By now, everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking, and the long-term effects it can have on your body and health. But did you know that smoking is the leading cause of death in women? Quitting smoking is extremely important for your own personal health, and even more important if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
While quitting smoking may seem like a daunting road, here are a few things to keep in mind which will help motivate you before and during the process:
Remember: you are quitting for two, not just for you. When you quit smoking before or during pregnancy, you are increasing your baby’s chances of having a healthy life. This is one of the most important steps you can take for you and your baby’s health.
Plan now for a healthy pregnancy. If you plan to become pregnant, put down the pack. Women who smoke have more difficulty becoming pregnant; women who become pregnant and continue to smoke are increasing their chances of serious complications during pregnancy. These complications can include miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
Consider the benefits for your baby. When you quit smoking, you are benefiting your baby in a number of ways, including: decreasing chances of premature birth; decreasing chances of serious birth defects, like cleft lip or cleft palate; increasing likelihood of healthy birth weight and growth rate; and increasing likelihood of normal brain development before birth and through early childhood.
Cut the chemicals out. Smoke from cigarettes contains over 4,000 chemicals, which means that you and your baby are dually harmed if you continue to smoke during pregnancy. Lead, butane, cyanide, formaldehyde, ammonia, and carbon monoxide are just a handful of the chemicals that will hurt you and your baby’s health & development.
Enjoy a healthy birth day. When you quit smoking, you increase the chances of having a safe delivery, for you and your baby. Smoking during pregnancy may cause your baby to be underweight, have more serious health issues, and may also cause early labor. Babies who are underweight experience even more stress during labor, which could result in a longer hospital stay.
Keep up the good work. Once you welcome your bundle of joy into the world, it is just as important to maintain a smoke-free lifestyle and home for you and your baby. The chances of a losing a baby to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is 2-3 times more likely if you smoke during or after pregnancy, so set smoke-free rules now to protect your baby from secondhand smoke.
When you quit smoking before pregnancy, you are giving your baby a healthier start to life, and increasing their chances of having a healthier life as well. Typically, babies and children who aren’t exposed to smoke tend to have fewer colds, ear infections, coughs, and less severe/frequent asthma (if they do have asthma). Additionally, older children who aren’t exposed to secondhand smoke tend to miss fewer days of school, due to illness or asthma attacks, and are less likely to become smokers as adults.
The bottom line is: quit while you’re ahead! By planning preconception care in advance, you can give you and your baby the best chance at a healthy, happy pregnancy and life.
For more tips on how to have a healthier pregnancy, contact Women's Institute for Specialized Health and schedule your appointment with one of our experienced gynecologists in Chattanooga.
Almost one third of adults in the U.S. have elevated blood pressure, making it a common health issue today. Even though you may feel no symptoms from high blood pressure, it does increase your risk for serious conditions like heart attacks and strokes.
In addition to following your physician’s directions to reduce elevated blood pressure, WISH doctors in Chattanooga suggest a few simple lifestyle changes in order to improve or maintain your blood pressure:
Here are some additional common causes of high blood pressure, which you can reduce and/or avoid:
- Cigarettes and nicotine
There are some risk factors associated with high blood pressure, which can’t be changed. Age, race, family history, a history of preeclampsia, and certain medical conditions all contribute to your risk for elevated blood pressure. This is why it is extremely important to understand how your lifestyle habits affect your overall health and BP.
If you are experiencing blood pressure issues, contact Women's Institute for Specialized Health to schedule your appointment with one of our experienced gynecologists in Chattanooga.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.
It can be a challenge for your partner to understand what you are experiencing during pregnancy, for a number of reasons. Even the most devoted, supportive, caring partners may seem unsure about how to relate because they are unable to physically experience everything that you feel. This may leave them feeling a little left out, and can leave you feeling as if you are going it alone.
Even though your partner is not able to be physically involved in your pregnancy, there are ways to include him in the journey of pregnancy that you are experiencing. After all, you are both equally excited about the new life you are bringing into the world!
Here are a few ways to involve your partner in your pregnancy:
The most important way for your partner to be involved in your pregnancy is by being supportive. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who are well-supported throughout their pregnancy are more likely to give up harmful behaviors, lead healthier lives, and may experience less stress and anxiety after childbirth.
Winter is just around the corner, which means that it is time to prepare your home by cleaning out closets, turning on the heat, and weather-proofing the interiors and exteriors of your home.
