Pregnancy – 15 Things Women Wish she Knew the First Time Around …

March 24th, 2011

After three pregnancies and three wonderful baby girls, I have (let’s hope) learned a few things.

Ok, I’ll admit it: growing up, I was one of those girls who used to stick a pillow under her shirt and look in the mirror, day dreaming of the day I’d become a mommy. I always knew that I wanted kids, and looked forward to the day when that dream would become a reality. When I was newly pregnant with our first daughter, I was on cloud nine. I loved thinking, reading, and talking about my pregnancy. Despite my euphoric haze, though, there are a few things I wish I had known at the time:
1. Don’t worry so much. In general. This is a broad suggestion, but I really wish I had not worried so much. If you had a beer the night before you found out you’re pregnant, the baby is fine. If you ate three hot dogs and then read that pregnant women shouldn’t eat hot dogs, make a mental note and move on. And don’t worry about being a good mom – you’ll be just fine.
2. Morning sickness will probably not be what you expect. I was shocked, and convinced I had the flu the first week. Just remember that if it hits you hard, it will pass. Just don’t set up expectations, like expecting to only get sick in the morning, or thinking that it ends right at 12 weeks. Let your body do what it’s going to do, and just hang in there!
3. Buy frozen foods and a lot of convenience food before you start feeling nauseous. I wish I had done this – we would have saved a ton of money on take-out and fast food! You may be fine and keep cooking as usual, but I was way too sick to stand the smell of raw meat, doing dishes, or anything else that triggered my gag reflex.
4. If you take everyone’s advice too seriously, you’ll make yourself miserable. Every one has an opinion, and over the course of your pregnancy, you are going to hear tons of stories, lots of warnings, and plenty of advice. Take it all with a grain of salt – and don’t let it stress you out.
5. Don’t be in a rush to wear maternity clothes. I was so excited during my first pregnancy to finally “look pregnant,” I rushed into maternity clothes. I could have gone another month or so, but I was just too excited. Trust me – you will have plenty of time to wear those clothes (and you’ll get sick of them), so enjoy your regular clothes while you still can.
6. Invest in a belly band. This will extend the life of your pre-pregnancy pants, and will help you with your clothing options. These wonderful things are nice, stretchy bands that enable you to walk around with your pants unzipped, while still held up in place with a nice band covering the zipper.
7. Don’t obsess about your pregnancy. When people ask you how you are feeling, try not to go into a monologue about how you threw up yesterday, need to pee every hour, and then give them a long list of all the baby names you are considering. When it comes down to it, most people are asking to be polite.
8. A regular soda here and there is fine. Dr. Pepper helped me make it through the end of my first trimester – I wish I had lightened up earlier on. Sure, you aren’t supposed to have tons of caffeine – but a smidge here and there won’t hurt.
9. Avoid saying, “I will never do that!” Before you actually become a parent, you just don’t know. You may end up co-sleeping with your baby, deciding to get the epidural, or stop nursing after a couple of months. Keep an open mind, and don’t set yourself up for a disappointment.
10. Don’t feel bad about sleeping in. Sleep while you can. Trust me.
11. Buy at least one or two fabulous nursing bras. I made the mistake of buying cheap nursing bras when I was still pregnant with my first baby, thinking it didn’t matter. Well, think again. You will need a lot of support during those first few months.
12. Be clear about what you want before and after labor, but don’t come up with an elaborate birth plan that spells out exactly how you want it to go. Do be clear on what you want regarding pain meds, who is allowed in the room with you, the doc’s policy on episiotomies, etc.
13. You don’t need as much as you think. I was so OCD when I was pregnant. I worried way too much about “getting ready” for the baby, and looking back, I realize now it was bit overboard. You husband can go out and buy a bouncy seat or some extra blankets when you are resting at home with the baby, so don’t worry about having everything just right.
14. Let the hospital nursery take the baby overnight. They will still bring your baby in to nurse during the night, but at least you’ll get some sleep. We chose to “room in” with our first baby, because I was concerned that I’d look bad if I sent her to the nursery. Big mistake. Let the nurses take care of the baby while you have the opportunity – you will have plenty of sleepless nights once you arrive home.
15. Above all, I wish I had known how much I’d love my kids. I know this sounds cheesy, but it’s true. You have absolutely no idea how much you are going to fall in love with your children until you are staring into their tiny faces at 5am, counting their eyelashes. Once you realize how much you love that little person you saw on the ultrasound screen, it blows your mind. Motherhood is out of this world. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the months leading up to it.

