What is Postpartum Depression

Childbirth can be an emotional experience for new parents. As you settle in with your bundle of joy, you might encounter something unexpected – depression. Postpartum depression is often left undiscussed but affects many parents. What separates this from postpartum “baby blues”? Sometimes a rare but more severe condition called postpartum psychosis can develop. 

Defining Postpartum Depression

By definition by the National Institute of Mental Health, postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women and birthing parents after childbirth. New parents often experience “baby blues” after childbirth, where they might experience mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. The symptoms of postpartum depression may be similar but tend to be more severe and last longer, sometimes interfering with your ability to care for your baby and complete other daily tasks.  

Symptoms

Parents can experience depressed mood or severe mood swings, excessive crying, and difficulty bonding with their baby. Other common symptoms include changes in appetite, social withdrawal, and sleep disturbances. Symptoms will usually begin within the first few weeks after giving birth but may begin earlier (during pregnancy) or later, up to a year after birth. More severe symptoms may occur, such as thoughts of harming oneself or the baby, and these require serious and immediate attention. 

Causes

Physical changes and emotional issues play a role in postpartum depression, but there is no single cause for the condition. Hormonal changes after childbirth, such as dramatic drops in levels of progesterone and estrogen, may contribute to postpartum depression. Your risk of developing postpartum depression may increase if you have a history of depression or other mood disorders.

Treatments

Fortunately, postpartum depression is treatable.Treatment and recovery time will vary depending on your individual needs and the severity of the depression. Your medical provider will work on treating the underlying causes and may refer you to a mental health professional. Generally, treatment for depression includes psychotherapy, medication, or both. It is important to continue treatment even after you begin to feel better, as stopping treatment too early may lead to relapse.  Left untreated, postpartum depression can last for many months or longer. 

Constantly Evolving: How the Female Body Changes During Pregnancy

Pregnancy delivers a host of changes to a woman’s body. Some are visible and commonly expected, such as weight gain and an expanding belly; others are less well-known, such as increasing breast size. Some changes are well-known but invisible, such as backaches, morning sickness, and an enlarged uterus. Awareness of the changes, both visible and invisible, can help you prepare for your body’s adjustments during pregnancy.

Oral Health

A common pregnancy complaint is bleeding gums, which can open a portal to oral infections. With the immune system tamping down, it is vital to practice good oral hygiene. This will prevent the gums becoming inflamed, or gingivitis. While some women are nervous about visiting the dentist while they are pregnant, it is safe to receive dental X-rays with the caveat that the belly must be shielded properly from radiation.

Nails and Hair

Hair and nails tend to grow faster during pregnancy. An increase in estrogen creates an increase in the hair follicles’ growing phase, often creating a result of healthier and thicker hair. Hair may also increase in less desired places, such as the stomach, upper lip, nipples, and back. This excess hair is shed after giving birth. Nails tend to become more coarse in texture, causing them to become more soft and brittle. This can lead to nails splitting more easily. Like hair, the nails have a tendency to grow faster during pregnancy.

Skin

Three main skin changes are possible during pregnancy: stretch marks, a rosy complexion, and pigment changes known as chloasma or melasma. Stretch marks tend to itch and are purplish, pinkish lines that are particularly prone to appear on the breasts, posterior, thighs, and abdomen. The rosy complexion, or pregnancy glow, may appear due to the skin receiving an increase in blood circulation. Pigment changes, or pregnancy’s mask, are another common occurrence due to melanin increasing.

Heartburn

During pregnancy, the muscles that are used to break down food grow more relaxed. Changes in hormones also contribute to slowing down this process. Further, food remains in the stomach for a longer duration to allow the body more time for absorption of nutrients. Each or all of these factors can be the cause of heartburn or make it worse.

The RESPECT Model

Visiting a new doctor for the first time can be an anxiety-ridden experience for anyone. Not only are you likely meeting a new person, but you’re also confiding in that person with a very personal matter: your health.

