When you visit your women’s health professional to discuss birth control, one of the things that he or she will consider is your lifestyle and what risks certain contraceptives could pose based on these factors. If you smoke, your OBGYN in Arlington Heights may steer you away from oral contraceptives to protect you from potentially dangerous side effects. Here is what you need to know.
Smoking and oral contraceptives are a dangerous combination. The estrogen in birth control pills increases the pressure in blood vessels, increasing the risk of blood clots. When you smoke, that pressure is increased even further. When smoking and oral contraceptives are combined, your risk for blood clots, stroke, and heart attack increases, especially if you are over 35.
If you smoke, talk to your OBGYN about non-hormonal birth control methods that won’t further impact your cardiovascular health. You can also ask your doctor for advice to help you quit smoking. Doing so not only increases your options for birth control but can also dramatically improve your overall health.
VBAC—or vaginal birth after Cesarean—is a complex and controversial topic that all mothers face if they become pregnant after a C-section. Although doctors once thought that giving birth vaginally was too dangerous after a C-section, many obstetricians now recommend it. There is no single right answer for every woman. If you’re interested in VBAC, talk to your obstetrician in Arlington Heights about your preferences for giving birth and what is realistic for you. Here is what you need to know about the risks of VBAC and factors to consider when making your choice.
The Risks of VBAC
The biggest risk of VBAC is uterine rupture. During a vaginal delivery, the incision from the previous C-section could reopen, which could put the life of both mother and baby in jeopardy. Fortunately, uterine rupture is rare. Depending on the location of the initial incision, uterine rupture occurs in about 1.5% of VBAC cases . However, the stakes are so high that obstetricians may be reluctant to accept VBAC as an acceptable birth plan if there are other risk factors in place. For instance, uterine ruptures are more common after multiple C-sections and in women who are older. The risk of rupture is also greater if a woman must be induced.
Deciding if VBAC Is Right for You
Your obstetrician will review your birth options with you in full, including the idea of VBAC. If VBAC is your preference, your doctor will consider several different factors, including your age, your pre-existing health conditions, the size of your baby, and how many C-sections you’ve had in the past, before deciding if it is safe for you. To be eligible for a VBAC, you generally must have no uterine scars except for those from a past C-section, and you can’t have the reason for your previous C-section present in this pregnancy. The baby must also be head down and a size that is appropriate for vaginal delivery.
If you have decided that a midwife will be part of your birth plan, then you probably have many questions about when to expect from your first appointment. Midwives are commonly used in other countries during pregnancy, but their services have only recently begun to increase in popularity in the U.S. Now, many women are opting to use a midwife in Arlington Heights to help them through pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Your first midwife appointment should occur sometime in the first trimester of your pregnancy, preferably as soon as you know you are pregnant. Here is a look at what to expect during that first visit.
Your midwife will review your complete medical history during your first appointment, including your experiences during any past pregnancies. It is important to inform your midwife about all of your medical conditions and any medications you take. In some cases, some chronic conditions, like diabetes, can make your pregnancy high risk. If your midwife determines that you have a high-risk pregnancy, she may refer you back to an obstetrician for your care or have an obstetrician oversee your case closely. You may also need to stop or change the way you take certain medications. Having a complete picture of your health history helps your midwife make decisions about your care.
In most cases, your midwife will perform a physical exam during your first appointment, which may include a pelvic exam and even a Pap smear, depending on your needs. This exam will be the first of many that your midwife will perform to determine if your pregnancy is progressing as expected. As you advance in your pregnancy, your midwife may also listen to your baby’s heartbeat and use an ultrasound machine to watch your baby’s growth.
Midwives are advocates for women’s health and will often use your appointments to share information about caring for yourself during and after pregnancy. Your midwife will also explain all of your options for labor and delivery with you and help you choose a birth plan that is right for you. This education will continue after you deliver, when your midwife can advise you about things like birth control and breast feeding.
Menopause is a part of life for all women as they transition out of their childbearing years. During menopause, women stop ovulating and experience a significant drop in estrogen levels that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Fortunately, it is possible to manage your menopause symptoms in Arlington Heights with the help of your gynecologist.
Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 50, though the range varies significantly. During menopause, the hormonal changes can cause hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and loss of bone tissue. A gynecologist can help to manage these symptoms with hormone replacement therapy and advice for lifestyle changes that can keep uncomfortable symptoms in check.
For decades, women have turned to the trusted resource book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” for pregnancy guidance. Now, there’s an app for that. Before your next appointment with your midwife in Arlington Heights, take a minute to download the “ What to Expect: Pregnancy Tracker ” app. You’ll get personalized updates every day throughout your pregnancy about your baby’s development.
Of course, your midwife is your go-to source of trusted health information, but it never hurts to get more support from your smartphone. With this app, you’ll have instant access to practical tips and real stories from other parents. You’ll also get access to a supportive community of expectant moms. You can even join a birth group with other moms-to-be who expect to give birth during the same week as you.
After turning to a midwife in Arlington Heights for medical support throughout pregnancy and childbirth, many women assume that they’ll never work with a midwife again. But actually, midwifery care extends to all phases of a woman’s life . Many women prefer to work with a midwife during menopause because midwives follow a model of care that puts the patient first and that evaluates the whole patient. This means that in addition to discussing your menopause symptoms and recommending solutions, your midwife will carefully examine your health habits, lifestyle, stressors, and risk factors.
Midwives offer an integrative approach to guiding women through transitions in life. They often provide lifestyle counseling, including counseling on diet and exercise. When appropriate, midwives can prescribe medications such as hormone replacement therapy. Along with addressing menopause symptoms, a midwife can continue to provide gynecological care and health screenings to check for diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Midwives enter the healthcare field because they are keenly dedicated to helping every woman enjoy wellness at every stage of life.
