What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare but potentially life threatening bacterial infection caused by the release of toxins from an overgrowth of bacteria. TSS can affect men and women of all ages, including children and postmenopausal women.

 

What causes it?

Toxins produced by either Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria or group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. Although TSS has been associated primarily with the use of superabsorbent tampons, it can also result from using diaphragms, cervical caps, or menstrual sponges, as well as burn or wound infection, the use of a prosthetic device, and surgery.

 

What are the signs/ symptoms?

TSS is considered a medical emergency. If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

  • Sudden high fever
  • Confusion
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Nausea/ vomiting
  • Red eyes, mouth, throat
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Red rash on palms and soles of feet
  • Seizures

 

Who is at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Those at risk for TSS include menstruating women, especially those who use tampons, women who have recently given birth, anyone who has had a staph or strep infection, recent surgery, a wound infection or infected burn, anyone who uses a prosthetic device, and anyone who has had a nosebleed severe enough to need packed medical gauze to stop it.

 

Can Toxic Shock Syndrome be Avoided or Prevented?
What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Preventing infection is the best way to avoid TSS. If you have an open wound or burn, properly clean it and keep it clean. Watch for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. If you use tampons while menstruating, use a low absorbency type and change them often (every few hours). Always wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon. Alternate between using tampons and pads and use pantiliners on your lightest days. Women who have had TSS are likely to get it again. If you’ve toxic shock syndrome in the past, or a serious staph or strep infection, don’t use tampons.

 

How is Toxic Shock Syndrome treated?

Left untreated, TSS can lead to organ failure and death, so if you suspect you may have TSS, call your doctor and get to an emergency room as soon as possible; toxic shock syndrome is a medical emergency. If you are a woman with a tampon, diaphragm, sponge, or cervical cap in place, remove it before you get to the E.R. If you forget, the staff will remove it for you. At the hospital, you may get an IV of fluids, antibiotics, and blood pressure medicine. If your TSS is due to an infected wound, the medical staff will clean the wound thoroughly. You may be given blood plasma and kidney dialysis if your kidneys are failing. Early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent toxic shock syndrome from causing organ damage, failure, and death. A hospital is the best place to be if you suspect you may have TSS.

 

At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, our staff offers women in the Colorado Springs area personalized, comprehensive health care for all phases of life, from puberty through the childbearing years, into menopause and beyond. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment for a pap smear, pregnancy test, or wellness exam. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.

How to Stay Safely Active While Pregnant

Pregnant woman safely stretching in London

Physical exercise can help improve or maintain your physical fitness and overall health at any stage of life. There is no stage in life where that is more important than during pregnancy, for both you and your baby. Keeping fit during pregnancy is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the relief of common discomforts of pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy, fit body can even help better prepare you for labor and delivery. Exercising during pregnancy is usually safe, and often recommended by your doctor. Safe forms of exercising can help alleviate low back pain, reduce stress, help ease constipation, control your weight, elevate mood, increase energy, promote good posture, improve circulation, sleep quality, muscle tone, strength, and endurance.

 

Your health provider will likely tell you to remain active if you were active prior to becoming pregnant, provided it is not uncomfortable and there are no other health conditions that would prevent you from exercising. This is not, however, the time to exercise for weight loss. You will not be putting yourself at risk for miscarriage by exercising during a normal pregnancy, and by maintaining your best level of fitness, weight loss after pregnancy should be easier.

 

Here are 10 tips to help you stay safely active while pregnant:

  1. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen to receive recommendations and guidelines for remaining active while pregnant.

  2. Plan your workouts. Schedule your workout days and times to increase the likelihood that you will make safe exercise a part of your daily routine.

  3. Don’t overdo it. You don’t need to do marathon exercise sessions to get an adequate workout. Exercising just 20-30 minutes anywhere from three days a week to every day can be beneficial to maintain optimum health during pregnancy.Active pregnant woman safely starting yoga practice

  4. Take it easy. Low impact or no impact exercise will help get your blood flowing and decrease the risk of injury. Body weight exercises such as prenatal yoga, swimming, walking, and Pilates can be ideal for maintaining fitness.

