Congratulations! You just found out you are going to have a baby. Now what? First and foremost, it is important that you and your unborn child get the proper care you both need over the next 9 months.
Your OBGYN will be an invaluable part of your medical team, as they will be able to not only provide you with a host of good advice for a healthy pregnancy, but also they can check for health issues in both you and your unborn child that could potentially cause further and more serious complications. Turning to an OBGYN regularly is vitally important for a healthy, complication-free pregnancy.
Of course, there are also some wonderful milestones to enjoy throughout the course of your pregnancy. Here are some things to look forward to before getting to meet the new addition to your family,
Baby’s First Ultrasound
Once you find out you’re pregnant, it’s important that you visit your OBGYN to confirm the pregnancy, determine your due date and to schedule your very first ultrasound. This first ultrasound can occur as early as between 6 weeks and 9 weeks and it allows your obstetrician to check your baby’s size and heart rate, while also checking the health of the placenta and umbilical cord. This is an exciting moment for parents, as they often get to hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
The End of the First Trimester
We know that saying goodbye to the first trimester is high on most pregnant women’s lists. This is because most miscarriages occur during the first trimester. This is usually around the time that expectant mothers want to announce their pregnancy to family members and friends. Plus, if you were fighting terrible morning sickness during your first trimester you may be relieved to hear that a lot of these symptoms may lessen or go away completely once you reach the second trimester.
Feeling Your Baby Kick
Most expectant mothers can’t even describe how incredible it is to experience their baby kicking for the first time. Your baby’s kick may feel more like a flutter or tickle while other women may feel a nudging sensation. At some point, you may even see an indent of an arm or leg as your stomach expands and the baby grows.
Your Child’s Gender Reveal
While some parents don’t want to know whether they are having a boy or girl until that moment in the delivery room, some couples can’t wait to find out and share the news. In fact, gender reveal parties have become a popular trend today and once you find out whether you are having a little boy or girl you may just feel that exciting urge to start decorating the baby room.
Your Due Date
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for: your baby’s expected birth date. While most babies won’t show up right on schedule, you may be experiencing some warning signs that labor is soon on the way and you’ll soon get to welcome your baby into the world.
Usually around the time that women reach their late 40s or early 50s, they may notice changes occurring in their body. This is because the reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are no longer being produced within the body. This transitional phase is known as menopause and while some women may go through menopause without any symptoms or issues, some women deal with a variety of unpleasant and even severe symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and joint pain.
While hot flashes are the most common complaint when it comes to menopause symptoms, there are a variety of issues that women can experience including:
- Muscle/joint pain
- Irritability, depression, and anxiety
- Vaginal infections
- Loss of sex drive
- Sexual pain
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary incontinence or leakage
- Night sweats
- Poor concentration and memory (“mental fog”)
If you are a middle-aged woman who hasn’t had a period in over one year and is dealing with these issues, you could be facing menopause. Of course, it’s important that you have an OBGYN that you can turn to if symptoms become too challenging to handle on your own. While a gynecologist can certainly recommend a variety of lifestyle modifications and simple ways to alleviate symptoms, sometimes more aggressive treatment is necessary.
Certain lifestyle modifications may include exercising regularly, getting enough sleep each night or avoiding alcohol to help with depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Your gynecologist can prescribe a lubricant to help with vaginal dryness and discomfort. Physical therapy or certain medical treatments may be prescribed to improve the function of the pelvic floor to reduce urinary leakage and incontinence.
Many menopausal women dealing with menopausal symptoms can experience relief through hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Since the body is no longer producing estrogen and progesterone, HRT will serve to restore those hormones back into the body to reduce common symptoms such as hot flashes. Furthermore, HRT has been shown to reduce bone loss caused by osteoporosis, which is common in women post-menopause. Plus, HRT is also known to reduce common symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness and pain.
There are a few different ways in which HRT can be administered. Estrogen can come in the form of a gel, cream, spray, patch, or pill. Of course, systemic estrogen has been proven to be the most effective way to target symptoms of menopause.
Women dealing with severe hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms, women who are prone to osteoporosis or fractures, and women who experience menopause before the age of 40 may want to consider getting hormone replacement therapy.
If you are sexually active, getting regular STI screenings is a crucial and proactive practice to adopt for both your health and the health of your future partners. It’s important to know if you have an STI so that the infection can be treated or managed before more serious health complications set in. While using condoms, being monogamous and avoiding risky behaviors can go a long way to keeping you healthy and safe from infection, it’s important that everyone who is sexually active continue to get screened, no matter their age.
When To Get Tested
It’s important to get routine screenings even if you feel fine and aren’t experiencing symptoms, as many people with STIs don’t ever experience symptoms. Even when symptoms do arise it’s easy to mistake them for less serious issues such as the common cold or flu virus. Did you know that some STIs present with a fever, sore throat and muscle aches? What might seem like the regular influenza virus could actually be an STI. Furthermore, it’s not that uncommon to be exposed to more than one STI at a time. So, you could have multiple infections and not know it.
