Will Having Shingles Effect My Pregnancy?

pregpicAlmost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles. Shingles is the term used for a skin rash that is caused by the herpes-zoster (varicella) virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. In some cases it can reactivate and cause shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox may develop shingles, including pregnant women and even children.

As a new or expecting mother there are a lot of concerns for staying as healthy as you can for you and your baby during pregnancy. Although you can’t give anybody shingles, you can pass the virus on as chickenpox. Whereas shingles is harmless in pregnancy, chickenpox can cause problems for an unborn baby. For this reason, stay away from other pregnant women while you have shingles.

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant:

  • First, get a blood test to find out if you’re immune to chickenpox. If you’re not immune, you can get a vaccine. It’s best to wait 1 month after the vaccine before getting pregnant.
  • If you’re already pregnant, don’t get the vaccine until after you give birth. In the meantime, avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox or shingles.
  • If you’re not immune to chickenpox and you come into contact with someone who has it, tell your doctor right away. Your doctor can treat you with medicine that has chickenpox antibodies.
  • Tell your doctor if you come in contact with a person who has shingles. Your doctor may want to treat you with an antiviral medication. Antiviral medication will shorten the length of time that the symptoms will be present.

There isn’t a cure for shingles but a physician will usually prescribe medications to make the symptoms less intense. If you have questions about shingles send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org

To learn more about prenatal treatments please call the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, 718-670-8994.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Why is the cesarean rate so high, and how can I increase my chance of a natural birth?

Woman in the operating room before a delivery

In the field of obstetrics and gynecology, there is no more debatable topic than the increased rate of cesarean (C-section) deliveries. The C-section rate is the percentage of all births that take place surgically, whereby a baby is delivered via an incision on the abdomen. Over the last few decades, this rate has increased tremendously. Up to the 1970’s, the rate of cesarean in the U.S. was less than 5% but in the subsequent few years, it climbed to 33%.

While the cesarean delivery has become a safer operation than it used to be, it is still a major abdominal surgery which should be avoided when a vaginal delivery is an option for both baby and mother. Sadly, rates of complications such as cerebral palsy have not decreased much despite the 600% increase of cesarean deliveries in the last three decades. So why then, has the cesarean rate climbed so much?

There are several factors explaining the increase the cesarean rates and there is no single answer. because so much has changed in the last two of three decades, in terms of medical, social and legal aspects. Let’s look at a few factors:

  • Breech babies: Few doctors deliver breech babies vaginally because recent studies suggested that C-section births are less risky for them.
  • Fewer patients attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean): Women with a previous C-section are either not interested or not encouraged in having a vaginal birth after cesarean. There are risks involved in attempting a VBAC, but very often, they can be minimized by close fetal surveillance in labor.
  • Less patience for prolonged labor: Although 24-48 hour labors are often ultimately rewarded by a natural birth, many women prefer to have a cesarean now as opposed to waiting several more hours for a possible natural birth. Sometimes, it’s best to let nature do its work and wait, but physicians and women are often impatient, not tolerant of long (but natural) labor.
  • C-section delivery has become a much safer operation than it used to be decades ago: Long-term complications or serious short- term complications remain rare. This is mainly attributed to proper use of antibiotics, better and safer anesthesia techniques, and safe blood banking.
  • Women wait longer to have children: Increasing age is linked to a higher risk of developing complications such as high blood pressure, placenta previa and diabetes, just to name a few. These conditions increase the risk of cesarean.
  • More multiple births: The rates of twins and triplets have increased by 200-300%. 3-5% of all pregnancies are now twins (or triplets) as opposed to 1% years ago. These high risk pregnancies are associated with a much higher risk of cesarean. The majority of twin pregnancies and nearly all triplets are born via cesarean.
  • Cesarean delivery on maternal request: Some women feel that women should be entitled to make decisions about their body, and about how they want to deliver and at times, women ask for a cesarean delivery In the absence of a medical indication.,

The WHO (World Health Organization) has been advocating since 1985 to reduce the C-section to10-15 percent since 1985. Here are some tips for women who want to achieve this goal and reduce their chances of having a C-section.

