Top 3 Questions You’re Embarrassed to Ask Your OB-GYN

top-3-questions-embarassed-to-ask-ob-gyn-dr-lori-gore-green

For first-time and veteran mothers alike, pregnancy can bring up a variety of questions that might feel a little awkward asking out loud. The good news is that most women have had those same questions at some point and that there are answers from trained professionals.

 

Here are some questions about pregnancy you may have wanted to ask but felt too nervous to do so:

 

How Likely Is a Bowel Movement During Delivery?

This fear comes up frequently with new mothers, to the point where they can become so fixated on not having a bowel movement that it inhibits their ability to push.

 

It’s actually extremely common to have a bowel movement during labor, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s a simple reason why it happens: the same muscles a woman uses to push a baby out of her uterus are the same ones she uses when having a bowel movement. With the added weight on her colon and rectum as the baby moves through the birth canal, it’s a very natural bodily reaction.

 

While it may seem embarrassing, keep in mind that childbirth is a very private affair. Doctors are not only undaunted by this, but generally expect it. They’re trained professionals and their primary concern is making sure the mother and baby are healthy throughout the entire pregnancy and delivery.

 

Will My Vagina Be Stretched After I Give Birth?

Not really. Believe it or not, vaginas have muscle memory. The vagina is also made to accommodate childbirth; in other words, it stretches during childbirth and then contracts to its normal size. If a woman wants to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles, there are Kegel exercises, though make sure to check with a doctor first before trying them.

 

Why Does Sex Hurt After Birth?

Having a baby is hard work! With childbirth comes natural trauma to the vaginal area, and it needs time to heal. It’s natural for the sex drive to decrease, given how exhausting caring for a newborn can be. On top of that, if mothers choose to breastfeed, that can change her hormone levels as well, particularly her estrogen levels. This can lead to problems with lubrication. One potential solution is to use a lubricant, as well as giving the body time to adjust postpartum.

 

If the pain continues to exist months after birth, however, it’s best to speak to a doctor to make sure there aren’t any lasting issues.

10 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Dr. Lori Gore-GreenFor many women, one of the most exciting times is becoming pregnant and getting ready for the arrival of the baby. Many women prepare by setting up a nursery or planning a baby shower. To ensure that your child is strong and healthy, there are a few important tips to follow for the next nine months.

  1. Take a Multivitamin

Taking a multivitamin will ensure that both you and your baby are getting enough nutrients during the pregnancy with vitamins that may not be in your diet. Folic acid, calcium, and iron are also essential to develop the neural cord, which becomes the brain and spinal cord.

  1. Monitor Your Weight

Purchase a scale and weigh yourself each week to avoid putting your baby at risk of a low weight if you gain too much. A normal weight gain is between 25 to 30 pounds.

  1. Prepare for Delivery

Educate yourself and prepare for delivery by taking a childbirth class where you’ll learn what to expect after you go into labor. This will allow you to practice breathing exercises and even report birth defects that have occurred in your family history.

  1. Stay Active

Although it may be easy to slow down after becoming pregnant, it’s important to exercise three to five times a week to maintain your weight and increase your blood circulation. Opt for workouts that include pilates, yoga, or swimming and attempt to work out for 30 minutes each day.

  1. Wear Comfortable Shoes

Wear shoes that have proper support on your feet and don’t put you at risk of falling as you begin to carry the baby.

  1. Sleep on Your Side

Avoid putting excess pressure on your baby as you sleep at night by avoiding sleeping on your back or stomach. Opt for sleeping on your left side, which will allow more nutrients and blood to reach the placenta.

  1. Practice Kegels

Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by performing Kegels each day to support your uterus, bladder, and bowels. This will help you during the pushing process after you go into labor.

  1. Eat Foods That Contain Folate

To increase your health during your pregnancy, opt for consuming foods that are rich in folate, which will allow the neural tube to develop correctly and covers the spinal cord. Consume foods that include asparagus, orange juice, cereal, and lentils.

  1. Consume Less Caffeine

Instead of relying on coffee to get energy during your pregnancy, you can maintain your health by reaching for fruit instead. The natural sugars that are available in the food will allow you to recharge without consuming caffeine, which is considered to be a psychoactive drug.

  1. Pay Attention to Pain

Know when to call the doctor by paying close attention to any pain that you may be experiencing. Contractions at 20-minute intervals and strong cramps can be a cause of concern and should be evaluated by a medical professional.

