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Postnatal depression is estimated to affect 1 in 5 women and is found in all cultural, social and age groups. There are different types of this condition experienced by mothers after birth. There is the 'Baby Blues' which usually occurs between the 3rd and 5th day and usually resolve by the 10th day. It is thought to be the response to hormone changes and the stress of giving birth and occurs in up to 70% of women.


  • Postnatal depression has a gradual onset between the 3rd and 9th month.

  • Postpartum Psychosis occurs in approximately 1 in 500 births and is quite rare. It seems to be genetically linked and typically occurs after the first baby. It presents as a manic depressive illness and requires urgent psychiatric treatment.

This condition results in a disturbance of mood, disturbance of thoughts and physiological disturbances. These disturbances and symptoms of postnatal depression will be discussed:

Disturbance of Mood

This includes the experience of a depressed mood, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, failure, shame, guilt, fear, anger and panic. Feelings of fatigue and exhaustion and the loss of sexual desire.

Disturbance of Thoughts

Poor concentration, loss of ability to plan and carry through tasks, poor memory, confused thinking, intrusive thoughts (eg thoughts of serious illness or death of self, baby or partner).

Physiological disturbance

The mother may experience sleep disorder such as difficulty falling asleep, early morning waking, always fatigued and exhausted. She may also experience stress symptoms such as panic attacks, tightness in the chest and stomach. Appetite changes, either a loss of appetite or overeating may be experienced.

Risk Factors

A number of factors are thought to contribute to postnatal mood disorders. Current research indicates that psychological, biochemical and environmental or social factors affect the onset of postnatal depression.

There are a number of factors that predispose a woman to this condition. One of the most significant risk factors is having a previous psychiatric illness or emotional problems. Women who have previously had depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are at a greater risk.

Obstetric and gynecological problems impact a mother's physical health and can impact her emotional well being. This can include caesarean birth, permittivity, previous miscarriage, previous termination of pregnancy, neonatal death, and previous history of infertility.

If the baby or mother has problems post birth this can also increase the possibility of postnatal depression. Problems such as the baby experiencing gastric reflux, excessive crying, breastfeeding problems, sleep deprivation, low iron levels.

In addition environmental and relationship factors can impact a mother and predispose her to postnatal depression. Lack of support from ones partner or own mother can be significant. This may be through death, separation or conflict in the relationship. Furthermore a mother's isolation from extended family or friendship network can impact postnatal depression. This can be significant particularly for first time mothers who may shift from a busy life in full time work to being isolated at home. Women who would describe themselves as high achievers or perfectionists are at greater risk of postnatal depression as are women with anxious personalities. Finally if the woman experiences multiple stressors in her past or present life these may contribute to the onset of postnatal depression.

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Are you finally considering buying your own health insurance? If you are, wary about the costs and possible coverage issues, it would be best if you would first consider several things before purchasing any health insurance for individuals. Here are some insights.

Determine how much cost of coverage for health care you need. Shop around for specific products and plans that are evidently and logically tailored for your requirements. It would be wise to consider your budget, tolerance for risk, health risks, and prescription needs. You could find clues and indications on your current state of health.

If you aim to maximize health insurance for individuals, find out if the products you are considering buying are allowing students to stay on parents' plans. If your policy does so, determine how the costs could possibly stack up the premiums of your policy. Many health care insurance products available today are highly competitive so take the advantage of the active market.

Find out the physicians and hospitals that are included in a health plan's network. It would not be wise to buy a product that is not useful because the doctors included in the policy lists are already not in service. Make sure your health care plan includes hospitals and health care facilities in your locality. It would also be advisable to choose health insurance for individuals with co-payment options for doctor visits and tests.

Determine the possible maximum out-of-pocket expense with co-insurance. It is the total amount required for payment following the deductible reached. Some programs may have co-insurance rate of 80/20 (you would have pay for 20% of overall costs even after deductible is reached).

Do not be easily and instantly enticed by higher deductibles. Remember that a higher deductible could effectively lower your possible monthly premium but it could also make you shoulder more for standard care.

In general, health insurance for individuals may take unique scope and coverage. Take note that policies offered to women usually cost more compared to products offered to men. This is because those for women are including and covering many other specialized services. Maternity costs are examples.

Be Aware And Be Cautious

If you do not own a health care insurance policy and you suddenly develop a health condition, you may not possibly be able to apply for a comprehensive medical plan after your recovery. That is why it is most advised to buy and own your health insurance program now.

Consider taking medical insurance products with health savings accounts, which are tax-free accounts for savings that could be used for covering health care costs. Prefer a high-deductible medical insurance plan to qualify for such.

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For couples who have waited a long time to get married and have children, having twins seems to be a dream come true especially when they are already hitting their prime years. Before, the ability to be able to conceive twins is just limited to those who have a twin gene making it kind of frustrating. If you are truly bent on learning how to get pregnant twins - without looking for a partner who has a twin just to make sure that he or she has the elusive twin gene; read on to get a few tips.