  • Don’t be tempted to have a “scheduled” induction: while sometimes, labor inductions are medically necessary to prevent an adverse maternal or fetal outcome, many physicians and patients are tempted to “schedule” a delivery at a set time, without a medical reason.
  • If your baby is breech (babys bottom is down instead of the head): attempt an external version. A simple procedure called External Cephalic Version may turn the baby from breech position to head down, simply by turning the baby externally, by an experiences obstetrician.
  • Be patient. Labors can be long, sometimes very long, so be prepared for it and be patient. Bring a good book, movies, music and try to rest when you can (this is especially possible when you have a well working epidural).
  • Bring a coach: Having a supportive person during your labor (your spouse, your mother or a trained labor coach, called a Doula) has been shown to decrease the risk of cesarean and also to improve your perception of labor. They will keep you distracted during the often very long process.
  • Good life habits: women who are physically fit and are within their ideal body weight are less likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure and excessively large babies during their pregnancy. So if you have healthy life habits, keep up with them! There is no reason to stop exercising during your pregnancy.
  • Don’t eat excessively: your baby is a magnet for the calories you ingest, so there’s no reason to eat excessively to feed your baby. Don’t believe your mother, aunts or anyone else who force you to eat in order to have a big baby and tell you that “a big baby is healthier”. It simply isn’t true. Six pounds babies are just as healthy as a ten pound ones.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

OB/GYN or Midwife: Which Is Right For You?

Midwife, mother and newborn baby

When you decide to try to conceive, it is important to start looking for a practitioner to care for you during pregnancy and the birth of your baby. Deciding between an OB/GYN doctor and Midwife depends on what kind of experience you want, where you plan to give birth, what your insurance covers and the risk level of your pregnancy. Here are a few factors to consider in making your decision:

  1. If you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure, epilepsy, heart disease, or diabetes, or had certain serious complications in a previous pregnancy, your pregnancy will probably be considered high risk. In this case, you will need to see an obstetrician who will monitor your body as it adapts to pregnancy along with monitoring the development of your baby.
  2. If you’re looking for a practitioner who is more likely to take a holistic approach to your care – and to see birth as a normal process, intervening only when necessary and not routinely – you may prefer a midwife.
  3. If you have no health problems or pregnancy complications and you have your heart set on giving birth in a birth center or at home, you’ll want to find a midwife who practices in these settings. In the event you want the option for an epidural, or are anxious about any possible complications then you’ll want to be in a hospital. For a hospital birth, you can choose an ob-gyn, a family physician, or a certified nurse-midwife as your primary caregiver.

Obstetricians are by far the most chosen option for expecting mothers in the United States, although certified nurse-midwives are becoming more popular. Some women choose practices that have both ob-gyns and midwives. The most important thing to consider when choosing a delivery option is your comfort.

Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has a full program to provide total health care to women. For more information about the many services offered by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-8994.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Baby with cleft before and after surgery

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Among the most common birth defects is cleft lip. Cleft lip is a birth defect that occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly in the womb. Collectively, these birth defects commonly are called “orofacial clefts”.

The lip forms between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. A cleft lip develops if the lip tissue does not join completely before birth, resulting in an opening of the upper lip. The opening in the lip varies in size from a small slit or a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose.

The causes of orofacial clefts among most infants are unknown. However, they are thought to be caused by a combination of genetics or other factors, such as things the mother comes in contact with in her environment, or what the mother eats or drinks, or certain medications she uses during pregnancy. Recently the Center for Disease Control reported findings from research studies about risk factors that increase the chance of infant orofacial cleft:

  • Smoking―Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with an orofacial cleft than women who do not smoke
  • Diabetes―Women with diabetes diagnosed before pregnancy have an increased risk of having a child with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared to women who did not have diabetes
  • Use of certain medicines―Women who used certain medicines to treat epilepsy during the first trimester (the first 3 months) of pregnancy are at greater risk

Orofacial clefts, especially cleft lip with or without cleft palate, can be diagnosed during pregnancy during a routine ultrasound. Services and treatment for children with orofacial clefts can vary depending on:

  • The severity of the cleft
  • The child’s age and needs
  • The presence of associated syndromes
  • Other birth defects

Surgery to repair a cleft lip usually occurs in the first few months of life and is recommended within the first 12 months of life. Children born with orofacial clefts might need other types of treatments and services, such as special dental or orthodontic care or speech therapy.

If you are an expecting mother in need of a doctor, Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Obstetrics offers a wide variety of services to expectant mothers. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-670-8994.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Pregnancy and Cleaning: What are the Dangers?

