.
  • The colostrum that is found in breast milk within the first few days of giving birth is rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect the baby from infections, as well as helps the baby’s digestive system function and grow.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma or allergies, and research shows that they have a lower risk of developing ear infections, respiratory illnesses, eczema, diarrhea and vomiting. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding can also help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and it has been thought to lower the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers as a child.

Benefits to mothers who breastfeed:

  • Breastfeeding can help mothers lose their pregnancy weight faster since breastfeeding burns extra calories.
  • Breastfeeding helps the mother and baby bond due to skin to skin contact, the closeness of the mother’s body to the baby, and close eye contact to each other. This closeness is beneficial to both the baby and the mother.
  • Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin which helps the mother’s uterus return to normal size and reduce bleeding after giving birth. It can also help calm the mother emotionally.
  • Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis as well as breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding saves time and money since there is no cost involved, nor time spent washing and sterilizing bottles and nipples.

Breastfeeding is a personal choice that a mother should make without being influenced by friends or family. There are many benefits, but there may also be some challenges, such as sore nipples, the baby not latching on, or not producing enough milk. Seek counsel from your health care provider, family members, or other mothers if these challenges arise. If breastfeeding is the right choice for you, it can help give your baby their best and healthiest start in life.

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Staying Safe Throughout Pregnancy

Most pregnant women worry about what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy. Since June is National Safety Month, here is a list of some tips to keep you safe throughout pregnancy:

  • Drink a lot of water, especially during the hot, summer months to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • Do not sit for long periods of time to avoid circulation problems.
  • Wear flat, comfortable shoes to avoid slipping or falling. Also, your feet may swell during pregnancy so you should wear what is most comfortable.
  • Always wear seat belts while travelling in cars. Seat belts should fit across your chest and under your belly.
  • Avoid travelling during the last trimester of pregnancy. Most doctors do not recommend flying after 36 weeks of pregnancy when the chance of going into labor is greater.
  • Exercise during pregnancy is usually safe and even recommended to reduce the risk of complications throughout pregnancy. Check with your health care provider before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Eat a nutritious and healthy diet to help with fetal brain development and to reduce to risk of low birth weight and many birth defects.
  • Take prenatal vitamins to provide the extra nutrition that developing fetuses need.
  • Visit your prenatal health care provider regularly to monitor your pregnancy and the baby’s development.

Following these tips will contribute to a safe pregnancy for you and your baby, but be sure to talk to your health care provider about any questions or concerns that may arise throughout your pregnancy.

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Smoking During Pregnancy

There are numerous health risks associated with smoking, and smoking during pregnancy causes health problems for you and your baby. When you smoke, your baby smokes. The poisons you inhale in cigarettes, such as nicotine, carbon monoxide, and lead, cross the placenta and keep your baby from getting the proper nutrients and oxygen needed to grow. Smoking can make it harder to conceive, and smoking during pregnancy can lead to pre-term birth, birth defects, and even infant death.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause the following health problems:

  • Trouble conceiving
  • Increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Problems with the placenta, such as the placenta separating from the womb too early, which is dangerous to the mother and baby
  • Pre-term birth and low birth weight for the baby, leading to more health problems for the baby
  • Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Increased risk of the baby developing respiratory (lung) problems
  • Increased risk of birth defects, such as cleft lip or cleft palate

Stopping smoking will not only benefit your health, but it will significantly improve your baby’s health as well. Ask your health provider for details on programs to help you quit. START BY OBSERVING WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY – TODAY!

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Obesity During Pregnancy

Obesity during pregnancy causes many risks for both the mother and the baby. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology classifies obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk.

The mother may be at risk for the following complications if she is obese during pregnancy:

  • Gestational diabetes: diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy which may increase the risk of having diabetes after pregnancy. Gestational diabetes also increases the risk of having a cesarean delivery.
  • Preeclampsia: a high blood pressure disorder that can occur during or after pregnancy. Preeclampsia may cause the kidneys and liver to fail as well as lead to seizures, a condition called eclampsia.
  • Problems with diagnostic testing: obese mothers may encounter inaccurate diagnostic screenings such as ultrasound testing due to their size. Some common concerns are not being able to see the baby’s heart or spine development fully, and not being able to see the mother’s ovaries completely to determine if there are any problems.
  • Sleep apnea: a condition in which a person stops breathing for short periods while sleeping. This condition is often associated with obesity and may increase of the risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and heart and lung problems.
  • High risk pregnancy: once a mother is determined to be obese and pregnant, she will likely be diagnosed as a high-risk pregnancy and need follow-up with a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist to monitor the pregnancy.

