The Benefits of Using Yoga for Healing: The Human Body

 

Quick Bio

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Hi there. My name is Breanna and I am The Medical Mama. I want to first and foremost thank The Blonde Yogi for allowing me to guest blog today. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and my own personal site https://themedicalmamac.wordpress.com/. I am a mother of 2 beautiful little girls. One is 5 years old, and the other I just had on March 5th. I have a background in nursing (Pediatrics and Internal Medicine) and education (grades K-12). Again, thank you for having me and reading my article today.

Why is Yoga Important?

 yoga for momsI have always believed that there are so many benefits to yoga and healing our bodies. Our body is one big system that needs to work together for our health and organ functioning.

A big one for me is using yoga to heal my body after giving birth. Right now that is so relevant to me as I just had a baby via c-section on March 5th. When you are pregnant your muscles stretch causing your muscles to continue to be stretched out after delivery. One of the major problems for moms (or at least for me) is getting the “mommy tummy” because of lack of tightened muscles. We also having issues with peeing ourselves at random times like after a sneeze, jump, or cough (or maybe it’s just me). This is from the muscles of our pelvic floor being loose as well. They need strengthened.

So what really are the long term benefits to yoga?

 Inflammation and Chronic Pain Relief

inflammation
Photo Credit Dr. Jockers. (Unknown).

Not very many people realize that yoga can actually relieve a lot of arthritis pain and chronic illness pain associated with inflammation. Most people are quick to take pain medications such as an NSAID or some sort of other steroid. Some patients just prefer good old pain medications that are highly addictive. What if I told you yoga could help with that?

When we have inflammation it inflames and damages the cells around the problem area. This can lead to infection and chronic pain if not treated properly (Dr. Jockers., Unknown). When you do not exercise and allow your body to lay “dormant” your body on the inside (organs, lymph fluid, joints, muscles, etc) does the same. Health, diet, and exercise surprisingly have everything to do with the inside of your body and your overall health. Your body works as a system and when the system is not functioning properly and all together that is when you start having health problems.

Yoga helps circulate lymph fluid. It also helps get your circulation system going to help remove toxins in the body. Also, having proper posture and strengthened muscles help reduce toxins in the body as well. Did you know hydration helps do the same thing? When you hydrate (which you should be doing with any type of exercise) it helps you eliminate toxins. The circulatory system working at high level helps remove toxins from your organs and body system. Your urine helps remove those toxins and waste to eliminate them from the body. Make sure you are hydrating while doing yoga.

Let’s talk about immune system health.

Exercise, as a whole, increases immune system health. This refers back to the body eliminating toxins through exercise and diet.

Emotional and Mental Health/Stress Reliever

stress relief
Photo Credit Rawls, redeartchacupuncture.com. (2017)

Yoga helps your mind and body focus overall. Let me explain that further. Depending on which pose you are doing it can help reduce your blood pressure, heart rate (which you should slowly increase with each pose), and can decrease your levels of cortisol. Cortisol has been linked to several types of depression, and stress and anxiety (The Chopra Center, Unknown). While you are doing yoga it requires great concentration because let’s face it, some of these poses are definitely confusing and require concentration. That is another reason why I love yoga so much.

It’s not uncommon for people who do yoga to feel a weight lifted off their shoulders after each yoga session. This leads to the release of endorphins. Endorphins make people happier. Like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde would say “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”

Flexibility and Strength

half moon pose
Photo Credit Unknown.

Have you ever been to the doctor and the doctor says you need to do some strength training? Yoga is great for that. It allows you to use your own body as a force of resistance for strengthening your muscles naturally. It also increases flexibility every time you do it. Again, some of the poses require great concentration because they are so unique and require specific actions to move your body slowly in to position. This helps with flexibility.

Your body will slowly get stronger as you continue to practice and strengthen your core muscles.

Don’t forget to hydrate with any sort of exercise. When doing yoga make sure you are relaxed. Practice proper breathing techniques.

How has yoga helped your overall health? I would love to hear your story.

Resources:

The Chopra Center. (Unknown). Yoga Can Heal Your Life. Retrieved from https://chopra.com/articles/yoga-can-heal-your-life

Quentine Vennie, Chicago Tribune. (2017). 15 Yoga Poses to Heal Your Whole Body. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-15-yoga-poses-to-heal-your-whole-body-20170505-story.html

Ginny Graves, Prevention. (2015). 18 Health Issues Yoga Can Heal-And How to Make it Work for You. Retrieved from https://www.prevention.com/fitness/medical-yoga-cures

Ram Rao, Ph.D, YogaU. (Unknown). Chronic Inflammation and Yoga. Retrieved from https://www.yogauonline.com/yoga-research/chronic-inflammation-and-yoga

Dictionary.com. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

Amy Kurtz, Yoga Journal. (2017). Using Meditation to Heal When Faced With Chronic Illness. Retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/using-meditation-heal-chronic-illness

Dr. Jockers. (Unknown). Top 7 Strategies to Health Chronic Inflammation. Retrieved from https://drjockers.com/chronic-inflammation/

Biology Online Dictionary. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.biology-online.org/

 

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Postpartum Depression: What Should I Know?

Photo Credit Creekside Center for Women, 2018

This article means so much to me as I suffered from postpartum depression with my first pregnancy. This is something serious that I feel I need to share and reach out to other moms who are going through the same thing, or even think they might have postpartum depression. Thank you for reading today.

Let’s take a minute to talk about something real.

