Zika virus has certainly gotten a lot of attention in the news lately. If you’ve been traveling recently then no doubt you’ve also seen the warning signs in the security lines. Despite the headlines in newspaper, websites and the news, perhaps you still aren’t entirely sure what Zika virus is and what it could mean for your pregnancy.
The Zika virus is contracted by a mosquito bite, but it can also be sexually transmitted or transmitted from a mother to her unborn baby. This condition can cause symptoms such as a rash, pink eye, muscle aches, low-grade fever, fatigue, and headaches. The symptoms can last a couple days or up to one week. While the symptoms are usually mild and self-limiting, this virus can be dangerous for pregnant women. If a woman contracts the Zika virus during pregnancy it can lead to brain deformities such as microcephaly, neurological disorders (e.g. seizures), vision and hearing impairments, and developmental problems in the unborn child.
Of course, your risk of contracting the Zika virus in the US is very low; however, if you are planning to travel internationally and you are pregnant, you will want to check to make sure that the Zika virus cannot be contracted in these regions in which you are visiting.
The best way to protect yourself from Zika virus is to not travel to regions in which you can contract this infection or to avoid sex with anyone who has traveled to these regions (or, at the very least, use a condom everytime you have sex). Of course, if you must travel to these areas while pregnant, there are some precautions that you can take to prevent mosquito bites including,
- Wearing long sleeves and pants
- Applying and reapplying insect repellant often
- Making sure that there are screens on door or windows in the place you are staying
If you start to come down with symptoms of Zika virus then you will want to see a doctor right away. Women who are pregnant who have to travel to these regions should talk to their doctor about regular testing.
The Zika virus can remain within the body for up to six months. Of course, once the Zika virus has gone away, this should not affect any future pregnancies you might have. If you are frequently traveling and you are pregnant, chances are good that you may have questions about Zika virus and protecting both yourself and your unborn child. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a pediatrician if you have any concerns.
Finding out that you’re pregnant can be exciting news; however, if you’ve also been diagnosed with HIV then you may be feeling more concerned about what this means for your pregnancy, the health of your child and your health. Of course, it will provide some relief to know that HIV-positive women can give birth to an HIV-negative baby. The most important thing you can do for you and your child is to visit your OBGYN right away for care as well as turn to other doctors who are providing you with your HIV treatments.
In most cases, the medications used to treat your HIV should be safe to use throughout the course of your pregnancy. Of course, there are some instances in which women may need to change the antiretroviral medications they take. This is why it’s important to talk to your medical team as soon as possible after finding out you are pregnant.
It’s imperative that you continue taking your HIV medication throughout the course of your pregnancy just as you had been prior to your pregnancy. Taking your medication at the same time everyday is also important to your health and the health of your child to make sure that they do not contract the virus.
If you haven’t already started taking HIV medication it’s necessary to get on a medication schedule right away. Women with HIV who start taking their antiretroviral drugs right away during their pregnancy will have a lesser amount of the virus in their blood when it comes time for their delivery.
You will want to work with your HIV doctor and your obstetrician to discuss the best ways to manage your HIV while pregnant to reduce the likelihood of passing HIV onto your child. This first consultation should be scheduled right away. From there, your obstetrician will decide how often you should come in for routine monitoring and care. During these routine visits, an ultrasound will often be used to see how the fetus is developing.
When it comes to your birth plan, this is something you should discuss as soon as possible with your OBGYN. It is possible for women with HIV to deliver their baby vaginally, but the safest and best method for delivery will depend on how low or high the viral count is at time of delivery. Based on the viral load at around 34 to 36 weeks, your OBGYN will be able to determine if a vaginal delivery is possible or whether you will need to undergo a cesarean section prior to going into labor.
Along the way, you may have questions or concerns about your pregnancy and managing your HIV. When you do, make sure that you have an OBGYN that you trust to provide you with the caring and compassionate care that you need to have a smooth and stress-free pregnancy.
When it comes to our babies, we only want to give them the very best. As a new mother, there are so many decisions you will have to make regarding your child’s health and well-being. One of the biggest decisions to make is whether or not to breastfeed. Many women hear that breastfeeding is the best option for providing the proper nutrients to their growing newborns, but why is that the case?
Breast milk is ideal for your little one because it contains all the proper nutrients and vitamins your baby needs during the beginning stages of their life. You may not realize this, but breast milk has the ability to provide your little one with immunoglobulin A (IgA), which they need to help fight against diseases and infections such as meningitis, ear infections, and respiratory diseases.
