Why It’s Important for Pregnant Women to Have a Flu Shot

Cooler weather, the falling of leaves and an increase in coughs and sneezes are all signs that the dreaded flu season is here once again. Flu season in the United States runs between October and May, and new strains of the influenza virus appear every year, meaning vaccinations should be repeated annually.

If you’re pregnant you may have wondered if you were able to get the flu shot this winter. The flu shot is safe and highly recommended for pregnant women, here’s why:

Why should pregnant women get a flu shot?

Influenza (the ‘flu’) can be very dangerous for pregnant woman as they are at greater risk of having severe complications like pneumonia which are dangerous for the mother and could, in turn, lead to an increased risk of miscarriage.

If you get vaccinated in your third trimester a flu vaccination also helps protect your baby from the flu until they are old enough to have a shot themselves at 6 months old.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all pregnant women get a flu vaccination. 

Pregnancy Women & The Flu Shot

Is it safe and are there side effects?

A flu vaccination administered with a needle has been approved for pregnant women and has been given to millions of women with good safety records.

However, the nasal spray vaccination is not recommended for pregnant women. This is because the nasal spray (FluMist) contains a live virus, and the needle vaccination does not.

Multiple studies have shown women who have a flu shot do not have an increased risk of miscarriage, while contracting influenza while pregnant would be more likely to put the mother and baby at risk.

The flu shot may have some minor side effects, which are no more likely for pregnant women or babies than they are for other individuals. Side effects may include headaches, aches, pains, or a slight fever. 

If you are prone to dizziness or fainting when having injections or seeing needles, you should tell your doctor or nurse before having your flu shot.

What is thimerosal?

Some flu vaccines contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal which is added to vaccines to prevent bacteria growth. Thimerosal has been used in vaccines for over 70 years as a preservative to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi in vaccines.

Most studies have shown the small amount of thimerosal in vaccines does not cause harm to an expecting mother or her baby and does not increase a risk of autism. 

Some people may have a rare allergy to thimerosal and may experience redness at the injection site. There is thimerosal-free flu vaccine available for people who want to avoid thimerosal.

Can breastfeeding Moms get a flu shot?

You can safely get a flu shot while breastfeeding and this will help protect both yourself and your baby. Mothers could pass the flu to their baby from breastfeeding, so a flu shot administered while breastfeeding will help protect both mother and child until the baby is old enough to have their own shot at six months old.

 More information on having the flu shot while pregnant:

To learn more about women’s health services call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.   

 

 

 

Healthy Pregnancy Weight for You and Baby

When it comes to pregnancy weight, everyone has a different experience, different fears and different expectations. It’s for these reasons, and many more, that your AOA practitioner will take the time to truly understand your lifestyle, your eating habits, and your expectations for this pregnancy. A healthy weight for your might not have been the same healthy weight as it was for your sister, or your mom, or even your grandma. Let your AOA practitioner design a healthy plan for you and your baby.

 

Dr. Oz on the Just-Right Size Baby

Recently we posted an article on our Facebook Page that got a lot of attention. It was an op-ed that Dr. Oz wrote for Fit Pregnancy magazine, and it dealt with the controversial issue of baby weight vs. the weight of the mother.

 

Dr. Oz said that “your prenatal weight gain helps forecast your baby’s size,” and yet we’ve received many responses from our AOA Facebook Family contradicting this statement. This goes to the complicated proof that everyone’s pregnancy experience is different, and the importance of seeing your AOA practitioner is paramount.

 

Dr. Oz goes on to say that pregnant women should eat only 10 percent more than the number of calories needed to maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy. While your cravings might be out of control during pregnancy, Dr. Oz suggests increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

 

What is Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain?

According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to pregnancy weight gain. As your AOA practitioner will discuss with you, overall healthy weight gain depends on a variety of factors, including your weight and body mass index before you were pregnant, any medical conditions you might have, and your lifestyle. Your AOA practitioner will also factor in whether you are carrying twins or multiples.