What is Postpartum Depression?

depression stats
Photo Credit Winnie Palmer Hospital, ahealthblog.com, 2018

Postpartum depression is “depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue” (Dictionary.com, 2018). Postpartum depression is a real issue that needs to be addressed, especially among the mom community. There is no shame if you are suffering from it right now, or have in the past. Did you know that 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression (American Psychology Association, 2018)? The CDC says that depression varies by state.

My Experience. My Story.

Unfortunately, I have suffered from postpartum depression. I used to feel shameful about it. With therapy I now know it was not my fault, and there are things you can do to help. I will talk about that later in the article as well. I want to share my story to help other moms who might be suffering.

I remember after I had my daughter (5 years ago) listening to her cry. She was colic from an unknown allergy, which we discovered about a year ago. She cried what seemed non stop. We hardly slept at night. We did not get any kind of spacial time away from her unless she was at my parents’ house (thank you mom and dad). I had to keep her on me at all times otherwise she was more unhappy and cried louder. There were times I had to just let her cry in her crib because she could cry just as easily there as she could in my arms. I needed a break. I needed 10 minutes to myself, then I would go tend to her again. She was in-consolable.

I started having panic attacks from the constant crying. Anyone who’s had a panic attack knows it feels like a heart attack in your chest and you can’t catch your breath. I was having these randomly throughout the day too. It would knock me to my knees and I couldn’t get up. That is when I decided to seek help. It was the best thing I did for myself and for my daughter. My husband, bless his heart, was so supportive through it all (thank you husband). I got a part-time job to get myself out of the house and away for a bit. I started going on walks with our dog by myself to have that moment of clarity. This is what worked for me, but it may not for you. I will discuss some strategies further in my article.

If you have suffered from postpartum depression before please feel free to share your story below. This will help other moms as well.

How Do I Know I don’t Just Have the “Baby Blues?”

baby blues vs postpartum
Photo Credit Kristen, The Healing Group, 2014

That is an excellent point! Baby blues are completely different than postpartum depression. It is so normal to feel weepy, tired, and exhausted after having a baby. The first few months are so hard, especially for first time moms (there is nothing wrong with first time moms either). You should have an increase in appetite and start molding in to that motherly role after a few weeks. You also will have good sleep when you do sleep. It’s normal to have worries throughout your thoughts and throughout your day (Bennett, S., 2016). Don’t worry, worrying about your child if you’re doing well makes you already a better parent than those that don’t.

Below is a chart to help guide your thoughts on whether or not you think you might have some issues with postpartum depression vs baby blues. Please keep in mind this is a guide, and not purposed with actual diagnosing your symptoms online. As always talk to your doctor if you think you might have postpartum depression.

postpartum vs baby blues vs psychosis
Photo Credit thesecrettogivingbirth.com, Unknown

Symptoms and Signs of Postpartum Depression

disinterest
Photo Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017

Let’s talk about symptoms and signs of postpartum depression. You may be reading this wondering if you have it. If you have just given birth and feel symptoms of hopelessness, sadness, exhaustion with sadness, and having a hard time coping with daily life you might have postpartum depression (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018). You could also be feeling overwhelmed, feeling anxious, crying a lot more than normal, over sleeping, or having disinterest. Make sure you do not confuse these with baby blues. If it is baby blues you should start feeling better in a couple weeks after giving birth.

crying in bed
Photo Credit drawingofpencil.com

For me the disinterest is what gave it away that there was a problem. My daughter would cry, and sometimes I literally did not care. I didn’t have that motherly instinct to help her. I would just lay there in bed crying. I knew at that moment it was time to do something to help myself and our child.

Please seek help right away if you are unable to help your baby because of your depression. This is a serious condition.

Please look over this chart and see if you have a significant majority of these signs:

signs of postpartum
Photo Credit Binkgirl, Steemit, 2017

How Does Someone Get Postpartum Depression?

I’m glad you asked. A lot of people are actually unaware of what it is and how someone “gets it”. It is not a disease, or a virus. It is nothing along those lines. It’s not even “regular” depression. They are both clinically different forms of depression. Yes, they share a lot of common symptoms, but they are different.

Clinical Depression Causes

Well, first and foremost clinical depression is not caused by just having a baby. Did you know that depression is hereditary (Meaney, M., 2015)? Let me also clarify this. You can develop depression from other ways. It doesn’t have to just be hereditary (ie. bullying, anxiety, down in life, etc).

Many people suggest depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is only half true. “To be sure, chemicals are involved in this process, but it is not a simple matter of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2017). So you see, there are many factors influencing depression.

Postpartum Depression Causes

causes postpartum
Photo Credit Lifestyle, LinkedIn, 2016

“There’s no single cause of postpartum depression, but physical and emotional issues may play a role.

  • Physical changes. After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in your body may contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply — which can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.
  • Emotional issues. When you’re sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

Okay I Think I Have Postpartum Depression. What Do I DO Next? How is my Doctor Going to Treat it?

 The first thing you should do if you suspect you have postpartum depression is contact your doctor’s office. Make an appointment. Make sure you let the nurse on the phone know what is going on so you can get in faster to help relieve your symptoms. This will help you and help your child.

Your doctor is going to ask you a series of questions. More than likely you will need to fill out a questionnaire to give the doctor more information. They may even order blood tests to make sure there isn’t another hormonal imbalance contributing to your symptoms.

Some things they will suggest are either taking medications (antidepressants), or talking to a psychologist/psychiatrist. This depends on if you want medications. I was able to talk to a psychologist and that helped tremendously. If you are uncomfortable about taking medications, like I was, I would start with a psychologist and go from there. They may recommend medication though.