It is equally important to prepare your body and health for the winter months ahead. In order to keep your physical and mental health in shape, here are five simple things that you can do:
Before making any changes to your diet or fitness, always consult your physician.
Let’s face it – whether you work from home or from an office, finding ways to juggle job responsibilities and stay healthy can be difficult.
For women with busy schedules (which is most of us), the flexibility of working from home can be great but can also lead to health challenges down the road if you are not prepared and careful. Many of these same challenges also face women who work in an office environment.
Here are 7 ways to stay healthy while working:
1. Create boundaries. It is very important to be able to focus on tasks without interruption, in order to be productive and maintain a professional environment. You can do this by creating boundaries, or blocking out set amounts of time to focus on specific tasks. Whether at home or in the office, this allows you to shut the door, drown out noises and conduct your work without distractions. Make sure to communicate this to co-workers or family!
2. Invest in a good office chair. Make sure that your chair is supportive and promotes good posture. This will help alleviate the need to hunch over your computer screen, which can put a lot of strain on the neck and back. Also ensure that the chair is comfortable enough to sit in for extended periods of time.
3. Schedule your day. It is important to be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which can be tricky regardless of where you work from. One way to maintain this balance is to set a schedule for your day, including breaks, lunch, and an end time – and do your best to stick to that schedule!
4. Move your body. Throughout the day, stand up from your desk and move around! You can stretch, take a walk through the house or office, or even lift some light weights during conference calls. Setting a reminder is a helpful way to ensure that you remember to get up and move your body throughout the work day.
5. Keep healthy snacks on hand. As tempting as it might be to quickly grab and eat whatever unhealthy snacks are available at your house or in the break room, resist those temptations. Plan ahead and pack a bag of healthy snacks before you settle into your office for the day. And don’t forget to have a bottle of water on hand!
6. Schedule time to exercise. We all want to sleep in as late as possible, and then relax right after a long day at work but make exercise a priority in your daily routine. Whether it is during lunch, before or after work, make sure you plan time to work out and stick to it – your body and mind will thank you!
7. Rest your eyes. Staring at a computer screen all day is very unhealthy for your eyes and can strain them. Make sure that you take time every hour to rest your eyes and look away from your computer. Even a 20 second break can do wonders for your eyes!
Most people spend the majority of the day in some sort of working environment, which is why it is so very important to do everything possible to keep your mind and body healthy. Before beginning any new exercise routine, always consult with your doctor.
Myth: You're too young to worry about cardiovascular health.
♥Fact: It's never too early to take preventative care towards a healthy heart. Out of the 8 million women in the US currently living with heart disease, 35,000 are under the age of 65. The American Heart Association recommends testing cholesterol levels starting at the age of 20, or sooner, if there is a known history of heart disease.
Myth: Coronary heart disease is not a concern to you, if it's not in your family history.
♥Fact: While genetics help us identify potential health risks, such as a long line of high blood pressure, it may not be the only contributing factor involved. Also, just because your family has a history of cardiovascular disease does not imply that you inherently will have the same disease, but that you are at greater risk.
Myth: High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking are the only risk factors involved with heart disease in women.
♥Fact:About half of Americans have at least one of these risk factors. There are many other factors that can contribute to heart disease; these include:
Myth: Heart disease is not a concern to you, if you live an active lifestyle.
♥Fact: No matter if you’re a marathon running, yoga instructing, workout enthusiast — you’re still at risk for heart disease. While maintaining a healthy lifestyle is ideal for cardiovascular health, other factors like high cholesterol, excessive drinking, and smoking can offset your healthy habits.
Myth: Snoring is harmless.
♥Fact: According the American Heart Association, you should actively listen to your partner's breathing during sleep. Despite your temptation to drown it out, snoring can actually reveal long-term health problems. One out of five adults have mild to severe sleep apnea. This condition causes breathing to stop and start during sleep. If not properly treated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stroke. Researchers have identified a strong association between snoring and cardiovascular problems, however, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Consult your physician or other healthcare professional for further information and treatment.
Myth: Women don’t need to worry about heart disease.
♥Fact: While coronary heart disease may often be thought of as a "man's disease," it is the most fatal disease for both women and men in the United States. Recent studies suggest that it is the leading cause of death for women in the US, killing 289,758 women in 2013—that’s roughly 1 in every 4 female deaths.
Myth: It's only normal to have high blood pressure as you get older, and that's okay.
♥Fact: As we age, our blood pressure typically rises. But just because it’s considered “normal” doesn’t mean that it’s okay. Identifying and treating high blood pressure early is essential. If left untreated, it can cause heart attack, kidney damage, and other related health problems.
