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planning for pregnancy

Planning For Pregnancy: Your Preconception Checklist

Are you ready to bring your own little miracle into the world? Many women believe that modifying their lifestyle only begins once they fall pregnant. Even though there is some truth behind this, there are a number of steps you can take before trying to conceive that can help better prepare you for the lifestyle, financial, and bodily changes you are about to undergo. Planning for pregnancy can be equally important as the steps you take to promote a healthy lifestyle during your pregnancy.  

Your Preconception Checklist

Planning for pregnancy means spending time making healthy lifestyle changes that can have a lifetime of impact on you, your baby, and your family. Raleigh OB/GYN has outlined a few boxes to tick off before trying to conceive. 

Schedule A Checkup

One of the most critical steps to take when planning for pregnancy is to schedule a preconception appointment with your OB/GYN. During this appointment, your doctor may review your health history, pre-existing medical conditions, current lifestyle behaviors, medications/ vaccinations, and perform a physical exam. Usually, the physical exams include a pelvis exam or pap smear.  

Alter Lifestyle Choices

When planning for pregnancy, it is crucial to consider your lifestyle choices, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, nutrition, and body weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests people who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for complications during pregnancy, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Additionally, smoking and drinking alcohol can also cause complications, including premature birth, congenital disabilities, and stillbirth. In planning for pregnancy, ensure you reach and maintain a healthy weight, avoid toxic substances, and eat a nutritious diet. 

Make A Budget

It is important to keep in mind that you will need to have several doctor visits throughout your pregnancy. This may leave you wondering, how much will this cost? A great way to ease the angst and get a better idea of the number going into pregnancy is to make a budget. We suggest calling your insurance company to find out what they will cover, such as OB/GYN appointments, ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins, prenatal screenings, genetic testing, and labor and delivery. Other pregnancy costs include, but are not limited to, maternity clothing, medications, nursery costs, baby clothes, stroller, car seat, etc.  

Start Prenatal Supplements 

Prenatal supplements contain essential vitamins for both mom and baby. The American College for Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests the most important vitamins and minerals during pregnancy include:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Choline
  • Vitamin A, C, D, B6, and B12
  • Folic acid

Eating well and ensuring you are getting an adequate dose of the nutrients listed above is one of the best things you can do while planning for pregnancy and during your pregnancy.  

Learn Family History

Your family health history is vital to your child’s health. History that includes birth defects, developmental disabilities, or other genetic conditions is all crucial to know and relay to your doctor while planning for pregnancy. Depending on your family history, your doctor may suggest genetic testing or counseling to maximize your chances of a healthy and successful pregnancy and baby. Learning about your and your partner’s health history before getting pregnant is a highly recommended precautionary measure.

 

Here at Raleigh OB/GYN, we understand the importance of planning for pregnancy— and we’re here to guide you the whole way! From making a plan to execution, we are dedicated to helping you understand every step of your unique pregnancy journey. If you have questions about preconception health, set up an appointment to talk to your doctor. You can schedule an appointment through our website or give us a call at (919) 876-8225.

amenorrhea

Dos and Donts For Women With Exercise-Induced Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is the medical term for the absence of monthly menstrual periods. There are two types of amenorrhea— primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea is when a girl doesn’t get her period by the time she is 15 years of age. Secondary amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation for three months or more by a woman who has had periods in the past. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on exercise-induced amenorrhea, which falls under the category of secondary amenorrhea. 

The Dos And Donts Of Exercise-Induced Amenorrhea

Exercise-induced amenorrhea is a condition that occurs in female athletes due to environmental, nutritional, and metabolic stressors. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism states that the reproductive system’s sensitivity to these stressors causes the suppression of menstruation in athletes. In many cases, women with exercise-induced amenorrhea are thought to have low body fat levels and nutritional deficiencies.

Exercise-Induced Amenorrhea Do’s

  1. Do Focus On Adequate Nutrition

Many women believe they have stopped menstruating specifically due to over-exercising or too little body fat. According to the Female and Male Athlete Triad, a group of women with similar exercise programs and low percent body fat will not all experience menstrual problems, and those that do usually have inadequate nutrition. When a body goes through famine-like conditions, it halts menstruation due to insufficient fuel to support a fetus. Ensure when you are eating, it is balanced with nutritious foods that contain necessary fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. 

