Everyday Essentials to Help Your Pregnancy

Waiting for a baby to arrive is such an exciting time, but it’s also a time when an expectant mother could use some extra help to make pregnancy easier, safer, and more comfortable. Here are a few suggestions:

Use prenatal vitamins

These contain all the nutrients the body needs for both mom and baby. Especially important is folic acid, an essential nutrient in the B vitamin family that helps to prevent a type of birth defect. Be sure to get at least 600 micrograms of folic acid during pregnancy. Ideally, a woman would be getting at least 400 micrograms before becoming pregnant.

Use pregnancy-safe skin products

The skin is the body’s largest organ, and many substances can be absorbed through it. With this in mind, it’s best to use natural, organic products for skin care, hair care, and makeup. Specifically, avoid the following:

  • Retinoids
  • Hydroxy acids
  • Acne products
  • Chemical hair removers
  • OTC steroid creams like 1 percent hydrocortisone

All of these have the potential to penetrate the skin and cause a possible problem for a growing baby. The risk may be small, but it’s there, so just avoid the problem by avoiding the product. If acne breakout due to hormonal changes is an issue, ask the obstetrician for a safe solution. Sunscreens are typically safe for use during pregnancy. For a sunscreen that doesn’t penetrate the skin to work, check labels for the ingredient zinc oxide.

Bellaband

The Bellaband is a versatile device allowing the expectant mom to comfortably and easily transition the clothing gray area when regular pants still fit but not properly. The clever Bellaband allows the pregnant mom to wear regular pants unbuttoned or unzipped, while still keeping the area covered. The result just looks like the clothes have been layered. The Bellaband helps to save money on maternity clothes, too.

Belly butter

Few things are more annoying than a persistent itch. As the skin stretches more and more across the belly area, it will tend to itch. Look for itch lotions and creams intended for use during pregnancy. Especially helpful are jojoba oil and natural plant butter like shea butter and mango butter.

This article was originally published on DrLoriGore-Green.com

Why Expecting Mothers Need Paid Maternity Leave

Many countries in the developed world offer paid maternity leave to mothers. In the United States, though, that’s not always an option for women who work. Sometimes, they are put on state temporary disability programs. Even when employers do offer paid leave, they may require someone to have a certain length of service with the company before making it available. That can pose a challenge to women who are just starting out in their careers.

Another issue is the length of the leave on offer. Many women are able to step away from work for just a handful of weeks. In fact, research shows that mothers often benefit from spending more time than that at home with their baby. Women with lengthy paid maternity leaves are less likely to suffer from physical illness or post-partum depression. Their children seem to benefit, too. In fact, their babies have a lower chance of dying of SIDS.

In the US, everyone is able to take three months’ unpaid leave. This is a stark contrast to countries like the United Kingdom, which offer 12 weeks of paid leave. This alone may make a huge difference to a new parent’s mental health. A new baby also brings many new expenses, from follow-up doctors’ appointments to diapers, food, and clothing they will rapidly outgrow. Other countries do even better. Japan offers 36 weeks, and Estonia pays new mothers on leave for over a year.

Many activists and politicians, especially on the Left, would like to see the US join the ranks of these other nations. They believe that a national paid maternity leave would make a big difference in the family lives of millions of Americans. This is particularly true for the middle and working classes. Many executive-level women are able to take the time they need, and they can afford highly qualified nannies. The average American family, however, may struggle to juggle work schedules and vaccine schedules.

While maternity leave remains controversial in some circles, all the evidence points to benefits. A national maternity leave program is expected to remain an issue in Congress and at the state level. Of course, not every mother wants these benefits. But they would not be mandatory, rather just available.

This article was originally published on DrLoriGore-Green.com

When it’s Safest to Announce Your Pregnancy

Parents face many challenges and sacrifices to make sure their babies are safe, comfortable, and well cared for. Whether it’s a first, second, third, or fourth baby, the most crucial detail of the motherhood journey is determining when to announce the pregnancy. Unfortunately, factors such as discrimination at work in some professions may delay some parents making their pregnancy announcement until the pregnancy shows. Therefore, every parent will have a different opinion of when to announce the pregnancy. However, there are many factors to consider when deciding when to make the announcement, as discussed below carefully.

After A Positive Test Result

Some parents, especially first-time parents, get over-excited to share the news of them being pregnant. Announcing at this early stage helps parents get as much support and encouragement as they require from family and those around them.

At Six Weeks after Conception

Week six of the pregnancy is when the ultrasound gets done, and the parents can feel the heartbeat of their fetus. It’s the best time to announce, especially for parents working in a hazardous working environment. At this stage, Parents are likely to experience nausea and a few complications that may cause them to miss work and other social functions. Announcing at this stage helps them get support from workplaces, family, and friends.

