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Tag: Pregnancy

What Does Motherhood Mean to You?

Motherhood, I invite you to think about what this word means to you?  As an Obstetrician, I am blessed to witness the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth where every delivery is like I am in awe for the first time.  But I would be remiss in not talking about my Patients who become a Mother in other ways.  Mothers who foster or adopt their children, human and furry alike.  Mothers who provide their own eggs or body for surrogacy so that someone else can become a mother.  Mothers who are working hard to overcome their infertility challenges to meet the child they know is out there.  Lastly there are the silent mothers who experienced the joy of a positive pregnancy test that sadly ends in miscarriage.  She did not get to see or hold this baby that entered her heart the moment she saw those two lines, but now has an angel above.  Every day thereafter is bittersweet for anyone who loses a pregnancy, a baby or a child.  Even with loss however I am sure you would agree that no matter how one comes to know motherhood, it is a leap of faith worth making.   

The road to motherhood is unique to everyone.  There was a time in my young life where the thought of becoming a mother or being around children effectively sent my heart racing with sense of angst and uncertainty.  I had a defined plan for my life.  Starting in the 7th grade, I knew I wanted to be in Medicine.  I was blessed by several influences and thankful to those who mothered me.  It was my teachers who nurtured me, and opened my eyes to the power of education and all its possibilities.  It was listening to the intriguing stories that my late Grandmother Joyce told of her life as a Registered Nurse in the ER.  She would share medical stories that sparked my interest, but her accounts went much deeper than story telling.  I saw the passion she had in helping others and the curious navigation through humanity that she made.  A journey of this kind could not be made without knowing the love, devotion and tireless work I saw in my Mother.  She also empowered me to pursue my dreams.  I had a defined plan for my life.  I vowed to let nothing stand in my way.  How and when would I insert having children into this equation did not seem possible should I pursue this dream? 

It was at the age of 21 however that my world was forever changed.  I fell in love with my husband and in our new life together also came a precious 4-year old little girl.  At the time I thought to myself, “Oh no!  Will I be Cruella de Vil to her?! How will I relate to her and better yet will she like me?”  Our story together evolved into the birth of something quite the opposite of that which I feared, I found the beauty in motherhood.  Life was no longer just about me; it was what was best for her and our family.  I was blessed to later officially adopt her.  The day she called me “Mom” for the first time, the day I saw my name on her birth certificate and the day she became a big sister to her two brothers are by far the best and proudest moments in my life.  I am so glad that the defined plan for my life was altered and my journey to Motherhood lead me to my beautiful miracles.   Thankfully the equation for my life allowed me to not only be blessed with family, but they joined me on my journey in Medicine. 

Don’t get me wrong and I am sure you would agree that this wonderful world called Motherhood comes with as much joy as there are and tears.  I struggle daily to balance my life as a Mother, Wife and a Physician.  Every minute you fret and question what will happen if I am not here?  Am I doing the best I can?  Did I make the right decision?  For my children, how can I best teach them to live and love in this good life?  How can I protect them from the world?  I have resolved to believe that I am human.  I try to do the best I can with what I have, and accept that this must be right for me, my family and my patients.  I find the humor in my crazy life and call it controlled chaos.   My Grandmother Joyce used to sing us a song by Doris Day “I love you a bushel and a peck.”  I always loved to hear her sing it, but there is one verse I never understood until now.  After she passed I wanted to find those words and know them exactly by heart,  I wanted my children to come to know and love this song just as I had.  I found the words and I especially love the verse and it goes…

I love you a bushel and a peck

A bushel and a peck though you make my heart a wreck

Make my heart a wreck and you make my life a mess

Make my life a mess, yes a mess of happiness

So, take the time to reflect on what motherhood means to you.  It is important to remember and cherish those who affected your past, your present and future with who you may call, or may call you, Mother. 

Birth Control after Pregnancy

Birth control is something all new mothers should think about, even if you’re not feeling ready to have sex. Most people don’t believe they need birth control already, but did you know that:

  • Some women can get pregnant again just six weeks after having a baby.
  • You can still get pregnant if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Your body needs time to recover after having a baby before getting pregnant again.
  • If you’re not doing anything to prevent getting pregnant, it could happen.

Talk to your partner about future plans for the size of your family, and then talk to your provider so they can help you choose the method that is right for you. There are a number of good birth control options for nursing moms.