  1. Do Toss The Scale

While stepping on the scale may feel like a necessity for women with disordered eating, it actually causes more harm than good. Instead of starving your body for a number on the scale, try eating intuitively. Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full. By doing this, your body will achieve a natural weight that matches your energy exertion and genetics. If tossing the scale altogether seems daunting and overwhelming, some women start by hiding the scale, so it is at least out of sight. 

  1. Do Understand The Long-Term Health Consequences

It is important to understand the long-term health consequences for those struggling with amenorrhea due to over-exercising and disordered eating. NEDA outlines a few possible results including:

  • The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate, and blood pressure levels sink lower.
  • Slowed-down digestion, known as gastroparesis, can lead to stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, blood sugar fluctuations, bacterial infections, and more.
  • Neurological implications affecting sleep, balance, and breathing.
  • Other consequences such as hair growth, dry skin, dehydration, hair loss, and anemia. 

Additionally, many women with amenorrhea also pose a risk for early onset osteoporosis, which is when the bones become less dense, weak, and brittle and are much more likely to fracture. 

Exercise-Induced Amenorrhea Dont’s

  1. Don’t Omit Certain Food Groups

Many women with amenorrhea due to disordered eating have “safe foods,” which are foods that are “safe” to eat. These foods don’t feel threatening to the overarching goal of weight loss. Eating outside of one’s “safe foods” can be anxiety-provoking and leave them feeling a loss of control. Try challenging the anxiety by not omitting certain food groups. This can also lead to a healthier relationship with food.   

  1. Don’t Skip Meals

Skipping meals is something that is often talked about when trying to lose weight. Women with exercise-induced amenorrhea should not be going too long without meals or intentionally doing without breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When you skip a meal, not only does your blood sugar drop, but you may experience anxiety, decreases in your energy, digestion irregularities, nutrient deficiencies, and even begin to lose touch with your hunger and fullness cues. Trust your body, listen to your body, be intuitive, and enjoy everything in moderation!

  1. Don’t Neglect Getting Help

When your behaviors start to get in the way of normal bodily functions, such as your menstrual cycle, but also affect your mental health, it is time to seek help. To contact the National Eating Disorder hotline, visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org. To find a sports dietitian in your area, use the American Dietetic Association’s referral networks:  www.SCANdpg.org or www.eatright.org

If you need more information about amenorrhea, or if you’re suffering from symptoms similar to amenorrhea, consult a provider at Raleigh OB/GYN. The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at our practice offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to help you better understand your menstruation. Visit our website to make an appointment, or call us at (919) 876-8225.

sexually transmitted diseases

4 Of The Most Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (And What To Do About Them)

Sexual health screenings are recommended regularly in order to maintain your sexual and overall health. Usually, your doctors will make recommendations on when you need to get certain screenings based on your age, history, and current lifestyle. If you are sexually active, your doctor will often suggest getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 million sexually transmitted diseases are acquired daily worldwide.  

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Specifically for women, sexually transmitted diseases can pose a serious risk to reproductive health if left untreated. Many STDs don’t have alarming symptoms— sometimes, you may experience no symptoms at all! Here at Raleigh OBGYN, we urge all women who are sexually active to be tested regularly. To learn more about the most common sexually transmitted diseases and what to do about them, continue reading.   

     1. Chlamydia

According to the CDC, chlamydia often presents with no symptoms. However, if it goes untreated, it has the potential to cause serious health problems and even permanently damage a woman’s reproductive system. Because of this, it is imperative to get tested regularly if you are sexually active. When chlamydia does present symptoms, they may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Penis discharge
  • A burning sensation while peeing
  • Pain or swelling in one or both testicles
  • Rectal pain 
  • Abnormal bleeding 

Luckily, chlamydia is curable and can be detected with a simple laboratory test. The treatment for chlamydia is usually antibiotics, and when taken correctly, it has a success rate of 95%. It is important to note that repeat infection with chlamydia is common, and just because you got it once doesn’t mean you’re immune. Always using protection during sex and getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases at least once a year is highly recommended. 

     2. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is considered one of the more common sexually transmitted diseases, with more than 3 million US cases yearly. This specific STD tends to target areas of the body that are warm and moist. Gonorrhea, like chlamydia, may present with no symptoms. However, those who do show symptoms may experience:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, testicle(s), or vagina
  • Pain during urination or intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • A pus-like discharge from the penis
  • Fever
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Rectal bleeding or discharge

Although gonorrhea is highly treatable, it will not go away by itself. It is also important to note that babies of infected mothers can be infected during childbirth. Getting tested for STDs before trying to conceive is always a good idea. 