 

A recent survey from this summer found that nearly 40% of women indicated they felt at least “somewhat concerned” prior to their first OB-GYN visit. Because of this number, physicians are working harder than ever to establish an open and trusting relationship with their patients. The RESPECT model is helping to do just that, in OB/GYN offices and beyond:

 

R—Rapport. Building rapport with the patient allows her to connect with you on a social level, not just as another appointment to check off. It strengthens your relationship as a rapport helps you see from her perspective and refrain from making assumptions.

 

E—Empathy. This may be harder said than done at times, but remembering that the patient needs help, and is here to be helped by you will keep you in a compassionate state of mind.

 

S—Support. As a physician, it’s your job to help patients and any obstacles they bring with them. You’re part of their team, and team members support one another.

 

P—Partnership. You’re working as a team to fix any given issue, and for that to work, the patient must have an equal say and solid understanding. This also means negotiating roles on occasion, and being flexible when it comes to a matter of control.

 

E—Explanations. Of course, as a physician, you must explain new concepts to patients in ways that make sense to them. What might make sense to the doctor after years of medical school, residency, and a long career likely will need to be broken down for someone not as knowledgeable in the field.

 

C—Cultural Competence. These days, many patients and physicians come from different backgrounds. They have different life experiences. To work well together, they must be able to respect their differences, and adjusting a style of care to allow for them.


T—Trust. This also happens when the physician and patient come from different backgrounds. There needs to be a trust in place for the doctor to effectively treat the patient, but that trust is not always just given. Often, it must be earned, and taking the time to actively work to establish that trust is the only way to achieve it.

5 Other Reasons to Visit Your OB-GYN

A trusted OB-GYN is a critical part of any woman’s professional health team, whether or not you intend to have children. An OB-GYN makes sure your vagina is healthy and your reproductive system is in good working order. But, did you know that you can go to your OB-GYN for more than just those two things?

 

Screening for Breast Cancer

Think of your OB-GYN as the first line of defense in detecting breast and colon cancers. If your annual appointment includes a breast exam, your obstetrician should be the first to notice any strange growths or changes in your breasts. OB-GYNs can also do rectal exams.

 

Treating Depression

Though OB-GYNs are not psychiatrists, they’re still trained to screen for and evaluate mood disorders. Depending on the case, your doctor could start you on medication or refer you to psychiatrist. Because of your emotional connection with your OB-GYN, especially if they treated you through a pregnancy, they are a safe person to confide in and share your concerns with. If you’re pregnant, your doctor will also be knowledgeable on how the medication will impact both you and the baby, as well.

 

Skin Checks

Of course, while a dermatologist is trained to look for signs of skin cancer, your OB-GYN can still perform skin checks. And given how most people have between ten to forty moles, it’s not a bad idea to get a skin check during your annual visit. In the event they notice any suspicious growths, they can alert you early on and get you into the office of a dermatologist to take a closer look.

 

Family Planning

Unsurprisingly, as they have many pregnant patients, OB-GYNs are great resources in terms of family planning. Whether that means you discuss certain genetic conditions you could pass on or figuring out how to have “the talk” with your daughters, your OB-GYN can help address your fears and provide you with the most current information.

 

Bone and Joint Issues

Millions of women across the country develop osteoarthritis, which can be a devastating joint problem, and it can happen a good way away from the beginning of menopause. By measuring and recording your height yearly, your OB-GYN can catch signs like losing height. They can also perform bone scans to keep an eye on your mineral levels. If they can catch the development early on, you’ll be much better off.

3 Ways to Change Your Workout While Pregnant

Being pregnant means a lot of changes, to your body, to your mindset, to your lifestyle. One of these ways includes how you exercise, because now you have the added weight of a growing baby.

 

If you’re trying something new or at all unsure about how your exercise routine will affect your baby, definitely consult your doctor before doing so. Otherwise, here are a few suggestions about how to maintain a healthy workout routine while pregnant:

 

Use Lighter Weights

Lifting is one of the best exercises anyone can do for their bodies, including pregnant women! Expectant mothers who did moderate-intensity resistance training about three days a week for thirty minutes each had lower rates of hypertension and diabetes when compared to other pregnant women. Just make sure to use lighter weights so you’re not overexerting yourself. That and holding your breath can put too much pressure on your abdomen muscles and pelvic floor, both of which are already strained because of the baby.