Stuff yourself with yams. Yes, in spite of how weird that may sound to you, it is based on the National Organization of Mothers of Twins. Making it a habit to eat yams can actually help in boosting your chances to conceive twins. How? Well this is because some people believe that this root product contains certain chemicals which causes women to ovulate more than usual, therefore increasing the chances of a woman being able to conceive multiples.

Get expert advice on how to get pregnant twins from a fertility expert. This one is simply a common sense action because a fertility expert will surely know the different techniques and medications that will prove to be the most effective way for you to end up giving birth to multiples.

Try to gain more weight. If you are underweight, make a conscious effort to start gaining some more weight as studies show that women who have a body mass index of 30 or even higher are actually more prone to giving birth to multiples as opposed to women whose weight are inversely proportional to their height and age. This is based on a study conducted by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology which was released just recently.

Wait until you are old enough. Yes, delaying pregnancy until you have reached your prime has it pros and cons. Some couples may have difficulty even on how to get pregnant while there are those who are lucky enough to end up being blessed with multiple births. However, this is actually one of the most common answers to questions regarding how to get pregnant twins as most older women these days are not just conceiving but they also end up giving birth to twins or even more.

However, women in their prime should learn to take better care of themselves especially if they are under such a condition. Most of the time, a woman who gives birth when she is already older can pose certain complications both to the mother and to the babies.

So are you still interested in conceiving twins? Aside from giving these tips a try, make sure that you also keep yourself healthy enough so that your body will have the strength to be able to carry healthy children. If you do not take better care of yourself, the less likely you will be able to conceive twins - or even conceive at all. Couple your regular exercise with a healthy diet as well as a happy disposition because stressed out couples are also finding difficulty in conceiving a child as stress can affect so many different aspects of the body of a person.

For more information and ideas, please visit us on the web at how to get pregnant twins.

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It would be nice if the only time a pregnant woman needed morning sickness relief were in the morning. At least there would be times that she could look forward to feeling better. Most expectant mothers have nausea at many different times of the day, and some have it so often that they stay in dread of it during every waking moment.

Professionals say that usually after the first trimester, all of the nausea is gone, but this is not always the case. From the comments made by women everywhere, it seems that sickness can begin as early as a couple of weeks after conception begins, and not end until the day of the birth. Additionally, the varied treatments to quell the nausea don't necessarily work for all women.

We often talk about things women can do to get relief; very seldom do we mention what husbands should do. Although the female of our species is in charge of the manufacture of babies, the male should have an active role in the support of the mother and their expected child.

Sometimes the only thing a person can do is show up. When a loved one is going through a difficult time in the hospital, visitation can help his or her mood and even speed recovery.

A pregnant woman has so many things happening within her body that affect her moods and often lead her to feel inadequate. She needs to have her man to strengthen her and provide comfort in her fragile time.

It is not easy to care for expectant mothers because of the many different characters they may present. In one moment, they may be affectionate, and in another, they may not want anything to do with you.

It is not a planned performance, but due simply to the misery and lack of self-esteem that comes with the territory. When you add morning sickness to the mix, things can get worse.

If you are the husband, you should forget your personal feelings whenever you are with your wife. You won't do her any good if you are so selfish that you can't forget your own desires.

If you expect your wife to be polite and thank you for whatever you do for her, you may be sadly disappointed. Expect the worse and you will be better suited for the part of loving husband.

Most women remember how their spouses treat them after the birth is over. They may be hard to get along with during the pregnancy, but they have somewhat of an excuse. The husband has no excuse if he behaves badly.

Sometimes the only nausea relief is to throw up and hope that helps. The husband should support and help in every way possible because it provides comfort to the woman in her trying time.

Pregnant women usually discover their nausea triggers early on, such as certain foods, smells, and activities that make it worse. Once they are in tune with these instigators, they can take preventative measures to obtain morning sickness relief. Meanwhile, you husbands just hang in there and do your best.

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There are foods to keep one active, to stay healthy and to get nutrients. But have you ever wondered what foods help you get pregnant? There are foods that serve that purpose. Such foods are known as 'aphrodisiacs'.

The word 'aphrodisiac' has been derived from the name of the Greek god of sensuality and love, Aphrodite. What exactly do these aphrodisiacs do? They induce the Aphrodite within us!! Sounds weird? Well I meant to say that aphrodisiacs are foods that induce eroticism among people. The role of aphrodisiacs is phenomenal in child birth and the sex life of a person. And reading this article would for sure help you get an idea about what foods help you get pregnant.

Getting in detail about this topic, we can see that there is a huge variety of aphrodisiacs in the world. They vary from nuts to fruits to vegetables and herbs. The influence of aphrodisiacs in the sexual performance of people has not been proven with concrete evidence as far as Western medicine is concerned. But traditional medicinal practices like the Chinese medicine and Ayurveda believe that certain fruits and vegetables have the ability to make people erotic.

