Benefits of Natural Childbirth

Pregnant Mother and Child sitting happy in a field

There are several methods of giving birth, with the best method being determined based on the circumstances of the individual. From the benefits of natural childbirth (no medications) to medication-assisted births (epidurals) to Caesarean section (surgical assistance), there are valid reasons for each delivery method, from both a medical perspective and a personal choice. You have lots of options when it comes to delivering your baby, including having a coach or doula to help you. Today we will discuss the benefits of natural childbirth and a few variations on that theme. Low-risk pregnancies are the best candidates for a natural, medication-free delivery. If your pregnancy is high risk, your doctor will suggest the best course of action for your delivery.

Labor progresses naturally

When laboring without medication, your body’s natural processes are not interfered with by being sped up as when labor is induced or slowed down as may happen when pain medication is involved. Medications may also affect your sense of equilibrium, cause nausea, and lower your blood pressure. By not using any medications during the birthing process many women feel they have more control and are able to work with the rhythm of their bodies. Labor is often shorter with natural childbirth than with medication. Specifically, epidurals can make it difficult for the laboring mother to know when to push.

You may feel more connected

Newborn Natural Childbirth

When laboring mothers don’t use pain medication or other drugs during labor, they are more alert and aware of the birthing experience. This may provide the mother with an increased connection to the baby and their own bodies. When a mother’s senses are dulled by medication, it can result in a feeling of physical detachment, which can be disconcerting for some women.

Recovery time can be reduced

Because a woman’s body releases endorphins during labor which act as naturally calming and pain-relieving hormones, women who opt for natural childbirth often feel great soon after delivery. With natural birth, more endorphins are released than when pain medication is utilized. New mothers who decide on natural childbirth can get out of bed and move around shortly after birth if they so desire.

Breastfeeding is easier

When pain medication is used during labor, it passes to the newborn baby and can impact their interest in breastfeeding. One of the benefits of natural childbirth for mothers looking to breastfeed is that natural-born babies are generally more alert and have an increased interest in the breastfeeding process.

Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth

A popular method of natural childbirth known as The Bradley Method (also sometimes called husband coached childbirth) emphasizes that birth is a natural process and encourages mothers to focus on diet, proper nutrition, and exercise throughout pregnancy to facilitate childbirth. It also teaches couples how to manage labor through deep breathing and encourages a partner or labor coach to support the birthing mother. Classes on the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth teach nutrition, relaxation, and natural breathing for pain management, and active participation of the husband as the birthing coach. This method was developed by Robert Bradley, M.D., in 1947 and remains one of the foremost methods of natural childbirth, as it encourages healthy mothers and healthy babies.

Proponents of this method believe that most women can give birth naturally without the use of drugs or surgery, if they are adequately educated and prepared, and have the support and help of a loving birth coach. Dr. Bradley believed the six needs of a laboring woman are:

  1. deep and complete relaxation
  2. abdominal breathing
  3. quiet
  4. darkness and solitude
  5. physical comfort, and
  6. closed eyes and the appearance of sleep

The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth also teaches various labor positions, comfort measures, and several relaxation techniques.

The Alexander Technique

Developed by F. M. Alexander, this technique teaches pregnant mothers how to sit, stand, and move with safety, efficiency, and ease. This method teaches how to release muscular tension to help increase breathing capacity, restore the body’s original poise, and develop proper posture.

This technique teaches simple modifications in movement that can help alleviate lower back pain, balance, digestive problems, and shortness of breath. This helps mothers breathe better during labor, remain calm, and focus during the birthing process. It also aids in opening the cervix during dilation and facilitates effective pushing when the time comes.

Lamaze

This method was developed by Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze in Russia and utilizes the power of distraction during active contractions to decrease the mother’s perception of pain and reduce her discomfort. Lamaze classes teach controlled deep breathing, concentration, massage, different birthing positions, and how to maintain control during labor. The goal of the Lamaze method of childbirth is to help parents feel comforted, supported, and powerful.

The staff at Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health provides personalized, comprehensive health care for Colorado Springs women in all phases of life. Give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to serving you.

How To Prepare For Pregnancy

Planned Pregnancy

It is obviously very important to see a doctor and make some dietary and lifestyle changes once you find out that you are pregnant. But to optimize the health of your newborn and to have a smooth pregnancy, it is also important to make changes before you get pregnant. Here are some steps you can take when planning to have a baby.