Myth: The only symptom related to a heart attack is severe chest pain.
♥Fact: A heart attack does not always come with severe or even prominent symptoms, such as chest pain, particularly in women. In fact, studies have shown that women are more likely to have unrelated symptoms than in men. In women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease, 64% had no previously identified symptoms. Overlooked or misdiagnosed signs could indicate that you are still at risk for heart disease. These may include:
Myth: If you already have a heart disease, there’s nothing you can do.
♥Fact:Turn your bad habits into healthy ones by changing your diet and exercising regularly. Several lifestyle changes can also greatly reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, such as: Quitting smoking, avoiding second hand smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, and routinely taking prescribed medications, as recommended by your physician.
Myth: Diabetes won't cause heart disease if you take your medication.
♥Fact: Despite taking regular medications and normal blood sugar levels, there is still a possible risk for heart attack and stroke. The reason? Those with diabetes have an increased chance of developing a heart disease because the condition is more likely in those with type II diabetes. In fact, heart disease is the most common cause of death among people diagnosed with type II diabetes.
For information on preventative care and testing, click here.
Source: American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Women's Heart Foundation
Many women experiencing pregnancy for the first time are unprepared for the physical changes that accompany a postpartum body, especially those who maintained a fitness routine throughout their pregnancy. It can be an alarming wakeup call to experience muscle atrophy, body aches, poor posture, and extreme fatigue, when you expect to be able to bounce back into your regular exercise regimen after giving birth.
Regardless of how easy your pregnancy was, or how quick labor may have been, your body went through a massive transformation that took around 40 weeks to complete and it could take equally as long to return to your pre-pregnancy self. That is why it is so important to be patient and realistic when returning to a fitness routine.
Here are some mindful tips to consider when you do feel able to exercise again, post-pregnancy:
Your body will thank you for easing back into a fitness routine, but please remember: before beginning any type of postpartum exercise, always consult your doctors.
Everyone goes through hard times that can cause unhappiness, discouragement, and even depression. These times can be situational, seasonal, or caused by a variety of other factors, and it is often difficult to pull yourself out of these funks when you are stuck in one. Here are some tips that may be helpful the next time you find yourself in need of cheering up:
Keeping healthy is vital during pregnancy and that includes staying physically fit. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), regular exercise is key to a healthier, more comfortable pregnancy. ACOG recommends 30 minutes of exercise on most, if not all, days to help keep women physically fit during their term. Exercising can help minimize the risk of gestational diabetes, reduce symptoms of bloating or constipation, strengthen the back and improve energy levels. In addition, women who exercise during their pregnancy often have easier labor during delivery and have a jumpstart on getting back in shape after they deliver their bundle of joy.
Safe Exercises for Pregnancy
While exercising during pregnancy is recommended, it is important to also tailor routines to certain limits. The body changes during pregnancy, both in weight distribution and in the support structure of the joints. Ligaments can relax, making it easier to injure joints, and the front-heavy load of pregnancy can throw off a woman’s balance. It is important to keep these changes in mind and use exercises that are safe and effective.
For cardio health, pregnant women can still participate in many aerobic exercises that they enjoy. Walking, cycling, swimming and moderate aerobic classes are all safe ways to keep the blood pumping. For those that were runners before their pregnancy, continuing to run is safe as long as they make accommodations for their changing body. Pregnancy is not a good time to start running for those who are not already a conditioned runner.
On top of aerobic exercises, there are strengthening exercises that can be safely performed right at home. These specific exercises can help strengthen the different muscles of the body, helping woman improve their fitness during every phase of their pregnancy.
- Plank. Keeping the core fit is important during pregnancy. Planks strengthen the core, along with giving the back and arms a workout. Planks can be done by resting forearms on the ground with elbows under the shoulders. Lift up knees and balance on toes, straightening the body.
- Leg lifts. A good strengthening exercise for the inner and outer thighs is leg lifts. These are done by lying on side with bottom leg bent at a 45-degree angle, resting head on a bent forearm. Lift top leg to hip height and repeat.
- One-arm row. For biceps, triceps and the back, one-arm rows are a great option and usually safe for the pregnant women. This can be accomplished by putting one knee and hand on a chair while bending the torso forward until it is parallel with the ground. Use the opposite arm to lift a small dumbbell, starting with the arm completely extended then bringing up the elbow to a 90-degree position when bent.
