When it comes to our babies, we only want to give them the very best. As a new mother, there are so many decisions you will have to make regarding your child’s health and well-being. One of the biggest decisions to make is whether or not to breastfeed. Many women hear that breastfeeding is the best option for providing the proper nutrients to their growing newborns, but why is that the case?
Breast milk is ideal for your little one because it contains all the proper nutrients and vitamins your baby needs during the beginning stages of their life. You may not realize this, but breast milk has the ability to provide your little one with immunoglobulin A (IgA), which they need to help fight against diseases and infections such as meningitis, ear infections, and respiratory diseases.
Breastfeeding your baby may also protect them against certain allergies. Some studies have found that babies who drink formula or cow’s milk were more likely to develop certain food allergies than babies who were breastfed. There have even been some studies that have found a link between cognitive development and whether your child drinks breast milk.
Breastfeeding may also reduce your child’s chances of becoming obese in later years. This may have to do with the fact that breast milk doesn’t have as much insulin as formula or that babies who are breastfed are better able to determine when they are full and should stop eating, which may create a healthy habit that they carry on throughout life.
Breastfeeding can also benefit the mother, too. When you nurse your baby it releases oxytocin, which helps mothers feel more relaxed. Since the first few months with your baby can be new and stressful, having these moments to reduce stress and lessen the symptoms of postpartum depression can make this transition into parenthood much easier.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months, even though they can continue to do so even after the first six months. If you have questions about breastfeeding or if you are having concerns or issues with breastfeeding, this is the perfect time to talk to your OBGYN, who will be able to address your concerns and make the breastfeeding process easier for you and your baby.
At some point during the course of your pregnancy, you will create a birth plan with your OBGYN. In your birth plan, you will decide what you do and don’t want throughout the course of your labor and delivery. You’ll decide everything from whether you want a natural birth to where you want to deliver your baby. While our goal is to ensure that you have a smooth and healthy delivery that goes along with your birth plan, certain issues can arise that may change this course.
There are issues that can arise during labor that affect how it’s supposed to progress. A challenging or difficult labor may be known as dystocia or dysfunctional labor. When labor becomes extremely slow, it may be known as a protraction of labor. If labor stops progressing altogether, it’s called an arrest of labor. An arrest of labor is when the cervix hasn’t dilated over the course of two hours and the baby hasn’t progressed at all down the birth canal.
When this happens, your obstetrician may administer oxytocin to the mother, which can help stimulate contractions needed to progress and advance labor. The amount of oxytocin that is administered will depend on the mother and other factors specific to the woman.
Another factor to consider is if your child is in the proper position for a safe and smooth delivery. In most situations, the head is the first to go through the birth canal; however, there are times when the buttocks (also referred to as a breech delivery) or shoulders may go first. Based on your baby’s position, the labor may be more challenging than if they are in an ideal position (e.g. head first).
In the case of a breech delivery, where the feet or buttock are first, babies are more likely to become injured during a vaginal delivery. A breech delivery is more likely if the baby is born prematurely, if the mother has uterine fibroids or if there is a birth defect. In some cases, your obstetrician may be able to get the baby to turn during labor so that there are no complications with a vaginal delivery; however, for the healthy and safety of the mother and the child, a cesarean section is often performed.
It’s impossible to know what will happen during the course of your labor or delivery, but it’s important to be equipped with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your health and the health of your baby so you can have a smooth delivery. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your OBGYN.
Have you been diagnosed with cervicitis? If so, chances are pretty good that you have questions about this condition. This condition, which causes inflammation of the cervix, is surprisingly common. There are many reasons why someone might develop cervicitis:
- A sexually transmitted disease (e.g. gonorrhea; genital herpes)
- Allergies (e.g. latex)
- Injury to the cervix
- Irritation (e.g. from diaphragm)
- A bacterial or hormonal imbalance
- Cancer (Rare)
Some women may have cervicitis but never even know that they have it. Some women with cervicitis may experience abdominal pain, yellow or gray discharge, vaginal itching and bleeding, painful urination or pain during sex.
What puts you at risk for cervicitis? While any woman can develop this condition you are more at risk for developing this inflammatory problem if you have multiple sexual partners, have sex without a condom or if you’ve had cervicitis in the past.
A simple swab test of the cervix is often all that’s needed to diagnose this problem. If you’ve been diagnosed with cervicitis, or if you suspect that you might have it, this is something that needs to be treated right away. Cervicitis can actually spread to other areas such as the fallopian tubes or uterus.