At Week 12 of the Pregnancy

The end of week 12 is the end of the first trimester, and the risk of miscarriage is low. The ultrasound images will show a fetus that looks more like a baby. However, parents who want to undergo genetic screening might prefer to wait and announce it after it’s done.

After Week 12

Some mothers might have a high-risk pregnancy that causes complications throughout the pregnancy. Some complications that cause high-risk pregnancies include previous miscarriages, women older than 35 years, carrying multiples, certain health conditions, and fertility assistance. All the conditions mentioned above might cause risks in all three trimesters of the pregnancy. If they are experiencing the above conditions, it might affect the parent’s decision to make the pregnancy announcement.

This article was originally published on DrLoriGore-Green.com

Heart Health for Women Over 40

When it comes to heart health, the focus is often on men. The University of Bergen in Norway recently released studies that show women, especially those over 40, should be conscientious about their heart health by monitoring their blood pressure. Women’s blood pressure can be an indicator of future issues.

Even Women Who Feel Healthy Need To Monitor Their Blood Pressure

Women are strongly advised to have their primary care doctors monitor their blood pressure regularly, even if they don’t have symptoms of heart trouble currently. It’s been shown in studies that women with slightly elevated blood pressure levels in their early 40s can be double as likely to experience serious heart troubles by their 50s. This includes heart attacks.

When deciding how concerning a woman’s blood pressure levels are, multiple factors are taken into consideration. Diabetes, obesity, family history, and more will be assessed. Doctors will choose how often to monitor each woman based on these things.

Higher Blood Pressure In Women Could Be More Significant Than In Men

Middle-aged and younger women often have a lower blood pressure than men, but the high blood pressure level threshold for men and women is the same. By the time women meet the threshold, their blood pressure is much higher than it should be already. Studies have also indicated that high blood pressure in women is a bigger risk factor for heart disease than it is in men.

It has been shown that women with even mildly elevated blood pressure were twice as likely to have serious midlife heart issues.

What May Cause These Differences?

One theory is that women’s small arteries are more strongly impacted than men’s by higher blood pressure. Beginning in their 30s, women may experience a sharp increase in blood pressure. Due to the fact high blood pressure thresholds are not different for each sex, the elevation is far more for women by the time they reach the threshold. Women’s bodies are being negatively impacted by their elevated blood pressures well before they’re considered “too high” medically speaking. This is something some professionals are saying needs to be changed to help women keep healthy as long as possible. Take heart health seriously.

This article was originally published on DrLoriGore-Green.com

Choosing the Right Birth Control for You

Many people yearn to have children. However, for some people, having kids may not be in their plans right now. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to prevent pregnancy and stay child-free. While choosing a method may seem challenging, there are birth control methods that work well for many individuals.

The birth control pill

Birth control pills are one of the most popular forms of contraception. They keep the hormones in the body consistent and prevent ovulation. The user takes three weeks of pills that consist of hormones, and one week of pills that are placebos. The individual takes one pill at the same time each day. The birth control pill can reduce acne, make periods lighter and reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers. However, the pill can slightly increase the risk of blood clots.

The birth control patch and the ring

The patch and the ring deliver the same hormones as the birth control pill. The individual places the patch on their skin and changes it each week. The ring is a flexible piece of plastic that a user inserts into their vagina and replaces each month. When an individual takes off the patch or takes out the vaginal ring for an entire week, one can expect their period to come. The patch or ring user may experience bloating, breast tenderness, or mood changes. The patch and the ring are not good methods for smokers or those who have cancer.

The shot

A birth control shot is like the birth control pill. Most go to their doctor’s office for an injection four times throughout the year for individuals who choose this option. For some users, the birth control shot may cause an individual’s period to become lighter. For others, their period may stop altogether. A birth control shot may cause bone thinning for users. However, once the individual discontinues the shot, the bone-thinning process reverses.

The intrauterine device (IUD)

An intrauterine device is a reversible, long-term method of birth control. One type of IUD is a hormone-filled plastic device. Another form of IUD is a copper version that doesn’t contain hormones. Both devices work by making it incredibly difficult for the sperm to reach the egg in one’s uterus. A physician must place this device in the uterus during an in-office appointment. This insertion can be a painful procedure for some women. An individual may also experience unpredictable bleeding for months after insertion.

The implant

A birth control implant is a tiny plastic rod that a physician places under the skin. It’s placed in the user’s upper arm and sends a consistent supply of hormones into the bloodstream to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. The implant is similar to the hormones that are in the IUD. Some users may have lighter periods, but some individuals will notice their period becomes heavier.

