East Cooper Blog


  • Top 5 Healthy Additions for Your Thanksgiving Menu

    Nov 22, 2016

    Eating healthy can sometimes require a little extra effort. When the days grow short and the temperature plummets, it gets even easier to fall back on less-than-ideal eating habits. Takeout tempts us, sugary hot beverages flow in abundance—and then, there are those big, beautiful holiday meals.

    Thanksgiving 4 

    But here’s the good news: there are lots of super healthy, super delicious foods that thrive in the winter months. So we found our 5 favorites for your inspiration and preparation for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.

    PUMPKIN
    The flavor that everyone wants in everything in the fall is actually good for you! Not so much in your lattes and scones, mind you (sorry, it’s not that easy)—but the meat and seeds of pumpkins are loaded with potential health benefits. Fall’s favorite fruit is high in fiber, but low in calories which means it can promote weight loss. It’s also rich in the antioxidant Beta-Carotene, which is great for your immune system, eye health, skin, and even fighting cancer.

    THE GREENS: KALE, CHARD, COLLARDS, ETC.
    Dark, leafy greens are very hearty and thrive in the winter, long after more delicate greens have gone out of season. And it’s with good reason that greens like kale and chard are enjoying a moment in the sun right now: they’re absolutely bursting with stuff that’s great for our bodies, supporting everything from heart health to preventing osteoporosis. A few of these greens, including mustard greens, collards, and escarole, are also excellent sources of folate, which help prevent birth defects.

    APPLES & PEARS
    Sweet, delicious, and healthy, these awesome autumn fruits are great on their own, or cooked up as part of a dish. Apples and pears are some of the highest-fiber fruits, in addition to boasting lots of vitamins, and high calcium and antioxidant levels. Pro tip: always eat the skin too, unless your recipe calls for its removal. The skins are full of great nutrients that you don’t want to just throw away.

    SWEET POTATOES
    Everyone knows sweet potatoes are the healthier option to your everyday white potatoes, but what you may not know is that they can actually be served without a layer of melted marshmallows on top. All jokes aside, sweet potatoes are the ultimate authentic sweet treat, and usually need very little else to bring out their distinct flavor. They’re an excellent source of vitamin A, iron, and powerful antioxidants that help fight cancer and protect against the effects of aging. Think you’ll miss the marshmallows? Try topping a baked sweet potato with a nice dollop of low- or no-fat Greek yogurt, and sprinkle it with a little nutmeg.

    BRUSSELS SPROUTS
    Another vegetable that’s been very en vogue the past few years, brussels sprouts are packed with as much nutrition as they are savory flavor. They’re extremely high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and antioxidants, while being low in fat in calories. In addition to combating anemia, bone loss, and vitamin A deficiency, brussels sprouts are also known to fight cancer, specifically cancer of the colon and prostate.

  • Meet the Paynes - 2016 March of Dimes Charleston Ambassador Family

    Nov 17, 2016

    Amy Payne 2

    In 2015, Amy Payne and her husband Bill made the decision to expand their family, and they were ecstatic to share the news they would be expecting a baby girl on February 13, 2016. Their second child would be delivered at East Cooper Medical Center with Dr. Maggie Evans, Lowcountry OB/GYN. As many women know, the adventure of fertility, pregnancy and having a newborn can be a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs along the way. Amy’s experience was no different, and the couple was surprised and anxious when it became clear that their daughter, Hayes, would arrive seven weeks earlier than expected.

    As her due date approached, Amy was visiting Dr. Evans weekly for routine appointments. The day after Christmas, she called to complain of swelling, nausea and elevated blood pressure. After some questionable lab work, Dr. Evans recommended that Amy be admitted to the hospital for 24 hour monitoring. As suspected, Amy was diagnosed with preeclampsia, and the decision was made to deliver Hayes within a few days. Hayes was born on January 1, 2016, earning the title of East Cooper Medical Center’s New Year’s Baby 2016.  She was a healthy 5 pounds and 1 ounce, but would require an extended stay at East Cooper’s Level II Neonatal Nursery to help monitor her breathing and growth. Amy described the delivery as quick and easy and felt the worst was behind them.

    Amy Payne kids

    The evening after delivering Hayes, Amy had a burning sensation in her chest, and her husband urged her to call the nurse. Almost immediately, Dr. Evans was by her side and ordered lab work to monitor her situation. Amy was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, Low Platelet count), and she was at risk for internal bleeding or stroke. Amy spent the next three days at MUSC, and remembers the time away from Hayes as absolute torture. Thankfully, her husband was able to stay at the hospital with Hayes through East Cooper’s Rest Easy Program, where a hospital room was provided to the family in order to stay close to Hayes during her time in the NICU. As soon as Amy was released from MUSC, she returned to East Cooper to stay the remaining days with Hayes, until she was able to go home 22 days later.

    Amy’s situation, and the way that HELLP syndrome presented, are considered rare and atypical. In sharing her experience, she hopes to encourage more mothers to trust their instincts and to speak up when they feel something isn’t right. Amy knows her situation could have turned out differently for both her and Hayes if she hadn’t trusted her instincts and made that phone call after Christmas.

    Amy and her family are sharing their story as this year’s 2016 Ambassador Family for the Charleston March of Dimes. Bill and Amy Payne reside in Mount Pleasant with Hayes, now 11 months, and their son William, 8 years old.    

                                                             amy-payne-family

  • The Importance of Self-Care & Support During Pregnancy

    Nov 01, 2016

    Erica Roderfer Winters Spoiled Yogi 2
    Erica Rodefer Winters, delivered two children at East Cooper Medical Center

    Erica Rodefer Winters just delivered her second child, Sylvia, with Dr. Natalie Gregory, OB/GYN with Lowcountry OB/GYN, at East Cooper Medical Center. This is also where she had her first child, Annabelle. Erica is a freelance writer, a prenatal/postnatal yoga teacher and the creator of Spoiled Yogi, a website dedicated to helping pregnant and new moms manage stress and find a healthier balance with all of life’s demands.

    Erica Roderfer Winters Candy Corn Baby

    During college, Erica started doing yoga as a means to deal with stress and continued to learn more about yoga as she transitioned into the working world. After working in San Francisco as a web editor for Yoga Journal magazine and becoming a certified yoga instructor, she eventually moved back to the East Coast with her husband to start a family.  

    Erica Roderfer Winters Yoga with first born

    After giving birth to her first child, she continued freelance writing and started teaching yoga at a gym near her house. “I started to notice that most of my classes were filled with pregnant women,” says Winters. “I fell in love and found my niche with prenatal yoga.”