  5. Stay hydrated. It is very important to make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout your pregnancy, and especially when exercising.

  6. For healthy energy to exercise, skip the sugar and caffeine and power up with fruit. Nibbling on ripe, seasonal fruit like bananas and apples can help boost energy levels in a healthy way to sustain you through your workout.

  7. Get enough rest. Exercise alone is not enough to stay fit during pregnancy. Eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough good quality sleep all contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and don’t be afraid to hit the couch for an afternoon nap to keep your energy levels up.

  8. Avoid abdominal exercises. After the first trimester, exercises such as crunches and sit-ups are not recommended, as they can interfere with proper blood flow, potentially reducing blood flow and making you feel nauseous or dizzy.

  9. Use the right equipment. Stationary bikes, treadmills, rowing machines, and elliptical machines offer a great workout with little to no impact and give you an opportunity to exercise without risking a fall.

  10. Do what you love. If you’re not into formalized exercise sessions and don’t want to commit to timed sessions every day, there are other ways to get your workout in. Try putting on some music and dance while you do housework, spend some extra time out in the garden, take the stairs whenever possible, or take the dog for an extra-long walk. Enjoy the sunshine and breathe in as much fresh air as possible.

 

Even if you didn’t exercise very much before you got pregnant, it’s okay to start now. Begin with 10 minutes of gentle exercise three to four times a week and gradually bump it up to half hour sessions as soon as you are comfortable. Don’t exercise to the point of pain, and if you’re nauseous or overtired, skip the workout session and take a nap. Treat yourself and your baby with tender loving care, and don’t stress over your workouts or lack thereof.

 

At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, our staff offers women in the Colorado Springs area personalized, comprehensive health care for all phases of life, from puberty through the childbearing years, into menopause and beyond. Give us a call today at (719)634-8800 to schedule an appointment for a pap smear, pregnancy test, or wellness exam. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.

Best Apps for Tracking Your Period or Pregnancy

We all depend on apps to make our lives easier. Whether we’re ordering groceries or tracking our finances, these handy tools are always at our fingertips to help organize and inform. So it’s no surprise that there are scores of apps to help track your pregnancy or periods. Of course, any time you have so many choices it can get overwhelming. To make it easier to pick, here are some of our favorites.

Pregnancy Apps

1 – The Bump Pregnancy Countdown

You’re probably already aware of their website, so you should know that The Bump has an app that is also informative and encouraging. It has a planner that suggests questions to prepare you for every doctor visit. You can see an interactive 3D image of what your baby looks like from week to week, and there are experts on hand to answer all your questions in real time. The Bump staff adds content daily that corresponds to how far along you are in your pregnancy. It’s also great for managing registries. You’ll find 15,000 products with reviews to help you decide what to put on your registry, and then it can keep track of what has been purchased, even at multiple stores. Pregnancy Apps

Available for iOS and Android.

2 – What to Expect Pregnancy & Baby Tracker

Like the iconic book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, this app is chock-full of sensible, trustworthy advice. Over 15,000 articles by experts will provide the answer to just about any question you can come up with. You can see weekly videos about your stage of pregnancy. You’ll also get week-by-week information about your baby’s development and changes in your body. This information powerhouse also has a great guide of tests and screenings, and when you’ll need them.

Available for iOS and Android.

3 – BabyCenter Pregnancy Tracker and Countdown

Daily pregnancy news, nutrition tips, exercise advice, and tips for your stage of pregnancy makes this app a friendly source of information all through your pregnancy and beyond. There are fun features like the “bumpie photo diary” to keep track of your growing belly, a kick counter, and contraction timer. Once you give birth, it switches to a daily parenting guide, to walk you through the first year with a newborn. You’ll find an active forum so you can connect with other expecting moms to share the excitement of this journey.

Get it for iOS or Android.


Period Tracking Apps

1 – Period Calendar

This app not only predicts when your period will start, but it can also help you determine when you ovulate, which can be helpful if you’re trying to conceive. It not only uses the timing of your period to predict ovulation, but you can input your temperature for greater accuracy. You can also use it to keep track of fertility signs, such as cervical firmness and cervical mucus.Ovulation Apps

Available for Android.