Cervicitis will often get worse if left untreated and can lead to other more serious complications such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). If you are pregnant, this condition could also put your unborn baby at risk. This is why it’s so important that you visit your OBGYN if you notice any symptoms or changes in your vaginal health that have you concerned.
Luckily, cervicitis can easily be treated with antibiotics such as doxycycline or azithromycin. Before medication is prescribed your OBGYN will also test for any sexually transmitted infections that may be causing this infection. If a sexually transmitted disease is also detected then we will need to treat that infection accordingly with further medication.
If you are pregnant, doxycycline will not be prescribed. In this situation, you will most likely be prescribed azithromycin or a cephalosporin. Again, the medicine your gynecologist decides to prescribe will be based on the cause of your cervicitis.
If in doubt, turn to your OBGYN to address all of your questions and concerns regarding cervicitis or the symptoms you are experiencing.
While being pregnant should be an exciting time, if you are dealing with diabetes then you may be worried about how this condition could impact your pregnancy or the health of your unborn child. Even before finding out you were pregnant, you should have been monitoring your blood glucose levels regularly. Of course, you will want to be diligent about checking these levels throughout your pregnancy. Having high blood glucose levels, particularly in the early stages of your pregnancy, can cause serious complications for both you and your child.
If you have diabetes and just found out you are pregnant, it’s important that you have an OBGYN that you can turn to for regular care, and to help monitor your diabetes throughout the course of your pregnancy. It’s imperative that you are taking good care of yourself and that we create a customized treatment plan for you that will ensure that both you and your baby stay healthy.
Most mothers with diabetes wonder how this condition could affect them or their baby. There are so many hormonal changes that occur during your pregnancy that can also alter your blood glucose levels in new and potentially serious ways. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived with diabetes, once you find out you are pregnant your obstetrician will want to determine certain lifestyle modifications such as what foods to remove from your diet and how often you should be exercising, as well as certain diabetes medications that are safe for you to use while pregnant.
Particularly in the beginning stages of your pregnancy, high blood glucose could be very dangerous for your baby and could increase your chances of a miscarriage. Later on, this could also put you at risk for a stillbirth. It can affect your child’s weight, respiration and even how early they are born. Just like diabetes can impact the health of your organs, so too can it affect and harm your child’s lungs, heart, brain, and kidneys and stunt their development.
By having an OBGYN that you can turn to and trust to answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns about diabetes, you can ensure that both you and your unborn child are healthy and happy.
Giving birth is one of the most exciting, beautiful, and difficult things many women will ever do. Taking care of yourself afterward may seem trivial in comparison with the demands of your new baby. However, postpartum care is a crucial part of recovering properly and getting yourself back into top physical health to provide the care your newborn requires.
What to Expect
- Vaginal Birth: You will experience soreness in your vaginal area, especially if you had a tear or episiotomy during the birth. You may feel afterpains, or mild contractions after giving birth. These will accompany several weeks of vaginal discharge called lochia, which presents itself as bright red and flows heavily during the first days after delivery, tapering off over the next few weeks. Bowel movements may be difficult and cause hemorrhoids.
- Caesarean Section: Caesarean sections require a longer hospital stay than a vaginal birth, usually around three to four days. After receiving pain medication, your doctors and nurses will encourage walking short distances to help with the buildup of gas within the abdomen. Many women find walking to be very difficult at first, but gets easier with time. You will also experience some vaginal bleeding in the days or weeks after delivery.
Postpartum care after a vaginal birth is different than caesarean section aftercare. After a vaginal delivery, sitting on a pillow or donut may help avoid pain from a tear or episiotomy. Drinking plenty of water and eating foods that are high in fiber can help keep stools soft if you have problems passing bowel movements. Your doctor can also prescribe stool softeners if necessary. Using an icepack or a frozen sanitary pad coated with witch hazel can help relieve discomfort and pain along with over-the-counter pain relievers.
Aftercare for a caesarean section begins during your hospital stay. Your doctor may administer narcotics like morphine to help with pain relief for the first day or two. After leaving the hospital, you will require as much help as possible. You may receive a prescription for pain relievers. Your incision will remain tender and sore for several weeks after delivery though it will heal gradually and feel better every day. Be sure to get plenty of rest and avoid lifting heavy items for at least eight weeks. Your scar will start out very obvious but shrink as you heal.
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