 

While your friends, family and mom will tell you are that you should gain no more than 35 pounds and no less than 28 pounds during pregnancy. In reality, it’s not necessarily so black and white, and no one knows that better than your AOA physician. Don’t be afraid to ask us questions about weight gain, about cravings, about which foods you should be eating and which foods you should be avoiding.

 

Speaking of Cravings

Cravings are another aspect of pregnancy, and an aspect that you should not be embarrassed about nor should you try to ignore. Many times these cravings can give your AOA physician insight into what your body might need in terms of nutrition and vitamins.

 

There are schools of thought in prenatal medicine that associate cravings with nutritional deficiencies within the body during pregnancy. Some nutritionists and OBGYN’s believe that certain cravings are meaningful; a magnesium deficiency can trigger chocolate cravings, a protein deficiency can trigger red meat cravings, etc.

 

Other OBGYN’s believe that pregnancy cravings and aversions to certain foods, even certain smells, is your body’s way of protecting your baby. It could be the reason why many pregnant women get sick, even emotional, around cigarette smoke.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, many OBGYN’s and nutritionists also believe that there is no basis for pregnancy cravings. Either way, it is important to talk to your AOA physician about these cravings and how to handle them.

 

Maintaining a healthy diet, and a healthy weight, during pregnancy shouldn’t be difficult or stressful. Make an appointment with your AOA physician to discuss what a healthy weight gain is for you, and how to achieve your pregnancy weight gain goals.

 

 

Babies and Dehydration

Keeping yourself cool and hydrated during the summer months, especially if you’re pregnant, is crucial. The same goes for your little one. No matter how old they are, kids and babies love to be outside, by the pool, in the sprinklers, even if it is 110-degrees out there. So, it’s your responsibility to keep your kids safe by keeping them cool and hydrated.

Babies and Dehydration

Dehydration, no matter what age you are, is a lack of water in the body due to heat, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. During an Arizona summer, dehydration is quite common due to the extreme heat.

Preemies are at the greatest risk for infant dehydration simply because their little bodies are more susceptible. They might not be eating enough yet, or getting enough fluids yet to be able to stay hydrated.  Babies of all ages, however, are at a greater risk for dehydration than parents because their bodies have a limited ability to retain the extra fluids needed to avoid dehydration, and most babies sweat at a much greater rate than adults. A baby’s metabolism is higher than an adults, thus they use more water and yet their kidneys are not quite advanced enough to retain and conserve the water needed to avoid dehydration.

Avoiding Dehydration

In Arizona, it’s crucial that you help your baby get enough fluids, whether it’s water, breast milk, or foods that contain a lot of water such as watermelon. Be aware of how much your baby is sweating as a barometer of how hot or hydrated he or she might be. Be aware of how hot and uncomfortable you are, because if you’re hot and uncomfortable in the summer heat chances are your baby is too. Be aware of how hot the car can get, and perhaps consider having the air on for a while before getting baby into their car seat.

Babies love to be swaddled and cuddled, but consider lighter blankets, lighter clothes, or diaper only during any swaddling. Always be aware of how much sun your baby is getting, and if you’re outdoors do what you can to stay in the shade.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration in babies, just as in adults, can range from very mild to extremely severe, so be aware of the following symptoms and signs:

  • Strong-smelling Urine – If you notice this immediately began to offer more fluids into your baby’s diet.
  • Fewer Wet Diapers – This is a sign that dehydration is setting in, so be aware of how many wet diapers your baby usually has as compared to that amount during the summer months.
  • Irritability – As mentioned, if you’re hot, uncomfortable and irritable, your baby probably is too. But if you’re in a cool space and your little one is still acting irritable and uncomfortable, there could be more going on.
  • No Tears and Dry Lips
  • Gaunt-Looking Eyes – If your baby’s eyes look gaunt, call your physician.
  • Sunken Soft Spot
  • Excessive Sleepiness – You know your baby better than anyone, and if your little one is acting lethargic or more tired than normal, call your physician.