  1. Get a physical. See your doctor for a complete physical before you plan to get pregnant. Being aware of your overall health and any issues that need to be addressed before or during pregnancy is essential to conceiving and carrying your healthy baby to term. If you have any chronic pre-existing conditions such as thyroid problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression, it’s crucial to clear any medications or supplements with your doctor to make sure they are safe to take during pregnancy.
  2. Stop birth control. This may seem obvious, but depending on the type of birth control you use, you may need to see your doctor. If you are on the pill, you will need to stop taking it at least one month in advance of the time you wish to conceive. This is not a guarantee that you will get pregnant in the first month of trying to conceive, although that is possible. Lots of women experience their first period within two weeks of quitting the pill, but for others it takes a little longer. If you have an IUD, you’ll need to visit your doctor to have it removed.
  3. Start prenatal vitamins. Starting a prenatal vitamin right away will help you avoid any nutritional deficiencies during the early stages of your pregnancy. You’ll also have the time to try a few different brands to see which one works best for you. Women who start prenatal vitamins with folic acid at least one month before becoming pregnant have a reduced risk of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Supplementing your diet with 400mc of folic acid daily also helps reduce the risk of fetal spinal cord malformation.
  4. Stop smoking. If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Smoking can make conception more difficult and has been shown to increase the risk of low birth weight babies and birth defects. Smoking also exposes your baby to harmful chemicals, restricts blood flow, increases the risk of a miscarriage, and in some cases may cause preterm labor.
    Prepare For Pregnancy
  5. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. Switching to decaf or cutting coffee out altogether is recommended during pregnancy, and getting a head start makes it easier to handle life without caffeine. If you are a heavy coffee drinker, try weaning yourself off caffeine slowly by beginning to reduce the amount of caffeine by 50%, and gradually work your way down to zero. If you love the taste of coffee, decaf could be the answer. If you absolutely must have regular coffee, keep in mind that daily intake recommendations for pregnant women are only about 12 ounces per day. You may try experimenting with different types of decaffeinated teas, as there is a wide variety of flavor options available both in traditional and herbal teas.
  6. Update your vaccinations. Check to ensure that you are up to date on your vaccinations such as MMR (measles) and Varicella (chickenpox) before becoming pregnant, as these vaccinations cannot be given during pregnancy. It’s important to do all you can to protect your own health as well as the health of your growing baby.
  7. Exercise safely but push yourself a little more. Experts tell us that we can work out at a moderate level while pregnant, so the more you can do now, the more you’ll be able to do when you’re pregnant. By pushing yourself a little harder before you become pregnant, especially when doing cardiovascular exercise, your lungs will be better equipped to handle the extra burden being pregnant put on your body. Work on your flexibility, also, as that is crucial during pregnancy to help prevent injury and stress. Strength training will also help you get in shape and build muscle strength that will be important throughout pregnancy, at birth, and afterward. Yoga is a great way to get the exercise your body needs to stay strong and healthy during pregnancy and beyond.
  8. Review your medical history. If there are genetic health conditions in your family or your partner’s family that could be passed down to your baby, it’s important to have that information and share it with your doctor. Genetic counselors are available to discuss any concerns and help you schedule any testing necessary.
  9. Reduce or eliminate exposure to toxins. There are harmful substances almost everywhere you turn, but there are ways to limit your exposure to common toxins while pregnant. If there is a smoker in your life, ask that they not smoke in your presence to avoid exposure to second hand smoke. Choose organic foods whenever possible, and switch to chemical free home cleaning and personal care products. Make your own household cleaners using vinegar and water, and switch to fragrance free laundry detergent or make your own.
  10. Eat healthy. A balanced diet is always good for you, and that’s never truer than during pregnancy. Following a healthy diet before becoming pregnant will make it easier to stick to healthy foods when those crazy cravings hit. Being at a healthy weight will make pregnancy easier to handle, and losing the excess weight once the baby is born will be easier, too. Reduce or eliminate any empty calories, artificial sweeteners, and seafood, especially those that are known to contain mercury. Eat foods that are fresh, locally grown and organic if possible, and avoid processed foods whenever possible. Focus on lean protein, fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products.

The staff at Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health provides personalized, comprehensive health care for Colorado Springs women in all phases of life. Give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to serving you.

Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

Expectant mothers have special dietary needs while pregnant, and therefore must pay close attention to what they eat and avoid harmful foods and beverages. During pregnancy, certain foods should be consumed only rarely, while others should be completely avoided. When you are pregnant, your diet must provide enough nutrients and energy for your growing baby to develop properly. At the same time, they also need to provide your body with the nutrition you need to stay healthy enough to deal with all the changes that happen during your pregnancy. Here are some foods that are best avoided while you are pregnant:


  1. High mercury fish. Mercury is highly toxic and there is no known safe level of exposure. It can be toxic to your immune system, nervous system, and kidneys in large amounts, and may cause serious developmental problems in children. You should limit consumption of high-mercury fish to no more than 1–2 servings per month. Types of high-mercury fish include shark, mackerel swordfish, and tuna, (especially albacore tuna). Consuming low-mercury fish during pregnancy is very healthy, and these fish can be eaten up to 2 times per week. Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for your baby.

  2. Undercooked or raw fish and shellfish. These fish can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites which can cause viral, bacterial or parasitic infections, one of which is Listeria. Some of these infections will only affect you, while others may be passed on to your baby with serious, or even fatal, consequences. Pregnant women are up to 20 times more likely to become infected by Listeria, which is found in soil, contaminated water, and plants. Listeria can be passed through the placenta, possibly leading to miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth, and other serious health problems.

  3. Undercooked, raw or processed meat. Eating undercooked or raw meat increases your risk of infection from several bacteria or parasites, including E. coli, Listeria, Toxoplasma, and Salmonella, which can pose a serious threat to the health of your unborn baby. Serious health issues such as severe neurological illnesses, intellectual disability, blindness, epilepsy, and stillbirth are possible. Processed meats such as deli meat and hot dogs should also be avoided while you are pregnant.

  4. Organ meat. Organ meat is a great source of iron, vitamin B12, vitamin A and copper, but consuming too much may cause vitamin A toxicity and abnormally high copper levels, which can result in birth defects and liver toxicity. To prevent this toxicity, pregnant women are advised to eat organ meat no more than once a week.

  5. Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses may contain bacterial contamination that can have life-threatening consequences for an unborn baby. Pasteurization is the most efficient way to kill harmful bacteria without changing the nutritional value of the food or beverage. Pregnant women are advised to consume only pasteurized milk, cheeses, and fruit juice to minimize the risk of infection.

  6. Raw eggs. Salmonella is not uncommon in raw eggs. Symptoms of Salmonella infections include fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. In rare cases, Salmonella infections may cause cramps in the uterus, leading to premature birth or stillbirth. While you might not consume eggs raw by themselves, many foods contain raw eggs, including Hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise, homemade ice cream, salad dressings, raw cookie dough, cake batter, and cake icings. Always cook eggs thoroughly or use pasteurized eggs while you are pregnant.

  7. Raw sprouts. The humid environment required by seeds to start sprouting is ideal for the growth of Salmonella, which is virtually impossible to remove by washing as it can be harbored inside the seeds. Pregnant women are advised to avoid raw sprouts altogether, although they are safe to eat after they have been fully cooked.

  8. Unwashed produce. While you’re pregnant, it’s very important to thoroughly rinse, peel, or cook all fruits and vegetables. Unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with several bacteria and parasites during harvest, production, processing, transportation, storage, or retail that can cause such serious problems as eye damage, blindness, brain damage, or intellectual disabilities in children who become infected.

  9. Caffeine. While you’re pregnant, you should limit your daily caffeine intake to two to three cups of coffee, or switch to decaf. High caffeine intake can limit your baby’s growth and increase the risk of low birth weight, which is associated with an increased risk of infant death. Low birth weight can also be a sign of a higher risk of serious diseases in adulthood, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

  10. Alcohol. It’s a good idea to completely avoid drinking alcohol while you’re pregnant, as it increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal alcohol syndrome. Even a small amount can negatively impact your baby’s brain development. It can also cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which involves facial deformities, heart defects and intellectual disability.

  11. Processed junk foods. While you are pregnant, a healthy pregnancy diet should consist mostly of whole foods with plenty of nutrients, and little to no processed foods. Eating processed foods during pregnancy can increase your risk of excess weight gain, gestational diabetes and complications, which can have long-term health implications for your child. The excess calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats can dramatically increase the risk of serious health problems, including gestational diabetes, type two diabetes, and heart disease, as well as pregnancy or birth complications.

