You noticed those two pink strips very distinctly this time. You are pregnant! This can be an exciting and emotional moment in a couple’s life. Finding out you are going to be parents is a thrilling experience and it’s important that the moment you find out you are pregnant that you have the proper medical care and support you and your growing baby need to stay healthy. This is why you should turn to an obstetrician.
An obstetrician, often referred to as an OBGYN (obstetrician and gynecologist), is a doctor who specializes in providing care for women during pregnancy and childbirth. Choosing an obstetrician is just as important as choosing any other medical professional. You want someone who is by your side not just providing you with comprehensive medical care but also really understands your personal needs and expectations. Choosing an obstetrician is a very personal choice and one to take seriously.
It’s important that you start visiting your obstetrician as early as possible in your pregnancy. The first appointment will confirm the pregnancy and determine your due date. Blood and urine tests, a pelvic exam, and a physical will be performed during your first visit to check your health and to detect any health problems.
The visit is also a great moment for the parents-to-be to ask any questions they might have regarding diet, exercise, supplements, traveling, etc. Bring your questions along with you so you don’t forget.
After your first visit, you’ll come back about once a month for the first 28 weeks of your pregnancy. Of course, if we determine that you are a high-risk pregnancy, we may need you to come in more regularly. These monthly appointments will allow us to monitor your health and baby’s progress, check for any genetic disorders early on and make sure everything is going smoothly. We will also perform ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy to check the baby’s health and development.
Once you reach the 28-week marker, you’ll come in about every two weeks for visits until you reach 36 weeks. At 36 weeks, you’ll come in weekly until your baby is born.
An obstetrician is here for your growing family every step of the way and can provide comprehensive care, answer your questions, and also offer support whenever you need it. We can also talk with you about your labor and delivery options.
As you might imagine, women’s bones are smaller than men’s, which puts women at a risk for developing osteoporosis, a chronic condition that causes a loss of bone density and can leave women prone to fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 80 percent of Americans with osteoporosis are women and half of women over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Why does osteoporosis mostly affect women? During childbearing years, your body produces estrogen, a hormone that is not only implemental in your reproductive and sexual health but also serves to protect your bones; however, as women approach menopause their estrogen production decreases drastically, which makes women prone to fractured and broken bones.
Fortunately, your gynecologist and women’s health team are instrumental in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis. Bone density is influenced by many factors including hormone levels, lifestyle, nutrition, medications, health problems, and genetics. Common risk factors include:
- Family history
- History of broken bones/fractures
- Poor nutrition
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Lack of calcium or other vitamins in your diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Low body mass index (BMI) and weight
The good news about osteoporosis is that it can be prevented through proper screenings and medications/therapies used to slow the progress of osteoporosis. Your initial screening will provide the information you need to help you and your gynecological team make an informed decision about the type of treatment options available to you. An X-ray is the most common diagnostic tool for checking the density level of your bones.
Getting an osteoporosis screening is highly recommended for all postmenopausal women (women 65 years old or older). If a woman is at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, she may want to consider getting screened even earlier.
Osteoporosis treatment will include lifestyle changes along with medications/treatments. Simple everyday measures you can take to lessen your chances of bone fractures include:
- Making sure you get enough Vitamin D and calcium in your diet
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly (include both cardio and strength training)
- Quit smoking
There are also a variety of different prescription medications on the market (also known as bisphosphonates) that can aid in preventing bone loss. Along with medications, your gynecologist may also recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which will supply your body with the estrogen it needs to both prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Find out what screenings are available to check for HPV and HPV-related disease.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that affects millions of Americans most often during the late teen years and early 20s. With the rise of HPV infections over the years it’s now more important than every for women to get routine screenings to check for HPV-related diseases such as cervical cancer. This is yet another reason why young women should visit their OBGYN at least once a year for routine checkups.
What are the symptoms of HPV?
Some types of HPV cause genital warts, a cluster of small bumps that appear in the genital area. They often appear weeks or months after being exposed to the virus. Genital warts may go away on their own without treatment or they may get worse; however, genital warts aren’t usually cancerous.
Unfortunately, most people will never know that they HPV because the viral infection usually does not cause symptoms. The body will often just shed the infection after a couple of years; however, there are certain HPV infections that can affect the cells and lead to cervical cancer.
What goes into getting an HPV screening?
There are two types of tests that your gynecologist can perform during your next visit to look for warning signs of HPV. The most common test is a Pap smear, which involves collecting cells from the cervix to check for changes or abnormalities. If pre-cancerous lesions are present or if cervical cancer is found early enough, treatment is very successful.
A Pap smear is performed right in your gynecologist’s office and it only takes a couple of minutes to collect the cells necessary for analysis. It’s important that you talk with your gynecologist about getting a cervical cancer screening and how often you should get screened. Women who’ve had abnormal Pap smear results in the past may need to be screened more regularly than women who’ve never had abnormal results. Your age will also dictate how often you should be screened.