Just remember to talk to your doctor if you even suspect you might have postpartum depression. It might be baby blues, or it might be more serious. Do not feel shameful if you experience any of the symptoms. This is a huge issue that needs to be discussed to help others.

As always please share your story below to help other moms and parents.

Resources:

American Psychology Association. (2018). Postpartum Depression: What is Postpartum Depression and Anxiety? Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/resources/reports/postpartum-depression.aspx

Dictionary.com. (2018). Postpartum Depression. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-ab&q=Dictionary#dobs=postpartum%20depression

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Postpartum Depression Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml

Bennett, Shoshana, American Pregnancy.org. (2016). Do I Have the Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/baby-blues-or-postpartum-depression/

Meaney, Michael, Psychology Today. (2015) Is Depression Hereditary? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-through-research/201509/is-depression-hereditary

Harvard Health Publishing. (2017). What Causes Depression? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Postpartum depression. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617

 

Setting an Example for Your Children When it Comes to Health and Wellness

Photo Credit Oksana Kuzmina, 123RF. (2018)

Your Child is Watching You.

child watching parent eat
photo Credit Olwen Anderson, olwenanderson.com. (2012)

Have you ever sat and thought about what you put in your mouth? Have you ever sat and thought about what your child watches you put in your mouth? Or what your child sees as your eating habits and health habits? I never really thought about it until I got bit by the “fitness bug” about a year ago. I noticed while my husband and I started counting calories and talking about it out loud our daughter started becoming obsessed with calories and eating. Granted, she didn’t know what a calorie was or what it meant, but she knew it was important for getting fit and eating healthy. She then started making healthier choices on her own. I can proudly say, to this day, that she continues to make healthy eating habits a priority.

My daughter also got bit by the “fitness bug” and wanted to start doing yoga with me. She wanted to jog with me outside as well. I was completely on board with this and proud of her. She saw that I was trying to make an effort and live healthier. She then in turn wanted to make sure she was healthy like mommy and daddy.

 The “Role Model”

role model
Photo Credit Unknown.

You are your child’s first role model. Wow that’s a lot of pressure. Not to worry though. I am going to talk you through this. You should know that food preference starts at a very early age. This means start eating healthy in front of your child early on. Offer them the same healthy choices that you choose. If they see you eating a lot of cookies and baked good (I’m so guilty of this) then that is what they will want to eat too. “Mommy is doing it, so I want some too.” If you are eating carrots and ranch dip then that is a much healthier snack choice. Your little one will automatically think “Mommy is doing it, so I want some too.” Do you see the difference? It’s setting the example, being the role model.

 Studies Show…

good eating habits
Photo Credit MingHui Soon. (2014)

As I mentioned above studies show that a child’s eating habits are learned early on. They are learned in the first year of life (J Law Med Ethics., 2008).

The interactions at the dinner table and food choices structure a child’s mentality of what to expect during meal time. If a child is given fast food constantly they are going to associate fast food with meal time making it the “norm”. Same thing with processed foods vs fresh food. When they’re adults what do you think they will choose to feed themselves on a regular basis? You should be offering several different types of food choices regularly for the same reason. Expand their taste buds and give them choices. If they will only eat carrots because that’s all they’ve been offered they won’t learn to like other vegetables that offer other types of nutrients that they need to grow and develop.

Make it a lifestyle, not a duty - fitness and healthy life conce
Photo Credit Tuvizo, tuvizo.com. (2016)

Exercise has the same impact on a child. If they are never given the opportunity to expand their minds to a more healthy way of living and being active it probably is not going to come naturally for them when they are older. I was given the opportunity to choose healthy things during meal time. My mother cooked healthy meals every night. However, our family was not healthy in the sense of “working out”. We were not a very active family. As an adult I never really wanted to be an active adult either. I struggled when I decided to get fit and eat right again. It just doesn’t come naturally for me. I have had to slowly find things that suit my lifestyle and my exercising preferences. I love jogging outside. I do not like lifting weights or running on the treadmill. I love yoga. I do not like Cross Fit or anything along those lines.

How Do I Get My Child to Start Making Better Eating Choices? How Do I Get My Child to be More Active?

kid on couch eating
Photo Credit Dan Tynan. (2014)

Getting your children more active is hard depending on the age. At an early age all kids ever want to do is run around. I swear they all have batteries that deplete throughout the day. After nap time they’re completely recharged and ready to go again. Teens are harder to get active. Think outside the box. What is something they don’t normally do that would be fun for them? Swimming? Golf? Frisbee? Tennis? Choose options they don’t normally get the opportunity to do. For our daughter it’s ballet and gymnastics. You should engage with your children as well. If they’re older and they enjoy doing their own thing for exercise that’s different. I can’t do ballet and gymnastics with my daughter. However, I have my own love (jogging). Make sure you are their #1 fan! Root them on with whatever they’re doing. This helps encourage positive reinforcement. You should also be limiting time with electronics. Electronics are not a bad thing, but they are one of the number one reasons children are not active today. They should be closely monitored all the way from content to time spent on them.

finish your food
Photo Credit Melinda Wenner Moyer. (2018)

You should never force your child to “finish your food”. I know growing up our parents taught us we weren’t allowed to leave the dinner table until everything was gone off of our plate during meal times. This is a very unhealthy habit actually. When you are forcing your child to finish too much food that is when their little tummies start expanding from excess food. Each time they sit down to eat a meal they will want more food. This trend starts the unhealthy eating habit of overeating.