One of the theories that explain the functioning of aphrodisiacs says that it is the shape of the vegetables that enables this. Check it out for yourself and you would find that most of the aphrodisiac foods have a strong resemblance to either of the sex organs of the human body. Bananas, asparagus, radish and Moringa oleifera, which is commonly known as drumstick are considered to be aphrodisiacs (Do you get the connection?). Some of the Indian spiritual practices advise a person to not eat drumsticks as it is capable of making him feel erotic.

Other foods that are considered to be aphrodisiacs include caviar, oyster, alcohol, vanilla, truffles and ginseng. While all other items induce sexual desire, alcohol gives a person a sense of freeness making him/her shed inhibitions to indulge freely in the act.

Aphrodisiacs can be actually used in two ways: they can be either ingested or applied to the body depending on the aphrodisiac itself. Apart from the ones mentioned above there are other food items too that can do this impeccably (or they are believed so). Important among them are saffron, dark chocolate, almonds, celery, pomegranate, peach, gingko nut and spices.

Many people have tried out using aphrodisiacs to make their sex life interesting and have achieved satisfying results including childbirth. However there are certain things that can hinder the effectiveness of aphrodisiacs. Some people may be allergic to certain vegetables. Some people may be suffering from some problematic medical conditions. All these factors affect the influence of aphrodisiacs on the human body. Eating healthy food and staying fit can help overcome these kinds of problems. Overall, being aware about what foods help you get pregnant will surely help you in many ways than one.

Hence, it can be easily concluded that aphrodisiacs can for sure spice up the sexual life of a person. So I guess you now know what to do if your partner does not seem to show interest in enjoying carnal pleasure or if there is a delay in your being in the family way. You would have got an idea of what foods help you get pregnant, by now.

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Looking to opt for a medical insurance policy? If you are, then it is extremely important for you to compare several different policies before you make the final purchasing decision. Medical insurance comparison is really important because it can help an individual choose the right plan that is suitable for his needs. These days, there are many different medical insurance providers available and they all offer different types of plans at different costs. Comparing different policies will also help the individual find something that is affordable.

But, you must also know which aspects of the insurance policy you must compare in order to get the best deal. Given below are some of the things that you need to consider and compare at the time of choosing a medical insurance policy.

Monthly Premiums and Deductibles

The major cost of your insurance policy will be the yearly deductibles and the monthly premiums. So the first thing that you must do is compare the amounts that you will be paying as premiums and deductibles. Find out which health insurance provider offers the lowest rate and which one offers the highest rate. It is not a good idea to go with the highest amounts if you are looking for something affordable and it is definitely not worth going for the cheapest because you will not get enough coverage.

The best bet is to choose something that is in the middle. Look for the policies which have costs that is not too high and not too low.

Prescription Deductibles

This is also something that needs to be compared. There are certain plans that include separate prescription deductibles. It is quite important to compare the cost of deductibles because this will greatly affect the amount you pay for your policy. There will be several amounts that you may choose from and you must see which policy offers the best prescription deductibles.

Mental Health Deductibles

Most of the health insurance companies today charge an additional deductible for mental health care. These are separate deductibles for which you will be required to pay additional amounts. There are also some companies and policies which do not offer coverage for mental health. If you think you will need mental health care, make sure that you compare between the companies which provide this coverage. Make sure to compare the costs and the type of coverage you will get.

Co-Payments For Medical Check-ups

The type of policy you choose will determine the type of coverage you will get. Your plan may cover a fixed number of visits for a co-payment. The amount of co-payment you make will depend on the policy you have taken. Compare between the policies to find out which one has a lower co-payment rate and also which one is suitable for your needs.

Additional Coverage

Most people require additional coverage such as optical, dental and maternity care. These may be included in some plans and may not be included in some. Compare the different health insurance plans to see which ones provide coverage for these services and at what rate.

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Pregnancy complications in women over thirty are several as age plays an important role in pregnancy. There has been a growing tendency to have children well over the age of thirty as nowadays in many families both partners are busy with their professional lives. This is also because many couples are unaware that the risks during pregnancy are higher in a women aged 30 and above. In fact these days it is not unusual for women above 40 and even 50 planning a pregnancy! It is a fact that many older women have successfully given birth to healthy babies and have had no complications, but there are a few risk factors associated with the advancing age of the expectant mother.

Factors That Affect Pregnancy In Older Women

The foremost pregnancy problem in women above 30 is getting pregnant itself! This is because fertility of women starts to decrease with age and in cases where women are over 30 they may even need fertility treatment which has the increased risk of inducing multiple pregnancies in some cases.

A few of the most common pregnancy complications in women over thirty are hypertension, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental abruption or placental pervia and bleeding or spotting. Women older than 35 years also have a greater risk of carrying pre-term babies, low birth weight babies and in many cases the babies may be in need of neonatal care. Older expectant women also have an increased chance of having multiple pregnancies. The incidence of fetal death during the last trimester is also high in women older than 35.