Oral contraceptives or birth control pills are available in many dosages and types. There is about a 92% effectiveness rate and you have to take the prescribed pill daily in order for it to be effective. If you miss a pill or take certain medications, you should use a back-up method such as condoms.

Nuvaring is a small flexible plastic ring that is placed in the vagina around the cervix. It contains a combination of hormones that function the same way as birth control pills. The device is inserted and left in place for 3 weeks, removed for one week and then replaced. It is as effective as birth control pills when used as directed.

Intrauterine devices are small T-shaped devices that are placed in your uterus by your doctor and have an effectiveness rate of approximately 99%. They act by preventing the egg to be fertilized by sperm. Depending on the type of IUD you get, this method of birth control is effective for 3-10 years.

Nexplanon is an implant that is inserted by your doctor under the skin in the inner area of your upper arm. It is about the size of a match and is about 99% effective in preventing pregnancy by releasing the hormone called progestin. The device is effective for 5 years.

DepoProvera is an injection that is given every 3 months in your arm or buttock. It is a type of progestin and works by preventing ovulation. It has about a 94% effectiveness rate.

Essure is a surgical procedure that involves placement of coils in your fallopian tubes that block them to prevent fertilization. These can be inserted in the office or surgery center depending on the preference of the doctor. It has a 99% effectiveness rate.

Tubal Ligation is a surgical procedure that is done in the hospital or outpatient surgery center. It involves removal and/or closing off the fallopian tube to prevent the egg from moving down the fallopian tube. It has a 99% effectiveness rate. If you are planning to have a tubal ligation, it can be done after delivery while you are still in the hospital but arrangements need to be made before you have your baby.

Vasectomy is a procedure that is performed on your male companion. It involves cutting the tubes, vas deferens, through which sperm travel. It is an outpatient procedure and is usually done by a urologist. This procedure is not totally effective for 2-4 months because there still may be sperm in the vas deferens. He will be tested after the procedure to check his sperm count. A back-up method will need to be used until he is cleared by his doctor.

Condoms are latex sheaths that are placed over a man’s penis prior to intercourse. It prevents the ejaculate from entering the vagina. It must be used each time you have intercourse and provides an 82% effectiveness rate. It provides the best protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Spermicides are chemicals that destroy sperm before they are able to fertilize the egg. They must be inserted in the vagina close to the cervix before intercourse. They have a 72% effectiveness rate.

Diaphragms are a dome shaped silicone cup designed to fit over the cervix to prevent entrance of sperm into the uterus. It is used in conjunction with spermicides and must be inserted before intercourse. It is left in place 6 hours after intercourse, removed, washed and stored until needed again. It intercourse occurs before the 6 hours is up more spermicide is inserted into the vagina. It has an 88% effectiveness rate.

Withdrawal involves removal of the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation. This has a 73% effectiveness rate and requires a great deal of discipline.

Speak with your doctor about the right birth control method for you. It’s important to refrain from sexual intercourse after giving birth until your doctor tells you it is okay. Most doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks after delivery in order to allow your body time to heal. If you do have intercourse before that time, you need to be aware you can get pregnant even if you are breastfeeding.

5 Tips for Staying Fit While Pregnant

As an expectant mother, carrying around a baby in the womb can be exhausting. All you want to do is kick up your swollen feet and relax, but the fact is that exercise and proper eating can help fight uncomfortable symptoms and make a better overall experience for you and your baby. A fitness routine can help fight fatigue, ensure a better night’s sleep and ease constipation. We’ve compiled several tips to keep in mind as you strive to stay fit while pregnant.

1. Avoid Sugar & Bad Carbs
Sugar and bad carbs will increase extra pregnancy weight and fluid gains. Too much blood sugar converts to body fat which builds up around your stomach, hips, breasts and arms. Try limiting the amount of processed carbs such as white bread, breakfast cereal, pasta and baked goods.

2. Increase Good Fat & Protein
The word “fat” in food automatically gets a bad reputation. However, eating healthy monounsaturated and saturated fats like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and quality butter provides you with vitamins A, D, E and K, which are crucial for not only your well-being but also your baby’s development. Quality meats, whole dairy and eggs are also good sources of protein for a complete diet. Protein will reduce your cravings, help you stop snacking on junk food and will help you stabilize your blood glucose level.

3. Drink Enough Water
Drinking plenty of water during your pregnancy will make sure you stay hydrated, which helps reduce fatigue and nausea. Being well-hydrated can also prevent you from overeating. Usually, when you’re hungry your body is really just saying it’s thirsty. We recommend drinking at least 68 ounces of water a day during your pregnancy and more if you’re physically active.