If an individual is not dreaming of the sound of little feet running around the house, they can schedule a consultation with their doctor and discuss the best birth control method that might work best for their life.

This article was originally published on DrLoriGore-Green.com

Pregnancy and COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, physicians could only speculate how the virus would affect at-risk patients. For many months, no one had definitive data on how pregnant women might be affected by COVID-19 or the coronavirus vaccines. According to the research journal Nature, a few facts have emerged about the relationship between pregnancy and COVID-19.

One American obstetrician, Yalda Afshar, has led the charge to gather data. She was pregnant herself when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, and that inspired her to create a registry for pregnant women to help scientists monitor the impact of the virus.

After a year of gathering data, Afshar and other scientists have determined that pregnant women are at greater risk of severe complications from COVID-19. Compared to other women their age, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 and more likely to face long-term issues from the virus. As the Centers for Disease Control have previously reported, women of color are more likely to die from pregnancy than white women, and this trend has continued, as pregnant women of color seem to be more affected by COVID-19.

The babies themselves rarely become sick from COVID-19. Lab work has shown that the virus is not often passed from mother to baby. Doctors still recommend breastfeeding, even for women who have tested positive for the virus. However, pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to deliver early, which could cause health issues for their babies.

Due to ethical concerns, no pregnant women were allowed to enroll in the clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines. While there are no data on how the vaccines might impact pregnant women, most obstetricians, and fetal-maternal specialists recommend that women discuss the vaccine with their providers. Globally, no governments have prioritized vaccine delivery to pregnant or lactating women.

Given the lack of data available, some scientists are calling for reforms to traditional research study guidelines. To these researchers, the protections that keep pregnant women from research studies are paternalistic and harmful. A handful of recent vaccine trials have included pregnant women, but the data from these trials are not yet available, and there’s no indication that overall research guidelines will be changed in the near future.

This article was originally published on DrLoriGore-Green.com

Managing the Risks of Dementia

Many older adults deal with at least some level of cognitive impairment. About 25% of people over 65 suffer from at least mild cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s disease, however, is the most prevalent form of dementia seen in older people. This disease can cause changes to the way people act, damage their memories and their thinking. It can also affect the ability of patients to communicate by making it hard for them to speak clearly.

Alzheimer’s is a terrifying thing for many people. Family members feel they’ve lost their loved ones to the disease. Research shows that Alzheimer’s disease affects neurons in the brain. They become damaged and unable to connect properly with one another. Eventually, the brain actually begins to shrink and finally atrophy.

All of this sounds very scary, but the good news is that researchers have uncovered ways to prevent the onset of dementia. Many of these are simple tips that are already recommended for general health. It turns out that things like general health and heart health are closely related to brain health. For example, when blood pressure becomes too high, it increases the risk of vascular dementia. Similarly, high levels of cholesterol can also impact the development of dementia. Physical exercise helps prevent both dementia and heart disease.

Some key advice for long-term brain health includes not smoking. Smokers are at an increased risk of developing dementia. Thankfully, quitting reduces the risk to almost the same level as people who have never smoked. Moderating the amount of alcohol one drinks is also important. Some alcohol, especially red wine, can have health benefits. Drinking to excess can increase the risk, too.

Other recommendations are less intuitive and deal more with perceptions and relationships. For example, some researchers believe that hearing loss can contribute to the development of dementia. The loss of auditory input can separate people from much of the world. They advocate for hearing aids and even say they may help people maintain their memories.

Social interactions with friends and family are also important. Loneliness, an emotional state, has a surprising impact on health. Sleep problems seem to be linked to cognitive decline, too. Treating such issues in middle age may be important for long-term cognitive health.      

Mental Health Support for Women of Color

A stigma surrounds the idea of mental health in many black communities. People of color are often ashamed to consider their own mental health needs as important, and this stigma is both deep and enduring. Black women struggle even harder with it.

The stigma could be cultural in nature. Black people in America endured centuries of slavery. Even after they were technically freed as a people, they were still oppressed culturally and economically, the vestiges of which are still prevalent for many people of color even today.

When survival was all that mattered for so long, dismissing mental health is bound to happen. Yet, for all the struggles and discrimination blacks face these days, mental health is something that deserves attention, precisely because it’s so hard being a person of color in the modern United States.

Black women are expected to be resilient, displaying strength in all situations. While such a mindset can offer protective benefits for themselves and their families, it’s also a belief system that can eventually generate psychological distress. Many black women feel compelled to suppress their feelings. In fact, asking for help is viewed by many as a sign of weakness. Still, anyone, of any race, who suppresses their feelings long enough will have a breakdown of sorts.