5 Tips On Recovery After Giving Birth

Dr. Lori Gore-GreenIt’s true, every pregnancy is different. If you talk to any woman who has had more than one pregnancy, she will likely be able to recount distinctive differences between them. That being said, it’s not surprising that “recovery” times from the pregnancy can also vary drastically depending on the woman and depending on the pregnancy itself. Therefore, coming up with a standard checklist for shortening or improving recovery time is difficult, if not impossible. However, there are certain steps that women should take in order to improve or at least better understand their recovery period. 

  1. Talk with your doctor. Check in regularly, and ask what you (specifically) should be looking out for given your pregnancy and medical history. 
  2.  Try to keep a journal. This is great for nostalgia and overall well-being. Keeping a journal is also a good way to track any issues that may be related to the pregnancy or your health.
  3. Take your time. Some women want to snap back in to a rigorous exercise routine and packed daily calendar as soon as that baby cries for the first time. But pace yourself. Your body has been through a lot, and your chances of sleeping through the night are going to be slim to none with your newborn. In addition to that, whether you delivered via a caesarian section or vaginally, you will likely have stitches that need time to heal, and you will also likely have some residual bleeding initially ( while this is normal, make sure that you talk to your physician about what is to be expected). Therefore, make sure that you continue talking to your doctor about what kind of exercise is and is not appropriate for your body at different points in the recovery process. 
  4. Ask for help. Caring for a newborn is exhausting, and sometimes you just need to take a nap, or go for a walk. Make a point to carve out time for yourself to just relax. And when you get overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
  5. Dr. Lori Gore-GreenNutrition. “Good nutrition” may seem like something somewhat subjective, but this is another topic to discuss with your doctor. Make sure that you are eating enough and eating the “right” things that are nourishing for both you, and your child. 

Remember that recovering from giving birth is a process, and that there may be some changes that won’t necessarily completely recover to their pre-baby state. Think of this recovery time as a chance to give your current body a fresh start and the opportunity to feel nourished and as rested as possible as you embark on this new chapter of your life with a child! Good luck, and make sure to consult with your physician regularly.

5 Ways to Prepare for your Due Date

dr. lori gore-greenImpending parenthood is often a time fraught with a unique blend of excitement, anxiety and a whole host of other emotions. And while many claim that no one is ever fully prepared for parenthood, there are some concrete steps that expectant mothers and their partners can take in the days leading up to delivery. Below are some of the easiest ways to relieve stress related to the delivery process, simply through preparation.

Make a Go Bag

While this may seem fairly obvious, make a point to pack a bag that includes comfortable clothes that are easy to get into (think zip up hoodies, yoga pants, a warm shawl or fleece that you can wrap yourself in) without much movement or effort. I wouldn’t suggest bringing much in the way of jewelry or makeup. Instead pack simple, fragrance free products. The most important thing to include in your to go bag are any medications that you are currently taking or may need to take. Also, don’t forget to include your folder of important documents (outlined below) and extra pairs of underwear . 

Contingency plans

Whether you are having an induced labor or going the natural route, it’s important to have a plan in place for getting to the hospital, but it’s equally important to have a backup plan, and to have a plan for your other responsibilities. If you have another child or other children, make sure that they also have a go bag so that they can stay with a trusted babysitter or relative while you are in labor and recovering. Discuss the time frame for your expected delivery and make sure that this works with the guardian for your child. Create a document with all relevant information for your child, and for you. Do this well in advance so that you don’t have to worry about it when you are focusing on the delivery, and make a point to email a copy and give this guardian a printed copy. 

Automate Bill Pay

A month or two before your expected delivery date, make a point to automate or take care of any bills coming up in the next few months. While automated bill pay is a convenience that you may already take advantage of, if you haven’t started, now is a great time to try it. This way, you won’t have to worry about bills getting paid on time while your focus is elsewhere. You can always change this option once you are home, but the more things that you can automate while you are focusing on this birth, the better. Also, consider sharing your bill pay or “errand” calendar with your partner or a trusted confidante if you don’t have time to finish these tasks prior to delivery.

Important Documents

While this may seem like the last thing on your mind as you approach your labor day, this is something that will reduce paper-work related-stress, and will serve you well even after the birth of your child. Early on, I recommend that you create a folder that includes copies of all important documents including a copy of your government-issued ID, a copy of your Health Insurance Card(s), a sheet that lists all of your current doctors and medications that you are taking – as well as any allergies. Additionally print out a sheet that includes your emergency contacts and their information. Also keep an updated copy of your will and any pertinent instructions regarding end of life care. Keep this information in a folder in your go bag, and leave a copy at home or in your safety deposit box and/or with your partner or family member(s). Make sure your partner or hospital companion keeps an eye on this folder once you arrive. While this may seem like a somewhat somber set of documents to procure in the midst of your pregnancy, it is all a part of being responsible for both your health and the health of your child. Talk to your doctor and ask if there is any other information that would be relevant to have on hand, or if there is any way to share this information beforehand (to cut back on the number of items you bring with you).