4. Get Plenty of Sleep
Even though it’s important to be physically active, it’s equally as important to get enough rest. Your body improves the most while you are sleeping, which is valuable during pregnancy. If you aren’t sleeping soundly, take steps to get your sleeping on track. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Your body is growing a baby and you need much more rest than normal.

5. Exercise
To stay motivated with your fitness routine, it helps if you find activities that you enjoy doing. Modify your exercise programs by reducing duration and intensity so you don’t danger your baby by overexerting your body. Choose specific pregnancy exercises that you will enjoy keeping up with during this journey to birth.

Listening to your body is the key to staying in shape during pregnancy. Consult with your doctor if you have any health concerns while carrying your new baby. Your doctor is happy to work with you to create a strategic plan that will ensure you have a safe and healthy delivery.

What You Need to Know About Zika and Pregnancy

Zika virus disease (Zika) is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.

Zika and Birth Defects

A pregnant woman can contract Zika through the bite of an infected mosquito and also through sexual intercourse with an infected person. A pregnant woman is able to pass the virus to her fetus during pregnancy or at delivery.  Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly. In addition to microcephaly, fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth may experience eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth.

The Future of Zika

There’s still more research being done to better understand the extent of the impact Zika virus has on mothers and their children. Based on the available evidence, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) think that Zika virus infection in a woman who is not pregnant would not pose a risk for birth defects in future pregnancies after the virus has cleared from her blood. From what the CDC knows about similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika virus, he or she is likely to be protected from a future Zika infection.

Preventing Zika

Until the CDC knows more, it is recommended that special precautions are made for pregnant women. Women who are pregnant should not travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow precautions during your trip.

Take steps to prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants while you’re outdoors. Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents as directed. Remove or stay away from mosquito breeding sites like containers with standing water.

Prevent yourself from getting Zika through sex by using a condom every time you have sex with a partner who has lived in or traveled to an area with Zika virus. To be effective, condoms must be used correctly from start to finish, every time during sex. Since Zika through sexual transmission is possible, both men and women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during their trip.

Contracting Zika

If you suspect you have Zika or you have traveled to an area with Zika, it’s important that you talk to your doctor even if you don’t feel sick. Your baby’s health is at risk, and it’s best to know whether or not you have Zika so you can take proper care.

Resource: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

Popular Myths About Pregnancy

Forming a baby in the womb is the most complicated thing a woman can do without really having to think about it. But that doesn’t mean women don’t worry over it.

Cutting-edge fetal research is challenging some of the conventional wisdom about pregnancy, producing findings that may surprise you. Read on to find out more about what science can tell us about how pregnancy really works.

Myth #1: Cocoa butter prevents stretch marks. False. In fact using cocoa butter makes women’s skin more sensitive, and some women have allergic reactions to it./p>

Myth #2: You can’t fly during your first or last trimester. False. You can fly whenever you want. Some airlines won’t let you on the plane in your last trimester, but that has more to do with fears that you’ll go into labor and force the plane to land or spoil the upholstery.

Myth #3: You can’t pet your cat during pregnancy. False. However, you shouldn’t change your cat’s litter box during pregnancy because of the risk of toxoplasmosis from the feces.

Myth #4: You shouldn’t eat smoked salmon while pregnant. False. Salmon is good for mothers-to-be; it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA, which studies show have a variety of benefits for pregnant women and their fetuses, and salmon is a fresh water fish, so the likelihood of mercury poisoning is low.

Myth #5: You can’t eat hot dogs either. False. Hot dogs are also fine to eat, as long as they’re well-cooked.

Myth #6: Pregnant women should keep away from polished furniture. False.

Myth #7: Dying your hair is harmful for your baby. False.

Myths #8, 9, and 10: You shouldn’t have sex, lift your hands over your head or touch your toes while pregnant: All false, unless you have a specific medical condition and your doctor warns you against it.

Myth #11: You shouldn’t take hot baths while pregnant. True. You should avoid saunas, jacuzzis or anything that raises your body temperature over 102 degrees.

Myth #12: You shouldn’t drink coffee while pregnant. False. Don’t go overboard, but a cup a day won’t hurt.

Myth #13: You should abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. True. The American College of Obstetricians, along with all other American health authorities, advise women to refrain from drinking alcohol.