Other pregnancy complications in women over thirty include the risks of giving birth to a baby with Down's syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. Medical tests such as amniocentesis are done to determine risks to the unborn child.

One other risk during pregnancy in older women is the effect that disease conditions of the heart, kidney, or diabetes and hypertension have on the health of the pregnant women. The chances of still birth also increase with age as does the need for a C-section.

These are just a few of the pregnancy complications in women over thirty. It gives you a general idea of some of the risk factors associated with the advancing age of the expectant mother. Remember that women from all age brackets do have their set of pregnancy complications and that despite the high risk and complications involved, many of them have ensured that they have a safe and healthy pregnancy by following the advice of their consultants and by adopting proper pregnancy planning techniques.

Most pregnancy complications in women over thirty can be prevented and the chances of a health pregnancy and birth increased by following a regime of regular nutritious meals, recommended exercise, prescribed increased intake of folic acid and other supplements and by having a positive outlook and attitude.

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My mothers-to-be are astonishingly different from one another as they arrive ready to give birth in all possible shapes, sizes, and stages of delivery. Yet, in another way, they are mostly of one mind... determined to do anything medically necessary for the well-being of their baby.

Fortunately, the majority of births are pleasantly routine and everyone goes home a bit sore, but happy, healthy and determined to be a successful family. Once in a while, a delivery that may seem quite routine at first, can suddenly become complicated for any number of reasons. If the problems become overwhelming, the OB/GYN will strongly suggest that the parents give their consent for delivery via cesarean section, commonly known as a C-section.

This decision should not be suggested lightly because, after all, it's surgery! Only after the OB/GYN deems that the risks of a C-section are lower than the risks of a vaginal delivery should the C-Section option be chosen. Safety for the mother and baby always come first and only the physician is trained to know when this procedure is medically necessary. In rare cases, parents may be told ahead of labor that a C-section will be medically necessary, (i.e. if the child did not turn around in the womb). This is not considered elective because the need for surgery is decided in advance.

After delivering more than 3,000 babies, I thought I had heard it all

A case history

B.P. is a 40 year old professor of obstetrics from a major university hospital who is admitted to labor and delivery at term contracting every 5 minutes for the last hour. This is her first child-having been conceived through in-vitro fertilization. She is a healthy woman with no medical problems, has had a completely uneventful pregnancy with all routine prenatal testing showing normal results, appropriate fetal growth, adequate amniotic fluid, baby in a perfect head down position, and a recent ultrasound estimating the baby to weigh approximately 7 pounds. On admission to the delivery floor she requests an elective cesarean section.

It has been established that an individual has the right to refuse medical procedures, but does it also follow that a person has the right to demand a medically unnecessary treatment?

C-section Trends

Obstetrical care throughout the world is undergoing dramatic changes. Cesarean deliveries are increasing to the extent that in some countries, such as China and parts of Latin America it is well over 50%. There have always been certain traditional reasons for performing a cesarean section but recently "maternal request" has been added as a new indication. The rate of elective cesareans in the United States is now estimated to be between 4 % and 18%.

Reasons for elective C-sections

Fear of labor-(tocophobia)

Some women have a fear of pain, fear of an emergency and/or having to undergo a traumatic experience involving higher morbidity and mortality associated with complications.

Maternal convenience

Scheduling takes into account childcare, work concerns, support systems, choice of surgeon.

Prevention of maternal floor damage

Concerns about urinary or bowel injury or future sexual functioning resulting from traumatic vaginal delivery.

"Designer Baby"

Expensive reproductive technology needed for conception and the need to deliver in the least traumatic way to avoid any risk to the child.

Neonatal benefits

Elective cesarean is associated with lower newborn infection rates, lower risk of intracranial hemorrhage, neonatal asphyxia, and encephalopathy.

Prevention of any birth asphyxia or potential birth trauma

Avoidance of injury such as bone fracture, nerve injury.

Prevention of stillbirth

The need for preventing a stillbirth or overdue pregnancy with the inherent associated risks.

Sterilization

Doing a cesarean can allow for a subsequent sterilization procedure in some countries where reproductive rights are not available to women on request.

As obstetricians, we are faced with a difficult situation. Should a mentally competent patient have the right to choose, ethically, how they would like their baby delivered? While patients have the ability to make personal choices in many other areas of medicine, clearly this can not apply to obstetrics. Why? Because the lives of not one, but two humans, are at stake.

Are there viable disadvantages to an elective C-section?

Surgery always poses additional risk factors. Elective cesarean section has a 2.84 fold greater risk of a woman's death than a vaginal birth.

Added risks include:

  1. Maternal morbidity
    This includes surgical injury such as damage to other organs, risk of hemorrhage, hysterectomy, infection, fever due to other causes, hematoma, anesthetic complications, and blood clots.

  2. Respiratory issues in the newborn
    Transient tachypnea (rapid breathing) of the newborn occurs more frequently after elective cesarean and respiratory distress more likely if the surgery is booked prior to 39 weeks.