Many expecting moms develop a nesting instinct; and uncontrollable urge to clean their home in preparation of their new baby’s arrival. Flushing Hospital wants moms to know that while tackling most chores is totally safe, there are some tasks that may pose a risk to your health and the health of your baby.

cleaning products, household chores and pregnancy

• Moving heavy furniture when you’re pregnant can be dangerous. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your connective tissue and ligaments looser, which increases the risk of muscle strains and injury. In addition, your center of gravity can shift as your pregnancy progresses which can throw off your balance. These changes make lifting more challenging, further raising your chance of injury. Your best bet is to let someone else do the moving.

• Changing your cat’s litter box can lead to a condition known as toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be transmitted through infected cat poop. If you’ve never had toxoplasmosis before, you could possibly become infected while pregnant and pass the illness on to your baby. Toxoplasmosis can cause flu-like symptoms in adults, but in a baby during the early stages of pregnancy it can cause serious birth defects such as eye and brain damage.

• While there is still a debate about the effects paint can have on pregnant women and their babies, it’s generally considered a good idea to limit your exposure to paint and paint fumes while pregnant. Most paint contains solvents that can cause health problems when inhaled too much. Having a room in your home painted is probably not a high risk for you or your baby, but if painting needs to be done, have someone else do it and make sure there is good ventilation to avoid inhaling paint fumes.

• It’s not ideal to use ant and roach spray during pregnancy. The low exposure of occasional use is unlikely to pose a risk, but some studies have indicated there may be a link between exposure to these products and child development problems. While these studies are inconclusive, it’s probably best to play it safe and minimize use. Instead of using sprays, it is recommended to use baits or other products that are not likely to be inhaled.

With all other cleaning products, it is best to practice safe use. Wear gloves and other protective clothing to protect your skin from exposure and use a mask to prevent inhaling unnecessary chemicals. Attempt to open windows or use a fan to ventilate the area you are cleaning and always read manufacturer’s labels before using a cleaning product. If you are unsure about a household cleaning product, speak with your doctor first before using.

Flushing Hospital’s Women’s Health Center has an expert team of doctors and nurses to guide you through every step of your pregnancy. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-670-8992.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Top 5 Women’s Health Issues

hypertension-87650188Do you know which health conditions pose the biggest threat to American women? The good news is that many of the leading threats to women’s health, which can vary based on a woman’s age and background, are preventable. Find out which conditions to be aware of to maximize your health today.

  1. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. Luckily, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to ward off heart disease, such as not smoking, following a heart-smart diet, and being physically active.

 

  1. Stroke poses a significant risk to women’s health in the United States. Almost 55,000 women suffer from stroke each year, and about 60 percent of overall stroke deaths occur among women.

 

  1. Two of the most common cancers affecting women are breast and cervical cancers. Early detection is the key to keeping women alive and healthy. The most recent figures show that around half a million women die from cervical cancer and half a million from breast cancer each year.

 

  1. Sexually transmitted diseases are responsible for one third of health issues for women between the ages of 15 and 44 years. Unsafe sex is a major risk factor – particularly among women and girls in developing countries.

 

  1. Depression is the most common mental health problem for women and suicide a leading cause of death for women under 60. Evidence suggests that women are more prone than men to experience anxiety, depression, and somatic complaints – physical symptoms that cannot be explained medically.

 

The first step to staying healthy is educating yourself, and then taking the necessary precautions to reduce your risk. While you can’t eliminate risk factors such as family history, you can control many other risk factors for heart disease, stroke and cancer. Also be sure to consult your doctor about when you should have mammograms and other cancer screenings. The Outpatient Mental Health Division at Flushing Hospital Medical Center has an experienced and friendly staff readily available to assist you. To make an appointment please call, 718-670-5562. If you are experiencing stroke or heart disease symptoms please refer to the Ambulatory Care Center at Flushing Hospital. To make an appointment, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Preeclampsia Awareness Month

pregnancy healthPreeclampsia Awareness Month is a nationally recognized health observance that presents an opportunity to offer education to help increase awareness of this life-threatening disorder.

Preeclampsia occurs in eight percent of all pregnancies.  Formerly called toxemia, preeclampsia is a condition that is marked by high blood pressure in pregnant women that have previously not experienced high blood pressure. Symptoms of preeclampsia include high levels of protein are found in their urine and they may have swelling in the feet, legs and hands.  Preeclampsia appears late in the pregnancy, generally after the 20 week mark, although, in some cases, it can appear earlier.

If left undiagnosed and untreated, preeclampsia can become a more serious condition called eclampsia, which can put the expectant mother and baby at risk.

There is no cure for preeclampsia, but when it is caught in its early stages, it is easier to manage.