Be Kind to Your Body

Although this means different things to different people, there are certain things that you should do for yourself throughout your pregnancy. Finding ways to exercise regularly (from yoga, to walking to more aerobic workouts, always make sure you consult with your doctor and listen to your body). Make a point to meditate. Drink lots of water and eat healthy whole foods. Visit your doctor regularly, and never be afraid to ask any questions. And most importantly, find ways to de-stress your daily life.

There are a number of other ways that you can prepare for your child’s arrival. Preparing your home before you go to the hospital or birthing center is also a huge component of preparing for the birth. For more information on how to prepare, do your research and talk to your doctor.

Choosing Books for Your Baby

dr. lori gore-greenAs I’ve discussed in the past, children receive all sorts of benefits from having their parents read to them. But what are the best books to read to babies? This is a question that many parents ask quite regularly. It’s fairly easy to find the most popular books for babies depending on their age, and luckily these books also co-inside with finding the “BEST” books to read to your child. However, the question of finding the best books for your child is somewhat subjective. What makes a book the best choice for your child? Does this mean the most well-written? Not necessarily.

Know Your Tone

Before your child starts to recognize words, it’s likely that he or she will respond to the tone of the person reading the story. That being said, one of the most important factors in selecting a book to read to your child, is that it engages the parent, and isn’t annoying to read. Well before your child can speak, he or she will pick up to nuances in your voice, so it’s important that you are able to read in a way that is soothing, not peeved at the idea of reading an inane story for the millionth time. So as long as you’re not reading something wildly inappropriate to your child, in those early stages it’s fine to read something that’s more relevant to your interests than your child’s.

The Strength of the Story? Or the Durability of the Book?

Another thing to keep in mind when selecting books for your baby is the actual durability. Though this won’t be too much of an issue in the earliest days, it will be a good habit to select books that can withstand being chewed, pulled and  thrown. As kids get older, books will not only provide stories, but will also serve as toys that your child may seemingly want to destroy. Never provide a child with a rare or delicate book as it will likely be completely destroyed in moments.

What is the Color and Texture of the Story?

Another quality that’s great for books for your child are those that include colorful illustrations, and storylines or topics that may be of particular interest. It’s also a great idea to include books in your child’s library  that are a bit more tactile (Think Pat the Bunny or the That’s Not My … series, once they are old enough). No matter what you pick, make sure that you choose texts that both you and your child can enjoy!

Additionally, I have included a list of some of the most popular books for children below.

 

The Power of Reading to Your Little One

Reading, Dr. Lori Gore-GreenIt’s no real surprise that reading to your child is important. From soothing your baby with the comforting sound of your voice, to encouraging your toddler’s comprehension of vocabulary, reading is critical to your child’s development. A recent study revealed one more reason that it’s important for parents to read to their children.

According to Jessica L. Montag, Michael N. Jones and Linda B. Smith of the Department of Psychological and brain Sciences at Indiana University, Bloomington, the text found in children’s books contains a greater diversity of both words and linguistic contexts than what they would be exposed to outside of these books. Montag and her team examined 100 children’s picture books and compared that to child-directed conversations of comparable length. The findings of this study supports the theory that the text in children’s picture books are an important point of reference for vocabulary for young children. The study and findings also support the importance of reading to children as the critical link for children to receive these benefits.

During a recent interview, Montag confided that, “The guiding question for this work was, ‘What might the text of the books be providing that everyday speech is not for these children.’”

 

And the answer was overwhelming. The text in the most popular and highly recommended picture books contained about seventy percent more unique words as compared to those used in speech. The team selected their sample texts based on rankings from Amazon book lists, reading lists from teachers and librarians, as well as statistics pulled from the public library. While it’s important to remember that this number is not infallible – owing to the somewhat limited sample size. Perhaps if the book list and subject sample size were expanded the percentage would drop slightly. However, even if that percentage dropped, the point remains the same. A child’s linguistic skills have the potential to greatly improve when a picture book is read to him or her.

 

Montag believes that “…the real benefit of books is that they introduce new topics and new words that are generally outside the scope of a child’s day-to-day life.” She goes on to say that, “…books allow you to talk about more different things in more different contexts…It’s a lot of really fun play, with stories and with language.” This is in sharp contrast to the traditionally simple sentences that people often use when talking to children.