HPV co-testing can be performed at the same time as the Pap smear. The only difference is that when the cells are collected the test will check for the presence of the virus rather than detecting changes in the cervical cells.
What does the HPV vaccine protect against?
According to the CDC, approximately 32,500 men and women are diagnosed with HPV-related cancers. By getting the HPV vaccine you could prevent cancer from happening to you. This vaccine could also prevent the need for HPV testing every year. Since it can be difficult to screen for certain cancers caused by HPV (particularly cancer of the rectum or throat), getting vaccinated could protect your teenager from these cancers in the future.
Do you have questions about getting the HPV vaccine for you or your teenager? Need to schedule your annual gynecological checkup? If so, turn to your OBGYN today and ask whether an HPV vaccine is a good option for your health.
Do you deal with ovarian cysts often? Wondering if this is the cause of your abdominal pain?
All women will experience abdominal pain at some point during their lifetime. Most of the time it’s due to menstruation; however, there are other causes that could be to blame for your abdominal pain. When this happens it can be a bit unsettling, especially if you’ve never experienced abdominal pain before; however, your OBGYN is here to tell you whether your pain could be due to ovarian cysts.
Ovarian cysts are very common, affecting most women during their childbearing years. Most of the time they are completely harmless (it is very rare that an ovarian cyst is cancerous).
Often, ovarian cysts develop and you don’t even know they are there; however, some women experience a sharp or dull pain in the abdomen when an ovarian cyst is present. If the cyst becomes large enough it could cause the ovary to twist, which can cause sudden but intermittent pain on one side. If the cyst bursts, this can result in sudden and severe pain.
If your gynecologist suspects that your symptoms could be due to ovarian cysts the best way to diagnose these cysts is through a pelvic exam or by performing an ultrasound. The ultrasound will allow your doctor to examine the abdomen in detail to see if cysts are present.
How are ovarian cysts treated?
Most of the time your doctor will just monitor your condition and tell you to come back in if the pain gets worse or changes. Sometimes you’ll come back in for repeat imaging tests to see if the cyst has gotten larger. Most of the time these cysts will just go away on their own after a month or two.
However, if the cyst is very large or if it’s causing severe pain and other symptoms then it may need to be removed. This is something your OBGYN will discuss with you. A cystectomy is a minimally invasive surgery that is done laparoscopically, in which a small incision is made in the abdomen and performed through a very small fiber-optic instrument that boasts smaller incisions that traditional surgery and a faster recovery time.
If you are dealing with unexplained and persistent abdominal pain it’s important that you have a gynecologist you can turn to for answers. It’s always best to get a medical opinion if you are concerned about any new pain or discomfort. A doctor will be able to determine if it’s an ovarian cyst (or something else) and help you create an effective treatment plan that will manage your pain.
Congratulations! You just found out you are going to have a baby. Now what? First and foremost, it is important that you and your unborn child get the proper care you both need over the next 9 months.
Your OBGYN will be an invaluable part of your medical team, as they will be able to not only provide you with a host of good advice for a healthy pregnancy, but also they can check for health issues in both you and your unborn child that could potentially cause further and more serious complications. Turning to an OBGYN regularly is vitally important for a healthy, complication-free pregnancy.
Of course, there are also some wonderful milestones to enjoy throughout the course of your pregnancy. Here are some things to look forward to before getting to meet the new addition to your family,
Baby’s First Ultrasound
Once you find out you’re pregnant, it’s important that you visit your OBGYN to confirm the pregnancy, determine your due date and to schedule your very first ultrasound. This first ultrasound can occur as early as between 6 weeks and 9 weeks and it allows your obstetrician to check your baby’s size and heart rate, while also checking the health of the placenta and umbilical cord. This is an exciting moment for parents, as they often get to hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
The End of the First Trimester
We know that saying goodbye to the first trimester is high on most pregnant women’s lists. This is because most miscarriages occur during the first trimester. This is usually around the time that expectant mothers want to announce their pregnancy to family members and friends. Plus, if you were fighting terrible morning sickness during your first trimester you may be relieved to hear that a lot of these symptoms may lessen or go away completely once you reach the second trimester.
Feeling Your Baby Kick
Most expectant mothers can’t even describe how incredible it is to experience their baby kicking for the first time. Your baby’s kick may feel more like a flutter or tickle while other women may feel a nudging sensation. At some point, you may even see an indent of an arm or leg as your stomach expands and the baby grows.
Your Child’s Gender Reveal
While some parents don’t want to know whether they are having a boy or girl until that moment in the delivery room, some couples can’t wait to find out and share the news. In fact, gender reveal parties have become a popular trend today and once you find out whether you are having a little boy or girl you may just feel that exciting urge to start decorating the baby room.
Your Due Date
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for: your baby’s expected birth date. While most babies won’t show up right on schedule, you may be experiencing some warning signs that labor is soon on the way and you’ll soon get to welcome your baby into the world.
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