If you are pregnant and would like to make an appointment at our Women’s Health Center, call 718-670-5486.

For more hospital events, highlights, health and  fitness tips, visit us on 

Facebook.com/JamaicaHospital  or Facebook.com/Flushing Hospital 

and follow us on Twitter @JamaicaHospital or @FHMC_NYC

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Preeclampsia Awareness Month

pregpic

Preeclampsia Awareness Month is a nationally recognized health observance that presents an opportunity to offer education to help increase awareness of this life-threatening disorder.

Preeclampsia occurs in eight percent of all pregnancies.  Formerly called toxemia, preeclampsia is a condition that is marked by high blood pressure in pregnant women that have previously not experienced high blood pressure.  Symptoms of preeclampsia include high levels of protein found in their urine and they may have swelling in the feet, legs and hands.  Preeclampsia appears late in the pregnancy, generally after the 20 week mark, although, in some cases, it can appear earlier.

If left undiagnosed and untreated, preeclampsia can become a more serious condition called eclampsia, which can put the expectant mother and baby at risk.

There is no cure for preeclampsia, but when it is caught in its early stages, it is easier to manage.

If you are pregnant and would like to make an appointment at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Women’s Health Center, call 718-670-5486, for an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Skin Changes During Pregnancy: What to Expect

470822057 pregnant womanDuring pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes a complete transformation. Many of these changes are due to hormonal shifts and altered blood flow. Women may experience several changes in their skin.

Often, changes in pigmentation are among the most pronounced skin changes during pregnancy. Dark patches may begin to appear on a woman’s face, particularly along the cheekbone, forehead, nose, chin, and upper lip. This is known a chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy. This occurs because estrogen and other hormones stimulate glands that produce more pigment, but since the pigment is not produced evenly, it results in a blotchy look. While chloasma is not preventable, the effects can be minimized by avoiding exposure to the sun or using sunblock.

Many women also develop acne during pregnancy. This is due to hormonal changes, but is usually not as severe as during adolescence. To combat pimples, simply wash your face with a mild, oil-free cleanser multiple times a day. Avoid abrasive scrubs and exfoliants because your skin during pregnancy is often more sensitive. Check with your physician before using ante-acne prescription medications.

Other skin conditions that women experience during pregnancy include stretch marks, heat rash, spider veins, and the development of a reddish hue to the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, known as palmer erythema.

Regardless of the issue, skin conditions during pregnancy will improve or resolve within weeks or months after your baby is born.

To minimize adverse skin conditions during pregnancy, try following the “pregnancy diet”, a diet that offers women just the right balance of nutrients during pregnancy. Other suggestions include drinking plenty of water and only using “noncomedogenic” and unscented makeup and skin care products. A supplement of B6 might also be helpful for someone with severe skin issues.

For more information about changes to your skin during pregnancy, speak to your obstetrician. If you do not have one, you can make an appointment at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling 718-670-5486.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

A Healthy Pregnancy over 35

over35pregnant481003531More and more women are waiting to have families well into their late 30’s and beyond. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five women now wait until they’re 35 or older to have their first child. There may be some risks involved with a pregnancy conceived later in life, but a healthy lifestyle, along with regular visits to your Ob-Gyn can create a healthy pregnancy.

Oftentimes, women worry more about the risks of pregnancy at a later age than conception itself. While a woman’s fertility does decrease after the age of 30, certain risk factors associated with pregnancy do increase including:
• Higher risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure
• Greater risk of chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome
• Miscarriages and still birth
• Low birth weight

A pregnancy should be happy and welcomed news and planning should be no different. Increased risk factors and statistics should not be discouraging news. Often, statistics do not account for life style choices or pre-existing conditions. Here are a few tips to help you take the necessary steps toward a healthy pregnancy later in life:
• Schedule an appointment with your Ob-Gyn for a visit. Be very honest with your practitioner about any existing health conditions.
• Your Doctor may recommend additional testing such as genetic testing and counseling or sonograms.
• Begin taking pre-natal vitamin. Since folic-acid is important for prevention of birth defects, taking folic acid can add an important level of protection for older women.
• Exercise regularly; eat a well-balanced diet to maintain your weight. Gaining the appropriate amount of weight lessens the chance of your baby growing slowly and reduces the risk of preterm birth.
• Avoid smoking and drinking.

If you are interested in pre-pregnancy and fertility counseling, contact Flushing Hospital Women’s Health Center at 718-670-8994 to make an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.