 

An Arizona summer is nothing to take lightly, especially if you’re pregnant or have a new baby in the home. Keep a close eye on their behavior, look for signs of dehydration, and give them plenty of water. If you’re not sure, call your physician.

Pregnancy – Staying Safe During an Arizona Summer

Surviving the summer while pregnant in Arizona is a feat all on its own. With temperatures rising well above 100-degrees, we are often discussing ways to stay cool and hydrated during the warm summer months. It’s rough for anyone who lives here during the summer, but to go through it pregnant is a whole different story. However, we’ve been through it year-after-year, helping expectant moms beat the heat with these tips and advice:

How to Stay Safe and Beat the Heat

  • Stay Hydrated – We really can’t stress this one enough. In the summer months, we all sweat out a great portion of the liquids that we take in. However, when you’re pregnant you have an even greater possibility of sweating more liquids than you take in, so hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Also, be sure to apply sun block frequently. It doesn’t just prevent burns but also blocks certain days that helps with hydration.  Consider Gatorade along with water to stay hydrated. It ambassadors salts that are good for replacement.
  • Stay Cool – While every summer mom will tell you that it is no fun to be pregnant during an Arizona summer, there are some perks. Relaxing by the pool is just one of those perks that you can take advantage of during the summer. In the morning or evening, when the heat is not unbearable, kick back in the pool. The water will lower your body temperature and the buoyancy will ease some of the stress on your body. The pool can also help with swelling.
  • Summer Swelling – Unfortunately, your odds of increased swelling during the summer months are much higher than any other time of the year. But there are things that you can do to help avoid too much swelling. Lie down for an hour a day. Kick your feet up and use a cold rag to keep your body temperature low. You absolutely must wear comfortable and supportive shows that are a half-size larger than your normal size. If you want to wear flip-flops, consider supportive sandals or shoes that breathe. Keep moving as well. Take walks, go for a swim, and keep the blood flowing to help reduce swelling. Don’t worry if you experience minor swelling while pregnant in the summer months, it’s completely normal. If you’re concerned, talk to your AOA provider about what can be done.
  • Errands in the Morning or Evening – Do what you can in the early morning hours or in the evening. Avoiding direct sunlight during the hottest times of the day can greatly increase your pregnancy experience in the summer months.
  • Light Clothing – Keep your clothing light and comfortable. Avoid tight-fitting clothes, as these can not only increase your body temperature but can increase swelling. To avoid chaffing, which is perfectly normal during pregnancy especially during the summer, choose maternity clothes that are made specifically for the summer months.

If you feel light-headed, dizzy, or overheated at any point during your pregnancy call us immediately. In most cases we’ll just want to make sure you’re getting enough water and staying cool. Don’t overdo it in the summer months. Take it easy, take your time, and talk to your AOA provider about any health or heat concerns you might have.

Six-Week OBGYN Appointment

At Arizona OBGYN Affiliates, we do more than you think! From birth control and breastfeeding services, to labor and delivery services, to Well Woman Care, we take care of all of your needs, including post-delivery services. While every appointment leading up to the labor and delivery is crucial, so are the post-delivery appointments. Let’s take a look at why you need postpartum checkups.

6 Week Visit

Six weeks after you give birth, we’ll want to see you back for the ‘6 Week Checkup.’ This postpartum checkup is extremely important to determine how well you’re recovering after delivery or surgery. Labor and delivery can take both an emotional toll and a physical toll on the body, so it’s important to come in and see us so that we see how the physical recovery is coming along, as well as the emotional recovery.

If you’ve had a C-Section, we’ll want to see you a week or two after delivery just to make sure things are healing up nicely at the incision site. If you had a vaginal birth, we’ll see you six weeks after delivery.