    According to Winters, prenatal yoga can be good for pregnant moms because it helps prepare their bodies for carrying the baby and for the birthing process through flexibility and strength building. “Prenatal yoga gives women tools for managing stress and helps with physical and emotional relaxation,” says Winters. “It’s also a way to get to know moms who are in the same phase of life as you are. In my classes, I make it a point to have the women interact because a lot of women might not realize how important it is to have this kind of support.”

    Erica Roderfer Winters Group Shot

    Now that Erica is ​at the end of her second pregnancy, she is able to look back and identify things she would do differently if she has another child. One of the most important elements she teaches in her classes is self-care. “In those newborn days, I would forget to eat. I hadn’t prepared myself for how I would care for myself and for a new baby,” says Winters. “New moms do all the things they think they are supposed to do like get the nursery ready, read books, and go to birthing classes. What they don’t realize is that they need to plan to take care of themselves, too.”

    Erica Roderfer Winters Merlot Dress

    During her classes, Erica talks about how to get in quick doses of self-care through yoga and mindfulness that can help them feel better and more energized for when the baby arrives. One of her genius bits of self-care advice, “I made a care package for myself, and I’m making tons of freezer meals so I won’t have to cook!”

    Erica and her family are settling back in at home with their new baby. “I’m so thankful for my yogi support system this time around and I ask my pregnant friends and students, ‘What are you going to do this week to take care of yourself?’”

    Erica Roderfer Winters family

    For more information about Erica Rodefer Winters visit http://www.spoiledyogi.com/ . Or become a member of the Yoga Mamas of Charleston Facebook group.

     

  • Should Kids Drink Sports and Energy Drinks?

    Oct 18, 2016

    Geier
    David Geier, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon at East Cooper Medical Center

    Sports drinks and energy drinks are some of the fastest growing beverages on the market. Producers of these beverages have frequently marketed them to children and adolescents.

    But are these drinks appropriate for kids, especially young athletes?

    First, it’s important to realize that sports drinks and energy drinks are not the same. Sports drinks are the flavored beverages with added carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. Energy drinks are those filled with stimulant substances, like caffeine and guarana. While energy drinks may contain carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, their main benefits are the perceived or real stimulant effects. Since they really have different purposes, we should discuss them separately.

    When it comes to recommendations for kids, let’s start with sports drinks.

    For most children and adolescents, water should be the main drink for regular activities. As long as they are eating well-balanced diets to provide appropriate vitamins and minerals, obtaining those nutrients with sports drinks is unnecessary. Milk and fruit juice can also be adequate beverages in the diets of young athletes.

    Sports drinks are usually unnecessary for children and adolescents in most sports settings. Water should also be the preferred beverage for short periods of practice or competition. For short training sessions at moderate intensity, supplemental carbohydrates or electrolytes, such as sodium or potassium, is probably unnecessary. With prolonged vigorous activity, carbohydrates can help to maintain blood glucose levels as muscle glycogen stores are depleted. Also with prolonged intense training, electrolyte replacement can become more important. In these settings, sports drinks can be an acceptable choice.

    Now let’s talk about energy drinks.

    Many people mistake energy drinks as the “energy” that comes from the carbohydrates in sports drinks, but the term energy drink really refers to those that contain stimulants. These drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and often guarana, a stimulant which increases the caffeine content even more.

    Caffeine has been shown improve performance with enhanced endurance and strength for some athletes, but it has never been studied specifically in children. It has significant side effects, such as increased blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. It can affect mood, sleep, and has been associated with anxiety and irregular heart rhythms.

    Due to the potentially harmful effects on children and adolescents, intake of all forms of caffeine should be discouraged, especially in energy drinks. Ingesting energy drinks with high levels of stimulants in the setting of dehydration from swimming can be particularly dangerous.

    Here are some simple recommendations for parents and coaches about hydration strategies for young athletes, especially when it comes to using sports and energy drinks:

    • We must educate kids about sports drinks and if and when they should consume them.
    • We should also discuss the risks of the stimulants in energy drinks with kids.
    • We should discourage the consumption of energy drinks by children and adolescents due to the stimulants they contain.
  • Preparing Your Family for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm

    Oct 04, 2016

     

    Hurricane 

    While no one knows exactly how many storms will form this year or which part of the U.S. will be affected, you can take steps to prepare in case one comes to our area.

    Stay informed.
    Hurricane season runs from June 1 through the end of November. During those months, you should stay alert to news of any tropical developments. Local news programs, the radio, the internet and weather channels are great sources of information. Statistically, most hurricanes that make landfall in the United States occur in September, followed by August and July.

    Knowledge is Key. Become familiar with terms like “watch” and “warning.” A “watch” means that conditions are favorable for a tropical storm or hurricane to develop within 36 hours. A “warning” means that tropical storm or hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours. The watch and warning system gives you and your family time to plan and take steps to evacuate if necessary.

    You also should know whether the area you live in is prone to flooding or storm surge damage after a storm. If you live in a low-lying area, you should make plans to evacuate before a storm hits. Some coastal areas are subject to mandatory evacuations for hurricanes. Check with local officials to see if your area is part of a mandatory evacuation plan.

    Prepare your family. It’s a good idea to make a disaster plan for your family. You should decide where your family will go if an evacuation is necessary. Since hurricanes often change course, you should have several possible locations in mind that will take you and your family to a safer area. Here are some other tips for making your family’s plan: 

    • Make a list of telephone numbers that you might need.
    • Have an updated road map in your car.
    • Locate the safest area of your home, if you decide to stay.
    • Plan what you will do with pets if you need to evacuate. Not all hurricane shelters take pets.
    • Pack a family disaster supply kit. You may want to include:
      • At least one gallon of water per person for three to seven days.
      • Non-perishable food for three to seven days.
      • Special foods for infants, those on restricted diets and the elderly.
      • A manual can opener.
      • Cooking tools and fuel.
      • Paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils.
      • Bedding including blankets or sleeping bags and pillows.
      • Clothing for several days.
      • First aid kit.
      • Medications (including a list of prescriptions, pharmacy information, and prescribing physician).
      • Hygiene items such as toilet paper, baby wipes, and waterless hand cleaner.
      • Important documents such as insurance policies, social security cards, deeds, wills, proof of residence, drivers license, birth and marriage certificates, etc. in a waterproof, resealable container.
      • Cash and credit cards. (Remember, that banks and ATMs may not be available for several days following a storm.)
      • Battery operated flashlight, radio and extra batteries.
      • Books, games and other items to help your family pass the time.

    When traveling with an infant, make sure you plan for his or her special needs. You’ll need to remember items like formula, baby foods, bottles, baby wipes, and medications for the baby. You may want to pack items like an over-the-counter fever reducer for infants.

    If you are planning to take your pets along, you’ll need food and water for them. You should have a carrier or cage for them. Don’t forget to bring along proof of their immunizations as well as any medications that your pets will need. For dogs, don’t forget to bring a leash.