  3. Potential complications with future pregnancies
    This includes increased risk of uterine rupture if laboring during a subsequent pregnancy if you have a uterine scar from a previous cesarean, increased risk of placenta previa (low lying placenta adhering to the scar), placenta accreta (placenta growing into a previous uterine scar), and placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine wall).

  4. Complications from adhesions
    Surgery can lead to abdominal adhesions which might effect future fertility, causing chronic pelvic pain, increase risk to bowel and bladder in future abdominal surgeries,and higher risk of ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages.

  5. Injury to the baby
    There is a 1.9% chance that a surgeons knife can accidentally lacerate the fetus when doing a cesarean. However, emergency cesarean sections after labor has a greater incidence of lacerations compared to elective cesareans.

What is the answer?

In today's day and age, is it acceptable practice to allow the patient to determine the medical decision, assuming she is competent and well informed of any additional risks she is placing on herself? (i.e. informed consent) Could a physician be at risk for denying a patient's request for a cesarean if, postpartum, the procedure results in injury to herself, or her child, immediately or several years down the road?

It behooves the obstetrician, or midwife, to weigh all the risks and benefits of providing this option after exploring the reasons for the request. The ethics committee of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) states "Only the woman can decide if the benefits to her of a procedure are worth the risks and discomfort she may undergo." We must respect the rights and autonomy of a mother. However, "performing cesarean section for non-medical reasons is not ethically justified."

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, however, feels that after exploring the request and proper counseling with informed consent, the physician can comply with the patients request if it is felt that cesarean will promote the overall health of the patient and the fetus more than a vaginal delivery.

This ethical controversy will continue to plague us, especially with health care costs spiraling. Having patients elect to have more expensive procedures, can threaten the solvency of the larger community. Why? Because a C-section requires not only a surgeon and an assistant, but an anesthesiologist, additional nursing, added supplies, equipment, an operating room, possibly blood for transfusion and longer hospitalization stays for both mom and baby.

We must ask ourselves if it makes sense to utilize the valuable time of medical professionals, as well as the financial resources of a community, in order to accommodate a woman's desire to have the more expensive, and luxurious, C-section delivery?

Does respect for the rights of an individual outweigh the allocation of resources within a community? Right now, I personally don't have the answer. I just want all my babies and mothers to leave happy and healthy.

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Whether your journey here has been slow and torturous or brutally quick, you have arrived at a diagnosis of postnatal depression. If you have self-diagnosed, through a variety of research and checklists, your next step may be to decide whether or not to take this to your doctor. If it was your doctor who helped you come to the conclusion that you are suffering from PND, they will have run through your treatment options and are waiting for you to decide which route to follow.

Please note that I am NOT a medical practitioner, and the suggestions I make below are all dependent on your seeing a GP for professional guidance.

I'm scared to see a GP - they'll make me take drugs!

No ethical medical professional will ever force you to go down a treatment route that makes you uncomfortable or goes against your wishes. Just because you present with symptoms of PND does not mean they will force you to take brain-altering medication. They will give you the facts - how they normally treat women with PND, what the pros and cons are of each type of treatment, success rates, etc. If they do not readily offer this information, ask. You may find it helpful to prepare a series of questions and take them with you in a notebook. Sometimes talking to a stranger about our rawest emotions can be overwhelming and it's easy to forget what we really want to know.

How do I know if antidepressants are right for me?

Honestly? You won't know until you try. Sometimes our resistance is really about coming to terms with the fact that we're not very well. It can bring up a lot of guilt and shame and sense of failure.

"If I was a good mother I wouldn't need to take medication to feel better".

"As a new mother I should be blissed out on love for my son/daughter - if I start popping pills it means I don't love my baby enough".

It might seem hard to separate the issues, but your anxiety about motherhood and a sense of failure or guilt needs to be addressed while you are getting better. Taking antidepressant drugs does not mean you are a bad mother. Seeking help to improve your psychological wellbeing is actually a sign that you care enough about your baby to be emotionally there for them. This is the case whether you take medication or choose an alternative route. What matters is that you are actively helping yourself to improve your situation.

If I choose to take antidepressants, won't I get hooked?

A lot of people worry about this one. I certainly did before deciding to give them a go. It's true that you need to take your medication for a sustained period of time for it to be effective. Many GPs will recommend you continue for six months after you feel better to ensure the symptoms don't return. During this time (typically a year or two) your body will get used to the chemical mix in your system. So it's normal to worry that you will become dependent on them to feel normal. Talk to your GP upfront about your worries. They should be able to tell you the likelihood of experiencing difficulty reducing your dose or any withdrawal symptoms people may experience.

It used to be very common a few decades ago to experience difficulties coming off medication - but scientific advances, combined with a wide range of different types of antidepressants on the market, mean that it's less of an issue. Your GP should also be able to tell you how they help others reduce their dose, and how long their patients tend to take before coming off them completely. Fear of becoming dependent is perfectly legitimate, but don't let it paralyse you into inaction.

What reactions can I expect when I first take them?