 

Whether it’s the vocabulary, use of complex sentences or diversity of linguistic contexts, the message is clear… Read to your children!

 

The Benefits of Nursing

mother and babyIn recent years, nursing – particularly at work or in public, has become a hot topic both in offices around the country and in the media. However, what is often lost in the discussion are the facts that reveal the benefits of feeding infants breast milk as opposed to formula. While formula is the ideal substitute if the mother is physically unable to provide breast milk for the child, if breast milk is an option, the National Institute of Health (among other government organizations) has proposed a set of guidelines that encourage this.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months of life. This means that during those first months, your infant is consuming nothing else other than breast milk, unless your doctor advises otherwise.

After these first six months, the AAP suggests that mothers continue breastfeeding their child while slowly introducing solids into the child’s diet.

Once the child reaches the one year mark, the mother can continue preparing breast milk if these is mutually desired by both mother and infant.

The World Health Organization similarly recommends that mothers provide their newborns exclusively with breast milk for the first six months of life then slowly introduce complementary solid foods while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or more.

The World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics and doctors agree on the importance of breastfeeding your children for those first six months of life. However, after the first year, there remains discussion over when exactly is the appropriate cutoff time.

But what is it, exactly that makes breast milk so important?

In terms of the health of the  baby, the cells, antibodies and hormones from the mother contained in her breast milk protect the child from a number of illnesses. Additional research suggests that babies who are fed breast milk have a lower likelihood of: lower respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma, childhood leukemia, diarrhea and vomiting, SIDS, necrotizing enterocolitis, childhood obesity, eczema, and more.

In addition to these health benefits of the child, breastfeeding provides a form of emotional bonding for the mother and her child, as well as health benefits for the mother. Studies show that breastfeeding can have both short and long-term health benefits for the mother. Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of some types of breast cancers and ovarian cancer. Estrogen levels are lower during lactation, and it is believed that this less estrogen available to stimulate the lining of the uterus and (possibly breast tissue), the smaller the risk of these tissues becoming cancerous. Breastfeeding also leads to a lower risk type 2 diabetes for mothers. Another health benefit includes reducing the likelihood of developing osteoporosis later in life. Additionally, breastfeeding contributes to post-partum weight loss.

Although not every woman is physically able to breastfeed her child, it’s important to keep in mind the benefits of this practice for those women that are capable of this.

To learn more about women’s health visit my twitter page.

Misinformation and New Mothers

Dr. Lori Gore-GreenUS News and World Report recently reported on a new study  that finds that new mothers often fall victim to poor advice regarding how to care for their newborn child. This study, which was recently released in Pediatrics, surveyed over a thousand mothers to infants aged 2 to 6 months old. The researchers questioned the mothers about advice shared with them on a variety of topics related to all facets of childcare. Although many of these women received advice from doctors, a significant amount of this advice contradicted the guidelines set forth by the AAP. The study also revealed that family members were often full of contradictory advice – oftentimes due to the reliance that family members had on anecdotal experience as opposed to medical training.

News from the Media

The study found that although less than half of the women identified the media as a source for advice for most topics, breast-feeding was the outlier. Of the women surveyed, seventy percent admitted that they got advice from the media on this topic. Researchers found that much of this advice did not match official recommendations.

 

The study’s lead author, Dr. Staci Eisenberg stated that,

“In order for parents to make informed decisions about their baby’s health and safety, it is important that they get information, and that the information is accurate.”

Dr. Eisenberg, a pediatrician from Boston Medical Center went on saying,

“We know from prior studies that advice matters,” and that the likelihood of parents following the suggestions of professional increases only when they, “receive appropriate advice from multiple sources, such as family and physicians.”

How to Position Your Child While Sleeping : Pervasive Myths

Another important area of note is the advice that new mothers receive on how to position their little ones while sleeping. According to this study, new mothers seem to be receiving a wide range of theories on how to position their babies from a number of different sources. The study found that almost 29 percent of these mothers got incorrect information regarding where babies ought to sleep, and 26 percent of the advice on sleeping positions was also false.

 Do Your Homework

While some of the information gleaned from the study may not seem all that surprising, some points may. With all of the (mis)information out there, it’s imperative that parents find a physician with whom they are comfortable and that they never fear seeking a second opinion by another authoritative source. Most importantly, this study reveals the necessity of truly considering the validity of your source in these matters. To learn more about this study, please see the original report that appeared in U.S. News and World Report .