    Get your house ready. Tropical storms and hurricanes mean high winds. You may want to consider having storm shutters installed or purchasing pre-cut outdoor plywood that is at least ½ inch thick for each window of your home. Check trees near your house for diseased or dead limbs, overhanging branches and other possible hazards. Bring in any outdoor furniture, plant containers or other items that can be picked up by the high winds.

    Get your car ready. If a storm is brewing in your area, you may want to keep a full tank of gas in your car. Gas stations often run out of fuel when everyone starts evacuating for a hurricane and they cannot start pumping until electricity is restored after a storm. You may want to plan a summer car check of vital fluids, hoses and belts to make sure your car is in good working order.

    For more information, visit the National Hurricane Center at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov or the American Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.86f46a12f382290517a8f210b80f78a0/?vgnextoid=fbb5e821cbdf9110VgnVCM1000002bf3870aRCRD

  • Shiny. Happy. Human.

    Sep 21, 2016

    Gervase laughing coffee
    Gervase Kolmos, delivered her first child at East Cooper Medical Center

    “Babies cry forever,” says 3-year-old Aria Kolmos. “I sure used to think they would,” says her mother. Aria is a big sister to 4-week-old Maya and the daughter of Gervase Kolmos. Gervase is a mother, a Transformational Motherhood Coach and the founder of Shiny. Happy. Human., a movement of support and resources for moms who feel lost, isolated and overwhelmed.

    Gervase and girls 

    “Life before my kids was very conventional. I was just climbing the corporate ladder the way I thought you were supposed to,” says Gervase. “I would hop on the hamster wheel and hustle but I always felt like I was coming up short.” In 2013, Gervase gave birth to Aria at East Cooper Medical Center. “Motherhood was a totally transformational event in my life that made the daily grind unsustainable,” she says. Four months after giving birth the first time, Gervase was diagnosed with postpartum depression. “The ups and downs of the postpartum period made me realize I needed to evaluate my job and lifestyle,” she says.

    Shortly after, Gervase quit her job and began the search for a career that would feed her soul and help her become the role model she felt she needed to be for her daughter. She attended a writing workshop and happened to sit next to a life coach who inspired her to go into a similar career. “I found myself sharing my experiences of motherhood repeatedly. I wanted to write about the hard human moments I was experiencing during this time that I knew other women must be experiencing silently,” she says. “My coaching focus shifted, and my mission became to find women who were holding on to unreasonable beliefs about their roles as mothers and help them unravel these beliefs to create lives that reflected real life and not just the photo shop finish on social media.”  

    Her second child arrived a month ago and this time around is a totally different experience. “With my second child, I know what to expect and I know the hard times will pass.” Gervase says that postpartum was one of the hardest and best things she has ever had to deal with. “It was so challenging but now that I’m on the other side, it’s one of the most rewarding battles I’ve overcome,” she says. “I want to help other women through the postpartum period. Women need to know that we’re not doing anything wrong just because it’s hard, and we’re not bad moms for having a bad day.”

    Gervase girls

    As a Transformational Motherhood Coach, Gervase is creating a sisterhood for moms built on honesty, transparency and mental and emotional wellness. “I’m in charge of my identity now and I want to be a model of a joyful life for my daughters,” she says. “Raising tiny humans is hard, but being human doesn’t have to be.”

    For more information about Gervase Kolmos and Master Your #MomLife online program visit http://shinyhappyhuman.com/. Or become a member of the Mommy Soul Tribe Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/MommySoulTribe/

  • Celebrate National Neonatal Nurses Day!

    Sep 13, 2016

    Liz Price 1
    Liz Price, NICU nurse at East Cooper Medical Center

    Each day as Liz passes the bulletin board full of baby pictures in the NICU unit she is reminded of why she loves her job so much. Over twelve years ago when Liz Price was finishing nursing school, she felt her calling was to work with babies. A year into being a nurse, she was able to move into a position in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MUSC in Charleston. After seven years, a NICU nurse position opened at East Cooper Medical Center. She jumped at the opportunity to work at East Cooper, and has been here ever since.

    “Babies have always been my passion,” says Liz. “It was great to find an environment for babies and their families like the one at East Cooper.” Not long after Liz started, a newborn was admitted to the NICU. The mother was not from the area and her baby was born really early. “She and her baby stayed with us for three months. We went through all of the ups and downs together, and we still keep in touch to this day,” she says. “We spend so much time connecting with and encouraging these families. We love them like they are our own.”

    Liz Price 2

    Something that sets East Cooper’s NICU apart is the Rest Easy program. There are rooms available down the hall from the NICU that enable parents to stay close to their infant, even after mom has been discharged from the hospital. “Before I worked at East Cooper I had never heard of this kind of a program,” says Liz.

    The NICU team comes together each morning to talk about each baby’s progress. “We come together to go over suggestions and come up with any way to help out our new moms,” says Liz. “We are very hands on and work as a team.”

    “I work with the best colleagues and management that are out there,” says Liz. “One of the main reasons I love working at East Cooper so much is because my coworkers and the people I interact with each day are like my family.”

    Liz Price and coworkers

    For more information about our Level II Neonatal Nursery and services click here: https://www.eastcoopermedctr.com/our-services/mother-baby/level-ii-neonatal-nursery


  • How Do You Calculate Your Due Date?

    Sep 08, 2016

    When you first find out that you're pregnant it can be an exciting and overwhelming time. One of the first things you need to figure out is when ​is the baby due?

    Baby Due Date

    A typical pregnancy lasts, on average, 280 days, or 40 weeks — starting with the first day of the last normal menstrual period as day 1. An estimated due date can be calculated by following steps 1 through 3:

    1. First, determine the first day of your last menstrual period.

    2. Next, count back 3 calendar months from that date.

    3. Lastly, add 1 year and 7 days to that date.

    For example: Your last menstrual period began on September 9, 2016. Counting back 3 calendar months would be June 9, 2016. Adding 1 year and 7 days would bring you to June 16, 2017, as your estimated due date.

    This 3-step method is referred to as Naegele's Rule and is based on a normal 28-day menstrual cycle. Therefore, dates may have to be adjusted for longer or shorter menstrual cycles. 

    You may also estimate your delivery date by using the steps 1 and 2 and the chart:

    1. First, locate the first day of your last menstrual period (in black text).
    2. Next, note the date directly below. This is your estimated date of delivery (in blue text).  
    Baby's Due Date Calculator

  • You Don’t Have to Live with a Leaky Bladder

    Aug 31, 2016

    It might happen when you sneeze—or maybe when you exercise. It might happen so fast you aren’t able to make it to the bathroom. Living with a leaky bladder—or urinary incontinence—can be frustrating at the very least. The American College of Physicians (ACP) recently looked at some of the best ways—other than surgery—to help women with this condition.