Obesity during pregnancy not only causes complications for the mother, but the baby may be affected as well. The following complications may occur for the baby:

  • Miscarriage: obese women have an increased risk of miscarriage than women of normal weight.
  • Birth defects: babies born from obese women have an increased risk of having heart or neural tube defects.
  • Preterm birth: complications from the mother’s obesity, such as preeclampsia, may result in the baby needing to be born early. Babies born before 39 weeks may suffer from short-term or long-term complications from being born before they are fully developed.
  • Macrosomia: a condition in which the baby is born larger than normal, which can increase the chance of the mother needing a cesarean delivery, or the baby becoming obese later in life.
  • Stillbirth: the more obese the mother, the higher the risk of the baby being delivered stillborn.

Despite the risks, obese pregnant women can have a healthy pregnancy with proper weight management and prenatal care. However, losing weight before becoming pregnant can significantly decrease the risks of complications for both the mother and the baby, and result in a much healthier pregnancy.

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Treating Depression During Pregnancy

Depression is a mood disorder which affects 1 in 4 women during their lifetime, and pregnant women are no different. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14-23% of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression during their pregnancy. But is taking antidepressants during pregnancy safe?

Last time Women’s Telehealth measured, more than 25% of our pregnant patients were taking antidepressants during pregnancy. A decision to use antidepressants during pregnancy is based on the balance between risks and benefits. Treatment of depression during pregnancy is essential and if left untreated can lead to several risks, including not seeking optimal prenatal care, not having the energy to take care of yourself,  or participating in unhealthy behavior that can also affect the fetus. Overall, the risk of birth defects and other problems for babies of mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy is very low. And, some medications have been proven safe without question during pregnancy.

Generally, these antidepressants are considered safe during pregnancy:

  • Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are generally considered an option during pregnancy, including citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs are also considered safe during pregnancy, including duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR).
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin). This medication is used for both depression and to help stop smoking. Although bupropion isn’t generally considered a first line treatment for depression during pregnancy, it might be an option for women who haven’t responded to other medications or those who want to use it for help to stop smoking.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants. This class of medications includes amitriptyline and nortriptyline (Pamelor). Although tricyclic antidepressants aren’t generally considered a first line or second line treatment, they might be an option for women who haven’t responded to other medications.

If you suffer from mild to moderate cases of depression, you may be able to stop taking medication during pregnancy with the support and guidance of your doctor. Some tips to manage mild depression symptoms include:

  • Talking with a therapist on a regular basis
  • Exercise more
  • Spend time outside
  • Practice yoga and meditation
  • Better diet and nutrition
  • Minimize stress
  • Get enough rest

However, if your depression is moderate to severe, or you have a history of depression, the risk of relapse might be greater than the risks associated with antidepressants.

The most important factor of depression in pregnancy is that the mother is safe. Talk to your doctor before any decision is made regarding taking or stopping any medications during pregnancy. Your physician will help you determine the best treatment for you and your baby.

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Centering Pregnancy

Women’s Telehealth’s Tanya Mack sat down with Certified Nurse Midwife, Anna Cherry, of Providence Women’s Health Care of Roswell, to learn about how the centering pregnancy prenatal care program their practice has been participating in is improving outcomes for the patients they serve. Centering Healthcare Institute explains how centering pregnancy works. Centering group prenatal care follows the recommended schedule of 10 prenatal visits, but each visit is 90 minutes to two hours long – giving women 10x more time with their provider. Moms engage in their care by taking their own weight and blood pressure and recording their own health data with private time with their provider for belly check.

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National Prematurity Awareness Month

On the Top Docs BusinessRadioX show, Women’s Telehealth’s Tanya Mack sat down with March of Dimes’ State Program Manager, Danielle Brown. Brown explained the extent of occurrence of premature births among Georgia women and how it ranks nationally on the low end of the scale. We explored some of the reasons behind these troubling numbers, research underway to address it, and strategies being employed around the state to bring needed screening and pre-natal care to expectant mothers.

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Women’s Telehealth Helping to Reduce Infant Mortality

Bradley George, NPR recently featured a story addressing the infant mortality health crises in the African-American south. Women’s Telehealth and their Centering Pregnancy partner, the Georgia Department of Community Health in Dougherty County. Dougherty County is a typical southern county in which about 40% of the residents are African American. Of Georgia’s 159 counties, it ranks 115th in health outcomes and has an infant mortality rate of 10.8/1000 live births- almost twice the national average. Centering Pregnancy is a way to deliver group prenatal care and adding high risk maternal fetal medicine services via telehealth, through Women’s Telehealth, has enabled this group of patients to greatly reduce their preterm birth outcomes.

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