2 – Flo Period Tracker

The more information you input, the better this app gets at predicting your next period or ovulation. It provides information on your fertility and health based on your data. You can use it to keep track of your weight, mood, and activity as it relates to your cycle. Data such as ovulation, fertility, and symptoms are shown in handy graphs.

Available for iOS and Android.

3 – Clue Period & Cycle Tracker

This no-nonsense period tracker promises no flowers or butterflies, just solid information. You can keep tabs on lots of details that aren’t covered by other apps, including how heavy your flow is, menstrual products used, energy levels, and cravings. All of this information is assimilated to help you spot patterns in your cycle. You can set it to remind you to take your birth control.

iOS and Android.

Knowledge is power, and that’s especially true when you’re learning about your own body. The right app can help you navigate your period or pregnancy, and empower you with the facts you need.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes (also called gestational diabetes mellitus or GDM) is a what is gestational diabetes condition in which your body is not processing the sugar (called glucose) in your blood properly. When we eat certain foods containing sugar and starch, our bodies break that food down into glucose (blood sugar) to use for energy. Your pancreas has the function of producing insulin to help regulate the amount of sugar that is present in your blood. However, when you have gestational diabetes, your body does not produce enough insulin to handle the sugar in your blood. This can lead to some serious health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, and even blindness. There is no need to panic; a diagnosis of gestational diabetes does not mean that you had diabetes when you conceived, or that you’ll have diabetes after you give birth. Pregnancy puts unique demands on our bodies and sometimes causes conditions to arise that require a little extra attention while we are carrying a child.

What are the symptoms?

For most pregnant women, gestational diabetes does not cause any noticeable symptoms, which is why your doctor will test you for it at approximately 24 to 28 weeks. If you develop this condition during your pregnancy, you may need checkups more frequently during the last three months, when your doctor will regularly monitor your blood sugar level as well as your baby’s health. Your obstetrics doctor may refer you to other health professionals who specialize in the treatment of diabetes to help you learn techniques to manage your blood sugar level while you are pregnant.

What are the causes?

No one is certain of the exact cause of gestational diabetes. During pregnancy, the placenta produces high levels of hormones, almost all of which impair the action of insulin, which causes an elevation in blood sugar. As your term progresses, an increasing amount of hormones are produced, and these placental hormones can cause a spike in blood sugar.

How is the test performed?

Your obstetrics provider will test you for gestational diabetes by administering a glucose tolerance test at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. If your provider thinks you’re at risk, you may be asked to take the test sooner. The test is administered in the doctor’s office. A fasting lab draw of blood is taken first to test your fasting glucose level. Then you will be asked to drink eight ounces of a glucose solution and your blood will be retested to see how your body processes the sugar.

Can it be avoided?

The healthier your eating habits are, the better life will be for both you and your baby. Since no one understands the true cause, there is no cure for the condition, but making healthy choices both before and during your pregnancy may reduce your risk of having gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. Risk factors include:

  • Being over the age of 25
  • Obesity and/or a lack of physical exercise
  • Previous occurrence of gestational diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • PCOS
  • Other hormone imbalances
  • Being prediabetic
  • Immediate family member with diabetes (parent or sibling)

If you are overweight, losing excess weight before becoming pregnant may help you avoid developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

How will it affect my pregnancy and/or my baby?

If you follow your heath care provider’s recommendations, you should be able to have a healthy and safe pregnancy and delivery. However, this condition does carry with it some health risks, including:

  • Cesarean birth
  • Perinatal depression (aka postpartum depression)
  • High blood pressure and preeclampsia
  • Premature birth
  • Birth injuries
  • Breathing problems
  • Jaundice
  • Low blood sugar
  • Stillbirth
  • Diabetes later in life

In most cases, gestational diabetes disappears after giving birth. However, the presence of this condition during pregnancy does make it more likely that you will develop diabetes later in life. To help reduce this risk, breastfeed your baby to help lose excess pregnancy weight, get tested for diabetes 4 to 12 weeks after your baby is born, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and get tested again every few years.At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, our staff offers women complete, personalized, comprehensive care for all phases of life, from puberty through the childbearing years, into menopause and beyond. Give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment for a pregnancy test or wellness exam. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.