     3. Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an STD that can be spread through blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva. Only about half of people who are infected with Hepatitis B experience symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
  • Loss of appetite or nausea
  • Bloated or tender belly
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pain in joints

Luckily, there is a vaccine against this STD, and most adults in the United States can fully recover if they do contract it. Keep in mind that the vaccine for Hepatitis B does not protect you against Hepatitis A or Hepatitis C. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information regarding the different strains of Hepatitis. 

     4. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 

The National Cancer Institute states that HPV is a group of more than 200 related viruses. These viruses can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex and fall into two categories: low-risk HPV and high-risk HPV.

  • Low-risk HPV: Often causes warts on or around a person’s genitals, mouth, throat, or anus. This type of HPV often causes no disease.
  • High-risk HPV: This type of HPV can lead to cell changes that, if left untreated, can lead to several types of cancers. Some of these cancers include cervical cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, and more.

Similar to Hepatitis B, there is an HPV vaccine. This vaccine protects you against infection from two low-risk HPV types and seven high-risk HPV types. The CDC suggests that in most cases— 9 out of 10 times— HPV goes away on its own within roughly two years. However, it is always recommended to see your doctor should you show signs of HPV. 

If you have any questions about getting screened for STDs, talk to your women’s healthcare provider. They can help you determine which screenings you need to get and when. Raleigh OB/GYN has over 45 years of experience serving the women in our communities and is here to help. If you have questions about sexually transmitted diseases or STD testing, set up an appointment to talk to your doctor. You can schedule an appointment through our website or give us a call at (919) 876-8225.

postpartum depression

5 Tips For Coping With Postpartum Depression

Pregnancy and motherhood are filled with an abundance of emotions, both positive and negative. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious medical illness accompanied by distressing symptoms that can make it increasingly challenging to care for your newborn baby. Although PPD can make you feel alone, you are not— in fact, 1 in 9 women in the United States develop PPD. 

Coping With Postpartum Depression

Many women go through the “baby blues” after giving birth, which is characterized by a sad and empty feeling. Usually, these symptoms tend to clear within 3 to 5 days. When a woman has persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness for more than two weeks post birth, this often is a sign of postpartum depression. Raleigh OBGYN understands the emotional toll this mental illness can take on your overall health. That’s why we have compiled five tips for coping with postpartum depression. 

  1. Make Time For Mindfulness

This one can be difficult with a newborn but is of great importance when dealing with postpartum depression. Some ways you can practice mindfulness throughout your day include:

  • Giving attention to your breathing, mood, and feelings
  • Identifying triggers that make you feel angry, sad, or anxious
  • Slowing down and taking one day at a time
  • Being kind to yourself and freeing yourself from negative thoughts

Although these tips can be easier said than done, trying to engage in at least one every day can ultimately add up and help with your symptoms of postpartum depression. Even for mothers who aren’t struggling postpartum, mindfulness can help center you back to your core and burden the stressors of parenting.

  1. Set Realistic Expectations For Yourself 

Before having a baby, you may have had an idea in your head about what it was going to look like. However, reality doesn’t always match with the version we have in our minds. Not only are you recovering from giving birth, but you also may have to be a mother, wife, friend, and employee, too. Recognize your limits, and prioritize you and your baby’s well-being above all else. And remember, there is no such thing as a “perfect” mom.

  1. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Although making healthy lifestyle choices most likely isn’t going to get rid of your symptoms altogether, it can help combat external stressors and boost your mood. Some great, low-impact, low-intensity exercises you can incorporate into your routine include:

  • Belly breathing
  • Pelvic tilt exercises
  • Kegel exercises
  • Happy baby pose
  • Light yoga
  • Brisk walking

On top of light exercise, try to ensure you are eating a healthy diet and engaging in mindful exercises such as meditation.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Postpartum depression can leave you feeling culpable and bring on feelings of insurmountable guilt. But remember, you are not going through this alone. Plenty of women have gotten through to the other side. Don’t mistake asking for help as being weak— in fact, it’s quite the opposite! Seeking help is the most courageous thing you could ever do for yourself and your baby. If you are struggling to find help, check out this resource from Postpartum Support International.