    Suzanne Rodgers
    Suzanne Rodgers, Women’s Health Physical Therapist (PT) at East Cooper Medical Center

    Top treatments

    Many women struggle with urinary incontinence. The most common type is stress incontinence. It’s when a little urine leaks out because a certain movement—such as coughing—pushes on your bladder. Other women may have urge incontinence, or an overactive bladder. This kind causes a sudden urge to urinate when you don’t expect it.

    To help women with these problems, the ACP recently pored over the latest research on treating urinary incontinence. They focused on choices that didn’t involve surgery. From their review, they were able to pinpoint some of the most effective therapies. One of the best for stress incontinence was pelvic floor muscle training, or Kegel exercises. These can build up the muscles that help you control urination.

    Suzanne Rodgers is a Women’s Health Physical Therapist (PT) at East Cooper Medical Center’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. She explains, “Physical therapy can work to correct bad habits many women have that contribute to their symptoms. What I mean by this is that we tend to hold our breath while doing many activities of daily living, like when we lean over to get something off the floor, or when lifting a heavy object. A lifetime of improper lifting takes a toll on our bodies. When we hold our breath, we are trying to stabilize our lumbar spine, but this is ineffective and weakens the soft tissues of our pelvic floor, which can lead to dysfunction. One of my goals as a Women's Health PT is to teach people how to use their core muscles, including the abdominals and the pelvic floor muscles, to stabilize the lumbar spine.”

    Suzanne adds, “A high percentage of women perform Kegel exercises incorrectly (use the wrong muscles for example) when just verbally instructed how to perform them. Doing the exercises incorrectly can exacerbate the problem. PT can help by ensuring a woman is using the appropriate musculature and performing the exercises effectively for a successful outcome.”

    For women with an overactive bladder, bladder training may be the answer. It can help you gradually hold more urine over time. It includes going to the bathroom on a set schedule. Certain medicines may work, too. But they may cause unpleasant side effects, such as dry mouth and constipation.

    Other options

    Urinary incontinence often stems from pregnancy or childbirth. Having a baby can weaken a woman’s pelvic muscles. Certain health problems can also cause it, such as a stroke or a brain injury. Some medicine may even be the culprit.

    To help decide on treatment, your doctor may first address what is causing your leaky bladder. For instance, he or she may change your medicine if that seems to be the problem. Simple lifestyle changes may also make a difference. You may need to cut out caffeine and alcohol. They can irritate your bladder.

    If you have stress incontinence and these steps don’t work, your doctor may finally recommend surgery. The sling procedure is one of the most common surgical choices. A small piece of tissue or mesh is added to the urethra. That’s the tube that moves urine out of your body. This sling helps the urethra close as it should.

    For more information about our Outpatient Rehab Center or to discuss this topic further, visit: https://www.eastcoopermedctr.com/our-services/other-services/outpatient-rehabilitation


  • Back to School – 6 Tips for Establishing Morning Routines for Children

    Aug 23, 2016

    Becky
    Rebecca Doolittle McFalls, MHS, OTR/L, Pediatric Occupational Therapist


    As a pediatric occupational therapist at the Pediatric Rehab Center with East Cooper Medical Center, helping families establish good routines to help with children's overall regulation, anxiety, and ability to have smooth transitions in the morning is part of our job each day. Mornings can be hard on everyone in the family but it’s important to stay on schedule, as well as teach your kids the importance of self-sufficiency.

    Here are some guidelines to developing "happy" habits for the whole family:

    (1) Get up on time. When your child is around one year, identify a wake up time and be consistent. At about four years, if your child tends to get up early, teach them it is okay, but they must play quietly in their room until an established time or until you enter their room. Stagger your wake up times if you have multiple children, that way you are able to help one child at a time.

    (2) Keep on task. Talk to your child each night about what will happen and what is expected each morning. In the mornings, ask him or her to name the steps of the morning routine as you go through it. Sometimes creating a visual checklist can be helpful and can be something you tailor and update as your child grows. Leave the TV off, as it can be a huge distraction.

    (3) Get organized.  Lay your child’s clothes out, pack their lunch, determine breakfasts for the week, and make sure everything is their backpack the night before. Let your child take part in the decision making. Limiting choices may help make the decision process easier and quicker.

    (4) Encourage involvement and independence. As much as you want to do it for them because it will be faster, letting them take part allows your child to practice and learn how to have a morning routine they will eventually be able to follow on their own. Take a step towards independence by allowing them to take one aspect of dressing themselves on the weekend, like choosing a shirt.

    (5) Teach flexibility. Building a structure for your morning routine is imperative but it’s important to teach your child that there are some days where you can be relaxed. Sleeping in and having pancakes on the weekend is a fun example to show your child it’s okay to occasionally stray from your normal routine.

    (6) Stay positive and have fun. Even if you’re not a morning person, a positive attitude will rub off on your kids and set the tone for a good day. Affection, like hugs and cuddling, also promotes positivity.  If routines are fun, children will undoubtedly want to take part. Listen to music and dance while you all get dressed. Be creative with morning tasks like dressing and grooming. Making your mornings fun will not only benefit your child, but it will set a great tone for you as well.

    For more information about our Pediatric Rehab Center or to discuss morning routines further, visit: https://www.eastcoopermedctr.com/our-services/other-services/outpatient-rehabilitation/pediatric-rehabilitation

    According to information from The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.


  • Then and Now: 30 Years of Labor & Delivery

    Aug 09, 2016

    Before & Now

    When the first baby was born at East Cooper Medical Center thirty years ago, there was no operating room in labor and delivery. Women had to be transported to an entirely different floor in the case of an emergency. Today, there's an operating room right down the hall, and any necessities required for emergency situations are nearby.

    In 1986, local mom-to-be, Patsy Washington went into labor. Her doctor told her to meet him at the nearest hospital, which happened to be East Cooper. "It was a frightening experience,” says Patsy. “When I arrived, I found out I had to go through surgery." Dr. Osborne, board-certified OB/GYN on staff at East Cooper, performed a successful emergency C-section. "Patsy was a regular labor and delivery patient, but her baby was in trouble," says Dr. Osborne. "Fortunately, we were able to take care of this emergency situation, and everything turned out fine. As long as we have a healthy mom and baby, we're happy."

    Osborne Granger MD

    For almost 40 years, Granger C. Osborne, M.D., has been providing obstetric and gynecological services in the Charleston area. He joined Lowcountry OB/GYN when the practice started in 1986.  Dr. Osborne delivered the very first baby at East Cooper Medical Center.

    "Since our opening over 30 years ago, we have viewed each day as an opportunity to improve upon what we accomplished the day before," says Dr. Osborne. "This helps ensure that we're able to deliver healthy babies with minimal complications."

    East Cooper's first baby, Andrea Washington, turned 30 this year along with the hospital. She is a proud mother herself and has lived in the area her entire life. 