Pretty Boys! Plastic Surgery Not Only For Women!!!

March 22nd, 2011

What economic downturn? According to the latest figures, the rate of plastic surgery procedures is not only back on the upswing, but the surgeries are becoming increasingly popular among men.

According to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), men underwent 1.1 million plastic surgery procedures in 2010, an average 2% increase over the previous year. That might not sound like a huge uptick, but the increases in popularity of certain procedures were in the double digits.

Among men, facelifts saw the biggest gains, with a 14% increase between 2009 and 2010, largely among men in their 50s and 60s. Other procedures that men received more frequently last year: ear surgery, which increased by 11% from 2009; soft tissue fillers like Juvederm and Botox, which increased by 10% and 9%, respectively; and liposuction (7% increase) and breast reduction (6% increase). Eyelid surgery and dermabrasion also enjoyed 4% increases each.

The rate of some other procedures declined, but still remained among the most popular for men: nose reshaping, chemical peel and microdermabrasion.

“The growth in cosmetic surgical procedures for men may be a product of our aging baby boomers who are now ready to have plastic surgery,” said ASPS President Phillip Haeck in a statement. “Minimally invasive procedures such as Botox and soft tissue fillers work to a point. However, as you age and gravity takes over, surgical procedures that lift the skin are necessary in order to show significant improvement.”

Although more and more men are getting cosmetic surgeries, women still make up the majority of patients. The ASPS reported a 5% increase in plastic surgery overall, from 2009 to 2010.

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Pregnancy possible soon after giving birth….

March 22nd, 2011

Just had a baby, and not ready for another one quite yet?

To be safe, you should consider using contraception as soon as 3 weeks after birth, according to a new review published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Women who are breastfeeding are very unlikely to conceive, and most women who aren’t breastfeeding won’t start ovulating again until 6 weeks after giving birth. Still, it’s possible in less time, say the authors.

“For women with a new baby, contraception may not be at the top of their list of concerns,” Dr. Emily Jackson, one of the study’s authors, from the World Health Organization (WHO), told Reuters Health in an email.

“It is really important that people who provide care to postpartum women bring up the subject of contraceptives, alert women to the fact that they may become fertile soon after having a baby, and make sure that women have their chosen method before they become fertile again,” said Jackson, also a family doctor in Los Angeles.

Using some kinds of contraceptive pills right after pregnancy is dangerous because both the estrogen in pills and post-pregnancy hormones increase a woman’s risk of blood clots. That risk drops off over time.

The aim of the current study was to help determine at what point after a woman gives birth the benefits of using contraceptive pills again begin to outweigh the risks.

Jackson and her colleague Dr. Anna Glasier reviewed four studies that have examined when non-breastfeeding women begin to ovulate again after giving birth, and whether women had a good chance of getting pregnant during those first ovulations.

In all of the studies combined, ovulation started, on average, between 45 and 94 days after a woman gave birth. However, in two studies women started ovulating as early as 25 and 27 days after giving birth.

The studies also found that most of those first ovulations probably wouldn’t result in pregnancy.

Based on these results, and on data regarding the likelihood of blood clots, the WHO determined that the benefits of starting contraceptive pills containing both estrogen and progestin probably outweigh any risks starting at 3 weeks after birth.

After 6 weeks, WHO researchers said that there should be no restrictions on new mothers taking contraceptive pills.

Contraceptive pills that contain progestin only are thought to be safe right away after a woman gives birth, and so these could be an option for women, said Dr. Kavita Nanda, a researcher at Family Health International who was not involved in the current study.

