Category Archives: Blog

Christmas time spent at the beach in summer. Young woman wearing sunscreen that spells 2020; blog: 8 Healthy Habits for the New Year

8 Healthy Habits for the New Year

January will be here before you know it. Many women like to use this time to set goals for self-improvement in mental and physical health. To start down the path towards a healthier and happier you, follow these healthy habits for the new year.

1. Get Active 

According to the American Heart Association, only one in five adults and teens get sufficient exercise. They recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise during the week. So, one of your healthy habits for the new year should be setting a regular exercise routine. Find an activity or class that you look forward to can help stick to your fitness goals.

2. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can lead to headaches, skin problems, lack of energy, and mental fog. Make an effort to drink enough water. There are apps and special water bottles that can remind you to drink throughout the day, or you can set an alarm on your phone to remind you until it becomes a habit.

3. Step Up Your Oral Hygiene Routine

You make think that you are taking good enough care of your teeth by brushing twice a day. But many people don’t floss regularly, if at all. The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth daily using floss or another interdental cleaner. This can help prevent cavities and gum disease by removing plaque. And don’t forget to see your dentist for a cleaning and check-up every six months, or at least once a year.

4. Eat Right

One of the best healthy habits for the new year you can pick up is eating better. That doesn’t have to mean a highly restrictive diet, but some simple changes can make a difference. Get most of your nutrients from whole foods instead of processed ones. That means whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Limit things like fast food or other guilty pleasures to no more than once a week.

You should also focus on eating at the right times during the day. Make sure to eat breakfast, even if it’s something small. Have some yogurt or egg whites for protein and whole grains or fruits for fiber. This will prevent you from getting too hungry before lunchtime. Stop eating a couple of hours before you go to bed. This can help prevent becoming too hungry and help with digestion.

5. Get More Sleep

When making your list of healthy habits for the new year, make sure you put getting enough sleep near the top of the list. Being well-rested is important for many aspects of mental and physical health, and most adults don’t get the 7-9 hours recommended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for adults between 18 and 60 years old. 

If you’re having trouble sleeping you can try improving sleep hygiene by:

  • Removing electronic devices like phones, and even the TV from the bedroom
  • Keeping the bedroom quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature
  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends
  • Being physically active during the day
  • Avoiding big meals, alcohol, and caffeine for a few hours before bedtime

6. Set Realistic Goals

When the new year approaches, many of us fall into the trap of making big resolutions. While trying to make big changes is admirable, it can set you up for failure. Instead set a series of smaller, more realistic goals. It’s more likely you make progress this way, and you can still achieve your greater goal if it’s broken up into smaller pieces. This can be a good strategy for things like healthy weight loss and fitness goals.

7. Practice Self-Care

Take time to care for yourself mentally as well as physically. We often focus on caring for others and our own needs get pushed to the side. Set aside to do things to improve your mental health and center yourself. Practicing all of the above habits are essential for self-care. Finding someone to talk about your feelings with is also important. Self-care might also mean saying no to things so you don’t get rundown. Overcommitment is a problem for many women.

8. Make an Appointment with Your OB/GYN

To start the new year off right, make sure you are seeing your OB/GYN regularly for preventive care. The physicians and staff at Raleigh OB/GYN Centre have decades of experience providing women with full-scope obstetric and gynecological care. Call our Raleigh, NC office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment

if that is part of your ideal birth plan.

PCOS: What You Need to Know

Women of all ages can experience a number of gynecological and hormonal issues. Luckily, OB/GYNs and other medical professionals can successfully treat and manage them. One condition that affects a number of women is polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is often referred to by the initials PCOS.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal condition that affects females. It is the most common cause of infertility in women. The cause is unknown but it is thought to be related to environmental factors as well as genetic influences. Though “polycystic” implies that multiple cysts are involved, not all women have cysts on the ovaries. As the PCOS Awareness Association explains, three main hormones come into play in polycystic ovarian syndrome:

  1. Androgens: Though androgens are considered male hormones, all females make them as well. In PCOS, the levels of androgens are often elevated, leading to symptoms like acne, hair growth, and irregular periods.
  2. Insulin: This hormone helps regulate blood sugar and helps the body turn it into energy. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome sometimes become insulin resistant, so the body produces more. High levels of insulin lead to high levels of androgens.
  3. Progesterone: This female sex hormone helps regulate the menstrual cycle and ovulation. People with PCOS have low levels of progesterone, which makes periods irregular.