  1. Consider Treatment Options

Once you’ve taken the step to ask for help, it is time to explore your treatment options. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from that are sure to help each woman in her own specific journey. Postpartum depression treatment can include psychotherapy, antidepressants, hormone therapy, or in severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy. Listed below are other helpful resources for managing postpartum depression:

 

Postpartum depression can make you feel lonely and guilty. But remember, you are not alone, and PPD is treatable! Raleigh OB/GYN Centre, we offer a full range of obstetrical care from preconception to delivery. We have provided state-of-the-art care for mothers, daughters, and now granddaughters since 1974. If you have questions or want to learn more about postpartum depression, visit our website to schedule an appointment with our team of dedicated providers or call us at 919-875-8225.

Pregnancy and nutrition

Pregnancy And Nutrition: The Basics

The rush of emotions after finding out you are pregnant can leave you feeling on top of the world. Suddenly, you want to do everything in your power to help protect and grow your little one. That may leave you questioning the best ways to balance pregnancy and nutrition. Ideally, a healthy diet before pregnancy is best, but it is never too late to start! 

The Benefits Of Proper Nutrition During Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, a healthy and balanced diet becomes more important than ever. Here at Raleigh OB/GYN, we understand that nutrients are what help your baby grow and develop. Don’t know where to start when it comes to pregnancy and nutrition? Continue reading to learn the basics!

Ensure A Balanced Diet

During your pregnancy, you need more of certain vitamins and nutrients such as protein, folic acid, iron, iodine, and calcium. Eating a balanced diet full of variety is a great way to ensure you are meeting you and your baby’s nutrient needs. Some foods that are sure to help you meet your dietary needs include:

 

  • Fortified cereals: High in folate or folic acid, calcium, and iron
  • Milk: High in calcium, vitamin D, and protein
  • Fish: High in calcium and vitamin D
  • Spinach: High in iron, calcium, and folic acid
  • Beans: High in vitamin B, iron, folic acid, and protein

 

The specific nutrients listed above are among some of the ones that deserve special attention throughout your pregnancy. However, if you aren’t getting a sufficient amount from food, there are ways to make up for it— like prenatal vitamins. 

Appropriate Vitamin Supplements

Generally speaking, pregnant women should be taking a prenatal vitamin every day. This, along with a healthy and balanced diet, should supply all the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy. A prenatal vitamin, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, should contain these 11 nutrients: folate, iron, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D. 

 

These vitamins may help to prevent major congenital disabilities, support the development of the placenta and fetus, develop healthy skin, gums, and eyesight, and helps to build your fetus’s bones and teeth. At a very minimum, mothers-to-be should be ensuring they are taking the suggested intake of roughly 600mcg of folic acid and 27 mg of iron daily. 

Dietary and Caloric Recommendations

ACOG suggests that women pregnant with one baby should be consuming an extra 340 calories per day starting in the second trimester and a bit more in the third trimester. Women carrying twins should consume roughly 600 extra calories daily, and women with triples should consume an extra 900 calories daily. 

 

Keep in mind the saying “eat for two” is not true, and eating an excess amount of calories can lead to serious health implications. Some reasons to avoid unrestricted calorie intake while pregnant are:

 

  • Excess weight gain
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Emergency C-section
  • Heartburn
  • Pre-eclampsia

 

In order to limit overeating, try exercising daily, keeping yourself hydrated, and sticking to a healthy and well-rounded diet. 

Eating Safely During Pregnancy

Did you know that some foods contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can affect the health of your unborn baby? The Mayo Clinic suggests steering clear of certain foods during these nine months: 

 

  • Raw, undercooked, or contaminated seafood, poultry, and eggs
  • Unpasteurized foods
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • Excess caffeine, herbal tea, and alcohol

 

Have no fear, once your baby makes its grand entrance, you can return to eating sushi and drinking all the coffee your heart desires.

There are often a lot of questions revolving around pregnancy and nutrition, including what and how much you should be eating. Raleigh OB/GYN has over 45 years of experience serving the women in our communities. If you have questions about how to best fuel your body, especially during pregnancy, set up an appointment to talk to your doctor. You can schedule an appointment through our website or give us a call at (919) 876-8225.

c-sections

C-Sections: What Are They And Why Are They Needed?