The study’s recommendations only apply to women who are not regularly breastfeeding.

In addition, doctors don’t recommend that mothers who are breastfeeding take contraceptive pills with estrogen, because of a controversial potential risk that those could slow infants’ growth.

Tai Chi Eases Depression in Elderly

March 21st, 2011

The ancient Chinese practice of tai chi appears to relieve symptoms of depression in older people, a new study shows.

The findings, published this month in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, are the latest to suggest that the slow movement, breathing and meditation of tai chi results in meaningful benefits to patients with chronic health problems. Other recent studies have shown that practicing tai chi may provide benefits for patients with arthritis and fibromyalgia. But the newest research is important because depression is notoriously difficult to treat in older people, many of whom are already coping with other health problems and are less likely to respond to drug treatment.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, studied 112 older adults in whom major depression had been diagnosed, including many who had been struggling with the illness for years. Their average age was about 70. Everyone was first treated with Lexapro, and 73 exhibited a partial improvement but still scored high on depression scales. The rest of the patients dropped out of the study, including just one patient who had a full remission after drug treatment.

The remaining depressed patients were randomly assigned to either a 10-week course of tai chi or a health education class, which included 10 minutes of simple stretching exercises. Both courses were given for two hours once a week.

After 10 weeks of tai chi, 94 percent of depressed older adults showed marked improvement on depression scales, compared with 77 percent in the health education group. And 65 percent of the people in the tai chi group experienced remission, compared with 51 percent in the education group.

The tai chi group also showed marked improvement in measures of physical function, cognitive tests and blood tests measuring levels of inflammation.

“Altogether the effects were pretty dramatic,’’ said Dr. Helen Lavretsky, lead author and professor of psychiatry at U.C.L.A. “If a psychiatrist were to add exercise like tai chi, which is very nondemanding and easy to access, that would be a very beneficial thing instead of adding another drug.”

Dr. Lavretsky said one reason both study groups showed improvement was that all the patients probably benefited from spending time with other people, whether it was in the practice of tai chi or the group education class. “I’m sure the social aspect contributed to the improvement in both groups,’’ she said. “In the control group we see improvement, and that was purely because of the social interaction and bonding that occurred.”

But the marked improvement in the tai chi group suggests an additional benefit from tai chi. Research has shown tai chi can improve physical function and quality of life, relieve stress and anxiety and lead to improved sleep quality, the study authors noted.

The study used a form of tai chi called T’ai Chi Chih that uses 20 simple exercises that are nonstrenuous and easy enough to be performed by older adults.

Dr. Lavretsky said the findings are exciting because depression is so difficult to treat in older people, two-thirds of whom don’t respond to initial drug therapy. Often when a patient doesn’t respond to the first drug, an additional drug is given, but that’s not always practical for patients who are already taking 10 or 15 drugs for other health problems. A study this month found that more than 60 percent of patients over 65 experience moderate or major side effects the first time they are prescribed an antidepressant.

“This is very easily translatable into community care,’’ she said. “As their health improves, they may be able to reduce the other drugs they are taking for pain or other problems.”

What the Yuck: How do I stop snoring?

March 21st, 2011

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, “What the Yuck?!,” Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send ‘em to Dr. Raj at

Q: I’m afraid I’m a loud snorer. Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening when I spend the night with my new man?

You mean aside from lying awake all night? First, don’t drink alcohol. It can make snoring worse by relaxing your throat’s muscles. When you breathe in and out, those relaxed muscles vibrate, and you snore.

Also, congested nasal passages contribute to snoring, so you might want to bring along a box of nasal strips and pop one on before climbing in bed (just say you have allergies). They may not be pretty, but they open up your nasal passages from the outside in, letting air flow more easily.

If these moves don’t help you get your snoring under control, you may have obstructive sleep apnea – a serious respiratory condition – and should make an appointment to discuss this problem with your doctor.

But, to be honest, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about this or any other bodily function. If this is going to be a long-term relationship, sooner or later he’s going to hear you snore. And if he dumps you because of that, what a jerk!