Why Regular Pap Smears Are Important to Your Health

What is a Pap Smear?

A Pap smear is a procedure that is done in your doctor’s office to test for cervical cancer. Cells are collected from your cervix, usually during a regular annual pelvic exam. In women over 30, this test may be combined with an HPV (human papillomavirus) test, as HPV can cause cervical cancer, or the HPV test can be done instead of a pap test.

Why is it important?pap smear

A Pap smear can detect the presence of cervical cancer very early on, making these tests a literal life saver. Cervical cancer was the leading cause of death in women in the first part of the 20th century, but thanks to today’s Pap smears, that is no longer the case. Because the Pap smear can detect abnormalities and precancerous cells in the cervix before they progress to cancer, a Pap test is one of the most reliable steps a woman can take to protect herself against cervical cancer. More than 90 percent of cervical cancer cases are curable when detected early. Precancerous cells can usually be removed easily, preventing the development of disease.

What happens during a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a simple, easy procedure that may be a bit uncomfortable but does not usually cause any real pain. The procedure is over quickly, and should not be done if you are menstruating, as it may affect the test results. You should avoid using spermicidal products, douching, and sexual intercourse the day before the test.

The Pap smear is done using a speculum to keep the vaginal walls open and provide your doctor access to the cervix, which your doctor will scrape using a small device that may cause slight irritation during the cell collection process. You may experience slight pressure, cramping, or very light bleeding immediately after the test, which should dissipate quickly. Be sure to let your doctor know if any discomfort or bleeding continues.

How often should I have a Pap smear?

In the last decade or so, the standards have changed when it comes to the frequency of having a Pap smear done. In the past, your gynecologist may have recommended that you have a Pap smear done every year, starting at the age of 21, or three to five years after you become sexually active. Because of advances in technology, it is no longer necessary to have a test done every year. Women aged 21 to 30 with normal Pap smear results should have the test every two years. For women aged 30 to 65 who have had normal test results in the past, a Pap smear is recommended every three years. For those who are over age 65, have had a hysterectomy, and/or who are not sexually active, a Pap smear is not necessary unless test results have been abnormal in the past.

At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, our staff offers women complete, personalized, comprehensive care for all phases of life, from puberty through the childbearing years, into menopause and beyond. Give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment for a Pap smear, pregnancy test, or wellness exam. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.

What to Expect During Your First Gynecological Visit

what to expect at your first gynecology appointment If you’ve never been to see a gynecologist, you may be wondering what to expect during your first gynecological visit. First, let’s discuss what a gynecologist is. A gynecologist (GYN) is a physician specialist, a doctor who has chosen to specialize in the area of women’s health. Obstetrics deals with the health of the pregnant woman, and while most gynecologists are also obstetricians, the field of gynecology focuses specifically on all the other aspects of a woman’s reproductive health outside of pregnancy, starting from the onset of puberty and continuing through menopause and beyond. Women see a gynecologist for their annual pelvic exam and Pap smear test and for infections, pain or discomfort in the breasts, genital area, or uterus. Your gynecologist can also assist you with any infertility issues and contraception.

As a young woman, your first gynecological visit should take place between the ages of 13 and 15, and these visits should continue annually through menopause, as directed by your doctor. Being faithful to see your gynecologist a minimum of once a year can help catch any small health issues before they become complicated or threaten your health. During the first visit, you should discuss any questions, fears, or health issues you have. For this reason, your health care provider should be someone of your choosing, male or female, young or older, doctor or nurse practitioner, with whom you feel comfortable and at ease. You have the right to change your gynecologist at any point, for any reason, and you are not required to explain why.

During your first visit, a nurse or physician’s assistant will measure basics like your weight, heart rate, and blood pressure. The doctor may examine your neck, heart, lungs, and stomach to obtain an idea of your overall health and establish a baseline to use for comparisons in future exams. Next, you will undergo a breast exam and brief pelvic exam to assess the general health of your breasts and reproductive system. Most women won’t need an internal pelvic exam before the age of 21, unless problems are present such as unusual vaginal discharge, painful periods, or heavy bleeding. Any questions you ask or information exchanged between you and your doctor will be strictly confidential, including anything regarding contraception, STDs, pregnancy, and sexuality.

