Prepare the Scale for Pregnancy

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Stick to Your Exercise Resolution

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Prepare the Scale for Pregnancy

By Dr. Carrie Gordon, Folsom OB-GYN

Getting your body ready to carry a baby is no easy task... There are prenatal vitamins to take, extra sleep to be had, and perhaps exercise routines to be altered. But one of the most important steps you can take prior to getting pregnant is to get your body to a healthy weight. Carrying around extra weight is never good but it can be especially detrimental when you are trying to conceive.

Improve Your Odds:

The most important impact of getting to a healthy weight prior to pregnancy is that it will increase your chances of actually conceiving. Women who are overweight tend to have more problems getting pregnant than those at a healthy weight. Of course, dropping the pounds by drastically cutting calories will be counterproductive: Women who want to conceive need a well-balanced diet filled with a variety of foods that will provide them with the vitamins and minerals their bodies need. When your body is healthy and well-nourished, it will be more ready to nurture a new life!

Enjoy an Easier Pregnancy:

Losing weight prior to conception can also make your pregnancy a little easier. Carrying the extra weight of a baby strains your body – if you are already overweight, that strain can be even more intense and uncomfortable. Your weight loss plan prior to pregnancy should include a good exercise program, including some strength training. Strengthening your muscles (particularly your core and back muscles) prior to pregnancy enables your body to accommodate your growing belly better – which in turn means less pain for you.

Decrease Risk for Complications:

Most importantly, being a healthy weight prior to and during pregnancy decreases your risk for many complications, both during pregnancy and at delivery. Overweight women are more likely to develop gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, both serious complications that can lead to bed rest and/or early delivery. Overweight women are more likely to have caesarian deliveries, which can bring added risks. Also, heavier women are more likely to have larger babies, which can complicate the delivery process. How Much to Gain: So what about watching the scale once you conceive? For women of any size, the thought of managing pregnancy weight gain can be overwhelming. For the average woman, 25-35 pounds is normal. If you are already overweight, you should gain less than that during pregnancy – between 15-25 pounds. If your physician has identified your weight as falling into the obese category, your recommended weight gain could be as little as 11-15 pounds. [Work with your physician to identify the appropriate target weight gain for you.] Remember, eating for two does not mean eating twice as much, regardless of your starting weight. Pregnant women typically need only 100-300 additional calories per day.

If you are hoping to get pregnant but are carrying some extra weight, know that you are not alone. More than half of all American women are considered overweight. Talk with your doctor to help determine what an ideal weight will be for you and how best to achieve it. Then, develop a plan to maintain your new, healthier habits during and after pregnancy. Focus on your health and that of your soon-to-be baby and you'll be in great shape!

To learn more about Dr. Gordon and Folsom OB/GYN, visit their website. To learn more about the Family Birth Centers at the Dignity Health hospitals or to find a physician to care for you during pregnancy, visit our website.

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How to Spot Thyroid Trouble

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How to Spot Thyroid Trouble

January is National Thyroid Awareness Month – a great time to make sure your thyroid is healthy and functioning well.

As women age, we tend to experience a myriad of benign yet often annoying changes in our bodies – we gain a few pounds, we have trouble sleeping, our moods swing more wildly... Some of these changes may be related to lifestyle or menopause. But sometimes these seemingly harmless symptoms can be a sign of a problem with your thyroid.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located just above the Adam's apple in the neck. The thyroid regulates several bodily functions, including your body's temperature, metabolism and heartbeat. While most thyroids never cause a problem, some do – and for women over the age of 35 the risk of a malfunctioning thyroid could be as high as 30%. An estimated 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

The thyroid produces thyroid hormone (TH). When a thyroid is sluggish, it produces too little TH – this is known as hypothyroidism. If the thyroid is too amped up, it produces too much TH – which is known as hyperthyroidism. Many things can cause a thyroid to go haywire, including genetics, pregnancy, an autoimmune problem, stress, nutritional deficiencies, or environmental toxins.

Because the thyroid affects so many functions throughout the body, recognizing the signs of a thyroid problem can be challenging. One of the first signs may be unusual fatigue. Feeling exhausted, despite a full night's sleep, is a clue that your thyroid may be underactive. Hypothyroidism can also cause drop in serotonin, leaving you feeling sad, lethargic and generally "down in the dumps." Exhaustion and depression – while linked to many conditions – are often the first clues that you are suffering from hypothyroidism.

Conversely, if your thyroid is overactive, you may feel unusually jittery and anxious. Because hyperthyroidism kicks your metabolism into overdrive, it can cause you to feel like you can't relax. This hyper feeling can also involve an unusually fast heartbeat or heart palpitations or fluttery feelings in the chest or neck. Hyperthyroidism can also increase your appetite, although because your metabolism is increased you likely will not gain weight despite taking in more calories. As people with hyperthyroidism age, it can increase their risk of osteoporosis and abnormal heart rhythms.

Other signs that you may be living with a thyroid disorder:

  • Difficulty concentrating or feel forgetful or "foggy"
  • Decreased libido
  • Dry skin
  • Changes in bowel movements (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Pain, tingling or numbness in extremities
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Feeling too hot or too cold
  • Changes in voice (hoarseness) or changes in your neck
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Changes in weight
  • Thinning hair or losing hair
  • Difficulty getting pregnant

If you believe your thyroid may be malfunctioning, talk to your doctor about having your thyroid tested. Screening for thyroid dysfunction can be done with a simple blood test.

If you need help finding a physician, visit the Dignity Health physician finder to locate a doctor near you. For more information on Dr. Plante and how to contact her office, visit the Mercy Medical Group website.

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