You can get your child to start making healthier eating choices by offering them healthier eating choices at meal times. Again, set the example. Be the role model. Set the expectations early on. It is never too late. Someone I know has a son who was told by their pediatrician that they were starting to gain weight and develop adolescent obesity. The mother took him grocery shopping and let him pick from several different healthy options that were a much healthier choice. He was able to pick meals and snacks for himself. You can do the same. For a child of any age they feel empowered by their decisions and they still feel like they got to make that decision. As a parent this is a great choice because you know they are making a healthier choice for themselves.

The Importance of the Dinner Table

family at dinner table
Photo Credit WECLIPART. (2018)

The dinner table in my home has always been the one place where I know we will spend quality time together as a family. I have a strict “no electronics” rule at the dinner table. This is a great place to congregate and reflect about the day’s challenges and successes. This is where one of the prime influences of a child’s life comes from. This is where they learn eating habits. This is where they learn manners. This is where they learn to share and take turns. This is where the family unites and encourages one another. You can safely discuss your day’s challenges with your family and know that they are going to encourage you to do better the next day. Do not underestimate the power of family dinners.

Don’t Forget to be the Role Model!

As always, you are your child’s first role model. You are their #1 and they are yours. There are a couple great articles you can further read about the influence on diet and exercise for children here. There are also plenty of great resources below.

How have you lived a healthy and active lifestyle? How has that directly affected your children’s habits? I would love to hear from you.

Resources

Dictionary.com. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

Familydoctor.org Editorial Staff. (2017). Nutrition Tips for Kids. Retrieved from https://familydoctor.org/nutrition-tips-for-kids/

J. Law Med Ethics. (2008). Parental Influence on Eating Behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2531152/

Duke, Global Health Institute. (2013). Parenting and Home Environment Influence Children’s Exercise and Eating Habits. Retrieved from https://globalhealth.duke.edu/media/news/parenting-and-home-environment-influence-childrens-exercise-and-eating-habits

Sarah Henry. (2018). Kid Fitness: When Your Child Won’t Exercise. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/kid-fitness-when-your-child-wont-exercise#1

 

Fitness Wear: My Favorite Things to Wear While Exercising and My Must Haves for Exercise

Photo Credit Feature Pics, featurepics.com. (2018).

I want to start off this article by letting all the moms out there know that YOU are beautiful. You don’t need exercise and diet to be a beautiful person. You don’t have to have the most “up to date” fashion work out wear to exercise. I prefer a certain brand, but it’s not a must to be successful.

Sports Bra

Obviously, if you’re a woman and you want to be active a sports bra is a must have. They make sports bras that have an underwire. My chest is roughly the “average” reported cup size of 34DD (a little bigger) in the United States. However, I still have an issue finding sports bras that comfortably support and hold my chest.

I prefer to use the bras at Lane Bryant. They carry sports bras with underwires in them. I find I HAVE to have an underwire to support me while I’m jogging. Any other type of sports bra that does not have an underwire is fine for when I’m doing yoga and low impact exercises.

What is your favorite type and brand of sports bra?

Jogging Shoes

I don’t have a preference for brand for jogging shoes. I do know I have to have a shoe that comes up a little higher on the sides, and has arches in the soles of the shoes. I feel more secure when there is a higher side supporting my ankles. These also help with preventing injuries while jogging.

When I am doing yoga I use socks that grip. I also have been known to not wear any socks, but I am also at home when I do yoga.

What brand and type of jogging shoes do you prefer?

High Waist Yoga Pants

I know I’ve touched on this before but I love high waisted yoga pants. I get mine from Lane Bryant as well. They’re kind of hard to find in my size as Lane Bryant carries bigger sizes. When I do find yoga pants small enough to fit me I love them. They help support my tummy (I have the “mommy tummy” from two c-sections), and I feel more comfortable in them. They also have mesh behind the knees for air flow and cooling, and the longer ones have mesh down by the ankles as well. This helps me cool down while I’m jogging.

When I’m doing yoga I’m inside, so the high waisted pants are not a preference for me. I have to have them for jogging, but not so much for yoga.

Tight Fitted Tanks and T-Shirts

I also want to add if you wear baggy pants and clothes while exercising the clothes can get in the way of doing a proper pose for yoga, or cause you to trip while jogging. I also chafe if I don’t wear form fitting clothes. In turn, this prevents you from achieving high performance for burning the most possible amount of calories.

What do you prefer to wear while exercising?

Water Bottle

Don’t forget your water bottle! This is most important. Hydration is the key to staying healthy and hydrated while exercising. You should be hydrating at every 20-30 minute intervals.

Map My Walk/My Fitness Pal Apps

I prefer to use the Map My Walk app by Under Armour. You can also get it on Android and iPhone. It tracks your walking and maps it out for you. It also keeps track of how many miles you’ve walked as well as how many steps you’ve taken. It will record and keep your times/runs so you can refer back to them to track your progress. It also works like a social media network. You can connect with friends and see what all they’ve done and where they did it. When you go to the website or download the app make sure you pick your location. This helps ensure the map is correct. I used it to jog up and down our drive way to build up to running several miles at a time. The app even showed me running up and down the drive correctly.

I also prefer to use the My Fitness Pal App by Under Armour. This helps me track what I eat and my weight loss. I can see my progress over time. You can log your calorie intake and your exercise output. This helps allow you to figure out the correct amount of calories you should be consuming in order to lose weight. It’s very intuitive as well as far as your activity levels.

Cell Phone/MP3 Player/iPod and Headphones

Having tunes while jogging is a must. I get bored easily without the music. I love to sing while I’m jogging as well. I probably look like a crazy person singing out loud with no outward music jogging up the country roads. However, this is my outlet while jogging. It keeps me going.