Some questions your gynecologist will ask during your visit include:

• When was your last period?

• Are you having any problems with your period, such as pain or heavy bleeding?

• Do you have any unusual vaginal discharge or discomfort in the vaginal area?

• Are you experiencing any itchiness or genital sores?

• Are you sexually active?

• Are you using birth control and STD protection?

• Do you think you could be pregnant?

It’s important to answer truthfully, as your answers can help the doctor decide which tests should be run and what issues should be discussed. Checking for the presence of an STD is not a normal part of an initial exam, but if you are sexually active it is recommended that you be tested. Results are confidential. Your GYN can take care of yeast and bacterial infections, breast problems, diagnosing and prescribing treatment for irregular and/or painful menstruation, painful intercourse, performing dilation and curettage (D&C), endometrial or uterine biopsies including cone biopsies (removal of precancerous cells in the cervix), pelvic ultrasounds, and treating chronic or life-threatening conditions such as endometriosis, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine prolapse. Your gynecologist can also perform specific surgical procedures related to female reproductive organs such as tubal ligation, removal of the ovaries, removal of fallopian tubes, and removal of the uterus (hysterectomy).

Annual visits to your gynecologist are often referred to as “well woman visits” and are recommended as a way to stay on top of any health issues that may arise. At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, our medical professionals provide complete, personalized, comprehensive care for all phases of a woman’s life, from puberty through your child bearing years, through menopause and beyond. Our staff is dedicated to providing Colorado’s female population with complete healthcare, no matter what stage of life you are experiencing. Give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.

Why Does Pregnancy Cause Nausea?

Why Does Pregnancy Cause Nausea?

Pregnancy causes many physical changes in a woman’s body, starting in the first few weeks of your first trimester. One of the unpleasant symptoms you may experience during your pregnancy is nausea, which is sometimes accompanied by morning sickness (vomiting). You may wonder what causes nausea during pregnancy, and what – if anything – you can do to alleviate it. During pregnancy, your body is flooded with very high levels of pregnancy hormones which commonly cause nausea among women in the beginning stages of pregnancy. In fact, studies show that as many as nine out of 10 pregnant women experience nausea or vomiting. Your body produces extra estrogen during pregnancy as well as “the pregnancy hormone” human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), the hormone that your body begins to produce once the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your uterus, in large quantities. Both of these hormones are necessary to support your growing baby, and both could be the culprit when it comes to your queasiness. The good news is, although it is unpleasant to deal with, nausea is not harmful to you nor does it pose a threat to your baby.

If you do suffer from a sensitive stomach, it could become worse while you’re trying to adapt to the myriad physical changes of pregnancy. As we already know, stress and fatigue cause physical reactions within the body, and these reactions can lead to nausea and vomiting during your pregnancy. The changes you’ll undergo are normal and natural, but they can still put stress on your body and cause mental and physical fatigue, especially during the first trimester. One way to minimize the stress on your body is to make sure you get adequate rest to help combat fatigue. Everything is harder when we’re tired, and during the first phase of your pregnancy your body is expending an unusual amount of energy as the fetus begins to develop within your womb, so your sleep requirements will likely increase.

For many women, nausea and vomiting disappear during the second trimester but for some, morning sickness continues throughout their pregnancy. It is vital to the health of both you and your baby that you receive proper nutrition throughout your pregnancy, and supplement with the prenatal vitamins your doctor will prescribe. If you’ve been thinking of changing your diet towards a healthier, more organic lifestyle, pregnancy could offer you the perfect time to make the change. If you do become nauseous, there are some foods which may help alleviate nausea and settle your stomach.

These include:
• Bananas
• Crackers
• Cereal
• Pretzels
• Toast
• Ginger tea or peppermint tea
• Ginger ale
• Lemonade
• Fruit
• Jello
• Applesauce
• Popsicles
• Lemon lime or other clear soda (such as cream soda)
• Rice
• Mashed potatoes
• Yogurt

You may want to do your best to avoid fried or greasy foods, spicy foods, creamy or overly rich foods or desserts, and any foods with strong flavors or aromas. These types of foods can trigger nausea, especially if consumed in large quantities. If you have accompanying heartburn, most doctors will allow you to take an over-the-counter remedy such as chewable antacid tablets, but be sure to check with your doctor first. If you do suffer with morning sickness, always be sure to re-hydrate with fluids after vomiting. If your nausea and vomiting become severe or chronic, your doctor may be able to prescribe a remedy.