     

  • Three L’s of Lactation: Latching, Leaking, and Learning

    Aug 03, 2016

    Jesica and baby
    Jesica Miller, lactation consultant at East Cooper Medical Center

    According to nature and a few media campaigns, breastfeeding is supposed to be as natural as breathing. But sometimes it isn’t: from low milk production to your baby failing to latch, breastfeeding can be wrought with frustration for both sides. Don’t call it quits before you can really get started; let us help.

    Breast is Best…Or is it?
    Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and it’s important to have that in mind when you prepare to try. Although breast milk contains more nutrients and antioxidants than formula, breastfeeding is a challenge that may not work for every new mom. To help determine if it’s right for you, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant. Organizations like the Breastfeeding Network and La Leche League can also help connect you with a support group and a counselor if you aren’t sure where to start. 

    Lactation actually begins around your 16th week of pregnancy with a type of milk called colostrum. It’s heavier than mature milk, and has higher levels of nutrients to help develop your baby’s intestines. This is the first milk that your baby will get right after birth when nursing begins. Within two or three days of beginning nursing, your body will switch to producing only mature milk.

    The First L: Latching
    Since breastfeeding is a natural process, your baby knows what it’s doing. It’s cues--like suckling, rooting, and grabbing at its mouth, among others—signal that it’s hungry and ready to nurse. By spending some quality skin-to-skin time with your baby, you’ll start to recognize these cues before your baby can even begin to cry.

    To increase your chances of success, try to find the most comfortable position possible. If you need a distraction like the TV or music, go for it. Attempting different positions, such as lying on your back or side, can also help ease the transition into breastfeeding. Parents.com offers an extensive list of breastfeeding positions. Your baby should easily be latching onto your breast, with his or her mouth covering your areola (the darkened area around the nipple). If you’re having difficulty getting your baby to latch on, or if you experience pain upon latching, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant: often a simple fix can get you back to breastfeeding in no time!

    The Second L: Leaking
    Leaking from one or both breasts can begin even before you give birth, and often increases after birth. Typically, this is caused by your body adjusting to the cries of your baby when you first begin nursing and isn’t a cause for concern. This is also called the let-down reflex, and is triggered by nerves in your breast, resulting in a tingly sensation. Your breasts may also begin to leak or become sore if the breast tissue is full of milk and needs to be emptied.

    However, poor lactation response—a lack of leaking or milk production—can be due to a variety of factors. If your nipples are sore or cracked, or if your breast tissue has been damaged by a prior trauma, you may have trouble producing milk. Even separation from your baby for a long period of time may affect your milk production. To reduce these risks, it’s important to do your research before committing to breastfeeding.

    The Third L: Learning
    Both you and your baby have a lot to learn about breastfeeding, and it never hurts to ask for help. If you have questions regarding schedules, how to store breast milk, or anything else you can come up with, don’t be afraid to ask. Some of the questions we get asked the most include:

    •       How do I store breast milk? Once pumped and bottled, breast milk in the fridge is good for about 3-5 days. If you choose to freeze your breast milk, make sure you do so in a deep freezer so it can last up to 6 months. Keep in mind: frozen breast milk loses some of the nutrients that fresh breast milk has.

    •       What is a galactagogue and do I need it? Galactagogue is a fancy word for a food, herb, or supplement that aids in the production of breast milk. This includes garlic, water, carrots, oatmeal, and even ginger. Whether you need them is entirely up to you and how much you’re currently lactating.

    •       How do I know my baby is getting the milk? How do I know I’m doing this right? The easiest way to make sure you’re getting off to a good start with breastfeeding is to be observed by a doctor, lactation consultant, or doula the first few times. In addition to helping you find a comfortable position and ensure the baby is latching correctly, they can offer tips and techniques specific to your needs. Although it seems contradictory, your body will produce more milk the more often your breasts are emptied. If it seems slow going at first, give yourself and your baby time to adjust.

    •       What about my diet? Just like when you were pregnant, your diet for breastfeeding should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, and you should avoid alcohol and copious amounts of caffeine. Breastfeeding mothers need about 300-500 extra calories per day than non-breastfeeding moms, so keep that in mind. If your baby has an allergy to a food, it will be apparent through hard stools, painful gas, or frequent spit-up.

    Breastfeeding can be tough, but we’re here to make it easier, and it can be a very rewarding experience. Please join us for our breastfeeding support group, offered weekly at the Hospital, where a certified lactation consultant is available to offer support and answer questions. Learn more here: https://www.eastcoopermedctr.com/about-us/hospital-support-groups

  • Installing and Using Child Safety Seats and Booster Seats

    Jul 26, 2016

    Car seat

    Bringing home your new baby is an exciting time! Knowing how to properly install you child's car seat ​as they grow can help ease worry for their safety while driving.

    Proper restraints for children riding in motor vehicles depend on the child's age and size. Restraints to keep a child safe in the car include:

    • Infant safety seats
    • Child safety seats
    • Child booster seats
    • Properly used safety belts

    The key to keeping your child safe is to use an age-appropriate child restraint that is properly installed and properly used.

    Infant and child safety seats come in many shapes and sizes. Some are not compatible with certain vehicles. The best child safety seat for a family is the one that is easy to use for the parents or caregivers, fits in the vehicle's seats, is compatible with the vehicle's seat belts, and is the proper size for the child. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a series of specific recommendations for the use of child safety seats:

    • Children should face the rear of the vehicle until they are at least 2 years of age. This is to reduce the risk of cervical spine injury in the event of a crash. Infants who outgrow their car safety seat recommended by the manufacturer can use convertible seats, but must still be rear-facing.
    • A rear-facing car safety seat must not be placed in the front passenger seat of any vehicle equipped with a passenger-side front air bag. This practice prevents the risk of death or serious injury from impact of the air bag against the safety seat.
    • Premature and small infants should not be placed in car safety seats with shields, abdominal pads, or arm rests that could directly contact an infant's face and neck during an impact.
    • In rear-facing car safety seats for infants, shoulder straps must be in the lowest slots until the infant's shoulders are above the slots. The harness must be snug and the car safety seat's retainer clip should be positioned at the midpoint of the infant's chest, not on the abdomen or in the neck area.
    • The car safety seat should be reclined halfway back, at a 45-degree tilt. A higher angle should be used when the child is over 6 months. Until engineering modifications can be put into place to prevent this problem, a firm roll of cloth or newspaper can be wedged under the car safety seat below the infant's feet to achieve this angle.
    • A convertible safety seat should be used as long as the child fits well. (This includes ears below the top of the back of the seat and shoulders below the seat strap slots.) It is positioned reclined and rear-facing for a child until 2 years of age and semi-upright and forward-facing for a child older than 2 years of age who weighs 20 to 40 pounds,
    • A booster seat should be used when the child has outgrown a convertible safety seat, but is too small to fit properly in a vehicle safety belt.
    • A belt-positioning booster seat that uses a combination lap/shoulder belt, if that type of belt is recommended. A booster seat with a small shield, which can be used when only a lap belt is available, is not recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    The infant safety seat
    Infant safety seats are often small and portable seats used for babies up to age 1 and 35 pounds. Infant seats are rear-facing and may come with a three-point or a five-point harness. Some infant seats come with detachable bases that can be left belted into the vehicle so that the parent does not have to install the seat every time. (Some bases also are adjustable to correctly recline the infant.)