Breastfeeding your baby may also protect them against certain allergies. Some studies have found that babies who drink formula or cow’s milk were more likely to develop certain food allergies than babies who were breastfed. There have even been some studies that have found a link between cognitive development and whether your child drinks breast milk.
Breastfeeding may also reduce your child’s chances of becoming obese in later years. This may have to do with the fact that breast milk doesn’t have as much insulin as formula or that babies who are breastfed are better able to determine when they are full and should stop eating, which may create a healthy habit that they carry on throughout life.
Breastfeeding can also benefit the mother, too. When you nurse your baby it releases oxytocin, which helps mothers feel more relaxed. Since the first few months with your baby can be new and stressful, having these moments to reduce stress and lessen the symptoms of postpartum depression can make this transition into parenthood much easier.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months, even though they can continue to do so even after the first six months. If you have questions about breastfeeding or if you are having concerns or issues with breastfeeding, this is the perfect time to talk to your OBGYN, who will be able to address your concerns and make the breastfeeding process easier for you and your baby.
At some point during the course of your pregnancy, you will create a birth plan with your OBGYN. In your birth plan, you will decide what you do and don’t want throughout the course of your labor and delivery. You’ll decide everything from whether you want a natural birth to where you want to deliver your baby. While our goal is to ensure that you have a smooth and healthy delivery that goes along with your birth plan, certain issues can arise that may change this course.
There are issues that can arise during labor that affect how it’s supposed to progress. A challenging or difficult labor may be known as dystocia or dysfunctional labor. When labor becomes extremely slow, it may be known as a protraction of labor. If labor stops progressing altogether, it’s called an arrest of labor. An arrest of labor is when the cervix hasn’t dilated over the course of two hours and the baby hasn’t progressed at all down the birth canal.
When this happens, your obstetrician may administer oxytocin to the mother, which can help stimulate contractions needed to progress and advance labor. The amount of oxytocin that is administered will depend on the mother and other factors specific to the woman.
Another factor to consider is if your child is in the proper position for a safe and smooth delivery. In most situations, the head is the first to go through the birth canal; however, there are times when the buttocks (also referred to as a breech delivery) or shoulders may go first. Based on your baby’s position, the labor may be more challenging than if they are in an ideal position (e.g. head first).
In the case of a breech delivery, where the feet or buttock are first, babies are more likely to become injured during a vaginal delivery. A breech delivery is more likely if the baby is born prematurely, if the mother has uterine fibroids or if there is a birth defect. In some cases, your obstetrician may be able to get the baby to turn during labor so that there are no complications with a vaginal delivery; however, for the healthy and safety of the mother and the child, a cesarean section is often performed.
It’s impossible to know what will happen during the course of your labor or delivery, but it’s important to be equipped with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your health and the health of your baby so you can have a smooth delivery. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your OBGYN.
Not sure if you need to see a gynecologist? Our Brownsville, TX, gynecologist, Dr. J. Gabriel Guajardo, shares a few reasons that you may want to make an appointment.
You're sexually active
Regular pelvic examinations and periodic pap smears are particularly important if you're sexually active. During your visit, your gynecologist can share information on the various types of birth control available and discuss any questions you may have regarding effectiveness and side effects. Pap smears can detect cervical cancer or atypical cells that may increase your risk for the cancer. Because cancer can be caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus, it's important to have regular pap smears if you're having sex.
You're 21 or over
If you're 21 or older, even if you're not sexually active, it's important to schedule regular visits to our Brownsville office. Yearly visits are an important part of maintaining good reproductive health.
You're concerned about a menstrual problem
Your gynecologist can diagnose the cause of heavy, absent or painful periods and provide treatments that address your symptoms. Make an appointment with our Brownsville office if your periods occur more frequently than every 21 days, last longer than a week, or if you notice spotting between periods.
You think you might be pregnant
Prenatal care is the key to a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby. Conditions that can affect your pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, can be diagnosed and treated promptly when you make gynecological appointments a priority.
You found a lump in your breast
Finding a lump can be a frightening experience, although growths and lumps are often non-cancerous. If you find a lump, experience breast pain or discharge or notice any change in the texture of the skin on your breast, it's important to schedule an appointment.
You're going through peri-menopause or menopause
Peri-menopause, the span of years leading up to menopause, can cause all sorts of unpleasant symptoms, ranging from heavy periods to hot flashes to mood swings. Your gynecologist can help you manage the symptoms that affect the quality of your life.
Gynecological visits help you protect your health. Call our Brownsville, TX, gynecologist, Dr. Guajardo, at (956) 350-4821 to schedule your appointment.
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