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What to expect at your first pregnancy appointment

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Congratulations on your pregnancy! If you’re a first time mom-to-be, you’ll likely be filled of both questions and excitement. After you’ve celebrated your good news, your next to-do item is a trip to your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) or Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). It’s a good idea to meet with your provider regularly throughout your pregnancy, and it’s best if your first appointment takes place soon after you suspect you’re pregnant or take an at-home pregnancy test.

At your first appointment, your health care provider will confirm your pregnancy and then do an examination, much like your typical physical, to assess your general health. Your weight and blood pressure will be recorded, and your provider will check your heart, lungs, belly and breasts. You’ll also receive a pelvic exam, which includes a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer and vaginal cultures to screen for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Your provider will then manually determine the size of your uterus and pelvis while simultaneously checking for any abnormalities of your uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Everyday factors that could affect your pregnancy, such as high blood pressure or infections, should be identified right away and addressed immediately.

At your first visit, they will also go over your health history and your family’s medical history to determine if there are any risk factors that could affect your pregnancy. These risk factors could include your age, any existing or previous health conditions you may have and any genetic illnesses that may be present in your family. Your provider will also ask about any previous surgeries or exposure to contagious diseases, and they will ask about any medications—prescription or over-the-counter—that you take or have taken in the past. Continue Reading »

What to expect at an ultrasound appointment

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Most of us have seen the pictures that result: sepia or black and white, tiny fingers and curled legs—babies sure are fascinating to see through ultrasounds! Ultrasounds have become a typical part of modern pregnancy and prenatal care, and provide important insight into your baby’s development. Health care providers recommend that all pregnant women receive an ultrasound at least once, usually between the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy. If other medical issues are present, ultrasounds are sometimes needed at other points during pregnancy as well.

Early in pregnancy
If your provider did not confirm your pregnancy with a Doppler heartbeat monitor, your first ultrasound will confirm your baby’s heartbeat and that your pregnancy is uterine. If your pregnancy appears to be ectopic or tubular, it is best to find this out immediately so that your can discuss your and your baby’s health with your provider.

If you’ve never received an ultrasound before, be prepared to be a little chilly and a little slimey. A standard transabdominal ultrasound starts with a cool gel that is rubbed onto your lower belly (over your uterus). The ultrasound technician then rubs a transducer wand, which emits sound waves, over the area. The gel conducts the sound waves, which bounce off of the contours of your baby to produce the image you’ll see on-screen. That image, or sonogram, will be the first picture you have of your baby! It also allows the technician to take the baby’s measurements, to be compared at later ultrasounds. If it is very early in the pregnancy, the technician may perform a transvaginal (internal) ultrasound, which uses the transducer wand to scan the uterus from the vaginal cavity in order to detect the baby more clearly or earlier than would be possible with a transabdominal ultrasound.  Continue Reading »

Where to find affordable wigs, turbans and headscarves for chemo patients

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You may have just been told the news that no one wants to hear—you have cancer. You may feel frightened and wonder what lies ahead for you. You will need the support of your family, friends and community as you make decisions about your care and treatment process. If it is recommended that you will need chemotherapy, chances are that you are going to experience hair loss. If you are going to lose your hair during treatment, there are plenty of resources available to you for head coverings.

Some health insurance companies cover the cost of a wig or other headwear for cancer treatment patients, but if yours does not there are other options. Calumet Medical Center provides free wigs, turbans and headscarves for our chemotherapy patients; you can stop by Calumet Medical Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to try them on. St. Elizabeth Hospital and Mercy Medical Center also have cancer navigators that are available to help in the search of wigs or anything else that you may need throughout your journey. These resources are just a phone call away, and the staff is both friendly and knowledgeable about the process.

There are several websites that offer help finding affordable head covers, such as The American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org, or Tender Loving Care at www.tlcdirect.org. If you choose a wig, many of the salons in the area will cut and style your wig at no cost.

If you enjoy the outdoors, wigs, hats, turbans or scarves are important for protecting your head from sun exposure, especially in these hot summer months. How you look is certainly not as important as how you feel, but everyone deserves to feel confident and dignified, no matter what their health status is.

Cancer is the toughest fight many of us will ever face, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Calumet Medical Center has a cancer support group called C.A.R.E.S—Cancer Awareness, Resources, Education and Support Group. We meet the fourth Tuesday of each month. Call (800) 450-4042 ext. 2406 for more information.

FAQs on what to do when you want to stop breastfeeding

breastfeedingWhen a mother decides she wants to stop breastfeeding, a lot of questions will run through her head. As a lactation consultant, it’s my job to answer them. Here are some of the questions I get asked on a daily basis:

1. How do I go about stopping breastfeeding? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages mothers to breastfeed for a full year, or when mother and baby mutually desire it. When it is time to wean, the best approach is to do so gradually. This makes the transition away from breastfeeding easier for all. Gradually dropping one breastfeeding session at a time (drop one every few days) is the general idea behind gradual weaning. Replace the dropped breastfeeding sessions with bottles. After a few days, your body will gradually become used to making less milk and when it has adjusted, then it is time to drop another breastfeeding session. Continue Reading »

Facts about depression

depressionEveryone has a bad day or a case of the blues once in a while, but when “the blues” result in experiencing little or no joy in your daily life, it may be an indication of something more serious. Chronic sadness or depression is something that lingers for quite some time and is difficult to shake off if untreated.

Here are some facts about depression that you may not know:

  • Depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide
  • Women suffer from depression twice as often as men
  • Many people suffer with depression but do not seek help
  • Depression is treatable Continue Reading »

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