The staff at Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health provides personalized, comprehensive health care for Colorado Springs women from puberty through the childbearing years, into menopause and beyond. If you are looking for a caring group of healthcare professionals to assist you in achieving your best health, please give us a call today at (719) 634-8800 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to serving you.

Best Yoga Poses For Pregnancy

Prenatal Yoga Benefits

Staying healthy and fit, maintaining your strength, and staying flexible while pregnant can all help to make your time spent preparing for motherhood easier to manage physically, mentally, and emotionally. When your body is fit and healthy, pregnancy and delivery can be easier to handle, your body can recover more quickly, and you can enjoy more energy, better quality sleep, and less stress. Many women are unsure if they can or should maintain the same level of activity during their pregnancy as they enjoyed before they became pregnant. Some worry about injury, others are concerned about whether increased activity might put their pregnancies at risk. While some activities should be limited, there are several forms of exercise you can engage in while pregnant that are both safe and effective for you and your baby.

Prenatal yoga, in particular, can be very effective at relieving some of the discomforts of pregnancy while helping you stay fit at the same time with stretching and strengthening. That’s a win-win! many women suffer from fatigue, heartburn, reflux, sciatic nerve pain, painful swollen legs and ankles, and morning sickness that can last all day. Certain prenatal yoga poses can help to relieve tension in the upper back, decrease fluid retention, alleviate anxiety around labor, and build strength in the legs to prepare for the physical side of things. There are certain yoga moves you should avoid while pregnant, such as deep backbends, lower spinal twists, and belly-down postures, and you should avoid hot or Bikram yoga, try not to lie flat on your back for extended periods of time, and watch overstretching. Be sure to check with your medical provider and get approval for any change in your routine, including the addition of yoga, and remember to stop any movement or activity that results in pain.

Here are some of the best yoga poses for pregnancy:

Prenatal Yoga Pose
  • Child’s Pose. With a bolster under your torso for support, this can be a great low back pain stretch. It can also help relieve nausea and relieve anxiety. Just don’t fall asleep while you’re down there!
  • Cat and Cow Pose. This alternate arching and stretching of the back can be done all the way up to and during labor to help relieve tension in the back and assist the baby into the birthing position. It can also help ease contractions.
  • Goddess Pose. This wide stance squat with arms open to the side is good for your digestion and provides a great stretch for both your legs and back.
  • Reclined Bound Angle Pose. The perfect pose for increased blood circulation in the lower abdomen. This pose will also stretch your groin and increase external rotation in your hips. Be sure to modify this posture for pregnancy by creating an incline using a bolster or two under your back and head so you are not flat on your back. Put a block between your feet to expand your pelvis.
  • Squat Pose (Garland). Open your hips and pelvis, stimulate digestion, and stretch your legs and back. Modify the pose for pregnancy by leaning against a wall or squatting on blankets. Only do this pose until you are about 30 weeks along.

If you’re not already in yoga classes, check with your local gym about prenatal yoga. In Colorado Springs, these locations offer yoga classes for pregnant women:

  1. Yoga Studio Satya, 1581 York Road, 80918 (719) 203-4525
  2. Sisterhood Yoga, Falcon, CO info@sisterhoodyoga.com (Also has mommy and baby classes)
  3. Enso Prenatal, 2501 West Colorado Ave., Ste. 3B, 80904 (719) 660-5687

Prenatal yoga classes can help you stay in tune with your body and aware of anything that changes during pregnancy. 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.

The Many Methods Of Birth Control: What’s Best?

Birth Control Options & Choices

When it comes to effective methods of birth control, abstinence is still the only 100% guarantee that you will not become pregnant. There are, however, several other methods of contraception that offer effective birth control against an unwanted pregnancy as well as other health benefits such as birth control for hormone imbalance. Depending on your health history, lifestyle, and long term goals, your gynecologist can help you determine which method of birth control will work best for you. Let’s discuss the various types of over the counter birth control and prescription birth control available, their effectiveness, ease of use, and the pros and cons of birth control.


Condoms

One of the most popular methods of barrier birth control, the condom works by blocking the introduction of sperm to the woman’s body, is widely available, and inexpensive to use. When used correctly, this is a very effective, although not infallible, method of preventing pregnancy. Risks in relying on this type of birth control alone include the possibility of improper application and the risk of breakage or displacement during use. Using another form of birth control in addition to a condom increases the effectiveness of this method. Condoms are not reusable.