For many, the act of giving birth remains a mysterious and somewhat taboo topic. Yet, this magical bodily function is what brings our children into existence and fills our world with more joy than one thought imaginable. All types of birth should be celebrated, not shrouded. In fact, information on pregnancy, labor, and c-sections should be accessible to all, as it is vital to the health and well-being of all expecting mothers.    

What Are C-Sections?

C-sections are used to deliver a baby through surgical incisions made in a woman’s abdomen and uterus. It’s estimated that nearly 30% of births in the United States are by c-sections. That number is much higher in older women and women who have multiple children. While there is no single reason why c-sections may be necessary, a few factors can tip the scales to this option being most suitable. Raleigh OB/GYN would like to take this opportunity to help address some of these questions and concerns.

Prolonged Labor

Prolonged labor, commonly referred to as “failure to progress,” is when labor stalls or occurs too slowly. Labor that continues for an extended period of time is dangerous and may cause conditions in the baby, such as low oxygen levels or an abnormal heart rhythm. According to WebMD, if your baby is not born approximately 20 hours after regular contractions, you are thought to be in prolonged labor. If the baby has not progressed far enough down the birth canal and medication does not help to speed up and strengthen the contractions, the doctor may suggest a c-section. 

Abnormal Positioning In The Womb

The ideal position for a baby to be in for labor is head down while facing the mother’s back with its chin tucked to its chest. Most babies end up positioned here within the 32nd to the 36th week of pregnancy. Unfortunately, not all babies are ideally positioned like this when it comes time to give birth. Other positions a baby can be in before childbirth include:

 

  • Occiput or cephalic posterior position
  • Frank breech
  • Complete breech
  • Transverse lie
  • Footling breech

 

In many cases, if your baby is in a breech position or transverse lie, your doctor may recommend a c-section instead of a vaginal birth. 

Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)

Cephalopelvic disproportion is rare, yet another reason c-sections may be necessary. CPD occurs when a baby’s body or head is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis or birth canal. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), CPD occurs in 1 out of 250 pregnancies. When an accurate diagnosis of CPD is made, the safest option for delivery is a c-section.      

Chronic Health Conditions

Sometimes, a vaginal birth may not be suitable due to pre-existing medical conditions that could harm the mother, baby, or both. Some chronic health conditions that may warrant a cesarean delivery include conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, or gestational diabetes. Additionally, a c-section may be suggested if the mother has infections that could be transferred to the baby through vaginal delivery, such as HIV or genital herpes. 

Twins Or Carrying Multiples

What’s better than one baby? Two or more! It’s been estimated that roughly 60% of twins are born via cesarean delivery. Many women expecting twins will often choose to have a planned c-section delivery. Other reasons your doctor may recommend a non-vaginal birth with twins or multiples include:

 

  • The first baby is breeched
  • One baby is lying transverse 
  • Low-lying placenta
  • Your twins share a placenta
  • Troubles with previous births

 

It is important to keep in mind that a cesarean delivery is not the only way to welcome your twins or multiples. In many circumstances, a vaginal delivery is just as safe.

 

At Raleigh OB/GYN Centre, we offer a full range of obstetrical care from preconception to delivery. We have provided state-of-the-art care for mothers, daughters, and now granddaughters since 1974 and have since grown to three locations to best serve our patients in Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information about c-sections or to schedule an appointment with our team of dedicated providers, call 919-875-8225.

Exercise and Pregnancy

5 Myths About Exercise and Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, especially for the first time, you naturally start to worry about the health of yourself and your growing baby. So when it comes to exercising during pregnancy, you may wonder, is it safe? When should you start? How much is too much? Unfortunately, the internet is flooded with contradictory and misleading information. The good news is that exercise and pregnancy are perfectly safe and even beneficial! 

Myths About Exercise During Pregnancy

Because the fitness industry is so crowded, it is understandable why there are so many myths revolving around women, exercise, pregnancy, and weight loss. Here at Raleigh OB/GYN, we want to ensure you are provided with reliable information regarding your pregnancy journey. We’re here to bust 5 myths about exercise and pregnancy:

Myth #1: Lifting Weights During Pregnancy Is Dangerous

Lifting weights has been shown to increase your overall health while decreasing your risk for a heart attack, stroke, and osteoporosis. In fact, studies have found that lifting weights may reduce your risk for a heart attack by 40 to 70 percent. The benefits of lifting weights don’t reverse when you fall pregnant. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology lists resistance exercises, which includes lifting weights, as safe during pregnancy. Light to moderate weight lifting three to four times a week has great benefits such as strengthening your muscles, protecting your core and lower back, and building or maintaining endurance. 

