July: Happy Summertime!

Happy Summertime!!!  

You probably already know that tanning, whether it’s out at the beach or indoors in a tanning bed – isn’t a good idea for anyone, since plenty of research shows that it can cause skin cancer, not to mention wrinkles and other skin issues.  But pregnant women are especially sensitive to the sun and too much exposure can cause or worsen skin discoloration (called melasma) that many moms-to-be are already prone to.  You don’t have to be a hermit, but you should check out some answers to the question “Is It Safe to Sunbathe While Pregnant”. 

When pregnant during the summer, it’s tempting to take some time to lay out in the sun for the idea sun-kissed glow.  But before you head out with your swimsuit and towel, consider the way that UV rays affect both you and your baby.  While only preliminary studies have been completed, research points toward a link between folic acid deficiency and your exposure to the sun’s harsh rays.  Protect yourself and your baby when coming in contact with the sun.

How the Sun Affects Folic Acid:

When exposed to UV rays, folic acid degradation occurs.  Since folic acid is necessary for your baby’s growth and development, it presents an argument for staying out of the sun.  A lack of folic acid sometimes results in physical deformities, such as spina bifida.  Getting enough folic acid is especially vital during the first trimester.  While the link between sunlight exposure and harm to the fetus isn’t completely proven, staying out of the sun for lengthy periods of time and protecting your body is wise during the first month of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Issues:

The excess of female hormones in your body during pregnancy presents specific problems for your skin when exposed to the sun.  Melasma, sometimes known as pregnancy mask, occurs when the area above the lip becomes hyper-pigmented.  While the appearance fades after pregnancy, exposure to sunlight darkens the pigments during pregnancy, making the darkened skin more noticeable.  Laying out in the sun or using sun tanning beds also puts you at risk for over-heating. 

Precautions:

If you’re going to be out in the sun, protect your skin and your growing baby from penetrating UVA and UVB rays by using an adequate sunscreen.  Sunscreen does not harm your baby.  Use a high SPF of 30 or above and reapply every few hours, after sweating or after being in the water.  If possible use clothes and hats to cover your skin and avoid using tanning beds, which have not been closely studied in relation to pregnancy.

Alternatives:

Instead of looking to UVA or UVB rays to get a warm glow come summer time, use sunless tanning lotions instead.  Sunless tanning lotions contain dihydroxyacetone, which is generally safe.  Wait until the second trimester to be safe, then use tanning solutions in lotion form, but not sprayed forms.  Spray-on tans cause inhalation risks which could cause temporary respiratory difficulties.  Instead, a mild tanning cream which darkens as you use it gives you a summer glow without danger to your baby.

Source: Livestrong


Sleep Frustration

Are you frustrated with your sleep or lack thereof?  You’re not alone.  Most women experience insomnia at some point in their lives, and 10% have chronic problems with insomnia.  If you’re staring at the ceiling hour after hour, night after night, it’s hard to know what to do or how to fix it.   Here are Four Sleep Mistakes You Could Be Making, and what you should do instead.

Need more sleep?   Make sure you aren’t making things worse.  When sleep disturbances persist, it is important to identify any underlying causes.  Consider whether these common triggers could be contributing to your restless nights.

  1. Don’t look at the clock.  Instead turn the clock around to face the wall, or hide it in a drawer or under the bed.  Constantly checking the time will only arouse you and reinforce the idea that you’ll “never” get back to sleep.
  2. Don’t stay in bed more than 15 minutes.  Instead, leave your bedroom and do something quiet, such as reading a book or watching boring television in a comfortable chair.  It’s important to remind your brain that your bed is for sleeping, not for lying awake and worrying.
  3. Don’t sit in bright light.  Instead, if you do need to get up, turn on only a dim reading light, or go sit in the glow of your television or computer monitor.  Keep bright overhead lights switched off because light disrupts the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep in your brain.
  4. Don’t do anything too stimulating.  Find something that occupies your time but gives your brain a break, such as knitting or a boring book or TV show. Reading who-done-it’s or balancing your checkbook, on the other hand, may keep your mind working and alert.

Source:  Livestrong

Five Things Periods Can Reveal About Your Health

Your period is a monthly reminder that everything’s working as it should…. Except when it is not!!  The “Five Things Periods Can Reveal About Your Health” will help you to determine what’s “normal” and what isn’t – and when it may be time to call your doctor. 

You Skipped Your Period:

When your cycle is off, it’s usually a sign that something else is off, too, and your brain is delaying ovulation until your health returns to normal.  The timing of your menstrual cycle is set by the hypothalamus, the regulatory center in the brain that tells the ovaries what to do.  The hypothalamus is super-sensitive to factors that can impair general brain function (even in very mild ways), like sleep deprivation, stress, illness, and unusual fluctuation in hormones, extreme exercise (which the brain can interpret as stress), unusually high or low temperatures or drug use.  Very often, when your health gets back on track, your cycle does too.

What to do:  If you skip two periods, bring this up with your gynecologist so he or she can help you figure out what’s going on.

You Notice Random Spotting:

Irregular bleeding that occurs in the middle of your cycle, with no PMS in sight, is often unrelated to your period.

What to Do:  Tell your gynecologist so that she can investigate.  The cause may be random and benign, but your doctor will still want to rule out conditions like cervical or uterine polyps, fibroids, an infection or a precursor to cancer.

Severe Cramping:

Your cramps are so intense that you need to call in sick or cancel plans, and OTC meds can’t help.  Severe cramps can be a sign of endometriosis, which can affect your fertility if left unchecked.  But endometriosis is treatable when caught early so don’t assume that horrible cramps are just something you need to endure.

What to Do:  Let your doctor know if you have easy periods that turn painful, which could be due to fibroids or other conditions in the uterus.  (As for moderately miserable periods that become more bearable over time that can be a perk of getting older)

You have An Irregular Period:

You have a surprise, irregular period with no bloating, no breast tenderness, no change in appetite.  The only PMS symptom you experience is a frantic need to buy tampons.  You’re probably not ovulating.  If you have an irregular cycle and are also overweight or obese, there’s a chance you could be pre-diabetic.  Insulin resistance has a direct effect on the ovaries.

What to Do: Your doctor may refer you to a weight loss specialist or may talk to you about cutting back on sugary and processed foods.  For these patients, getting weight under control is imperative, especially if they plan on getting pregnant.

You Got Your Period Really Early in Life:

The more periods you’ve had over the course of your life, the more years you’ve had active hormones in your body. This can put you at a slightly higher risk for breast cancer.  We don’t know exactly what’s causing this connection, but it may be related to diet or environmental influences.  Factors that affect the hormones early can present themselves as disease later in life.

What to do:  In addition to doing what you can to lower your cancer risk, make sure your gynecologist is aware of your menstrual history as well as your family history of breast and other cancers.

Your Period is Two Days Early This Month:

This means nothing at all.  Tracking apps have made women, especially those trying to conceive, hyper-alert to small changes in their menstrual cycle.  Very few women ovulate at the exact same time every month, even if their cycle is almost always 28 days long, and ovulating a week early or a week late is still considered normal.   

What to Do:  Keep in mind that about 80 percent of women who have sex regularly get pregnant within a year.  If you’re having difficulty, please don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor.

Source:  Livestrong


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