    The child safety seat
    Child safety seats are either convertible seats or forward-facing seats:

    • Convertible seats can be used for infants up to age 2 in the rear-facing position, and then turned around into the forward-facing position for toddlers. The disadvantage of a convertible seat is that it does not fit a newborn as well as an infant safety seat. When changing from a rear-facing position to a forward-facing position, parents or caregivers should check the seat's manual on how to adjust the shoulder straps appropriately and how to position the seat belt properly.
    • Forward-facing child safety seats are for children over 2 years of age. Some seats may convert to booster seats for children over 40 pounds.

    The booster seat
    Booster seats help raise your child so that the vehicle's seat belts fit properly. Booster seats are necessary when a child outgrows his or her child safety seat top weight or height, usually after 40 pounds or age 4. Children do not fit in adult shoulder/lap belts (without a booster seat) until they are 58 inches tall (with a sitting height of 29 inches) and weigh 80 pounds, according to the CDC.

    Booster seats should always be placed in the back seat of the vehicle. There are two types of booster seats:

    • High back booster. A booster seat that helps protect the head and neck in back seats that do not have head restraints. The vehicle's lap and shoulder belts are used to secure the child. 
    • Backless booster. A booster seat that raises the child up so that the vehicle's lap and shoulder belts properly restrain the child.

    Checking your car seat
    As many as 73% of child safety seats are found to be improperly installed and/or used, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some of the most common mistakes in installing or using child safety seats include the following:

    • Safety belt not holding the seat in tightly and/or not in locked mode
    • Harness straps not snug and/or positioned correctly
    • Harness retainer clip not at armpit level
    • Locking clip not used correctly
    • Car seat recalled and not repaired (includes booster seats)
    • Infants placed rear-facing in front of an active air bag
    • Children turned forward-facing before reaching 2 years of age

    Parents and caregivers should carefully read their vehicle owner's manual and the instructions that come with the child safety seat to make sure of proper installation and use of the seat. The NHTSA recommends doing the following quick safety seat assessment:

    • Is your child riding in the back seat? (The back seat is the safest place in a crash.)
    • Is your child facing the correct way? (Infants up to age 2 should face the rear.)
    • Is the child safety seat held tightly in place by the seat belt?
    • Does the harness buckle snugly around your child?
    • If your child is between 40 and 80 pounds, is he or she in a booster seat for better seat belt fit?
    • Does your older child fit properly in the vehicle's seat belts? (The shoulder belt should rest over the shoulder and across the chest, and the lap belt should fit low and tight over the upper thighs. The child should be tall enough to sit with knees bent at the edge of the seat--at least 58 inches tall and 80 pounds.)

    Replacing child safety seats and seat belts after a crash
    Once a vehicle has been in a severe crash, child safety seats and seat belts should be replaced because they may have become stretched or damaged. All child safety seats are replaced by insurance companies. Always check with your child safety seat manufacturer concerning questions about the safety of your child's seat.

    When car seats are recalled
    Sometimes child safety seats are recalled for safety reasons. It is important to register your car seat to make sure that you are notified if the specific product is recalled. To check if your child safety seat has been recalled, call the seat's manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236. If the seat has been recalled, you will be instructed on how to repair it, or how to obtain parts to repair it.

  • Graeme Seabrook, The Warrior Mom Ambassador

    Jul 19, 2016

    Graema Seabrook
    Delivered her son at East Cooper Medical Center

    In 2013​, Bridget Williamson, M.D., board certified OB GYN at East Cooper OB/GYN, delivered Graeme Seabrook’s first child at East Cooper Medical Center. “Dr. Williamson was wonderful and so supportive,” Graeme says.

    Soon after delivering her son, Graeme realized that something wasn’t right with her body and mind. “I was having panic attacks and I was angry all the time,” she says. “I googled ‘postpartum depression’ in the middle of the night and I kept going back to the same website that spoke in plain-mom English.” Graeme reached out to Dr. Williamson, who gave her immediate hope by working with her to find both a therapist and medication to help her navigate this dark time in her life.

    After getting the help she so desperately sought after, Graeme knew she needed to help other women who were experiencing the same pain. She found the local organization, Postpartum Support Charleston, which facilitates support groups for local moms and families. This led Graeme to the national organization, Postpartum Progress, and after attending a conference in Boston, her life was changed forever. “I went to the conference and it changed everything,” she says. “I was surrounded by women who had shared the same experience as me.”

    Graeme signed up to be a Warrior Mom Ambassador for Postpartum Progress. The ambassadors are women who have survived perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and are working to build a network that supports meaningful change. Graeme is the only ambassador in South Carolina. “I could not be more proud to be a Warrior Mom Ambassador for Postpartum Progress,” she says. “We are liaisons for change in our communities.”

    In May, Graeme went to the Capitol with 100 other women from across the country for the National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health (NCMMH) Lobby Day to work on the ‘Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows’ Act. The legislation, if passed, would provide money to each state for OB/GYNs and pediatricians to conduct screenings for moms in the first year after giving birth.

    Graeme is grateful for the support she received from her family, friends, the community and East Cooper Medical Center. Her goal now is to return that support back to the women living with the stigma. “I talk to parents almost every day about the importance of self-care and putting ourselves first in our lives. There are so many reasons to make this a focus in your life,” she says. “I’m here to offer a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen.”

    For more information regarding our Postpartum Support Group visit: https://www.eastcoopermedctr.com/about-us/hospital-support-groups

    You can read more from Graeme on her website and blog “The Postpartum Mama” where she chronicles her journey through postpartum depression and anxiety at http://www.postpartummama.org/. You can also support her cause by sharing her open letter to Stephen Colbert, asking him to bring his celebrity to shine a light on maternal mental health. #SaveTheMamasStephen

  • Take Time to Make Time - New Mothers CAN Find Peace

    Jul 12, 2016

    Mom and baby in greenhouse

    Between work, the gym, housework, and errands, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed with a busy schedule. Once you throw a baby into your every day life, however, you find that there was an entirely new level to busyness that you hadn’t previously known about. So, what gives? How can you find a little peace, or does such a thing exist in the universe?