- Plié. One of the most beneficial exercises for pregnant women is the plié. This strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings and the glutes (butt). Holding onto the back of a chair with one hand with legs spread to a position under the hips. Turn feet outward and bend knees to a 45-degree angle while using the chair for balance.
Keeping fit can help improve the comfort level during pregnancy and ease the stress of labor, all the while protecting the expectant mother’s health. As with any exercise program at any stage of life, pregnant women should always confer with their doctors before beginning a new exercise routine.
It is said that it takes at least 21 days to form a habit. Habits, of course, can be good or bad. If you want to get rid of a bad habit, the easiest way to do it is to make some simple modifications to your existing habit to transform it from bad to good. Here are five ways to turn some of your unhealthy habits into healthy ones.
Are you hoping to become pregnant? If you are striving to conceive, now is the time to start planning for your pregnancy.You start by monitoring your health. There are steps you can take to help improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby before you become pregnant. Preconception care is the best way to ensure that your body is ready to begin this important journey to becoming a mother.
Start with a Preconception Checkup
Before you begin trying to become pregnant, it is a good idea to visit your ob/gyn doctor for a checkup. Schedule an annual exam to have a full checkup and discuss your desire to become pregnant. This is an opportunity to gauge your health level and find out if there are any changes you should make to your diet or lifestyle to facilitate a healthy pregnancy. Some topics that should be covered with your Chattanooga gynecologist include:
Discussing all these topics with your doctor can help prepare you to make the changes necessary to be prepare for conception. The healthier you are before conceiving, the better chance you will have in achieving a healthy, problem-free pregnancy.
Lifestyle and Environment
Most people know that they will need to eliminate certain substances from their life when they are pregnant. Smoking, drinking alcohol, using recreational drugs and even caffeine have beenconsidereditems to be eliminated during pregnancy. Plus, certain chemicals contain toxic substances such as lead or mercury that can harm your baby when you are pregnant. Don’t wait to find out you are pregnant before removing these items from your lifestyle and environment.
The first trimester is when your baby will be the most vulnerable to toxic substances that you voluntarily take into your body or are exposed to through use of certain environmental chemicals. This means that if you continue exposing your body to these chemicals while you are trying to conceive, you could be damaging your child in their first few weeks of development before you find out you are pregnant. The best course of action is to begin living your life now as you would if you were pregnant.In this way, you have the assurance that youhaven’t inadvertently exposed your baby to toxic substances that could affect her or his health.
By planning ahead with preconception care, you can give you and your baby the best chance at a healthy, happy pregnancy.
Contact Women's Institute for Specialzied Health to schedule your appointment with one of our experienced gynecologists in Chattaooga.
Are you looking for a healthy solution to managing the symptoms of menopause? Your diet can have a powerful effect on how well your body copes with the changes that happen during this period of your life. Simply adding certain foods and eliminating others can make a big difference in your MENQOL (menopause quality of life) and your post-menopause health. Here are some dietary dos and don’ts that can make this transitional period of your life easier to manage, keeping you healthy and strong as you enter this phase.
Dietary Do’s for Menopause
There are a few different aspects of menopause that are directly related to your diet. As your body loses estrogen and progesterone, it also loses its natural ability to combat high cholesterol. After menopause, bone loss increases, often leading to osteoporosis. However, by managing your nutrient intake, you can also manage some of the effects of menopause on your health. Here are a few dietary do’s to keep in mind before, during and after menopause.
Dietary Don’ts for Menopause
On the other end of the spectrum, there are things you should avoid in your diet when you hit the stage of menopause. To counteract some of the hormone changes and protect your health, it is best to eliminate some items from your diet. Here are some dietary don’ts as you begin to approach and experience menopause.
Making good dietary choices is more important than ever as you enter menopause. By eating right, exercising and avoiding certain food items, you can reduce health risks and aggravating symptoms associated with menopause.
Is menopause causing havoc in your life? Every phase of a woman’s life comes with new challenges –physical, mental and psychological. Menopause is no exception. For woman in their late forties and early fifties, a new phase in their life begins as their body begins to shift to their post-reproductive era. Yet there are ways to combat these changes to ensure that you not only survive menopause but come through this phase healthier and happier than ever. Here are four healthy tips to meet the challenge of menopause.
Just like every phase of your life, menopause is a natural progression of your life cycle. You’ll finally be free of your monthly cycle and will need to adjust to new changes in your body. Managing the symptoms through healthy habits is the best way to survive this era in your life and come out healthier and happier on the other end.