Although there are dozens of birth control options available to women in Arlington Heights, over half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Birth control isn’t always foolproof and sometimes it simply isn’t available. Fortunately, pregnancy doesn’t occur immediately after sex. In fact, it may take as long as five days after sex for sperm to fertilize an egg and create a zygote. During this time, there is a window of opportunity to use birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. This is known as emergency contraception.
Birth control that is used after sex is sometimes called the “morning after pill,” but this label is somewhat misleading. Emergency contraception is available both in pills and in medical devices, and it may be used at other times than just the morning after intercourse. There are different brands of emergency contraception pills (ECPs), which are available for purchase without a prescription for women who are at least 17 years of age. One particular brand may be purchased by women of all ages at drugstores without a prescription. These pills contain a hormone that blocks conception. Another type of emergency contraception is an intrauterine device (IUD), which must be placed in the uterus by a healthcare provider. IUDs are intended for women who desire a long-term method of birth control.
It’s important to carefully follow the dosage instructions. Some brands instruct women to take one pill, while others require two. Even if a pill can be taken within five days after unprotected sex, it is more effective when taken as soon as possible.
Birth control pills can sometimes cause temporary nausea. If you vomit within one hour after taking the pills, you should call your healthcare provider to ask if you need another dose. Despite some temporary side effects, emergency contraception is very safe and, when used as directed, it is effective.
Some women may be reluctant to use emergency contraception for fear that if they are already pregnant, the pills could harm the fetus. If emergency contraception is used after pregnancy has occurred, the pills have no effect on the fetus at all. There is no risk of birth defects and it is impossible for ECPs to induce pregnancy loss.
When you’re ready to stop using birth control and try to conceive a child, you may become frustrated if pregnancy doesn’t happen right away. However, it’s not uncommon for women and men to experience difficulties with conception. If you’ve been having unprotected sex for one year without achieving pregnancy, it’s time to talk to an obstetrics specialist in Arlington Heights. If you’re aged 35 or older, you can shorten that time period to six months.
In about one-third of cases, infertility occurs because of an issue with the female partner. Another one-third is attributable to problems with the male partner and the remaining cases involve a combination of female and male infertility issues . When you visit an obstetrics specialist to determine the underlying cause of your problem, it’s wise to encourage your partner to visit his doctor, too. In women, some of the common causes of infertility include anatomical dysfunction such as scar tissue and adhesions. Congenital defects, endometriosis, prior surgeries in the area, a history of ectopic pregnancy, or infections might be to blame for the problem. Infertility can also occur due to hormonal problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
In addition to performing a physical exam and recommending appropriate medical tests, the doctor will likely ask you about your lifestyle habits. It’s likely that you already know that it’s harmful to smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy, but it’s also harmful to smoke or drink while trying to become pregnant. In women, this can interfere with ovulation, while men can experience problems with sperm count. It’s also advisable to avoid environmental toxins such as pesticides and to practice good stress management. If you’re overweight or underweight, your doctor might advise you to make dietary adjustments as needed, since both of these problems can affect fertility.
Lifestyle modifications can help, but many couples need medical treatment to achieve pregnancy. Your doctor can help you understand your options. Some women can successfully conceive with the help of fertility drugs, while others may need medical procedures such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Osteoporosis is characterized by weak, brittle bones that are at a high risk of fracturing due to falls or even mild physical trauma like coughing. It’s often thought that osteoporosis is inevitable for women who are of menopause age . And indeed, the work of preventing osteoporosis should ideally begin well before a woman enters menopause. However, it’s never too late to begin improving the health of your bones, even if you’ve already begun to experience menopause symptoms. To get started, talk to your provider about having a healthy menopause in Arlington Heights.
Healthy nutrition is a cornerstone of osteoporosis prevention. For a well-balanced diet, women should choose a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. A well-balanced diet can help women under 50 get 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day. Older women should aim for 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily for bone health. Vitamin D is also important for building strong bones. Women who are 70 or younger should get 600 units of vitamin D daily, while those who are older should get 800 units daily.
Regular physical activity is essential at every stage of life. Weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones as well as muscles. Some good examples of weight-bearing exercises include walking, stair climbing, jogging, tennis, dancing, yoga, and hiking. Strength training with weights or resistance bands is also a smart idea.
In addition to eating well and exercising regularly, you can make other healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. These include not smoking and limiting your alcohol consumption. Smoking is significant for bone health because it inhibits the ability of the bones to absorb calcium by interfering with the way the body uses vitamin D. Smoking also lowers a woman’s estrogen levels. At menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels have already begun declining considerably. Smoking will worsen this effect and further increase the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, it’s widely recommended that women consume no more than one alcoholic beverage per day, if any. Consuming more alcohol than this may increase your risk of osteoporosis because it can act on the liver in a way that interferes with the activation of vitamin D. Alcohol can also affect the absorption of calcium.
It’s natural for a woman to have many questions during her pregnancy. In fact, you may have so many questions that it can be hard to keep track of all of them. Keep a small notebook with your questions and observances, and bring it along to each appointment with your midwife in Arlington Heights. Early on in your pregnancy, you should ask your midwife if any of your medical conditions, medications, or supplements might pose a threat to your developing baby. You should also ask about the tests that you should have during pregnancy to make sure that everything is progressing normally.
To begin planning your birth, ask your midwife which hospitals in the area she is able to deliver babies at. As you approach your third trimester, you should start learning about the details of labor, if you haven’t already. Ask your midwife to demonstrate common labor positions. The two of you should also be on the same page regarding the identification of the medical problems that will prompt the passing of your care to an obstetrician.
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- Dr. Karen L. Collins
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- Dr. Chris Butler