Signs and Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Sometimes people experience the symptoms of PCOS soon after puberty, but some women will not see symptoms until early adulthood. The symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, so sometimes it takes a while for polycystic ovarian syndrome to be diagnosed. Common symptoms include:

  • Irregular or missed periods: ovulation is often interrupted so menstruation does not occur regularly.
  • Infertility: PCOS is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of infertility. Not all women will have fertility issues. Some can conceive naturally and some can conceive with fertility treatments.
  • Weight gain: Difficulty losing and managing weight is common, as is obesity.
  • Unwanted hair growth on body/hirsutism: Excess hair growth on the face, back, chest, arms
  • Thinning hair on head: While unwanted hair appears on the body, hair on the head may fall out and thin, which can increase in middle age.
  • Mood changes: There is an increased likelihood of mood swings and/or developing anxiety and depression.
  • Fatigue: Feelings of tiredness and low energy may be related to sleep disturbances.
  • Sleep disturbance: People may experience insomnia or sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
  • Skin changes: Hormonal changes can cause skin changes such as acne, skin tags, or hyperpigmentation.
  • Pelvic pain: Pelvic pain during periods is a common symptom, as is heavy bleeding. Pelvic pain may be present when not bleeding as well.
  • Headaches: Disturbances in hormonal balance can cause frequent headaches.

Diagnosis and Treatment of PCOS

If you have symptoms, there is not a specific test to diagnose polycystic ovarian syndrome. The doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform a physical exam with a family history. Other tests may be ordered to rule out other conditions. These tests might include ultrasounds to evaluate the ovaries and look for cysts. Blood tests to check sugar and hormone levels are also used.

If you are diagnosed with PCOS, you may or may not be referred to an endocrinologist that can work with your regular doctor for treatment. An endocrinologist is a doctor that specializes in hormonal issues. There are several treatment options that can help manage symptoms and promote regular ovulation, but the condition cannot be cured.

Medications used to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome include:

  • Hormonal birth control: Birth control with both progestin and estrogen can help with regulating menstruation, reduce excess hair growth, and reduce acne. It can be taken orally or via a patch or vaginal ring.
  • Spironolactone: Treats acne by blocking androgen’s effect on the skin. Should not be used if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant because it has been linked to birth defects.
  • Clomiphene: Anti-estrogen medication used to help stimulate ovulation and help with fertility.
  • Metformin: Originally used to treat type 2 diabetes, this medication can help control insulin levels. It is often given in conjunction with clomiphene and can help with weight loss.
  • Letrozole: A breast cancer treatment that can stimulate the ovaries for ovulation.
  • Progestin therapy: Can help regulate the menstrual cycle and guard against endometrial cancer.
  • Gonadotropins: Hormonal injections that stimulate ovulation.

You can also make lifestyle changes to improve and manage symptoms. The changes seem simple but can make a real impact. Eat a healthy diet low in simple carbohydrates to control insulin levels and get regular exercise. Both of these can also help you manage your weight, which can make a big difference in symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight can help keep insulin lower as well as androgens. This might restore regular ovulation.

Make an Appointment

The team of physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN Centre have been providing the women of the Raleigh area with personalized and comprehensive care for 45 years. From the first well-woman appointment to menopause management and every stage in between, our team will be there. If you have concerns about any obstetric or gynecological issues, including PCOS, call us at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online

hospital bag packing list

Labor & Delivery Hospital Bag Packing List

Preparing for the arrival of your baby is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming–especially if you are a first-time mom. Once you’re around 34 weeks pregnant, you should start preparing for your delivery date. Even if you have a scheduled C-section or induction date, there is still the possibility you could go into labor naturally before then. So, it’s a good idea to be as prepared as possible well in advanced.

Once you’ve set up the crib or bassinet and installed the car seat, go ahead and start packing your hospital bag for labor and delivery. We suggest designating an area, like the nursery or a spare bedroom, to gather all your items before you pack them.

Here is a helpful labor and delivery hospital bag packing list that you can check off as you go:

  • Personal documents & ID: At a minimum, you will need your health insurance card and a government-issued photo ID. Of course, these are items traditionally kept in your wallet and purse so they won’t actually get “packed.” It’s also a good idea to carry a printed copy of any hospital paperwork you have already filled out such as a pre-registration form. If you anticipate being away from the local area where you plan to deliver, request a copy of your medical records from your physician’s office to keep with you.
  • Birth Plan: If you’ve chosen to write a birth plan, bring a few copies with you to the hospital. You care team will include several doctors and nurses, so this can be a helpful reference to ensure everyone is on the same page about your labor and delivery preferences.
  • Phone Charger: Aside from using it to update your loved ones, your phone can help you pass the time while you labor. You may want to play music, scroll through social media or use helpful apps like a contraction timer or for guided meditation. You may opt to bring a traditional camera, but you’re bound to take some snaps with your phone as well. All of this can drain your battery quickly, so don’t forget to pack a charger. You might consider purchasing a charging cord with extended length since there’s no way to predict where power outlets will be in the labor or recovery rooms.
  • Toiletries: Deodorant, body wash, shampoo, facial cleansing wipes, toothpaste, and a toothbrush are necessities. Don’t forget the lip balm and moisturizer – hospitals are dry, and pregnancy has likely already taken a toll on your skin! If you aren’t keen on the idea of using the hospital’s, you may also want to pack your own towel from home. Those who wear glasses or contacts should back those in their hospital bag as well.
  • Hair Care and Cosmetic Products: Stick to the bare minimum on this category. A ponytail holder can help keep your hair out of your face during labor, and brush and dry shampoo will come in handy for those first photos with your new baby. If a swipe of mascara or pat of blush make you feel better, by all means, pack them. Though you’re not likely to need or use your entire makeup bag.
  • Flip-Flops for the shower. No explanation, necessary.
  • Slippers or Dark-Colored Socks: Whether you’re in bed or need to walk on the cold tile floor, socks can keep your feet warm and clean. These can get dirty, so pack a dark-colored pair or ones you don’t mind throwing away. Slippers or a pair of shoes you can easily slide on can be helpful when getting in and out of bed or walking the halls of the labor and delivery wing.
  • Sleepwear, Robe, and Underwear: A lightweight nightgown will be much more comfortable than a hospital gown, and a robe will come in handy for walking the hallways or when visitors stop by. if you don’t want to wear the mesh underwear the hospital gives you after delivery, pack a few pairs of underwear like briefs, maternity, or disposables (ex. Depends). As with the socks, these should be items you would not be upset if they got ruined.
  • Nursing Bra: Don’t forget to pack a nursing tank top or bra. If you buy them at the end of your pregnancy, most women are about the same size postpartum. They are obviously designed to help make it easier to nurse, but are also more comfortable to sleep in. If you need to use a pump, the hospital will provide one to use during your stay along with any parts or bottles that you need to go along with it.
  • Homecoming Outfit for Baby: The hospital will provide everything that your baby needs during your stay. Unless you have your heart set on a specific style, don’t worry about packing any swaddles or blankets. You won’t need multiple outfits for each day, but be sure to pack an outfit for going home. Newborn gowns make for easy diaper changes, but if you opt for a kimono-style shirt and footed pants you don’t have to worry about packing socks. This style top wraps around the baby and fastens with snaps so you don’t have to put it over their head. Most also have built-in cuffs to keep tiny fingernails from scratching, so you can skip the mittens too.
  • Homecoming Outfit for You: You’ll most likely still look around 5 months pregnant when you leave the hospital, so don’t throw out your maternity clothes just yet. Depending on the weather, pack your favorite maternity dress or leggings and tunic.
  • Extra Bag: All of your items should fit nicely in a weekender-style bag or small roller-style luggage. With all the supplies from the hospital—diapers, blankets, and creams—and gifts from any visitors, you’re likely to have more stuff coming out than you did going in. We suggest tucking one or two extra bags into your hospital bag. Reusable shopping bags that can easily be folded up are great for this.

Extras

Other items that you may want to consider putting on your hospital bag packing list aren’t exactly necessities, though some women may consider them as such. Rather, most are comfort items that can help provide relief during your labor or post-delivery.

  • Pillow for you and/or your partner
  • Relaxation tools such as back massager, stress-relief ball or massage oil/lotion
  • Cash for the vending machine just in case
  • Snacks for you and/or your partner to munch on
  • Thank you gift for the doctors and nurses that care for you and your baby. Something as simple as fun-size candy are great or, if you prefer, you can schedule for a fruit basket or something similar to be delivered. There are great ideas on Pinterest if that’s your sort of things.
  • Eye mask & earplugs to help you sleep. There are generally quiet hours in the labor and delivery department, but hospitals can be noisy.
  • Camera and charger if you’d like to capture baby’s first days with something besides your smartphone

You might feel inclined to overpack because after all, you’ll never know what you’re going to need. But, keep in mind the average hospital stay for labor and delivery is typically only 2-3 days. The hospital will provide most items you and your baby will need during your stay, and for comfort items, your partner or another loved one can always run out to pick up something you’ve forgotten or decided you would like.

Talk to your doctor if you have additional questions about how to prepare for your upcoming labor and delivery. The team of providers at Raleigh OB/GYN has been delivering babies for decades, so their knowledge is based on experience. For more information or to request an appointment, call (919) 876-8225.

Pregnant woman with allergy sitting on bed at home; blog: ways to avoid getting sgick while pregnant

9 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick While Pregnant

It’s always worrying when there’s a contagious illness going around. It can be even more worrying if you’re in a high-risk group or are pregnant. Some viruses are more dangerous to pregnant women and their babies than to the general population. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick while pregnant.

1. Practice Good Hygiene

The first step to take to avoid getting sick while pregnant is to make sure you’re washing your hands frequently. You have to wash them thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds. For information on the proper way t practice good hand hygiene, check the CDC’s guide on hand washing

Other things to do include disinfecting commonly touched surfaces like counters, doorknobs, electronics, and light switches. Launder clothing, sheets, and towels frequently. Some doctors also recommend showering daily when there are contagious illnesses spreading.

2. Get Vaccinated

Vaccination is important at all stages of life, and there are some vaccines you should get during pregnancy. Pregnant women should get flu and Tdap vaccines. Consult this March of Dimes vaccination chart to find out what other immunizations you should get before, during, and after pregnancy.