Depending on the type of antidepressant you are prescribed, you may experience a variety of symptoms, from insomnia and heart palpitations to fatigue and restless legs. Your GP should let you know before you start your course what physical and psychological reactions you might expect. Most reactions last just a few days, and should level out within the week. If they continue beyond this time, or you experience severe anxiety or mood swings, go back to your doctor, who may try you on a different type of medication.

It's normal to feel frustrated if this occurs - having made the decision to take antidepressants, you want them to take effect as quickly as possible, and trying different types can feel like you're taking one step forward and three steps back. But if you find the right one, you should start to feel your mood lifting after about 10 to 14 days. When you're desperate, that can feel a lifetime away, but if you can ride it out, there should be light at the end of the tunnel.

What if I decide not to take antidepressants?

If you research the various types of medication your GP suggests and decide not to go down that route there are other avenues open to you to help you feel better. A non-exhaustive list of options includes:

Alternative remedies -The best known and researched is St John's Wort, a herbal compound that has been shown to have similar mood-lifting properties of chemical antidepressants with fewer side effects.

Food and exercise -Good nutrition and exercise will help improve low mood in those with mild anxiety or depression. Foods said to improve depression include garlic, oily fish, brazil nuts and coffee (in moderate doses). To make a difference to mood, exercise should increase the heart rate, such as swimming, running or walking fast. Bear in mind, however, that recent research has shown that exercise only helps mild to moderate depression and has no effect at all on severe depression.

Talking therapies- Many people taking conventional antidepressants will benefit from talking therapies such as counselling or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and they should be seen as complementary to all types of treatment, rather than a straight alternative. However, if you are sure you do not want to take any kind of medication, it is important to acknowledge and treat your condition in some way. Talking to someone about your feelings should help you identify areas of change and see more clearly what action you can take to turn things around.

Taking medication for postnatal depression is very common, but please remember it doesn't mean you have failed as a mother. Rather, it can offer you the emotional resilience to see your situation more clearly and work out what actually needs to change in your life, providing your with the energy and motivation to carry those things out. Once you are able to make those changes, your need for medication will reduce, and your ability to accept and manage your emotions and behaviour will radically improve.

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Earlier this year, researchers in Scotland examined the disjunction between the idealism of exclusive breastfeeding and the reality that many families experience. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life for all babies. Other organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that all babies consume breast milk for the first 12 months of life for maximum developmental and immune benefits. According to the Scottish study, most women find these goals unrealistic, despite the known long-term benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby.

Breastfeeding can reduce the incidence of diabetes, asthma, obesity, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and SIDS. In fact, the World Health Organization has been quoted to call colostrum-the breast milk that a mother makes in the first few days after a baby is born-"baby's first immunization" because of the immunological benefits that it confers to newborns. According to the authors of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, "exclusive breastfeeding for six months by 90% of U.S. mothers could prevent 911 infant deaths and save the U.S. healthcare system US$13 billion." Research has also shown that babies who have been breastfed excel in speech and language development and have higher IQ levels. Breastfeeding also provides myriad health benefits for mothers as well-there is a significantly lower incidence of aggressive breast cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, ovarian cancer, and diabetes in women who have breastfed.

If a mother and her infant have so much to gain from breastfeeding, why are exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6 months postpartum only at 15% in the U.S., according to the CDC? Despite much promotion of the benefits and joys of breastfeeding, these low rates are likely due to a lack of support within in the infrastructure of the health care system and in our communities at large. In fact, the mothers interviewed in the Scottish study said that the lack of support from healthcare providers, family members and friends contributed to their decision to stop breastfeeding before their baby was 6 months old.

The unfortunate reality is, not all healthcare professionals fully support breastfeeding and what's more-not all healthcare professionals are knowledgeable or skilled in providing breastfeeding support and counseling during nursing challenges. Many women receive some education in breastfeeding prenatally say, during a childbirth education class, but then get very little continued counseling during the postpartum. Furthermore, the women in the study are right when they said that many healthcare providers paint a rosy picture of breastfeeding, choosing only to speak of the beautiful bonding experience that the mother-baby nursing dyad has during breastfeeding or the long term health benefits. Too few of us actually talk about the common challenges and pitfalls that a woman may face while establishing breastfeeding out of fear of discouraging new mothers from getting started. In the end, however, the women who are challenged by getting a good latch, sore nipples, pumping at work, or getting chided in public while nursing often feel blindsided by these challenges or feel guilty about not achieving the "ideal picture" of a breastfeeding mother. These are but a few of the challenges that breastfeeding mothers may face.

To say that many women are not getting the support that they need from their communities to continue exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months postpartum would be an understatement. While some companies support breastfeeding by having on-site lactation consultants, clean places for expressing breast milk, and on-site day care centers, many employers still do not have good systems in place to support a mother who needs to express her milk every few hours to maintain her milk supply for her growing baby. Despite the fact that many states have laws that protect a woman's right to express milk in a clean place other than a bathroom-for up to 3 years after the birth of their baby-some women are asked to pump in the tiny stall of the company bathroom. Others struggle to get the break time that they need to express milk every few hours to prevent engorgement which can lead to a breast infection.