What are some things that motivate you while exercising?

FVL: What is it? And Why is The Medical Mama Writing About it?

Photo Credit factorv.org

I would like to introduce you to my biggest nightmare-Factor Five Leiden, or FVL. “What is it?” you are probably asking. I’ll tell you, then I’ll tell you why this has impacted myself and my family so much.

So…What is Factor Five Leiden (FVL)? “Factor V Leiden is a mutation of one of the clotting factors in the blood called factor V. This mutation can increase your chance of developing abnormal blood clots (thrombophilia), usually in your veins” (Mayo Clinic Staff., 2015). It is an inherited gene. I happened to inherit it from my dad and his side of the family.

The Clotting Process

clotting process
Photo Credit World Federation of Hemophilia, http://www.wfh.org. (2014).

When you are injured, or have surgery, you have special proteins that work together to heal the blood vessels in your body. These proteins are your clotting factors. You also have platelets that send signals to other cells to come and clot together to repair this injury. This is called a platelet plug. After that you have coagulation factors (labeled by Roman numerals, like Factor V) that come and help with the clot. Note the image located to the left side of this section.

When you have a coagulation disorder, or blood clot disorder, this is when things get complicated.

How FVL Affects Clotting

When our bodies need to clot we have something called activated protein C (APC). This initially tells the blood clot to not grow too large enough for complications (i.e. deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, etc). This directly tells the fibrin (clotting factors mentioned above) to not grow and get out of control. When someone has FVL it is a gene mutation in which is can not help but grow too large to the point of blood clots in the body that become harmful (World Federation of Hemophilia., 2014).

How Has This Impacted My Life?

I am not perfect (hard to believe I know. Haha). I have Factor Five Leiden. I have this horrible gene mutation that affects my daily life. If I get injured in any way I am at risk for developing blood clots or hematomas. When you are injured the clotting process is still the same (even in organs). Both of my pregnancies I have had to be on blood thinners (self injections twice a day for 12 months). When you become pregnant your body produces more blood for the baby. More blood=more blood flow. Your heart and blood vessels have to work twice as hard to pump this blood throughout the body. This increases your risks of clotting. Clots will undeniably kill your unborn baby. It’s a fact, not a “maybe”. When I have surgeries (like my two c-sections) I increased my risks for clotting. Patients can throw a clot and die from surgeries if they have FVL.

dad and elexys
Photo Credit The Medical Mama, themedicalmama.wordpress.com. (2012).

Not only do I have FVL, but my father and sister have it as well. This puts both my daughters at risk for it as well. My father almost died from it. We were not aware it “ran” in our family. He fell on ice one day and it went untreated by several doctors (Don’t get me started on that.). He had a deep vein thrombosis in his right leg. The clot broke off and traveled to his lungs leaving him with several pulmonary embolisms. The clots from there then traveled to his heart. He had about 5-7 clots in his heart. This left his heart damaged in some areas permanently. This is something that can not be reversed when damage has been done. He almost died sitting in an ER room waiting for doctors to figure out how the heck it got this far to a life or death situation. With the grace of God and God’s love my father is alive today.

There are two types of gene mutations: heterozygote and homozygote. I have the heterozygote gene mutation. I have the heterozygote gene mutation. This means if a parent with one copy and a parent with no copies has a baby that baby will have a 50% chance of carrying the FVL gene. That is 1 in 2 babies. I have 2 children and that fact just hit me hard in the face…like a pile of bricks. That means AT LEAST one of my beautiful daughters is carrying the gene (maybe both).

FVL and Pregnancy

carrying high or low
Photo Credit Emily Sadler, todaysparent.com. (2017)

As I mentioned above pregnancy increases your risks for blood clots. When you become pregnant your body produces more blood for the baby. More blood=more blood flow. Your heart and blood vessels have to work twice as hard to pump this blood throughout the body. This increases your risks of clotting. Again, clots will undeniably kill your unborn baby. It’s a fact, not a “maybe”.

“The factor V Leiden mutation is associated with a slightly increased risk of pregnancy loss (miscarriage). Women with this mutation are two to three times more likely to have multiple (recurrent) miscarriages or a pregnancy loss during the second or third trimester. Some research suggests that the factor V Leiden mutation may also increase the risk of other complications during pregnancy, including pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (preeclampsia), slow fetal growth, and early separation of the placenta from the uterine wall (placental abruption). However, the association between the factor V Leiden mutation and these complications has not been confirmed. Most women with factor V Leiden thrombophilia have normal pregnancies” (Genetics Home Reference., 2010).

FVL and Surgery

When you have an injury your blood vessels will dilate to keep blood inside your body. This will slow down the rate of blood flow through the blood vessels. This increases the risk of blood clots.

“Injury to your veins or surgery can slow blood flow, increasing the risk of blood clots. General anesthetics used during surgery can dilate your veins, which can increase the risk of blood pooling and then clotting” (Mayo Clinic Staff., 2015).

If you think you have a blood clotting disorder please talk to your doctor right away!

 

 

Resources:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Factor V Leiden. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/factor-v-leiden/symptoms-causes/syc-20372423

World Federation of Hemophilia. (2014). The Clotting Process. Retrieved from https://www.wfh.org/en/page.aspx?pid=635

Dictionary.com. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

Genetics Home References. (2010). Factor V Leiden Thromophilia. Retrieved from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/factor-v-leiden-thrombophilia#resources

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Factor V Leiden. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/factor-v-leiden/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372428

Pregnancy Diets, Breastfeeding diets, and Post Baby Diets. OH MY!