3. Eat Well

The best defense against getting sick while pregnant is to be proactive about your overall health. When you’re pregnant, what you eat is important in keeping both you and your baby healthy. Eat whole foods including lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make sure you follow any guidelines and restrictions your OB/GYN or other healthcare provider gives you.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is a critical part of your overall health. And as we’ve already said, being healthy in the first place is the best defense against getting sick (whether you’re pregnant or not). Lack of sleep can negatively affect your mental and physical health and weaken your immune system. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body secretes extra stress hormones.

5. Take Your Vitamins & Supplements

A healthy diet is the best way to get all the necessary nutrients you need to stay healthy. However, sometimes you need more of certain nutrients than you can get from foods. You should also take your prenatal vitamins and any other supplements your doctor recommends. 

6. Try Not to Stress

Being stressed can make you feel run down and may even make you more likely to get sick. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there is evidence that people under stress have weaker immune systems. Find ways to relax and take your mind off things. Meditation, yoga, reading, or listening to calming music can help you unwind.

7. Stay Active

Again, the best way to avoid catching an illness is to be the healthiest version of yourself. Along with following a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep, you should stay active. Not only will this help with your overall health, but there is evidence that it can help your immune system. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, exercise causes your white blood cells (WBCs) to circulate more rapidly, which may help fight illness sooner. Exercise also slows the release of stress hormones.

8. Avoid Sick People

If you know someone who is sick, avoid contact with them. This can be difficult if you already have children and one of them or your partner is sick and you have to care for them. If you can’t avoid it, take your hygiene routine up a notch. Wash your hands after contact with the sick person, disinfect surfaces more frequently, and follow all the tips above for self-care to keep yourself healthy.

9. Follow Public Health Guidelines

When there are widespread or highly contagious illnesses in an area, look for warnings and guidelines from public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), or the World Health Organization (WHO). These may include stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, and recommendations on hygiene or protective clothing. Make sure you follow any recommendations and guidelines and stay home to avoid contact with others if needed.

The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions or concerns about how to avoid getting sick while pregnant, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.

*If you do think you’ve caught a contagious illness, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider immediately. Make sure all providers know about your pregnancy before they treat you. 

Hygiene feminine pads, tampon menstruation in the beautician; blog: feminine hygiene products

Feminine Hygiene Products: What You Need to Know

Feminine hygiene product options have grown over the years. Many women remember when disposable pads and tampons were the only options. Some may remember further back when there was no such thing as an applicator on a tampon and pads didn’t have adhesive. But things change.

Whether you are reevaluating your hygiene needs or are helping a young person who is just entering her reproductive years decide which product is right for them, you might want to brush up on what is available. The Center for Young Women’s Health aims to educate young women on issues affecting them, including menstrual hygiene but can be a useful resource if you’re curious about the ins and outs of the variety of feminine hygiene products available today. 

Menstrual Pads 

Menstrual pads are placed in the underwear to catch and absorb blood once it leaves the vagina. Most pads do this with an adhesive that sticks to the underwear but can be peeled off easily for disposal. Menstrual pads are available in a wide range of sizes and lengths to accommodate different levels of menstrual flow and women of varying sizes. They can be very thin and referred to as a “panty liner” or thicker and more absorbent (sometimes called a “maxi pad”). Young girls just starting their menstrual cycles may feel more comfortable with an external menstrual pad rather than an internal product like a tampon.

Traditional menstrual pads that you buy in drug and grocery stores are disposable and must be thrown away after use. This means they create a significant amount of waste, which makes them unpopular among some eco and/or health-conscious women. Additionally, we’re learning that the cotton and rayon used in most menstrual pads are bleached and may contain unknown chemicals. 

If you prefer external absorption over an internal product, there are options that are friendlier to your body and the environment. Natural, organic, and unbleached cotton pads have become more widely available in recent years.

Another option is a reusable cotton pad that is used the same way as a regular pad but is washed and dried after each use to be reused later. The reusable pad usually has a liner to absorb the menstrual blood and a holder to attach it to underwear. The liner is washed by hand or in the machine so it can be used over and over. These pads also come in different sizes and absorbencies and are available with organic cotton. You can find options for reusable cotton pads online.

Tampons 

One of the most common and popular types of feminine hygiene products is the tampon. This internal hygiene product is inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood. Some women prefer tampons to pads because the blood is absorbed internally, making less of a mess if changed with the right frequency. Many women also feel more comfortable exercising, playing sports, and swimming with an internal product like a tampon. Tampons are widely available in stores and some public bathrooms have dispensers that sell them, though this practice is declining.

Tampons are usually made of cotton, rayon, or a combination. They can come with applicators to help with insertion or without an applicator which requires insertion using the fingers. Applicators can be made of plastic, cardboard, or other plant-based material. 