Part of the stigma about mental health among black women is likely due to how mental health research in the country is ‘whitewashed.’ Professional studies tend to focus on white experiences. In fact, over 80 percent of all members of the psychology workforce are white, and only 3 percent black. Psychologists and therapists simply can’t connect to people based on shared cultural experiences, and the risk of misdiagnosis is real.

The recent pandemic has certainly brought this issue to the forefront. Black women were already enduring many forms of emotional trauma from childhood up before all this, but the events of the global crisis have impacted them just as hard as everyone else. The need for mental health resources is greater than ever.

Fortunately, the pandemic might have also created solutions. The need for sound mental health and its importance is an ongoing message in the world of social media. Also, a number of online resources using virtual visits now make remote mental health help possible for anyone online. 

The Connection Between Gender and Medical Debt 

March 24, 2021 by Dr. Lori Gore-Green (Edit)

 The current economic situation in the United States caused by the Coronavirus pandemic’s effects makes access to quality health care difficult for most women, leading to enormous debts. The medical issues can range from inability to pay for emergency medical charges to the gradual pileup of a debt that can lead to bankruptcy and debtors’ collections. If the government fails to intervene, this issue could escalate to an extent where female patients would feel overburdened.

 According to a survey done last year, half of the women in the U.S. shared concern that it could render them bankrupt in the event of a significant health situation compared to a similar survey done in 2019 where only 47% were concerned. By February of this year, the percentage shot to 73%. The reason behind this is that health insurance covers have significantly been reduced, and the insurance premiums, coinsurance, and deductibles that consumers pay directly from their pockets have risen in recent years. The result is that even with an excellent insurance cover, women can still get large bills in the sudden event of an accident or illness, regardless of whether they receive their health insurance through the government or from the employer. It is not a surprise that women who do not have insurance have immense medical debts. 

 The wage difference between women and men could also be a reason for this vast debt gap. A survey conducted recently shows that women earn 80-82 cents for every dollar earned by men. When the covid-19 pandemic started to hit America, many women lost their jobs and health insurance. A report done in December 2020 showed that women accounted for the 140000 jobs lost. A similar report by the National Women’s Law Center indicated that about 5.4 million of the 9.8 million jobs lost in 2020 were women.

 Black and Latina women working in the restaurants, retail, and other hospitality sectors were laid off when most businesses were locked down and closed due to the covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has caused alarm to most Americans who fear getting medical treatment to avoid huge medical bills. Evidence shows that medical debt has increased sharply during the pandemic. A recent survey showed that most individuals would not visit a healthcare institution for even diagnosis.

Living Well With Menopause

 During the years leading up to and shortly after menopause, women experience hormonal fluctuations that impact their physical and emotional health. While some women hardly notice the changes, others are plagued with mood swings, hot flashes, and disrupted sleep that makes life more challenging. Living well with menopause is as simple as finding the coping strategies that work for each woman’s individual needs.

 Find Ways to Manage Hot Flashes

 Feeling the heat creeping up their neck can make women wonder if everyone else notices their rising temperature. Hot flashes can occur multiple times a day, but they tend only to last a few minutes. Women can dress in layers to have more control over their body temperature. It is also essential to drink water to keep their bodies hydrated.

 Take Steps to Address Vaginal Dryness and Incontinence

 Changes in a woman’s sexual health can be especially challenging to deal with during menopause. Vaginal dryness doesn’t have to disrupt a woman’s relationships. Instead, women can use lubricants to overcome this common issue. Women may also take oral supplements of vitamin E or flaxseed oil to encourage their body to produce more moisture. There are many treatment options available today for women with incontinence, and doing Kegel exercises is an excellent place to start with strengthening weakened muscles.

 Make Stress-Reduction a Priority

 This tends to be an emotional time for women. Not only is dealing with the physical symptoms demanding on a woman’s time and patience, but some women might also be grappling with accepting their new stage in life. Some women might grieve no longer being able to conceive having children or losing their former physical appearance. Finding ways to manage stress helps them to maintain a more positive mindset. Women can prioritize relaxation by starting a meditation practice or journaling about their experiences. Practicing good sleep hygiene can help them to reduce the effects of insomnia on their mental alertness.

 While menopause may bring many changes to a woman’s health, there is a solution for every problem. Identifying ways to cope puts women in control over their health, making it easier for them to manage this significant transition. Being able to emerge on the other side of the menopausal process more substantial and more confident is a goal that every woman can achieve with proper self-care.