So many questions revolve around pregnancy and dieting (What am I supposed to be eating?), breastfeeding diets (What diet should I be following while breastfeeding my baby to ensure they get the right nutrition?), and then there’s the mom that can’t wait to start losing weight after the baby is born (that’s completely me).

I want to start this article out by stating you should not try to lose weight during pregnancy. This is extremely dangerous for you and for your unborn child. When I say pregnancy diet I mean your overall consumption of food you ingest. You should not count calories and lose weight while pregnant.

The Pregnancy Diet

So what are you supposed to be eating while pregnant? What nutrients are you in dyer need of while pregnant? What does baby need to grow and maintain a healthy “diet” while in the womb?

I am so glad you asked!

folate rich foods
Photo Credit exhibithealth.com. (Unknown).

During your pregnancy make sure you increase your fiber intake. I can not tell you how important this is. Constipation during pregnancy is so common…and very painful. Make sure you are eating good sources of calcium and protein. According to WebMD “Choose at least one good source of folate every day, like dark green leafy vegetables, veal, and legumes (lima beans, black beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas). Every pregnant woman needs at least 0.64 mg of folate per day to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida” (WebMD., 2018).

 

pregnancy food pyramid
Photo Credit Shweta, healthworry.com. (2016).

You should already be taking your prenatal vitamins. In fact,  you should start these as soon as you find out you are pregnant. These are rich in nutrients that baby needs to grow and develop. Your diet is the single most important thing for your baby at this stage of the game. You should be consuming something from every food group in the food pyramid. This helps ensure that baby is getting a well rounded amount of nutrients they need to grow and develop. Naturally, you will need to have a bigger calorie intake. This does not mean indulging in a chocolate cake or a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. This means about 300-500 extra calories per day. This is about a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk. Depending on your weight before pregnancy determines how many extra calories you really should be consuming. Make sure you talk to your doctor about this.

The Breastfeeding Diet

mom-breastfeeding-baby
Photo Credit Parents, parents.com. (Unknown).

For breastfeeding you still need to follow a copious diet from every group of the food pyramid. You should continue to take your prenatal vitamins as those are still the nutrients being received from mommy to baby. You should continue to consume about 500 extra calories per a day for breastfeeding.

Everyone wants to lose weight after baby is born. Hold off on losing weight and focus on a healthy breastfeeding diet instead. You will want to increase your fish intake. Remember fish was banned while pregnant? Now you need to consume fish to help with baby’s eye sight development.

 

breastfeeding diet
Photo Credit Unknown.

Continue to consume lots of rich proteins and calcium foods. This helps with growth and development still. Don’t forget to increase your fiber intake as well. Again, constipation seems to still be an issue not only for you, but for baby as well. Anything you consume baby consumes. That also means avoid alcohol and caffeine.

The Post-Baby Diet

This is the part of the article I am most eager to talk about. For me counting calories after breastfeeding was over was the key to losing weight and keeping it off.

my fitness pal
Photo Credit My Fitness Pal. (Unknown).

First, set a goal. How much do you want to lose? Be realistic! Start keeping track of your calorie intake. You can use an app that I love so much. It helps you keep track of your calorie intake. It also helps you figure out what is the right amount of daily calorie intake for you to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight. It’s called My Fitness Pal. This app helped me lose weight and keep it off. You can also keep track of your exercise and how many calories you burned doing it. It’s the best app that I’ve tried so far.

Make sure to incorporate lots of exercise. You should exercise for 45 minutes per day roughly 3-5 days per week. I am not going to lie it can get addictive counting calories. It’s like a challenge when using the app. “How many calories do I have left? How many can I gain if I do this exercise?” I think that’s why it worked so well for me.

I also wrote an article about several different exercises you can do to help you lose that baby weight. You can find it here: https://themedicalmamac.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/losing-weight-after-baby-is-born/

What are your favorite ways to lose weight?

 

Resources:

American Pregnancy Association. (2015). Diet During Pregnancy. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/diet-during-pregnancy/

WebMD. (2018). Eating Right When Pregnant. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/eating-right-when-pregnant#2-2

Murkoff, Heidi, What to Expect. (2018). The Pregnancy Diet. Retrieved from https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/eating-well/pregnancy-diet.aspx

 

Birth Control Part 2: Can I Get Pregnant While Being on it? And How Soon After Going Off of it Can I Get Pregnant?

I want to let all of my readers know first that there is a list of resources below in case you would like more information about something that was mentioned today. I hope this article helps you with any questions you might have about which type of birth control is right for you.

What is Birth Control?

First, let’s talk about what contraception really is. “the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control” (dictionary.com, 2018).

Birth control can be sub-categorized in to two separate categories: hormonal birth control and non hormonal birth control. We can get even more specific and categorize the hormonal birth control in to which hormones they use to prevent pregnancy. We can get even more in depth after that, but we aren’t today. We are going to talk about the overall concept of how each one works, the effectiveness, and how to conceive or avoid conception with each one.

Let’s Jump Right In:

Condoms:

condoms
Photo Credit iStock, daily.jstor.org. (2018)

How It Works: Condoms go on the male “part” and prevent any sperm from passing through to the vagina. The end of the condom has a little sack/pouch (called a nipple) to catch all the semen that is released during sex. This prevents pregnancy.

Effectiveness: When using a condom with foam (spermicide) properly it is 97% effective at preventing pregnancy (MedicineNet, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: Whenever you are ready to conceive all you have to do is not use them anymore. It’s as simple as that. The only wait time you will face is when mommy-to-be is waiting to ovulate.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware that condoms like to break…a lot. That is why they recommend using lubrication while using them.