Some methods you might try to help manage your nausea throughout the day are:
• Eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than three large meals
• Keep crackers by your bedside for early morning or late night nausea
• Drink less water with meals, more water in between meals
• Sniff or diffuse essential oils such as lemon or citrus, peppermint, ginger and lavender

You can also massage ginger, lavender, sandalwood or a combination of these essential oils combined with fractionated coconut oil or pure almond oil directly onto your abdomen or on the bottom of your feet. Another way to take advantage of the healing properties of these oils is to make a tea using one or two drops each of ginger, peppermint and lemon oil mixed into hot water, sweetened with honey or stevia.

At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, we provide complete obstetrical and prenatal care, are fully equipped and trained to handle normal pregnancy and childbirth as well as high risk pregnancies and offer free walk-in urine pregnancy tests. We’re dedicated to providing Colorado’s female population with personalized, comprehensive healthcare for all phases of a woman’s life, not just when you are carrying a child.

If you’re looking for a team of dedicated professionals to help manage your pregnancy and ongoing healthcare, give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment at our clinic. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.

What To Expect During Each Trimester

What To Expect During Each Trimester

A normal, full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks in duration, but can range from 37-42 weeks, divided into three trimesters. Each trimester lasts about three months, or between 12 and 14 weeks. The first trimester of your pregnancy will be marked by many changes for both you and your baby that occur rather rapidly. Although your pregnancy may not be obvious to others during the first trimester, your body will go through enormous changes as it accommodates a growing baby. Some first trimester physical changes you experience could include tender breasts, nausea, fatigue, more frequent urination, morning sickness, food and/or aroma sensitivities, heartburn, constipation, and food cravings.

You may notice heightened emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety and find yourself both exhilarated and exhausted at the same time. For your baby, the first trimester is a time of rapid growth and development as the brain, spinal cord and other organs begin taking shape and your baby’s heart begins to beat. By the end of the third month, all the baby’s organs will be formed. To meet the demands of your growing baby, your body’s blood supply increases to carry oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby. You may experience mood swings during this time of adjustment, which is normal. If your mood swings become severe or intense, however, you should consult your health care provider for advice and support.

If you’re in your first trimester of pregnancy and haven’t already done so, make an appointment with your health care provider to begin proper prenatal care. Your doctor will tell you what to expect during the first trimester and answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. Your first prenatal visit will likely focus on assessing your overall health, identifying any possible risk factors and determining your baby’s gestational age.

Be honest with your doctor about your healthcare history. There is important information your healthcare provider will need to prescribe the prenatal care you need, so if you’re uncomfortable discussing your history in front of your spouse or partner, schedule a private consultation. Your doctor will probably discuss screening for any chromosomal abnormalities with you, including prenatal cell-free DNA screening.

If you have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, epilepsy, high or low blood pressure or depression, your condition could affect your pregnancy. It is vital that you convey this information to your healthcare provider and understand any complications you might face. To prevent pregnancy problems, you may need close monitoring, a medication change, or a change in your treatment plan.

For many women, the second trimester of their pregnancy is the most comfortable and enjoyable one. During this time, growth of your baby is steady and constant, with the ability to move about in the womb and hear sounds from the outside. Initial feelings of nausea and heartburn may gradually lessen and subside during this time, and fatigue may lessen as your body becomes adjusted to the demands of a growing baby. Most pregnant moms will feel the first stirrings of their baby’s movements during the second trimester. Your breasts and belly will continue to grow, and you may notice skin changes. Week 20 marks the halfway point, and your doctor will order an anatomy ultrasound between week 18 and 24, if not sooner. You should be able to find out the sex of your baby during your ultrasound visit, if you desire. You may be tested for gestational diabetes around week 26, with your doctor ordering dietary changes if necessary.