 

Use the Talk Test

Yes, your Fitbit will give you an approximation of how hard your heart is working, but pregnancy actually creates changes throughout your cardiovascular system you might not be completely aware of. For that reason, use the talk test to find a moderate intensity. The talk test, essentially, is the idea that it should not take you more than a minute to catch your breath and hold a normal conversation. If it does take more than that, you’re probably overworking yourself.

 

Skip the Abs and High-Impact

Contrary to any other time in your life, you don’t really need to focus on your abs when you’re pregnant. Because of your expanding belly, ab exercises can even be harmful when you’re far enough along. Your body is already working to make room for the growing baby, so crunches and other similar exercises are only going to add to the stress that area of the body is already experiencing.

 

In terms of high-impact, it’s not a matter of safety for the baby. The padding should be more than enough to protect it, but too much impact can weaken the pelvic floor, which leads to a whole host of other problems that are best to avoid.

 

Keep an eye out for symptoms, too, which are definite signs you need to take a pause and talk to your doctor before continuing. Pain, dizziness, vaginal bleeding, and amniotic fluid leakage, among other symptoms, are all signs to watch for while exercising.

Current Health Trends For Women

The year 2018 is filled with fresh new ideas and hot health trends that will make your life better in different and exciting ways. Here are just a few that should appeal to you:

Wearable Tech Gadgets

Devices frequently used today can be added to clothing! Google has been collaborating with Levi Strauss & Co, the jeans manufacturer, to develop clothing that interacts with tracking devices. The sensitive surfaces will show how many calories you burn while running, give weight and other readings, check sleep patterns, and even make a phone call!

The Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) of Levi’s, a company of firsts for more than 150 years, has been working on a conductive yarn and woven multi-touch fabric that senses touch gestures able to swipe a hand over jeans or the sleeve of a jacket to silence a phone, play a song, and more.

Now they have created the “smart clothing” Commuter Trucker Jacket, known as Project Jacquard, with Jacquard technology woven right into the sleeve. Officially announced at Google’s annual developer conference, but not announced was a timeline for when any smart clothes, using a special yarn that has to work on existing industrial looms, would be available commercially on a global scale.

Worn on stage was a normal-looking jacket custom made by London tailors with 85 percent cotton and 15 percent Project Jacquard. Waving a hand over the arm, a display showed information such as a phone call picked up by tiny electronics in the flexible snap tag connecting the Jacquard Threads in the cuff, looking like part of the jacket, to the mobile device. The tag also houses a battery which lasts up to two weeks between USB charges.

Nut-Milk Yogurts

Kite Hill has blended its almond milk with live active cultures and 10 grams of almond protein to create new plant-based yogurts. Enjoy creamy yogurt made with Madagascar vanilla beans by itself or with added mouth-watering peaches, strawberries or blueberries.

Healthier Noodles

More alternative pasta options will appear in 2018. Ancient Harvest’s Supergrain Pasta, Green Lentil, and Quinoa Penne will taste like and have the texture of regular noodles but have fewer simple carbs, have 14 grams of plant-based protein and seven grams of fiber per serving, be gluten-free and non-GMO, and offer more nutritious nutrients.

Caution

It is always wise to check with your doctor before trying any unusual foods or other products to make sure that they fit in healthily with the medications you are taking and the particular physical ailments that you have.

 

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

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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.

A Healthy Work-Life Balance Can Improve Your Overall Health

A Healthy Work-Life Balance Can Improve Your Overall Health _ Dr. Lori Gore-Green (1) (1) (1)We’re all overworked and tired, and many of us struggle with the idea of carving out personal time.

“Work-life balance” is a phrase that we hear often, but it isn’t something that we’re all experiencing. Employees struggle with scheduling, work hours, and finding support. Many businesses encourage and promote balance, asking that workers gain control of personal stressors, and juggle priorities, poor management, technological demands, and physical or psychological challenges. Established balance means defined career ambitions, and a well-managed personal schedule, which includes hobbies, family, and leisure. It also indicates an ability to increase one’s level of engagement and productivity at work, and opportunities to fully participate in your on social and family life.