Myth #2: Only Low-Impact, Gentle Workouts Are OK

As long as your doctor clears it and your pregnancy is not high risk, by no means does exercise during pregnancy have to be limited to walking or gentle yoga. Running, indoor cycling, interval training, cross-training, and similar activities are all encouraged. And between those types of exercise, low-impact and gentle workouts are great for keeping your body moving too! Keep in mind that pregnant women are not encouraged to participate in contact sports such as kickboxing, karate, soccer, or softball.

Myth #3: If I Didn’t Workout Before Pregnancy, I Shouldn’t Start Now

You can run a half marathon or practice gentle yoga– there is never a “right” way to move your body. Even if you were sedentary before falling pregnant, working out during pregnancy is almost always recommended. The only reason it is not recommended is if your doctor does not clear it or if there is a possibility of a high-risk pregnancy. Studies show many benefits, as exercise reduces: 

 

  • The risk of excessive weight gain
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Risk of C-section and developing diabetes
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy.

 

Additionally, physical activity may help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy and even reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Remember that because every woman and pregnancy is different, it is essential to listen to your body during exercise and not push it too far past its limits. 

Myth #4: It’s Not Safe To Do Abdominal Workouts

A strong core helps with everyday activities, from tying your shoes to walking upstairs. Abdominal muscles promote a healthy back, good posture, balance, and stability. These reasons alone may be enough to get you doing sit-ups. Whattoexpect.com suggests strengthening your abs when you’re expecting supports your pelvic organs as your baby bump gets bigger. Some pregnancy-safe abdominal exercises include:

 

  • Forearm planks and side planks
  • Bird-dogs
  • Glue bridge
  • Squat with rotation 
  • Knee lift
  • Cat-cows
  • Incline mountain climbers

 

With clearance from your doctor, adding abdominal exercises into your workout routine has many benefits and can even be done from the comfort of your own home!

Myth #5: By Working Out Too Much, I Will Pull Nutrients From My Baby

Although it may make sense on paper, working out will not pull nutrients from your baby. In fact, according to WebMD, if your body is going to draw nutrients from somewhere, it will be your own nutrient store and not the babies. To ensure you and your baby are getting adequate nourishment, try eating small, frequent, and nutritious meals. This will also help you keep your blood sugar levels balanced which is essential for optimum health and functionality, pregnant or not!

Do you have more questions about exercise and pregnancy? Our team of physicians, nurses, and medical staff are committed to answering all your questions regarding your unique pregnancy journey. For more information, give us a call at 919-876-8225 or request an appointment.

vaginal dryness

5 Reasons You’re Experiencing Vaginal Dryness

Many stereotypes surrounding intercourse have clouded the general population’s understanding of normal performing bodies and healthy sex functions. Vaginal dryness is more common than one may think, rarely harmful, and can be treated in several different ways.   

Common Reasons For Vaginal Dryness

Just because you can’t get wet before or during sex does not necessarily mean you aren’t turned on. The list of reasons that have nothing to do with lack of arousal goes on and on. Here at Raleigh OB/GYN, our goal is to separate fact from fiction and give proper education on why your body reacts the way it does in certain situations. Read below to learn 5 reasons you may be experiencing vaginal dryness.  

Medical Conditions

One main reason you may be experiencing vaginal dryness is due to underlying medical conditions. Diabetes which can result in high blood sugars can cause damage to the blood vessels in your vagina, leading to a lack of lubrication. Chemotherapy, a cancer treatment, may cause a loss of estrogen production in your ovaries, contributing to vaginal dryness. 

 

Yeast infections are a medical infection that can interfere with your ability to get wet, as they disrupt the balance of flora in the vagina. Other symptoms that often accompany yeast infections include itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva, a burning sensation, or a vaginal rash. Other medical conditions that can lead to vaginal dryness include thyroid disorders, immune system disorders, and even STDs.

Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

Engaging in unhealthy lifestyle habits has a track record of contributing to several underlying illnesses or problems, vaginal dryness included. Nicotine and smoking cigarettes are directly linked to increased difficulty in getting wet. According to Women’s Health Mag, vaginal lubrication results from increased blood flow to the vagina. Smoking causes a decrease in circulation of blood flow, making it challenging to become lubricated. Douching and water-based lube also may contribute to you being drier than usual.

Stress And Mental Health

Anxiety, stress, and depression are demons of their own but can also host several side effects. It is easy to become distracted during stressful times, making it challenging to be fully present, especially in the bedroom. Hopkins Medicine suggests a primary symptom of anxiety and depression is a decrease in your libido or natural sex drive. A common way to try and combat low libido and depression includes therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy.    

Menopause Or Perimenopause

Although not something many women look forward to, menopause is inevitable and often comes with some whacky and unpleasant side effects. The Mayo Clinic suggests that during menopause, your vaginal tissues become thinner and easily irritated, resulting from the natural decline in your body’s estrogen levels. Similarly, perimenopause is the time around menopause when your body begins to make the natural transition to menopause. Both menopause and perimenopause can decrease your natural vaginal lubrication. 

Certain Medications

Although some medications are necessary for our overall well-being, certain ones can mess with bodily functions. A few medications known to hinder your ability to get wet include antihistamines, Accutane, and antidepressants. Anti-depressants, specifically, can directly impact your sex drive through a decrease of estrogen. Additionally, birth control pills can affect lubrication in a way similar to antidepressants, as a low-dose birth control pill can decrease levels of estrogen in the body.

There are many reasons you may be experiencing vaginal dryness, both psychological and physiological. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to go about treatments and resolving the underlying issue at hand. If you have any concerns with vaginal lubrication or any other questions regarding sexual intercourse, give Raleigh OB/GYN a call at 919-876-8225 or request an appointment.

Pregnancy Symptoms

Pregnancy Symptoms You Haven’t Heard Of

Pregnancy symptoms are not one-fits-all. In fact, pregnancy symptoms hardly will ever look the same from woman to woman. Some women begin to experience pregnancy symptoms as early as 2-3 weeks, while others may experience little to no symptoms throughout their pregnancy. Either way, there are a host of pregnancy symptoms that, although bizarre, are totally normal.

Unexpected Pregnancy Symptoms 

Although every pregnancy is a unique and memorable journey, some pregnancy symptoms are more frequent than others. Some of the most common early pregnancy symptoms, according to the American Pregnancy Association, include:

 

  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Missed period
  • Tender and swollen breasts
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue

 

As conventional as these symptoms seem, as your pregnancy continues, the hormonal changes in your body may lead to unusual pregnancy symptoms beyond the first signs and symptoms. Here at Raleigh OB/GYN, we want to ensure you are prepared for anything pregnancy might throw your way.

Nosebleeds

Though alarming, nosebleeds are relatively common during pregnancy. When pregnant, your blood volume increases to support the growing baby, and the pressure from the extra blood may sometimes cause vessels to rupture. These ruptures often happen in the nasal cavity because the nose has tiny blood vessels that can irritate and dry out from normal breathing. 

Dysgeusia

Dysgeusia, or distortion in taste, is caused in pregnant women due to hormone changes. Many women describe having a metallic taste in their mouth or complete aversions to the foods they liked pre-pregnancy. Even though there isn’t a specific way to avoid dysgeusia, some tricks to try include:

 

  • Eat what you can, and don’t feel bad about avoiding certain foods  
  • Drink citrus juices like lemonade to combat the metallic taste
  • Stay consistent in brushing your teeth
  • Try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt or baking soda solution
  • Considering switching your prenatal vitamin 

 

It is important to remember that dysgeusia doesn’t last forever and usually subsides by the second trimester. You’ll be back to eating your favorite foods in no time!   

Increased Heart Rate

Around the 8-10 week mark of pregnancy, your heart may begin to pump faster and harder. This is usually no cause for concern, as having heart palpitations and arrhythmias are frequent side effects of pregnancy. When pregnant, your blood volume increases significantly, and your heart must work harder to pump the blood throughout your body. Healthline suggests your blood flow will increase between 30 and 50 percent during pregnancy. 