By the time you reach your third trimester, you’re in the home stretch! This time can be physically and emotionally challenging as you anticipate your baby’s arrival and prepare yourself and your home. You may experience back aches, swollen ankles and feet, and difficulty sleeping. Your baby’s growth will continue, slowing toward the end of the last month. Carrying your baby to week 39 is considered a full term pregnancy. Travel will be restricted during this time, with most airlines requiring approval from your healthcare provider before allowing you to fly, due to the risk of early delivery.

The last month will mark the baby’s final weight gain and development of the baby’s lungs. Movement may increase or decrease during this time, especially in the final weeks when your baby is getting into birth position. You may experience spotting and/or false labor, known as Braxton Hicks contractions. Your monthly doctor visits will have become weekly visits by now, and it’s important to convey any changes to your healthcare provider.

Here at Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, we are dedicated to providing Colorado’s female population with personalized, comprehensive healthcare for all phases of a woman’s life, not just when you are carrying a child. We provide complete obstetrical and prenatal care, are fully equipped and trained to handle normal pregnancy and childbirth as well as high risk pregnancies and offer free walk-in urine pregnancy tests. If you are looking for a team of dedicated professionals to help manage your pregnancy and ongoing health care, give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment at our clinic. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.

What Are the Danger Signs of Pregnancy?

What are the Danger Signs of Pregnancy?Most women enjoy healthy pregnancies without complications, but it is always a good idea to be aware of possible danger signs of pregnancy you may experience. If you do notice any of the danger signs of pregnancy listed here, you should talk to your doctor or midwife immediately to ensure the health and safety of both you and your growing baby. Your doctor, midwife, or designated healthcare provider will routinely screen for potential problems throughout your pregnancy, beginning with your prenatal care visits, but there are general warning signs that apply to every pregnancy, even the low-risk ones.

  • Contractions that occur more than 4 times an hour or are less than 15 minutes apart
  • Leaking of fluid from the vagina
  • Pain, pressure, or cramping in your belly
  • Blood in your urine or burning and pain upon urination
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Vaginal discharge with a bad odor, irritation, or itching
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Vision problems
  • Non-stop nausea and/or vomiting
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Persistent or high fever over 100°F (37.8°C)
  • Seizures
  • Intense headache or a headache that lasts for several days
  • Sudden weight gain (3 to 5 pounds within 5 to 7 days) with severe swelling of feet, ankles, hands, or face

Certain types of pregnancies and pre-existing conditions which carry with them inherent risks which must be understood for a peaceful and healthy pregnancy. These include:

High blood pressure. If you suffer from high blood pressure, it is extremely important to monitor your blood pressure during your pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure along with other symptoms, it’s called preeclampsia. Symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Headaches
  • Swelling of your feet, ankles, face, or hands
  • Pain in your upper belly
  • Blurred vision

If preeclampsia is present and remains untreated or becomes severe, it can cause brain, liver, kidney, eye, or heart damage. It can also cause seizures, therefore the need for proper monitoring of your blood pressure and communication with your doctor is vital. Your healthcare provider may recommend delivery of the baby as the best treatment for preeclampsia, if your baby has developed enough.

Multiples. If you are carrying more than one baby, your pregnancy is considered high risk. The more babies you carry, the higher the risk. Common issues associated with pregnancies of multiples include:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Gestational hypertension
  • Low birth weight
  • Placental abruption
  • Anemia
  • Miscarriage
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Birth defects
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome
  • Cesarean delivery

Age. As our bodies age, pregnancy can take a greater toll on our overall health. However, many women are delaying pregnancy into their 30s and beyond, and still delivering healthy babies. You may have heard that any pregnancy after the age of 35 is risky, but there is no reason a woman of that age or older cannot safely carry a child to term. Some factors of pregnancy older women deal with include:

  • Greater risk of gestational diabetes
  • Greater likelihood of multiples
  • Greater risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Greater likelihood of low birth weight
  • Greater risk of premature delivery
  • Greater likelihood of a Cesarean delivery
  • Greater risk of chromosome abnormalities such as Down syndrome

While many pregnant women experience no discomfort at all, some common complaints of pregnancy include heartburn, nausea in the first trimester, frequent urination, backache, breast tenderness and swelling, and fatigue. If you experience any of the aforementioned danger signs of pregnancy, however, it is imperative that you contact your health care practitioner immediately so that they can help you rule out serious complications and advise you what further steps may be necessary. Do not delay, as doing so could further increase your risk of complications, putting yourself and your baby in jeopardy.