At this exam, you will receive a pelvic exam, breast exam, and might possibly run some blood work to check for anemia. This is the perfect time to talk to us about any pain or discomfort you are feeling, all of which are more than likely perfectly normal. We’ll also discuss any questions that you might have regarding your labor and delivery, as well as postpartum issues such as breastfeeding, birth control and activity restrictions.

Labor and Delivery Questions

This is the perfect time to ask any of those burning questions that still remain after your baby is born. Maybe there are some techniques that you didn’t quite understand at the time and would like clarification on. Perhaps you’re interested in the possibilities of having a vaginal birth after a C-Section. There are a myriad of questions that might be swirling around in your head after everything has calmed down, so don’t be afraid to write them down and come in with a list. We’re always happy to set your mind at ease.

Mental Health

We also want to make absolutely sure that you’re feeling at ease with your emotional health. This includes discussion how well you’re sleeping, eating and taking care of yourself. Are you getting help with the new addition? Are you able to take naps? We want to make sure that postpartum depression is not an issue, and if it is we will deal with it together.

Physical Activities

At your 6 week appointment, many times you’ll be keenly interested in what you’re allowed and not allowed to do. We will discuss this in great detail, including how much weight you are able to lift now, how much work you can take on, and if you are ready for sex or not. Based on your recovery, we will make these determinations together.

Your 6 week appointment is the next step in the process of labor and delivery recovery. Don’t stress about getting to your appointment directly on the 6 week mark, but we’ll try to make it around that time. If you haven’t made your 6 week appointment yet, or need to reschedule, please contact us today.

What’s in a Name?

The ultimate list of the most popular baby names of 2011 was released yesterday, proving how much influence TV and religion have over our ideas. At AOA, we deliver babies from every background and ethnicity, seeing hundreds upon hundreds of unique baby names, but we have to admit that these ones do seem to come up quite often.

Most Popular Baby Names

The most popular baby names of 2011 look like this:

Boys

  1. Jacob
  2. Mason
  3. William
  4. Jayden
  5. Noah
  6. Michael
  7. Ethan
  8. Alexander
  9. Aiden
  10. Daniel

Girls

  1. Sophia
  2. Isabella
  3. Emma
  4. Olivia
  5. Ava
  6. Emily
  7. Abigail
  8. Madison
  9. Mia
  10. Chloe

 

Choosing a Baby Name

For a parent, choosing the name that your child will be known by for the rest of their lives can be daunting. Of course, every parent has their secret list of baby names that they’ve always held close to their hearts, waiting for the day when they’d choose a name. But it can still be an overwhelming decision.

Many times we’ll ask you at OBYGN visits, or even on the day of delivery, if you’ve picked a name for your little on yet. But don’t worry; it’s not uncommon for parents to be ‘undecided’ on the name until the very day your child is born.

Here are some helpful tips to choosing your baby’s name:

  1. Be Aware of How Much of an Impact Society Has on Your Decision – You might have a baby name ready and waiting, something you’ve been holding on to since childhood. You’ve always pictured having a little “Jacob” or “Sophia,” but now that the list of names is out you are afraid the name will be too common. Or maybe you recently heard a name on a TV show that sounded interesting. Naming your new baby is not an instant decision, it’s a joint one and one that should take time and a great deal of thought. If you’ve held on to the same baby name since you were a kid, perhaps it was meant to be.
  2. Don’t Worry About What Others Say – This is your baby and your decision. As with everything in pregnancy, everyone will have an opinion but yours and your partners are the only ones that count.
  3. Tradition vs Uniqueness – Some parents have families steeped in tradition, and so their sons are named after great-grandfathers and their daughters carry their grandmother’s names. Other parents want to split from tradition and forge a new path for their son or daughter with a unique name. The choice is completely yours.
  4. The Story – Many parents want their child’s name to have a story behind it. For example, if you met and married in Santa Monica, California, why not Monica for your baby girl’s name?
  5. Work Together – Above all, work together to choose a name. It should not be a stressful process, it should be fun and exciting. This is one of those things that absolutely needs to be decided and agreed upon as a team.