Diaphragms & Cervical Caps

Another form of barrier birth control, a diaphragm is a rubber dome that is placed over the cervix before intercourse. A cervical cap is very similar to the diaphragm, but smaller. The cons include the need for both of these devices to be fitted by a doctor, and the possibility of improper placement. These devices cannot be used during a menstrual cycle due to the risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Concerned woman looking at contraception at home

Birth Control Sponge

This over the counter birth control barrier device can be purchased without a prescription and is also placed over the cervix like the diaphragm and cervical cap. The sponge is a foam device that has the additional protection of a built in spermicide to help prevent pregnancy. The same risk of improper placement exists, and this device also cannot be used during a menstrual cycle. The condom, diaphragm, cervical cap, and sponge all offer users an 84 to 89% success rate when used correctly.

Vaginal Ring

This device is a flexible ring approximately two inches wide. It is placed inside the vagina and does require a doctor’s prescription. It can be left in place for three weeks before being removed for one week to enable menstruation. The vaginal ring releases progestin and estrogen to help prevent pregnancy by affecting ovulation. Periods are usually lighter with less negative side effects, although breast tenderness and headaches are possible. The ring has a 92% success rate.

Birth Control Pill

The most common methods of contraception when it comes to prescription birth control is the birth control pill. The pill is sometimes prescribed as much as birth control for hormone imbalance as it is for contraception. This method uses estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation, so that the woman’s body does not release an egg. When taken correctly, this is a very effective method of birth control that offers additional benefits such as lighter periods and less menstrual cramping for many women. The vaginal ring and birth control pill offer users a 92 to 95% success rate. You’ll need to consult with your doctor to obtain a prescription, and the downside of using this method includes the possibility of breast tenderness, increased risk for spotting, blood clots, and increased blood pressure.

Birth Control Patch

If you can’t remember to take a daily pill, you might want to consider a birth control patch, which delivers the same benefits of lighter periods and less cramping without the need to take a pill every day. The patch is worn on the skin for three weeks (changed weekly) and removed for one week. A prescription is required for the patch. It contains the same type of hormones as the birth control pill, with similar benefits and possible side effects. The effectiveness rating is 92%.

Birth Control Shot

The Depo-Provera hormonal birth control injection is a method of contraception that lasts for three months. For most women it works even better than the birth control pill or patch and offers the convenience of being administered in your doctor’s office just four times per year. There is no other device or additional method of birth control necessary. It may cause spotting or other side effects. Extremely effective, this method offers users a 97% success rate. A prescription is required.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

This device is placed inside the uterus. There are several types of IUDs available today. The hormonal IUD must be replaced after 3-5 years, and the copper IUD can work effectively for as long as 10 years. Both types of intrauterine devices make it difficult for sperm to fertilize a woman’s eggs. This is one of the most long lasting methods of contraception, is very low maintenance, and the hormonal IUDs offer shorter, lighter periods for many women. However, IUDs can cause irregular bleeding or heavier bleeding, and copper IUDs can increase cramping with periods. There is also a risk of displacement. This is a highly effective method of birth control, as the IUD offers a 99% success rate.

Birth Control Implant

Next to abstinence, this may be the most effective method of birth control, with a success rate of 99%. A small rod the size of a matchstick is inserted in a woman’s upper arm and can remain there for three years. The small device releases the same type of hormones used in the birth control shot. The downside of this method is that it is more costly than other methods of birth control due to the exam, the cost of the device, and the insertion. Similar side effects as birth control, irregular periods are most common.

Plan B Pill

Also known as emergency contraception and the “morning after” pill, this method of contraception can be purchased at most pharmacies by persons 18 years of age or older. These pills are not a safe birth control method for regular use and are designed to prevent pregnancy in the event of an emergency. The hormones in these pills prevent an egg from implanting in the uterine wall. The pills offer a 98% success rate and are effective when taken up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, and fatigue and irregular period.

The effectiveness of birth control depends in large part on correctly employing whichever method you choose. Talk to your doctor to determine the various methods of contraception that would best fit your lifestyle and health needs. At Colorado Obstetrics and Women’s Health, our OBGYN staff offers women in the Colorado Springs area a 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.

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 OBGYN 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.