At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health in Colorado Springs, we offer complete obstetrical and prenatal care, for both routine and high-risk pregnancies. We care for women at every stage of life, from the child bearing years through menopause and beyond. If you are looking for caring OB/GYNs who will work with you to achieve and maintain your best possible health, give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly women’s health professionals. We look forward to helping you achieve your best health.

Symptoms of Pregnancy

The earliest symptoms of pregnancy can appear in the first few weeks after conception for some women. Since some symptoms of PMS are very similar to early signs of pregnancy, how can you tell if you’re really pregnant? Although symptoms can vary from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy in the same woman, there are some symptoms that are commonly experienced by most women, sometimes even before a missed period.

  • Swollen or tender breasts. As soon as two weeks after conception, hormonal changes may cause your breasts to become tender, sore, or heavy and full. This can be one of the first noticeable symptoms of pregnancy.
  • Fatigue. During the early stages of your pregnancy, your progesterone levels will rise. This hormone can make you feel extremely tired, and in high enough doses may put you to sleep. Lower blood sugar levels, decreased blood pressure, and increased blood production that all occur during this same time frame may combine to drain your energy reserves, causing fatigue.
  • Symptoms of Pregnancy

  • Missed period. A missed cycle is perhaps the most obvious early symptom of pregnancy. This is often what causes women to take a home pregnancy test or see their doctor to verify their pregnancy.
  • Slight cramping and/or bleeding. Some women may experience a small amount of spotting or vaginal bleeding as one of the first symptoms of their pregnancy. Cramping is similar to menstrual cramps, and bleeding is lighter than a normal period, occurring approximately 10 to 14 days after fertilization, when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting. A classic symptom of pregnancy, queasiness can begin as early as two weeks after conception. Fast rising levels of estrogen can cause your stomach to empty more slowly, and since a heightened sense of smell comes along with pregnancy for many women, certain odors such as cooking food, cigar, pipe, or cigarette smoke, and some perfumes may cause nausea.
  • Constipation. Just as an increase in progesterone can cause fatigue in early pregnancy, it also causes food to pass more slowly through the intestines, which can cause constipation in some women.
  • Food cravings. At the same time that certain odors may have you fighting nausea, you may experience food cravings. These cravings can also be attributed to dramatic hormonal changes that occur in the first trimester of your pregnancy.
  • Mood swings. If you find yourself become more emotionally sensitive, prone to periods of weepiness, or drastic, rapid mood changes, you can once again blame an increase in your hormonal levels.
  • Headaches. An increase in blood circulation caused by the hormonal changes that occur during your first trimester may also trigger frequent, mild headaches. These often subside during the second trimester, when your hormone levels become more stable.
  • Dizziness. If you feel faint or dizzy early in your pregnancy, the cause could be low blood sugar. Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping snacks on hand can help keep your blood sugar levels steady. A drop-in blood pressure could also cause you to feel lightheaded or dizzy.

Although every woman and every pregnancy is different, any symptoms that become severe should be reported to your doctor immediately. These include:

  • Heavy cramping and/or bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Extreme shortness of breath
  • Severe dizziness
  • Extreme nausea/vomiting or inability to eat
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent severe headaches/migraines
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Visual changes
  • Leaking fluid from vagina

It is important to be under a doctor’s care during your pregnancy, so that any unusual or severe symptoms you may experience can be monitored and your doctor can advise you on how to best handle the changes your body is going through. At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health in Colorado Springs, we offer complete obstetrical and prenatal care, for both routine and high-risk pregnancies.

We care for women at every stage of life, from the child bearing years through menopause and beyond. If you are looking for caring OB/GYNs who will work with you to achieve and maintain your best possible health, give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly women’s health professionals. We look forward to meeting you.