Here at the AOA Family, we hear all kinds of baby names, so if you’re struggling don’t hesitate to toss some names our way in your next OBGYN appointment!

Breast Feeding FAQ’s

Breast feeding is always a hot point of discussion for the moms in our Facebook community. Whether it’s your first baby, or your fourth little one, just as the experience of pregnancy is never the same, neither is the experience of breast feeding. While one child may take to it instantly, the next might just not be interested. And while one experience might be smooth sailing, the next might be painful. We’ve talked to some moms over the years about all of these things, including issues with milk coming in, C-sections, and pain.

Why am I Having a Tough Time?

This is one of the most common questions that we get when a mother begins breast feeding for the first time. Everyone experiences breast feeding differently, and while many moms will tell you that it was smooth sailing, there are quite a few who struggle with it during the first week or so. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about.

If you do find that you’re struggling with breast feeding, but you have your mind set on sticking to it, take advantage of the experts around you. The nurses, OBGYN’s, and the lactation consultants are there for you, to answer all of your questions and make sure you have everything that you need before you head home. Our AOA providers will do everything that we can to make sure you are prepared and confident in everything that you do, including breast feeding, before you head home.

Patience, a positive outlook, and a little bit of resilience is sometimes needed to find a comfortable schedule for both you and your new baby and breast feeding. Don’t worry, you two will get it figured out.

When Does the Milk Come In?

In the first few days after your baby is born you will produce colostrum. Colostrum is also called ‘pre-milk’ because it contains essential properties that protect babies from their new world. Colostrum contains antibacterial and immune-system-boosting substances that are important for your new baby. If you have decided not to breast feed, your new baby can be supplemented with many essential nutrients as well through formula.

After a few days of producing colostrums, your amazing body will automatically began to create the milk that your baby will need until they’re done breast feeding. Many moms find the experience of the milk coming in rather uncomfortable, as the transition can last up to 10 days.

Relieving Pain During Breast Feeding

During the transition phase when your milk is coming in, it can help to massage the breast to help release the milk. Many mothers also use cold packs specially created for this area of the body. Simply breast feeding your newborn can be painful on the nipple, so come talk to us about what creams and/or ointments that you can use to ease this pain. If you’re not sure whether or not your little one is latched on correctly, let us know and we’ll discuss proper breast feeding techniques. If your baby is not latched on correctly it can cause some pain.

Breast feeding is a wonderful thing, and though it might not be for everyone, we are here for any question that you might have regarding both breast feeding and formula feeding.

Testing for Birth Defects – Part II

Second Trimester Continued…

This is also the stage of pregnancy at which an amniocentesis may be offered  if necessary. It cannot be performed until a woman is at least 16 weeks along and is only  offered to those that are at high risk for birth defects. The cells collected are analyzed and doctors can provide a diagnosis of possible defects. Women are offered the option of this test depending on their risk of a genetic/chromosomal problem as per the results of the first and second trimester tests.

This is also the time for an ultrasound which can also pick up some defects.   Most women will choose this test as it is a great chance to see their child and assess the sex of the baby if desired!

 Third Trimester

In the third trimester of pregnancy, mothers-to-be may receive a glucose tolerance test, to show if they have gestational diabetes. This test is more for the health of the moms, and can lead your physician to provide many healthy options to maintain a perfectly healthy pregnancy.

Group B Streptococcus is another third trimester test that may be performed. While it does occur in 10 to 30 percent of all pregnant women, it is generally harmless. You physician will only need to give you a few extra pointers when it comes to labor and delivery, but in most cases it is not life threatening for you or the baby.