Breastfeeding mothers have been escorted off of airplanes, asked to leave restaurants and courtrooms, and shuffled into dressing rooms of major department stores while breastfeeding their infant. The reasons cited? Some members of the public find breastfeeding lewd, offensive or inappropriate. In Maine, the law states "a mother has the right to breastfeed in any location, whether public or private, as long as she is otherwise authorized to be in that location." Raised public awareness of the rights of nursing mothers is greatly needed to encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding and maximize the health benefits for her and her baby.

So where do we go from here? First we need to change the cultural attitudes around breastfeeding in the U.S. Breastfeeding our babies is the way that nature intended for us to nourish and nurture our offspring. There are often a number of key moments in the first 6 months of a baby's life where mothers are faced with the decision to persevere through the nursing challenges or to switch to formula or exclusively feeding solid foods. However, more support from knowledgeable, skilled healthcare providers who utilize a non-judgmental approach to counseling that extends beyond the first 6 weeks postpartum is paramount during these critical times. Let's be open and honest about the realities of breastfeeding-which can be hard and frustrating at times and beautifully transcendent at other time. By supporting one another, we can chip away at the goal of exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life day by day, one feeding at a time.

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No matter where you go in Asia, Singapore is renowned for having some of the best medical care in the world. If you happen to get sick or become injured while you are in Singapore you can be sure that you will receive top-notch care.

Basically, you ca not go wrong in any of the hospitals in Singapore. This country boasts one of the world's longest longevity rates as well as one of the lowest infant mortality rates. There are both government and private hospitals. All are of good quality, but the government hospitals are less expensive. The downside is you are more likely to have to wait for treatment. Although the private hospitals are more expensive, you will be treated quickly and efficiently.

I would like to give a brief overview of some of the better hospitals in Singapore.

National University Hospital is one of the most famous and largest hospitals in Singapore. It is connected with the University of Singapore and ranked among the top six in the world in 2000 by WHO. Its current strengths are in the fields of cardiology, cardiothoracic and vascular surgery. You will find NUH on 5 Lower Kent Ridge Road. NUH has a whole department, the International Patient Liaison Centre which caters to foreigners seeking treatment at their hospital. Their 24-hour help line is (65)6779 2777.

Changi General Hospital serves the eastern part of Singapore. In June 2005, this hospital received Joint Commission International accreditation. At CGH, you will find an International Medical Services team that is trained to assist you in getting the treatment you need.

Mount Alvernia is another good choice, founded in 1961 by an order of Franciscan nuns. Today the hospital is still not-for-profit. This hospital specializes in mother and child care. Mount Alvernia has a 24-hour walk-in clinic and emergency room. If finances are an issue this might be the hospital for you to consider.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital was founded in 1844 through the philanthropy of Mr. Tan Tock Seng. It is the second largest hospital in Singapore. Due to its central location its accident and emergency room is the busiest in the country. It is also accredited by the Joint Commission International for keeping up with high medical standards. It is also a member of the National Healthcare Group. It may not be terribly user friendly for the foreigner.

Singapore General Hospital is the oldest (founded in 1821) and largest hospital in Singapore, located on the grounds of the Outram Park. This hospital is a government run hospital which means the costs are kept low. This does not mean that quality suffers; the nursing staff recently received the distinctive Magnet Recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Thomson Medical is best known for its high quality maternity care. They also have a department devoted to caring for the International patient. In addition, they have a Korean Service department dedicated to the needs of the Korean expatriate community.

Gleneagles Hospital is one of several excellent private hospitals managed by Parkway Health in Singapore and other parts of Asia. Gleneagles focuses on providing user-friendly services, along with quality care, specialists' expertise and modern technology; it is conveniently located near the Botanic Gardens and not far from the US embassy. Another Parkway Health hospital is Mount Elizabeth Hospital which specializes in cardiac surgery and neurosurgery.

You may want to consider Raffles Hospital another private hospital which especially caters the Japanese community. You can expect five star treatment and accommodations as well as a five-star price. This hospital gained notoriety for its landmark surgery in separating Siamese twins. Raffles makes available traditional Chinese medicine for those seeking that type of treatment.

I hope you do not have to use this information, but you never know when knowing where to find a good hospital will come in handy.

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When you think about the length of time that you wear maternity clothes, not just for the length of your pregnancy but also the time after your pregnancy before you return to your normal weight, you will probably need your maternity clothes for nine months at the very least. and you will probably wear your maternity coat for even longer. So make sure when you choose your maternity you go for something that is not only going to look great this season, but is going to look great and keep you warm throughout the year.