    Help is Closer Than You Think
    Regardless if you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mother, having a baby is difficult. Since a baby won’t adhere to your schedule or time management constraints, even the simplest of tasks can make herding cats look easy—especially with newborns. When you have a newborn, nearly every waking (and sometimes only half-awake) second is spent with your baby: changing, feeding, watching them sleep in your arms. Whether it’s your first baby or your third, adjusting to a newborn’s schedule takes quite a few sleepless nights. Instead of accepting the constant state of being tired and slightly confused, it’s easier to try and coordinate some peace and quiet for yourself.

    The more, the merrier: First, you’ll want to accept the fact that accepting help can go a long way. Whether a mom, an in-law, a doula, or a home nurse steps in, learn to trust them with your baby (at least long enough to take a hot shower).

    Think it through: When you feel safe leaving your baby with another caregiver for a few minutes or hours, have a few things organized and ready to go. Post all your contact and emergency numbers on the fridge. Provide them with a fully stocked diaper bag. Make sure you have plenty of breast milk or formula set aside and ready to go. Also, tell your caregiver what your exact plan is, and take your phone with you (even if it’s just to the next room). With a set plan in place, you can worry less and enjoy that brief time away from your baby even more.

    Get rid of the guilt: As we’ve said before, it’s important not to feel guilty for needing help with your baby, or for needing some time to yourself. Every mother deserves her sanity: whether that comes in the form a nap, some quiet time or a short walk around the block.

    Making time to keep your sanity in place doesn’t have to be an elaborate day-trip to the mall: once the baby comes, just a little time by yourself suddenly feels like a vacation. Start with small plans, like a shower or a nap, and work up to getting out for a manicure or even meeting the girls for a quick coffee. It’s amazing how much a few minutes by yourself—or with other adults—will refresh your mind and make all the time you spend with your baby even more special.

    Still not convinced? Feel free to contact us about the benefits some alone time can have for you and baby. We’d love to hear from you!


  • Aubrey Atkinson - For the Love of Mom Genes

    Jul 05, 2016

    Audrey Atkinson in NICU

          Audrey Atkinson in NICU 2

    Delivered her babies & spent time in the NICU at East Cooper Medical Center

    When Aubrey and Josh Atkinson got married they wanted to start a family right away. It was something they had both dreamed of. After one year of trying, the Atkinsons did some testing that ultimately led them to a fertility specialist. “It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that my body doesn’t work like it’s supposed to,” says Aubrey.

    Infertility affects many couples and can be a struggle, both emotionally and financially. The Atkinsons weighed their options and decided to move forward with their fertility journey. “In the beginning, we were really quiet about it,” says Aubrey. “It’s an intimate and very personal time.  It was really hard to invite people into that space at first. As a couple, we decided to start sharing our journey through social media as a way for our friends and family to keep up with all we were experiencing. It was one of the best decisions we made. The support was, and continues to be, incredible from people all over.”  

    Over the course of about two years, the couple underwent a few rounds of different treatments. They started with intrauterine insemination (IUI), the fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus. In July of 2015, they did their first round of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transferring the embryo to the uterus. During their IVF treatment, two embryos were transferred with a high chance that both could take. After four years of trying to have a baby, their treatment was successful and the Atkinsons learned they were expecting twins. “We were shocked!” says Aubrey. “To finally hear that you are pregnant after all this time was so surreal.”

    Atkinson twins 

    After a rough pregnancy and at their 34 week goal, Aubrey gave birth to healthy twin girls at East Cooper Medical Center. “Molly was born first and weighed 4 pounds. Eisley came a minute later and weighed 3.13 pounds,” she says.  The twins spent two weeks in the NICU at East Cooper. They never had to be put on ventilators because they could breathe on their own. Their feeding tubes were removed after 12 days, and their body temperatures were regulated within the first week. “We thought we would be in the NICU for three to four weeks,” says Aubrey. “They were little fighters and the staff was so great to us.”

    Aubrey was able to take part in the rest easy program at East Cooper where families are given private rooms while their babies are in the NICU. “I was discharged after 7 days and then they moved me to another private room while my girls were in the NICU,” she says. “I was able to walk down the hallway to feed them and then I got to go back to my room to recover. East Cooper is the only hospital in the Lowcountry that has this program. It’s phenomenal.”

    The Atkinsons are eternally grateful for the help and support that was given to them along their journey. “It’s been the most challenging, humbling yet amazing experience I could ever imagine,” she says. “Hold on for the ride and never lose hope no matter how hard it gets. It’s worth it in the end”

    You can follow Aubrey, Josh and the twins on Facebook @FTLOMG or on Instagram @fortheloveofmomgenes

    Photos taken by Ansley Alexander Photograph. Visit ansley-alexander.squarespace.com/ for more information.
  • Swimming Safety for Children

    Jun 29, 2016

    BLOG swimming 2

    Splish! Splash! Children seem to be naturally drawn to water. They can splash in it, float on top of it and dive through it. Water can be a welcome relief from the summer heat and a source of unlimited enjoyment. But it also can be dangerous. Approximately 1,000 children drown each year, most often in the home swimming pool.

    Parents can keep their children safe around water by following these do’s and don’ts to avoid health risks while still having fun.

    • DO teach children how to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children starting at age four when they are developmentally ready for formal swim lessons.
    • DO supervise children at all times when they are in the water. Just because children know how to swim does not mean they are safe in the water.
    • DO remove toys from the water so children are not tempted to retrieve a toy.
    • DO get out of the water if weather turns bad, especially if there is lightening.
    • DO have a cordless or cell phone nearby in case of an emergency.
    • DO use waterproof diapers for babies. It is important to change diapers often because babies can spread the parasite cryptosporidium through fecal matter.
    • DO allow a child with a water-safe cast to swim if the doctor has approved. Plaster casts should not get wet.
    • DO keep children out of the water if they have swimmer’s ear.
    • DO surround your pool at home with a fence that is at least four feet tall. The fence should have a self-closing and self-latching gate (latches should be out of the reach of children).
    • DO empty blow-up pools after each use.
    • DO stay in designated areas at the beach or lake.
    • DO look out for underwater grass or weeds that could entrap a leg or arm.
    • DO wear aqua socks or water shoes at the lake or beach to protect feet from jagged rocks, trash, or broken glass.
    • DO have children wear life jackets when boating.
    • DO watch out for currents and tides at lakes or beaches. Check with local authorities to determine whether they have posted warnings for dangerous tides. Some beaches fly colored flags to provide visual warnings.
    • DO tell children to avoid jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-wars and ask for adult help if they are stung.
    • DO make sure water park rides are appropriate for the child’s age, size, and developmental level.
    • DO teach children to go down water slides feet first and face up. The “feet first” rule also applies to jumping into any body of water until you are sure of the depth.
    • DON’T let children dive into a body of water without first checking the water depth.
    • DON’T allow electrical appliances or glass around the water.
    • DON’T allow children to swim with an open sore, cut or scrape.
    • DON’T allow children with ear tubes to dive. Swimming may be allowed pending physician approval.
    • DON’T allow children to run around a pool, roughhouse, or push others into the water.
    • DON’T allow children to play near or sit on a pool drain. 