General

The process of testing for birth defects in moms-to-be can be scary and unnerving, but there is no path to the reassurance the tests provide without some anxiety. It is  useful to know what to prepare for when the time to give birth draws nearer in cases with defects. Conversations with a pediatrician and mental preparation is key to solid medical care decisions that can make a difference in the life of a newborn baby facing uphill medical challenges.

At AOA, we are here with you every step of the way, from the first test to the last, and everything in between. While many of these tests are routine, it can still be a stressful time for moms and dads, so take care in knowing that our highly trained physicians have the experience and compassion to get everyone through it together.

Testing For Birth Defects – Part I

Pregnancy can be quite the scary venture; however the payoff of a beautiful baby at the end is well worth the journey. During pregnancy, there may be times you will be offered  certain tests to check the welfare of your baby. From the outset there are a number of tests that can be run to give you an idea of how the pregnancy is progressing, and of any possible deficiencies your baby might be at risk for.  These tests are performed at various stages in the pregnancy, in most cases are completely normal, and are used to assess the baby’s risk of specific defects.

 

Early indications of certain defects during pregnancy is many times nothing to fret about. Your AOA physician is extremely skilled in reading the results from these tests, and while it might be a scary proposition to run the tests and hear the outcomes, the choice is yours whether you want to conduct the tests to get the reassurance associated with a normal result.

First Trimester

During the first trimester, an ultrasound may be performed to test for fetal nuchal translucency, which tells you if there is fluid around certain areas of the baby. A maternal serum test may also be performed to check for chromosomal abnormalities as well as human chorionic gonadotropin, which is another hormone test that will give the same information in terms of issues with the child’s chromosomes. These first trimester tests are used to look for Down syndrome, and other chromosomal conditions.

Second Trimester

In the second trimester, the alpha-fetoprotein screening is offered. Abnormal levels of the protein may indicate the presence of Down syndrome, spina bifida, the presence of twins, or an inaccurate due date. While these tests might be stress inducing for new moms, they are a great resource to prepare yourself by assessing your risk of some defect.

Jump to Part II

Pregnancy and Emotional Health

Pregnancy brings with it a range of emotions, from elation to apprehension about taking care of a new little life. Your emotional state may also be all over the place because your hormones are almost in a constant state of fluctuation, as your body is taken over by the baby.  Your Arizona OBYN Affiliates provider is available for medical needs but also for emotional support to help you make this a great experience in your life.

 

Yes, it’s a stressful time, but it is the greatest moments of your life, and we are here to guide you through it. Staying positive and removing stress from your life as much as possible is just one aspect of a happy pregnancy. When you come in to meet with your physician, emotional health, your thoughts, fears and questions are always something we openly discuss. In fact, it’s part of the pregnancy process that we encourage; communication on all levels with your physician.

 

Depending on the level of lifestyle changes you are going to be making during your pregnancy, you will find that the more you are able to relax, kick your feet up, and remove stress, the happier your pregnancy will be.  (Yes, feel free to use this reason for not cooking dinner, having your partner do the dishes, and even getting a nice massage every once in a while).

 

Communicate with your family and friends about reducing your stress, spending more time doing fun things. Try to do something every day, at least one thing, to take care of your own emotional health. Whether that is some breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, or simply kicking your feet up, do something for you and let your partner know that it’s your time.

Avoid drama when possible. If your friends are high drama, perhaps consider scaling back the time you spend with them. Talk to your physician about ways to enhance your overall state of emotional health during these next 9 months. If you spend time focusing on ways to make yourself feel more calm and relaxed, you will be a better place mentally to sail through your pregnancy and all its related physical changes and experiences.

 

If you feel down, anxious, scared or have questions about your emotional health, which is completely normal, talk to us. We are here not just for medical purposes, but for the emotional ones that inevitably come along with pregnancy. It’s all normal and quite common, but it can feel overwhelming when pregnant, so talk to us ahead of time so that we can address anything that may sneak up.