 

Diaphragm:

diaphragm
Photo Credit Maria Shevtsova, motherhow.com. (2017)

How It Works: The diaphragm works by blocking sperm from getting in to the uterus. It is placed in the vagina and meant to cover the opening to your cervix. It is meant to be used with a spermicide as well. The spermicide kills the sperm before it can enter the uterus. “You can put it in up to 6 hours before you have sex, and you need to leave it in for at least 6 hours after” (WebMD, 2018).

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is is 94% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, a lot of people misuse it and don’t place the diaphragm correctly in to place, so the rate is more like 88% effective (Planned Parenthood, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, you can conceive while using the diaphragm as a form of contraception. There’s always that chance. As soon as you are ready to conceive all you have to do is not use it anymore. Again, the only wait time is waiting for mommy-to-be to ovulate.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware they are only 94% effective at preventing pregnancy. There’s always that chance of getting pregnant.

 

 Copper IUD (ParaGard):

paragard
Photo Credit viewpoints, viewpoints.com. (2018)

How It Works: This copper IUD works by releasing copper in the uterus and killing sperm before it enters the cervix. It is an IUD so it is placed in the uterus. It is good for up to 10 years. It is completely reversible and can be removed by a healthcare provider. It does need to be inserted by a healthcare provider too though.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy (Paragard.com, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: With any IUD you have a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive you can have it removed by a healthcare professional and try to conceive immediately. That’s the beauty of a hormone free birth control. It is hormone free, so you should have your normal cycle while using it as well.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware that sometimes it can dislodge, or embed itself in the uterus wall. Both these scenarios make it less likely for the IUD to work properly.

Rhythm Method:

rhytm method
Photo Credit Cedarmed International Medical Services, cedarmed.com. (2018)

How It Works: The rhythm method is, basically, you track your cycle using a calendar. You track your ovulation window and your periods. You should mark when you start your cycle, and when you end. You should also anticipate 3 days before ovulation day and 3 days after as a window of getting pregnant. If you are going to use this method I highly recommend getting an app on your phone and using a condom for a few months until your app can properly start calculating your ovulation schedule.

Effectiveness: When this process is used correctly it is about 75% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using This: The answer is YES! This method is not always reliable as it is easy to miscalculate your cycle. It also has a 75% rate of prevention. That’s 25% chance of getting pregnant.

If you are trying to conceive this is perfect because you have to track your ovulation schedule.

If you are not trying to conceive this is an issue for birth control. It is more likely you will conceive accidentally with using this method.

 

Surgical Sterilization:

I’m sure we all know what this means. Surgical sterilization is where you go to your doctor and ask to be sterilized so you can not have any more children. This method can not be reversed in most cases. Please consider all options before choosing this method.

-Tubal Ligation-

How It Works: This is the female form of surgical sterilization. It is also known as “getting your tubes tied”. A tubal ligation “is a type of permanent birth control. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017).

Effectiveness: “Tubal ligation is a safe and effective form of permanent birth control. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Fewer than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant in the first year after the procedure. The younger you are at the time it’s done, the more likely it is to fail” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant Accidentally: Yes you can. The younger you are the more likely for it to fail. You also have a higher risk of it being an ectopic pregnancy. It is pretty effective though for the most part with the right patients.

-Vasectomy-

How It Works: A vasectomy is the male form of surgical sterilization. In a vasectomy “the surgeon makes a small cut in the upper part of the scrotum, under the penis, and then cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens. You’ll get your surgical cuts stitched up and go home right away” (WebMD, 2018).

Effectiveness: This is almost 100% effective. In rare cases it can reverse itself. The man does need to get regular check ups to check sperm counts.

Can I Get Pregnant Accidentally: Yes, you can get pregnant accidentally. Only if the vasectomy reverses itself though.

 

Pills, or Oral Contraceptives:

bc pillsHow It Works: Oral contraceptives come in a wheel or in a package like the picture to the left of this section. How do oral contraceptives work? I am so glad you asked. When used correctly they release a hormone that prevents your body from ovulating. Therefore, your body is temporarily infertile.

Some work by releasing estrogen. Others work by releasing progesterone. They also offer oral contraceptives that release both hormones. You do need to take it every day at the EXACT SAME TIME EVERY DAY. This can be a pain in itself and a huge inconvenience. This can also be impractical for very busy women.

Effectiveness: When the pill is taken correctly it is 99.9% effective (WebMD, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: Generally speaking, if you are trying to conceive you can have a period in about 2-4 weeks. It is recommended you wait and have at least 2-3 “normal” periods after stopping the pill to try and conceive. This lowers the risk of there being any birth defects in the womb later on.

If you are not trying to conceive you should continue taking the pill. If you go off of the pill or miss a dose you should use back up birth control methods (condoms, diaphragm).

Depo-Provera Shot:

depo shot
Photo Credit Melissa Gardner, pajamamommy.com. (2017)

How It Works: The Depo shot, or Depo-Provera shot, is an injection you get every 3 months. The shot works by releasing progesterone preventing ovulation. It also thickens the mucous in your cervix so the sperm can’t get through.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using This: Yes, you always have a chance of getting pregnant. Realistically, especially if you’ve used it for several months already, you are not going to get pregnant. If you miss a shot you should use back up birth control methods. I also don’t recommend using this passed your 2-3 year mark.

If you are trying to conceive this makes it a little harder for your body to go back to the “norm” or having a menstrual cycle. It can take months for your body to start having periods again. When that does happen you should wait to have 2-3 “normal” periods before trying to conceive.