  • Learning the Crying Patterns of Your Newborn

    Jun 21, 2016

    Crying Newborn


    What are the crying patterns of a newborn?

    The first cries of a newborn baby are often music to the ears of parents. However, over the next weeks and months, this "music" can become grating and painful. This is especially true when all attempts fail to stop the crying.

    Surprisingly, crying does not produce tears until after the first month or two. Crying is the way babies communicate. Babies cry because of hunger, discomfort, frustration, fatigue, and even loneliness. Sometimes, cries can easily be answered with food or a diaper change. Other times, it can be a mystery and crying stops as quickly as it begins.

    You will soon learn differences in cries, from a cry of "I'm hungry" to "I've been overstimulated." It is important to respond to your baby's cries. Contrary to old wives' tales, young babies cannot be spoiled by being picked up when crying. Being held is reassuring and comforting when a baby cannot express him/herself any other way.

    Some techniques to help console a crying baby include the following:

    • Take care of physical problems first--hunger, diaper change, burping, cooling, or warming the baby.
    • Walk with baby in a sling or in a stroller.
    • Rock your baby in a rhythmic, gentle motion.
    • Try a baby swing or rocking cradle.
    • Gently pat or stroke on the back or chest.
    • Swaddling the baby.
    • Go for a ride in the car.
    • Turn on some white noise (such as a washing machine or vacuum cleaner).
    • Make "shushing" sounds for the baby.
    • Offer a pacifier (or nurse)

    No matter how frustrated you may become, ​never shake a baby. This can cause severe injury to the baby's fragile brain. If you become angry or frustrated, allow someone else to take over for a while. If you are alone, put the baby down in a safe place, such as the crib, and go to another room for a few moments. This will give you time to collect yourself. Then you can return and try a different way to comfort your baby.


  • The Zika Virus and Pregnancy

    Jun 14, 2016

    Dr. Keller
    Dr. Jessica Keller, D. O.

    The Zika virus and pregnancy has been a hot topic recently. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and subsequently cause certain birth defects. The likelihood that Zika will affect pregnancy, and at what stage it might cause harm to the fetus, is still unknown. While it is still unknown if a baby will develop birth defects from the infection, the Zika virus has been associated with microcephaly and head abnormalities in fetuses of women who have been infected with the virus.

    The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that causes fever, joint pain rash and red of eyes. It is believed that the first isolated case appeared in 1947 in a rhesus monkey. The first human case appeared in 1952 in Africa. To date, there have been no infected mosquitoes found in the United States, but there have been travel-associated cases.

    Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries and territories. Refer to the CDC’s website for the most up-to-date list of countries and territories with active Zika virus transmission: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html. Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to these areas, and those who do plan to travel to one of these areas should talk to their healthcare provider first. Women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant, should also consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas. While traveling, it is very important to follow special precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent with DEET, cover exposed skin, stay in air-conditioned or screened areas, and treat clothing with permethrin. When used as directed, DEET and permethrin can safely be used during pregnancy, however, permethrin should not be used directly on the skin.

    If you traveled to a country or territory with active Zika virus transmission while pregnant, and have some of the symptoms of the virus, you should contact your provider immediately. Your provider may want to test you if you have been in an area with active transmission of the virus. Although the virus is usually mild, with symptoms lasting up to a week, the CDC recommends waiting eight weeks to attempt conception after the last possible exposure.

    In February, a non-pregnancy case of the virus was confirmed in Texas, involving a patient who had sexual intercourse with someone who was infected at the time. For pregnant women with male partners who have travelled to Zika outbreak areas, it is recommended to use condoms during intercourse, or abstain from sex during pregnancy.

    Currently, there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. The symptoms should be treated with common over-the-counter remedies, such as Tylenol. Prevention is key, and avoiding exposure is best.


  • 10 Tips to Help Fight Morning Sickness

    Jun 01, 2016

    Morning Sickness 2

    Doctors still aren't exactly sure what causes morning sickness. The most popular theory is that morning sickness is the body's reaction to the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced at higher levels during the first trimester than at any other time during pregnancy.

    What any woman who has been pregnant will tell you, morning sickness can hit you at any time of day, not just in the morning.

    Morning sickness is an unavoidable side effect of a healthy pregnancy and developing baby. It can take a nutritional toll on the mom-to-be. Since good nutrition is crucial during this stage of life, here are some tips to help combat morning sickness and stay as healthy as possible.

    1. Avoid smells
    : Pregnancy hormones will likely enhance your sense of smell, which can cause nausea to get worse when you’re exposed to certain odors. Identify those smells and avoid them when at all possible.

    2. Eat small: Eat small, frequent meals every couple of hours throughout the day. Don’t drink more than 4 ounces at a time, and only drink between meals, not during meals. An empty stomach often makes the nausea worse.

    3. Sit up straight: After eating or drinking, don’t lie down for a while even if you really need a nap. Gravity will help prevent nausea and reflux. 

    4. Candy remedies: Keep a stash of ginger candies, lemon drops, or peppermints nearby. They can provide nausea relief for some women. 

    5. Go clear: If it’s hard to keep anything down, focus on clear liquids that are NOT highly sugared. Water, tea, ginger ale and Gatorade are among the best.  Stay hydrated! 

    6. Into the freezer: If keeping fluids down is a problem, try freezing milk, juice or water. The cold numbs the back of your mouth and takes away the bad taste and sensation that brings on nausea.

    7. Be bland: Bland starches, such as breads, rice or pasta, which are metabolized quickly, are often the best choices. Concentrate on non-fatty starches like dry toast, crackers, baked potatoes and plain baked pretzels. Avoid highly spiced or greasy foods and gas-producing vegetables like cabbage. Non-acidic fruits like peaches, pears and bananas are usually well tolerated.

    8. Add more variety later: Keep it simple first thing in the morning, but if the nausea tends to subside later in the day, try to eat meats, cheeses and other milk products that sound good to you.

    9. Supplement: Consider taking vitamins to supplement your diet. Vitamin B-6 is another common and safe tummy soother. Unfortunately, the iron in prenatal vitamins may also make nausea worse (especially on an empty stomach). An adult chewable multivitamin with folic acid may help.

    10. Pack in nutrients: Once the worst of your morning sickness has passed (after the first trimester for many), pack in as many healthy foods as possible: colorful fruits and vegetables, lean protein and foods with a lot of calcium, iron and zinc.