It’s in a company’s best interest to treat their employees to a greater sense of workplace wellness. A line drawn between work and home translates to conflict-reduction, company productivity, and it bodes well for a company’s reputation. Such businesses have higher employee retention rates, which means continuous in-house expertise and fewer time-consuming training sessions. These better-balanced individuals opt to take fewer sick days, and they don’t compromise efficiency or productivity.

Also, while men struggle as much as women to maintain a work-life balance, reports show that women still bear a more substantial load than men in balancing work and family, according to Pew Research Center. Despite progress seen in recent decades, approximately 68 percent of Millennial mothers find it difficult to get ahead at work, compared to just 19 percent of Millennial fathers.

Enabling healthy habits, such as healthful meals, regular exercise, and sleep can fuel success within an organization and foster a greater sense of wellbeing.

Share Your Needs | Employee needs should be met, but that can only take place if you voice your needs. Speak with your HR consultant and communicate how your job can help you to accomplish your goals better. Inquire about flexible scheduling, possible solutions, and childcare.

Exercise | Exercise doesn’t merely trim the fat; it helps to reduce stress. Many employers have an onsite facility for employees to enjoy. Others have membership discounts to local gyms. Try to take advantage; it could do wonders for your health and your attitude. Studies show that workers are up to 13% more productive working from home than working at the office.

Be Vigilant | You don’t want to burn out, and the best way to keep that from happening is being aware of your job performance, monitoring your stress, and taking care to prevent physical exhaustion and error rates.

Embrace Telecommunication | If your job allows any work-from-home days, be sure to take advantage of those days. While it may be a challenge for some to be productive from home, others meet the challenge without difficulty.

Less Busy Work, More Efficiency | Being productive and working more isn’t the same thing, and we know this. Extended work hours tend to mean that employees grow more irritable, anxiety, and depression. Rather than working more hours, better manage the hours that you work, which should help address performance concerns.

Prioritize Health Initiatives | Long hours often means compromised health. By that, I mean, people often sacrifice fitness and health in favor of goals. To correct this, try to take time out of your busy day to workout quickly, and be sure to take time to visit the doctor.

Decorate Your Workspace | As you attempt to strike a balance between home and work, be sure to bring in images of your loved one, and personalize your workplace. If you create a more comfortable workspace, you’ll find that it’s easier to execute ongoing tasks.

Boost Creativity | Developing interesting creative projects helps to foster a better sense of balance. By taking a creative break, you’ll be able to better focus on your duties following the break.

If you know of other ways to achieve work-life balance, be sure to share!

5 Foods to Increase Your Vagina Health

Increase Your Vagina Health | Dr. Lori Gore-GreenThere are many factors to your vaginal health. What you may not realize is that food is one of the largest and easiest to control factors. Whether it’s a smell that you would prefer not to have, dryness, or just not feeling very fresh, food just might be the answer. Taking the time to add certain healthy foods to your diet can greatly improve your well being down there.

So which foods should you be eating and for what reasons?

  1. Garlic

Consuming garlic is a great way to combat vaginal infections. This includes the dreaded vaginal yeast infection. The reason garlic helps heal is because it has strong antibacterial properties. This helps give your body the edge it needs to fight bacterial and fungal infections. Look for ways to incorporate more garlic into your daily diet to not only cure but prevent vaginal infections.

  1. Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice is highly beneficial for your feminine well-being. Drinking a glass (or two!) of cranberry juice helps your body work hard to fight against harmful bacteria. This makes it a viable option for curing and preventing issues like Urinary tract infections. However, be sure to choose an all natural, no sugar added cranberry juice. High sugar content and unnatural dyes can do the opposite of helping cure your problems.

  1. Flax Seeds

Flax seeds contain phytoestrogens which help increase estrogen levels in the body. This can help your body keep your feminine area healthy. It may also aid in added wetness if you’re feeling a little drier than you should down there. Because flax seeds contain these fantastic phytoestrogens, they are great for your overall female upkeep as well. They are definitely worth taking advantage of!