Tampons come in different sizes, or absorbencies, to accommodate different levels of menstrual flow. Like menstrual pads, tampons are disposable and should not be flushed down the toilet, especially in septic systems. Because they are single-use and disposable, they are not considered eco-friendly.

There has been some concern, especially in recent years, expressed about chemicals present in tampons and their possible effects. Because the tampon is inserted into the vagina, concerns about exposure to unknown chemicals are even greater than with menstrual pads. Due to these increased concerns, there are many organic and unbleached tampons on the market. You can find natural and organic brands at larger supermarket chains, drug stores, natural food stores, and online. Some companies offer recurring subscription services so you can have the products sent to you each month so you won’t be caught without supplies when your period comes.

It’s also important to note that there is an extremely small risk of a condition called toxic shock syndrome (TSS) when using tampons, but it is minimal.

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are a form of internal period products that are used in place of tampons. Rather than absorb blood like a tampon, a menstrual cup collects and contains menstrual blood to prevent it from exiting the vagina. To dispose of the blood, the user pulls on a tab to remove the cup and pour out the blood, usually into a toilet. A menstrual cup is usually made of medical-grade silicone or rubber safe for inserting into the vagina. The flexible material makes it possible for the cup to be folded and inserted. 

Most menstrual cups are reusable, meaning users can cleanse them between uses and keep them for many menstrual cycles before replacement is necessary. If you take proper care and cleanse them properly, they can last for years. This makes them an eco-friendly option for those looking for an alternative to tampons. Also, they are not linked to toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in the same way tampons are. 

There can be a learning curve when switching from disposable feminine hygiene products to the menstrual cup, but many women swear by them and say it is worth figuring out. The cups come in different sizes based on flow and whether you’ve given birth vaginally. Popular brands include the DivaCup, Moon Cup, and many others.

Period Panties

A new alternative to disposable feminine hygiene products is the period panty. These specially made underwear are designed to absorb menstrual blood without the aid of a disposable cotton pad. The crotch of the panties is reinforced with four layers of material, which will absorb light or medium flows. 

Some women prefer to wear these in conjunction with a tampon rather than regular underwear with a safety panty liner and some women feel comfortable only wearing the underwear. The fabric is designed to be leak-proof, odor resistant, non-staining, and completely washable. 

One drawback to period panties is that they are costly, with the higher-rated brands being about $30 per pair. However, there are often deals or coupons you can use and because they are completely washable and reusable, they will eliminate waste and replace the disposable pads that you are currently buying. 

Thinx is the brand most commonly associated with period panties as they popularized the product, but versions from other companies like Knix are also available.

About Raleigh OB/GYN

At Raleigh OB/GYN, we are happy to answer any questions you might have about your menstrual cycle, including which feminine hygiene products might be best and safest for you. We can be reached at 919-876-8225 or you can request an appointment online.

Happy Doctor Assisting Woman Undergoing Mammogram X-ray Test; blog: When Should I Get a Mammogram?

When Should I Get a Mammogram?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s an ideal time to talk about breast cancer screening. An estimated 1 in 8 women (or 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. To give yourself the best possible chance of survival, early detection is critical. The most reliable method for early detection is regular screening tests including self-breast exams and mammograms. Recommendations on when and how often women need mammograms depend on factors like age and risk level. If you’ve been wondering “when should I get a mammogram?” then read on to learn the guidelines.

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

The following recommendations from the American Cancer Society are for women at average risk for breast cancer. Meaning, she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation known to increase the risk of breast cancer (such as the BRCA gene), and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. 

  • Women ages 40 to 44 have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.
  • Women ages 45 to 54 are advised to get mammograms every year
  • Women ages 55 and older have the option of switching to a mammogram every two years or continue with yearly screenings.

It is recommended that women continue regular screenings as long as she is in good health and expected to live longer than 10 or more years.

Types of Mammograms

As researchers have continued to learn more about breast cancer, new technologies have been developed to help increase the rate of early detection. So not only should you be asking “when should I get a mammogram?” you should also ask “which type of mammogram should I get?” Your OB/GYN can help give you guidance on the type of screening that’s right for you, but often they will recommend 3D mammography. 

Traditional 2D mammograms take pictures of each breast from the front and the side to create a single image of each breast. Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, is an FDA-approved advanced technology that takes multiple images, or X-rays, of breast tissue to recreate a 3-dimensional picture of the breast compared to traditional mammography in which only a single image is obtained.

Multiple images of breast tissue slices allow radiologists to have a clearer image of breast masses, making the detection of breast cancer easier and more accurate. Additionally, this technology allows physicians to detect more cancers, reduces the risk of false positives, and makes it easier to see the cancer size compared to a regular mammogram.

What to Expect During a Mammogram

Women notice little difference between 3D mammography and a traditional 2D screening. The tube taking the X-ray sweeps across the breast in an arch taking about four seconds to obtain an image, just a little bit longer than a digital mammogram.

Because 3D mammography produces more images, it does take radiologists a little longer to read than a single digital mammography image, but the original procedure is much the same. 