 

If you experience palpitations accompanied by chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness, or confusion, seek medical help immediately. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition of the hand and fingers caused by the compression of a major nerve that often causes pain, tingling, numbness, or burning through the carpal bones, wrist, and flexor tendons of the hand. When pregnant, your hormones trigger fluid retention, which causes swelling. This swelling can push against the carpal tunnel’s median nerve, which increases pressure in the carpal tunnel and may lead to pain in the wrist and hand. Approximately 31% to 62% of pregnant patients experience carpal tunnel syndrome. Typically, CTS starts during the third trimester of pregnancy and will subside after your baby is born.

Sore And Bleeding Gums

As other symptoms, sore and bleeding gums, often referred to as pregnancy gingivitis, occur due to hormonal changes in the body and result from plaque build-up on the teeth. The best way to combat sore and bleeding gums is to practice good oral hygiene. Some other remedies include:

 

  • Use an anti-gingivitis toothpaste or mouthwash
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Fully remove plaque when brushing your teeth

 

If pregnancy gingivitis becomes painful and unmanageable, it is always recommended to consult your dentist or hygienist.

 

Becoming pregnant is followed by an array of different symptoms, some of which are more common than others. Raleigh OB/GYN is dedicated to helping you understand every step of your unique pregnancy journey. If you have been struggling with pregnancy symptoms, set up an appointment to talk to your doctor. You can schedule an appointment through our website or give us a call at (919) 876-8225.

Understanding The Fertility Journey

Understanding The Fertility Journey

The body works in magical yet mysterious ways. The phases of the fertility journey can often be confusing, from understanding the timing and length of your menstrual cycle to what changes can happen during the different stages of your cycle. Learning the ins and outs of the fertility journey is an important first step in your adventure to motherhood.  

The Fertility Journey

Falling pregnant is easy for some, but it can be a long and distressing process for many. It can be difficult to feel hopeful amid fertility challenges, but fortunately, there are many things that you can do on your side to improve your chances of getting pregnant. Here at Raleigh OB/GYN,  we can help aid you through your fertility journey. 

 

Infertility And Reproductive Health

According to the American Pregnancy Association, fertility is the natural capability to conceive. On the other hand, infertility prevents the conception of children due to a condition of the reproductive system. Infertility affects roughly 10-15% of couples throughout the United States. It is also essential to note that several factors contribute to conception and pregnancy success. Some of these factors include

 

  • The production of healthy sperm by the man and healthy eggs by the women
  • Ovulation: The ovary releases an egg
  • Fertilization: Sperm meets the egg
  • Implantation: The fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus

 

When implantation occurs, pregnancy officially begins. If one of these factors is impaired or compromised, infertility can result. 

Timing Is Key

Each month, your body prepares for pregnancy. Women are born with about 1 million eggs, yet only release 300 to 400 during ovulation throughout the span of their lifetime. When trying to get pregnant, timing intercourse is crucial for improving the likelihood of millions of sperm meeting one single egg. According to PubMed research, a study of 625 women found conception only occurred when intercourse took place during a six-day period that ended on the estimated day of ovulation. In other words, knowing when you are ovulating can help you plan to have intercourse when you are most likely to conceive.

Infertility Treatments

With ever-advancing technology, infertility continues to be successfully treated in a multitude of women. Two of the most common fertility treatments are Intrauterine Inseminations (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IUI is when healthy sperm is inserted directly into a woman’s uterus during ovulation, while IVF is when eggs are taken from a woman’s ovaries, fertilized by sperm, and then transferred into a woman’s uterus. The national average for women younger than 35 able to become pregnant by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) on the first try is 55%, yet drops as the women ages. The success rate of IUI is lower at around 10-20% each cycle, but your chances increase the more cycles you go through.   

Additional Options

Aside from IVF and IUI, there are other great options for women struggling with infertility. Common fertility medications include:

 

  • Clomifene – Encourages ovulation in women who do not ovulate regularly
  • Tamoxifen – An alternative to Clomifene if you have irregular ovulation
  • Metformin – For women who struggle with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Gonadotropins – Can help stimulate ovulation in women and improve fertility in men

 

Additionally, there are several surgical procedures that women can undergo to help with infertility, such as fallopian tube surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and surgery to correct an epididymal blockage. 

Here at Raleigh OB/GYN, we’re all about helping you understand everything about your fertility journey and how having a healthy cycle impacts your overall well-being. If you have been struggling with your fertility journey, set up an appointment to talk to your doctor. You can schedule an appointment through our website or give us a call at (919) 876-8225.