  1. Kale

Kale is rich in kaempferol which has been shown to help reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Other healthy foods that contain kaempferol include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and green tea. Incorporating these healthy foods into your daily diet is a huge step to taking care of your vagina and overall female health.

  1. Greek Yogurt

Leaving the best for last, Greek yogurt might just be the greatest food you can eat for your vagina! Greek yogurt contains live and active cultures. This good bacteria makes it a super star for helping keep your pH balanced down there. Overall this will aid in keeping your vagina feeling fresh and healthy. If you’re experiencing itchiness, dryness, or just general discomfort, try adding more Greek yogurt to your diet!

It is absolutely vital to take care of your vagina and overall female well-being. Simply adding these five beneficial foods to your diet will go a long way in helping you take care of your own beautiful body today.

Summer Bliss: 6 Tips for a Healthier and Happier Summer for You and Your Body

16937042916_1f0d5765c5_bThe warm summer season has its perks: sun-kissed skin, freeing clothing, and warmth in spades. The sunbaked days unveil an opportunity to shed layered clothing and jackets; simultaneously, countless individuals take to their gyms, parks, and neighborhoods as they attempt to shed pounds in favor of beach-readied bodies. During these hot days, it’s vital that women, men, and children proceed cautiously, consuming water and submitting themselves to safe practices, ensuring that they avoid sun damage during outdoor hours.

Extended, cumulative exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays do a bit more than contribute vitamin D. That direct sun exposure can lead to incidences of skin cancer, with basal and squamous cell carcinoma outpacing incidences of all other cancers combined. More than sun safety, the summer sparks concerns around heat illness, food safety when grilling, swim safety and avoiding bugs.

In addition to increasing water consumption to decrease the risk of heat exhaustion and avoiding bugs to curb the contraction of viruses or illnesses, women should commit to the following actions that promise to maximize comfort during stifling summer days and night, and prevent illness and injury. Be prepared to yourself during warmer weather, vacations, and pool time.

Purchase sunscreen/sunblock: Using sunblock can help to save your son from malformations caused by sun damaging. Skin cancer, which is on the rise, can be life threatening, but more commonly it threatens the quality of life. Members of the public can continue to enjoy outdoor activities, but taking proper care of one’s skin is a matter of being proactive and informed. So, apply it every day, reapply it every three hours all over, including your face, your hands, your scalp, and under your bathing suit (the SPF of regular clothing is only 5 to 6). This important because UV radiation will destroy sunscreen over time, and water will rinse it from you. Avoid sunscreens that are too fragrant, too greasy, or too expensive. Any sunscreen with the protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater should do the trick.

Don’t Use Tanning Beds: Golden skin is certainly attractive, but tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Also, tanning beds deliver cancer-causing radiation, leading to poor health and skin damage.

Keep your immune system up: Warm weather doesn’t mean you should dodge vitamins and other supplements. Continue to drink juice, consume vitamins, and get a good amount of rest, so your body is prepared to fight off illnesses and viruses.

Wear Loose Clothing: Rather than wearing snug clothing and fabrics that are synthetic, wear underwear that has a cotton crotch and clothing that’s loose-fitting. Additionally, don’t lounge around in wet clothing or a bathing suit, as that isn’t very good for your vaginal health.

Consider Your Vaginal Health: It’s important to urinate frequently, shower often with mild soap, and stay away from vaginal sprays and douches. Douching can upset your natural pH balance and it can irritate the vagina by washing away healthy bacteria. Also, don’t use perfumed products or scented tampons, Also, if you’re experiencing vaginal discomfort, abnormal discharge, and burning during urination. Approximately 75 percent of women will have at least one vaginal infection in their lifetime, and women face additional threat of that during the summer months, where the rise in temperatures leads to a subsequent increase in sweat. Be sure to change your tampons and sanitary napkins to keep the vagina clean and odor-free. Also, keep in mind that any sort of hair removal should take place at least 24-48 hours before enjoying a swim at the beach or the pool.

Take Care of Your Skin: Don’t skimp on your normal skin and hair care regimen. Make sure you consistently clean and moisturize your skin, so it remains supple and shining.

And, remember, hydrate!