The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes. It is far more accurate in the early detection of breast cancer than a traditional mammogram. Your breast must be flattened to obtain a high-quality picture, which can cause discomfort.

 

Preparing for Your Mammogram

Now that you’ve answered “when should I get a mammogram?” now you need to know how to prepare for the screening. The American Cancer Society suggests scheduling your mammogram when your breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort, and in turn, get good images. It is advisable to avoid the week just before your period.

Contact Raleigh OB/GYN Centre

The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions or concerns about breast cancer screening or mammography, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.

flu shot during pregancy

Is the Flu Shot Safe During Pregnancy?

Fall is finally in the air. But, cooler temperatures also mean that flu season is on the horizon. Cases of the influenza virus are diagnosed year-round, but peak flu season typically occurs during the fall and winter from November to March. The time to get vaccinated is now, but is the flu shot safe during pregnancy?

Is it recommended?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both recommend that all pregnant women who are pregnant during flu season get the flu shot regardless of trimester.

While the FluMist nasal spray form of the vaccine has been approved for use for the 2018-2019 flu season, it is NOT recommended for expectant mothers. The flu shot is made from the inactivated (dead) flu virus, whereas the nasal mist is made from a live, but weakened version of the virus.

How it helps

Getting the flu shot during pregnancy is important for several reasons. Of course, it can help prevent the flu and any maternal complications that may arise from it, but it can also help prevent potential fetal health problems. Having a high fever during pregnancy can increase the risk of fetal birth defects.

The flu shot during pregnancy also provides protection for your baby after birth. Your baby cannot receive the flu vaccine itself until he or she is 6 months old. By getting the flu shot during pregnancy, the antibodies you develop are then passed onto your baby through the placenta and later breastmilk if you choose to breastfeed.

Encourage others

Not only is important for you to receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy, but you should also encourage anyone in your household or even those you come into contact with regularly (co-workers) to get their flu shot. This will help further reduce your risk of contracting the flu, and they’ll already be vaccinated when the baby arrives.

What if I still get the flu?

The flu shot is not 100% effective at preventing the flu, but getting the shot can help reduce the severity of the symptoms if you do contract it. Many over-the-counter medications that one would normally take to relieve flu symptoms are not safe to take during pregnancy. If you think you have the flu, contact your obstetrician immediately. The prescription antiviral medication is most effective within 48 hours from the onset of symptoms.

Where do I get the flu shot?

You can simply ask for the flu at your next prenatal appointment. Keep in mind, that the CDC recommends getting the flu shot as soon as possible and ideally before the end of October. If you need to schedule an appointment, call Raleigh OB/GYN Centre at (919) 876-8225.

Benefits of an IUD

What are the Benefits of an IUD?

Women may choose to use birth control for a variety of reasons from preventing pregnancy to regulating the menstrual cycle or relieving PMS symptoms. There are different types of birth control methods, each with their own pros and cons. In recent years, one method, in particular, has continued to gain popularity among both women and providers–intrauterine devices (IUD). But, what exactly are they and what are the benefits of an IUD?

What is an IUD?

You’ve likely seen one in a photo or at your doctor’s office. An IUD is a small, flexible, T-shaped device that is inserted through the vagina, past the cervix and into the uterus in order to prevent pregnancy from occurring. The simple, in-office procedure is completed by a doctor or nurse practitioner in as little as 5-10 minutes.

There are two main types of this device: copper and hormonal. The only copper IUD approved by the FDA in the United States is ParaGard. Skyla, Kyleena, Liletta and Mirena are the brand names of hormonal IUDs on the market.

How They Work

Both hormonal and copper intrauterine devices work by changing the path of sperm so they cannot ultimately reach and fertilize the egg. ParaGard repels sperm with its copper material, as sperm are averse to copper. Hormonal devices thicken cervical mucus, trapping sperm. They also can prevent ovulation, the process in which the egg leaves the ovaries. Therefore, there is no egg to be fertilized.

Benefits of an IUD

There are a variety of benefits of an IUD. They are:

    • Effective: IUDs are one of the most effective methods of birth control because it limits human involvement. Unlike the pill or ring, you can’t forget to use it and unlike condoms, there isn’t a risk of using it incorrectly. They are more than 99% effective, making IUDs as effective as sterilization and the birth control implant at preventing pregnancy.
    • Long-lasting: A copper device can last up to 12 years, while hormones devices remain effective from three to six years depending on the brand used.
    • Convenient: Unlike other forms of birth control, you rarely have to worry about an IUD once it’s in place. It works until it expires or you have it taken out. No more running to the pharmacy to pick up your monthly prescription or worrying about remembering to take a pill every day.
    • Flexible: An IUD is not permanent and can be removed at any time, for any reason. Getting pregnant is possible immediately upon the removal of the device if you should decide pregnancy is something you desire. In addition, the copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception and is quite effective in this capacity as long as it is inserted within five days of unprotected sex.
    • Multi-purpose: A progestin (hormonal) IUD not only works to prevent pregnancy but can also be used to help reduce blood flow for women or girls that have heavy, painful periods.