Myth #14: Pregnant women should sleep on their left side. False. Get whatever sleep you can.

Myth #15: The baby’s position in the womb can tell you its gender. False. Also, the line on the skin stretching below the navel is no clue to whether your baby’s a boy or girl. You just can’t tell from outside the womb.

Myth #16: Walking makes labor go faster. False. It might make you feel better but there’s no activity that’s going to bring on labor.

Myth #17: Pregnant women should eat for two. False. Carrying a baby actually only requires 300 extra calories a day. So technically you should be eating for about one and a fifth.

Myth #18: A bigger baby is a better baby. False. The average baby weighs about 7.5 pounds. Babies that are much bigger than that are more likely to suffer from diabetes and obesity in later life.

Myth #19: Drinking dark beer helps the milk come in. False. It might help the mother relax though, which does help with milk letdown, but it has nothing to do with the barley in the beer.

Do this. Don’t do that. With all the pregnancy “advice” out there, it’s hard to know what to believe — or whom to believe. But remember, every pregnancy is different, so follow your doctor’s orders above anything else.


Planning Your Pregnancy

Are you hoping to have a baby someday? The best thing you can do for your future baby is to plan ahead.

To plan your pregnancy, you must begin thinking about what it means to have a baby and make decisions with your partner about your future family. Do you want to wait a while or are you ready to be parents now? Have you thought through how you’ll handle childcare responsibilities and balancing work and family? Planning for this life change can make things easier for you and your partner as you start your family.

The healthier you are as you are planning your pregnancy, the more likely you are to have a healthy baby. We recommend you start planning for pregnancy as soon as you begin to think about having a baby.

There are many benefits to planning your pregnancy. Planning ahead may help you to:

  • conceive more easily
  • have a healthier pregnancy
  • avoid or minimize pregnancy complications
  • give birth to a healthier baby
  • recover more quickly and easily after giving birth
  • have a more pleasant postpartum experience
  • minimize your child’s risk of future adult health problems

Getting your body ready for pregnancy can take a few months or even longer. Whether this is your first or fourth baby, the following steps are important to help you get ready for a healthy pregnancy.

1. Make a Plan and Take Action

What are you goals for having children? Write them down and take action to achieve your goals.

2. See Your Doctor

Talk to your doctor about preconception health. Your doctor will dig into your health history and any medical conditions that could affect a pregnancy. They may recommend vaccinations and steps you can take before pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

3. Take Pre-Natal Vitamins

Take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. If a woman has enough b vitamin, folic acid, in her body at least 1 month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

4. Stop Drinking Alcohol, Smoking, and Using Drugs

Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs can cause many problems during pregnancy for a woman and her baby, such as premature birth, birth defects and infant death.

5. Avoid Toxic Substances and Environmental Contaminants

Several harmful materials to avoid are synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces. These substances can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women, and can make it more difficult to get pregnant.

6. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of complications during pregnancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Women who are underweight are also at risk for serious health problems.

7. Budget for Your Baby

Do you have enough money to pay for things, like child care and diapers? Do you have health insurance that helps pay for medical care? It’s never too early to start thinking about taking out life insurance, making a will and saving for your child’s college education.

8. Learn Your Family History

Collecting your family’s health history can be important for your child’s health. Share this information with your doctor to ensure you are prepared for any medical conditions your child may have.

9. Get Mentally Healthy

If your worries, feelings of anxiety or stress do not go away be sure to talk with your doctor or another health professional about treatment options.

10. Have a Healthy Pregnancy

Once you are pregnant, be sure to keep up with all of your new healthy habits and visit your doctor regularly throughout your pregnancy for prenatal care.

By planning your pregnancy, you will know that during this important early stage you were taking the best possible care of yourself and your baby.

If you are pregnant or ready to talk to a doctor about preconception health, call Greenville Women’s Clinic at 252-757-3131 to make an appointment.

Resource: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at, Child Birth Connection at

Surprise, You Are Pregnant!

What is the first thought that crosses your mind?  The baby shower filled with pink or blue?  How will your partner react, and certainly friends and family?  Depending on the relationship with your partner or life circumstances, this news may bring about any emotion fathomable from the human psyche.  If this is your first pregnancy or one of many, where you are in life plays into your state-of-mind in that very moment.  After coming to terms with being pregnant, you then realize that your world will be changing with this living being developing in your womb.  This is the first of so much to follow, both physically and emotionally. Continue reading “Surprise, You Are Pregnant!”