While a lot of people feel nervous or even embarrassed to get STI screenings, having an OBGYN or medical doctor that you trust is the most important. Trust us; they’ve heard it all, so you should feel comfortable talking to your doctor about your sexual health. Being as honest as possible about your current or past sexual history is important to make sure you get the proper medical care.
Even though untreated STIs can lead to more serious health problems down the road, the good news is that many STIs can easily be treated if the infection is caught early enough. Even incurable STIs like hepatitis, herpes, and HIV can be managed through simple lifestyle changes and medications to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms and to improve your quality of life.
Even if you come in once a year for a wellness checkup or Pap smear, this doesn’t mean that you are getting screened for an STI. Of course, during your routine exam you can ask to also be screened for STIs. If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, having an untreated STI can cause serious health risks for your unborn child.
It’s important that you get regular STI testing to ensure that you and your partners enjoy a safe and healthy lifestyle!
Whether you think you might be pregnant or you already took a home pregnancy test that came back positive, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your OBGYN as soon as possible. Regular prenatal visits are the best way to monitor the health of both you and your baby while also tracking the development of the fetus. These visits are important for every pregnant woman, not just women who are dealing with health issues or a high-risk pregnancy.
During your first prenatal visit, which usually occurs after your eighth week of pregnancy, we will check your vitals (height, weight, blood pressure, etc.), and run blood and urine tests to test for current infections (including STDs) and to confirm your blood type (your blood type and the father’s blood type are important for the health of your child).
An ultrasound may also be performed to determine how far along you are in the pregnancy as well as your expected due date. A physical exam, including a pelvic exam, will be conducted. Your obstetrician will also take time to talk with you about your family history and your own detailed medical history.
It’s important to provide as much information as possible about any preexisting health conditions, surgeries and previous pregnancies you’ve had. This is also a great time to ask any questions you might have regarding diet, exercise, lifestyle or managing your pregnancy symptoms (e.g. morning sickness).
If all test results come back normal and you have a healthy pregnancy then you’ll only need to see your OBGYN every month for the first 28 weeks of your pregnancy. Once you reach 28 weeks you’ll come in twice a week until you are 36 weeks into your pregnancy. From 36 weeks until the birth of your baby you’ll have weekly checkups.
During these visits, your OBGYN may also run special tests to check for gestational diabetes and other conditions, depending on your family history and age. Genetic testing can also be performed to check the health of your child and to determine if there are any genetic disorders present.
It’s important that you find an obstetrician that you can trust to provide you with compassionate and thorough care and support throughout your pregnancy.
Getting older means overcoming many different obstacles as your life and your body change. But you must deal with one that is uniquely female: menopause and the symptoms that come with it. You know the symptoms commonly associated with menopause—hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness—but did you know that they are treatable and that menopause doesn’t have to be insurmountable?
If you have moderate to severe symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an effective treatment for hot flashes and can also help elevate vaginal dryness and mood issues. It has traditionally been administered with pills like birth control, but also like birth control it can now be taken through patches, creams, gels, and vaginal rings. If you have not had a hysterectomy, you could be prescribed estrogen and progesterone, called combination HRT. If you have had a hysterectomy, estrogen alone would be prescribed.
Not all women are candidates for HRT. Those who have breast or uterine cancer, blood clots, heart or liver disease, or have had a stroke would be better candidates for the following options.
Vaginal estrogen is a lower dose of estrogen that comes as a cream, tablet, or ring and is placed in the vagina to treat vaginal dryness if you don’t have hot flashes. Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers are non-prescription options to treat dryness as well. Lubricants can help decrease friction and ease intercourse, but be sure to only use water-soluble products designed for the vagina to avoid irritating tender tissue. Moisturizers can improve or maintain vaginal moisture if you have mild vaginal atrophy and can also keep your pH level low, ensuring a healthy vaginal environment. They can also be used regularly with longer-lasting effects than lubricants.
Prescription antidepressant medications are often used to treat mood problems, like depression, with relatively few side effects. They have also been used to treat hot flashes. However, if you are having mood issues, be sure to talk with your doctor to identify the cause and decide on the best treatment.
You’d be surprised how far simple lifestyle changes, like eating a healthy diet and regularly exercising, can go in minimizing menopause symptoms. Wearing light-weight pajamas, using layered bedding that can easily be removed, and using a fan in your bedroom can help with night sweats while keeping a regular sleep schedule and nighttime routine can make falling asleep and staying asleep easier.
The onset of menopause is a big change, and dealing with its symptoms can be daunting. But you don’t have to take on this new phase in your life alone. No matter if you are suffering severe symptoms or you just have some questions of what to expect as you get older, our office is here to help. Call to schedule your appointment today.
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