What are the Side Effects?

As with any type of birth control, there are potential side effects associated with using an IUD.

Once the device is placed, you may experience irregular or breakthrough bleeding for the first few months. With a hormonal device, PMS-like symptoms are also possible including irritability, headaches, acne, nausea and breast tenderness. With the copper IUD, some women may experience heavier periods with more cramps.

Potentially rare side effects include accidental expulsion, perforation of the uterus and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Is an IUD Right For Me?

As you can see, the IUD is a safe, reliable and convenient form of birth control for many women. Your doctor will conduct a medical exam and discuss your history to ensure you are a good candidate if you feel this might be a contraceptive you’d like to consider. Call (919) 876-8225 to schedule an appointment at Raleigh OB/GYN Centre.

Portrait of young female patient seated on clinic chair wearing hospital gown; blog: health screenings for women

Health Screenings Every Woman Should Get

Throughout a woman’s life, there are many health concerns she should keep in mind. Often, these concerns change with age. One of the best practices in maintaining good health is getting recommended screenings to detect any illness early so it can be treated more easily. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has a guide to well-woman care based on age. We will look at an overview of some of the important screenings every woman should get throughout her life when she should get them, and how often. And because September is Sexual Health Awareness Month, we will end by touching on some of the screenings you should get to improve and maintain sexual health.

Cholesterol

Women should get their cholesterol tested regularly starting at age 20 if they are at increased risk of heart disease due to family history or other illnesses that might be linked to heart disease or high cholesterol. Because it varies on individual health, your doctor can talk to you about how often you should be tested.

Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is probably taken at the beginning of most doctor’s appointments. But if not, it should be tested regularly. If you have normal blood pressure lower than 120/80, then you can get tested every 2 years. If you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89, then a test once a year is necessary. If your blood pressure is any higher than that, you should discuss a treatment plan with your doctor. 

Breast Cancer

Doctors recommend women of all ages to do monthly self-exams to detect any lumps or changes in breast tissue. Beginning at age 40, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends annual mammograms.

Cervical Cancer

If you have a cervix (for various reasons not all women do), you should get regular screenings for cervical cancer. Pap smears, or Pap tests, are performed by collecting cells from the cervix with a swab and then screening them for abnormalities. HPV tests can also be a part of a cervical cancer screening, as HPV is a leading cause of cervical cancer.

 Many gynecologists include a Pap smear in an annual well-woman exam, but not all of them do. So, if it’s not part of your annual checkup, how often should you get tested?

  • Women 21 and over should get a Pap test at least every 3 years.
  • Women 30 – 64 can get an HPV test and a Pap smear together every 5 years.
  • Women 65 and older should talk to their doctor about when and if you need to get a Pap test.

Colorectal Cancer

From ages 50-75, a woman should get screened for colorectal cancer once every 5-10 years. This range changes if you are at greater risk for colorectal cancer due to family history, a hereditary condition, inflammatory bowel disease, or if polyps have been found in prior screenings. Then the frequency could be every 1-5 years.

There are several types of colorectal screenings, and your doctor will discuss with you the best option for you. These screening methods can include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • CT colonography
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Barium enemas
  • Stool tests

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes affects almost 10% of the U.S. population, with even more Americans considered prediabetic. How often and when you should get tested for diabetes varies on your overall health, family history, and whether you have other conditions that are linked to the disease. 

It is recommended for most people to get tested for diabetes once every 3 years after age 45. If you have high blood pressure, especially if you take hypertension medication, you should get screened for diabetes earlier and more often than people without hypertension. Other factors that may cause your doctor to recommend more frequent screenings include family history, personal history of gestational diabetes, and obesity.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Depending on the kind of sex education you had and how well you’ve educated yourself outside of school, you may or may not know the risks of common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Even if you are generally knowledgeable, then you might not know when or how often to get tested for STIs. The CDC has excellent information on many sexually transmitted diseases, including the symptoms, risks, and guidelines for testing and treatment.

If you are sexually active, it is important to know the symptoms of STIs and when you should get tested, even if you use protection. STIs can not only affect your sexual health but other body systems. Left untreated they can be serious. However, with appropriate screening, many STIs are treatable if not curable. To get details on each STI, click the link at the beginning of the screening recommendations.