If you are not trying to conceive this is actually a better option than some of the other choices out there. This is because it is over 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. It also has the ability to take away periods all together while on it. No period means no ovulation.

Hormone IUD:

mirena
Photo Credit Mirena, Mirena-us.com. (2017)

How It Works: I think the most common hormone IUD we think of that’s on the market today is the Mirena IUD. It is a small T-shaped piece that gets implanted in to your uterus. It works by releasing levonorgestrel in to the uterus. It also thickens your mucous in your cervix and thins your uterus lining to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It is good for up to 5 years. You have to have a doctor insert it and take it out.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is also over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, but you can get it put in at the clinic office and forget about it for the next 5 years. You also have the option of taking it out whenever you decide you want to get pregnant. Your cycle should return right away without any issues with conceiving. “Within a year of having Mirena removed, about 8 out of 10 women succeed at becoming pregnant” (Mirena, 2018).

If you are not trying to conceive this is a highly effective method. There’s always a chance of pregnancy with any type of birth control on the market today. IUDs can get dislodged or embed themselves in the uterus wall. This makes it less effective.

This should only be used on full grown women. It is not recommended for teen girls. I also do not recommend it for women who have not had children yet. Your uterus would not be used to it and stretched out and the IUD could expel itself.

Hormone Implant:

nexplanon
Photo Credit MacArthur, macarthurmc.com. (2018)

How It Works: The hormonal implant on the market today is the Nexplanon. This is a little stick looking piece that is filled with hormones. It’s funny because the website doesn’t actually say which hormone (which I find kinda shady). It gets surgically implanted in to the skin of your upper arm. Your arm will be locally numbed, then the stick will be implanted under the skin in your arm. “Immediately after the insertion, you and your health care provider will feel for NEXPLANON to ensure that it has been placed correctly. If you can’t feel it, contact your health care provider immediately and use a non-hormonal birth control method (such as condoms) until your health care provider confirms that the implant is in place. The implant may not be placed in your arm at all due to a failed insertion. If this happens, you may become pregnant. Following the insertion, you’ll have to wear a pressure bandage for 24 hours and a small bandage for 3 to 5 days.” (Nexplanon, 2018).

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: The advantages include it is effective for up to 3 years. You can take it out at any time if you plan to become pregnant. You get it inserted at the clinic by your doctor and you don’t have to worry about it for the next 3 years.

If you are not trying to get pregnant please be aware that although there is a low likelihood of pregnancy, there still exists one. These can get punctured easily or broken inside the skin easily. They also can embed themselves which make them less likely to be effective.

Vaginal Ring:

nuvaring
Photo Credit Lydie Stock/Fotolia. (2017)

How It Works: The vaginal ring is not for those who are, what I like to call, “vagina shy”. This is something you replace monthly and you have to personally insert it in to your vagina yourself. On the market there is the NuvaRing. This is a lot different than the other forms of hormonal birth control methods. This is a flexible ring that gets inserted in to your vagina.

Effectiveness: This works using estrogen and progesterone both. It is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is to be removed after 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your menstrual cycle. Then the next month you insert a new one. You will need a prescription for this.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, you can. If it is not inserted properly you can become pregnant. If you do not use it properly you may become pregnant. It can also dislodge.

However, if you are trying to conceive you can remove it at any time and become pregnant.

Hormone Patch:

ortho evra patch
Photo Credit Center for Young Women’s Health, youngwomenshealth.org. (2017)

How It Works: The hormonal patch, also known as the transdermal patch or Ortho Evra Patch, is a patch you wear for 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your period. The next week you will need to re-apply another patch. It uses both estrogen and progesterone. It releases hormones in to the skin. These hormones work like the depo shot. Your body stop ovulation temporarily.

Effectiveness: The patch is only about 91% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, it is only about 91% effective, so your odds at getting pregnant just went up. This is an issue if you are not trying to conceive. If you forget to use the patch make sure you use a back up method of birth control.

If you would like to become pregnant you can remove the patch at any time and should be able to conceive soon after.

Do you have a preference? Have you had a good/bad experience with one of the forms of birth control addressed in this article? I would love to hear from you and hear your experience. This is a great way to help other women who have questions as well.

 

Resources:

Dictionary.com. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

Medicine Net. (2018). Your Guide to Birth Control: Condoms. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/condoms/article.htm#introduction

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control: Is the Diaphragm Right for You? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/diaphragm-birth-control#1

Planned Parenthood. (2018). How Effective are Diaphragms? Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/diaphragm/how-effective-are-diaphragms

Paragard. (2018). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.paragard.com/Faqs.aspx

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Tubal Ligation. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tubal-ligation/about/pac-20388360

WebMD. (2018). Vasectomy: What You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vasectomy-overview#1

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control Pills. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills#1

Mirena. (2018). Mirena. Retrieved from https://www.mirena-us.com/index.php/?pse=google&matchtype=e&Keyword=mirena&campaignid=601337644&adgroupid=29788072950&device=c&adposition=1t1&loc=9016368&gclid=Cj0KCQiAiKrUBRD6ARIsADS2OLmQ54_aMbftwWxjnd0qdC9Edpas08ock9ejoEkKudJ3snnmQs8VufwaAtsuEALw_wcB&dclid=CPPS7ey0stkCFUqDaQodKCAJGQ

Nexplanon. (2018). Nexplanon. Retrieved from https://www.nexplanon.com/

NuvaRing. (2018). NuvaRing. Retrieved from https://www.nuvaring.com/