  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus): For most women who are not immunocompromised, HIV positive, or have a history of cervical cancer, screenings for HPV are based on age.
    • Age 21-29: Pap test with cytology (looking at cells under a microscope) screening every three years. No separate HPV testing is done.
    • Age 30 – 65: Pap test with cytology and an HPV test should be given together every five years.
    • Age 65+: Recommendations vary based on previous results
  • HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus): If you are sexually active, you should be tested for HSV if you are exhibiting symptoms or are concerned you may have been exposed to HSV by a sexual partner. If you think you or your partner may have herpes and are pregnant, talk to your doctor about testing and ways to prevent passing it on to your baby.
  • Chlamydia: If you are sexually active and under 25, you should get tested for Chlamydia every year. Continue or resume yearly testing if you are over 25 and have new or multiple partners or a partner that has been diagnosed with an STI. Pregnant women should also get tested.
  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus): Every woman should be tested for HIV at least once if they’ve been sexually active. The CDC recommends that all pregnant women be tested for HIV. Talk to your doctor about your sexual activity to determine if you are at higher risk and need to be tested more frequently.
  • Gonorrhea: If you are sexually active, an honest conversation with your doctor can determine whether and when you should be tested for gonorrhea. If you have new or multiple sex partners or a partner who has an STI, get tested once a year. Testing is also recommended for pregnant women.
  • Syphilis: You should get tested for syphilis if you are sexually active and have had a partner who has tested positive for the infection. Pregnant women should also get tested at least once to avoid passing the infection to the baby.
  • Trichomoniasis: Testing for this common STI should be done if you are sexually active, at increased risk, or are experiencing symptoms.

 At Raleigh OB/GYN, we are committed to providing care for all stages of a woman’s life. This includes making sure she gets the necessary screenings to monitor her health and prevent illnesses. If you have questions about what kind of screenings you should get and when, contact us at 919-876-8225 or request an appointment online

Peaceful loving young African mother sitting on bed and leaning on headboard while feeding baby with breast; blog: Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms

11 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms

If you have made the decision to breastfeed your baby, you might have some questions about what it’s like and how you can nurse successfully. To prepare for National Breastfeeding Month in August, we have come up with some breastfeeding tips for new moms.

1. Enlist Help

One of the first breastfeeding tips that can help new moms is to see a lactation consultant. You can research local consultants and meet them before you give birth so they can help you from the very start of your baby’s life. Some insurance plans will cover or pay for part of a lactation consultant’s services. Get your partner involved as well, because they’ll need to provide support even if they aren’t going to be nursing the baby. UNC Rex Hospital has excellent lactation consultants on staff to help you get started and address any difficulties while you are in the hospital, and many pediatricians also have lactation consultants to help after discharge.

2. Join a Lactation Support Group

Some women find it useful to find a local lactation group to join. That way you can get breastfeeding tips in person from other women going through the same process you are.

3. Start Right Away

Experts recommend starting nursing within the first hour after delivery when possible. Skin to skin contact is also recommended as soon as possible. In uncomplicated deliveries, immediate skin to skn is standard at UNC Rex Hospital. It may seem like you’re just producing a few drops, but starting early is important and the first you produce (colostrum) is great for your baby.

4. Get Comfortable & Relaxed

Find breastfeeding positions that are comfortable for you and your baby. If either one of you is tense or uncomfortable, it probably won’t be a very productive nursing session.

5. Help Your Baby Find a Good Position

One breastfeeding tip some moms have found useful is to make sure the baby’s feet touching a surface like your leg, a pillow, or the arm of a chair. This can help make them feel more secure when they’re tucked up against you.

6. Try a Nursing Stool

Many moms swear by nursing stools to help them find a comfortable position while nursing. You put the stool at your feet while you sit on a chair or the couch. The stool will allow you to stay in a comfortable position that is good for your back, neck, and shoulders. 

7. Hold Off On Bottles if You Can

If possible, hold off on feeding with a bottle until you and your baby are completely comfortable with breastfeeding. Once you’ve gotten good at nursing, you can start expressing milk with a pump and feeding with a bottle. Many people find that they can introduce the bottle at 4-6 weeks.

8. Make Sure You’re Eating Right (And Enough!)

Unlike during pregnancy, what you eat and drink doesn’t pass directly to your baby when you breastfeed. However, the things you consume can still affect the baby. Plus, you need to maintain good nutrition for yourself so you can continue to produce nutritious breast milk and have enough good stuff left to fuel your own body. And make sure you’re always well hydrated.

9. Research a Good Pump

If you plan to pump, do some research before you commit to one. Most insurance plans will cover the cost of a breast pump, and we’ll take care of starting the ordering process during your pregnancy. If you plan to buy one yourself, check reviews and ask your friends for recommendations. You don’t want to invest in something that doesn’t work for you.

10. Find Ways to Soothe Soreness

As you continue to nurse, you and your baby will both get more comfortable with it. However, along the way, you might still have some soreness or chapped skin on your nipples. There are many products available to soreness and keep nipples moisturized. Some moms like ointments and creams with lanolin but there are vegan options as well. Cooling pads or compresses can also help with discomfort.

11. Be Kind to Yourself

You might have heard that breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world. But the truth is that everyone needs a bit of time to adjust to it. And it’s difficult for some people even after they spend time working at it. Just do the best you can for you and your baby and don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you’re struggling. And know you can always reach out for help.

The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions about pregnancy and breastfeeding, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.