The most common mistake pregnant women make when choosing maternity coats is to just buy a standard coat in a bigger size. However, by doing this, you are buying a bigger size over your entire body which can make you look bigger than you actually are and will do nothing to flatter your changing shape. The shape of a good maternity coat actually incorporates your expanding tummy so that you have the space to grow where you need it but is tailored in at other points to actually flatter your shape and keep you looking trim.

For a traditional and very versatile style, opt for a long length trench coat design. Choose one with detail either in the collar area or under the bust and look out for darts and tailoring in the back which will draw the back of your coat in to provide a flattering silhouette and a great shape to your body. Deep dark colours are great for versatility and wearing with any outfit for any occasion, and if you find you need to brighten your coat up, just add a light flowery scarf and you will see the style of your coat transform.

This seasons most popular style is again the puffa jacket. It is soft and comfortable and ideal for wearing all year round. Take care to choose your pre pregnancy size to get a good fit, unless you are carrying twins or have gained more than the standard 30 pounds, at which point you will probably need to go up a dress size. The key with a good puffa jacket is to make sure you get the length just right. A maternity style will be cut a little longer to incorporate your bump as it grows so that the jacket does not ride up and miss the bottom of your back, but there are also puffa coats which cost about the same and can be incredibly flattering for a pregnant physique.

To get the very best value for money, make sure that you shop around for all your maternity clothes. Use internet comparison sites to buy your clothes to make sure you are getting the best value for money and look out for sites which give special offers and voucher codes for discount at major maternity wear retailers.

Whether you opt for your traditional style or try to mix things up when you are pregnant, a good maternity coat is going to complete any maternity outfit and is going to make you look great and keep warm throughout your pregnancy, so start considering your coat today and make sure it is a good one!

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Modern technology has allowed for many medical miracles in a variety of fields. One medical development allows for any woman to have a child, regardless of her relationships or status.

Sperm banks, like European Sperm Bank USA, are a major source for women and couples of all forms to help in the conception of a child.

There are, however, a few misconceptions about what sperm banks are and how they work. Here are some notable myths about the sperm bank industry and artificial insemination:

Myth #1: "Sperm banking is a new and unknown technology"
False. This form of conception technology has been around for almost half a century now. The first two sperm banks were opened in Iowa City, Iowa and Tokyo, Japan in 1965.

Myth #2: "Few people ever use this method"
False. Approximately one in eight infertile couples require the use of donor sperm to conceive. One type of insemination procedure uses a syringe to place semen into a woman's vagina to assist her in getting pregnant. Another procedure, called intrauterine insemination, is most common. A physician uses a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to place the sperm into the woman's reproductive tract.

Myth #3: "Few children are born with this process"
False. American medical experts say the number of donor inseminated births is somewhere between 4,000-5,000 births per year.

Myth #4: "A man's sperm count will be the same each time it's examined under a microscope"
False. A man's sperm count will vary. The number of sperm and motility can be affected by: time between ejaculations, illness, and medications.

Myth #5: "Age is not one of the main reasons behind secondary fertility"
False. Many couples have no problem conceiving their first child while in their 20's, yet struggle conceiving a second child when they are in their 30's.

Myth #6: "The entire process from conception till birth is different"
False. For women who use a sperm donor, treatment by a doctor will be no different. Conception achieved with donor sperm is no different from conception by using partner sperm, and it is also no different from conception achieved by sexual intercourse.

Myth #7: "Infertility is not a medical illness and treatment is not covered by insurance"
False. Infertility is a medical illness and treatment is sometimes covered by insurance.

Myth #8: "Sperm banks are not required to follow strict regulations regarding donor testing and screening"
False. All sperm banks, including European Sperm Bank USA, are required by the FDA to test donors before taking full units of semen in order to screen for any potential problems. Donors are tested for sexually transmitted diseases, any genetic disorders and virility of the sperm.

Myth #9: "There is little chance I will conceive"
False. Health experts say the chances are good for a woman to conceive using artificial insemination. A woman's reproductive potential declines with age. But as long as there are no infertility factors related to the woman, 60-70 percent will be pregnant after six to nine months of insemination treatments.

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In the midst of ever changing maternity care, it is vital, now more than ever, to know how to increase your odds of a safe delivery. So, what makes for a positive, healthy birth experience?

Minimal pain?

The latest in technology?

Most parents have had both minimal pain and the latest technology and yet the majority still tell their "horror birth story" and come away with negative side effects from interventions that can impact them, spiritually and physically, for weeks or even years.

Obviously, that's not where the answer lies.

Why Childbirth Classes?

The birth of a baby represents the birth of a family; therefore, it's only logical that there's more to having a satisfying birth than merely the physical experience. The mental, emotional and social spiritual aspects of birth are as equally important as the physical. There is more to a healthy outcome than the survival of the mother and baby. If the intangible needs are met for parents-to-be, they will better meet the needs of their babies, much more so than the "experts" can.

Studies show that a positive, healthy birth is not measured by how much pain a woman experiences, but by how well informed she felt, how in control of the decision making she was, and the quality of her labor support. In order to achieve a high level knowledge, informed decision making, and skilled labor support, education is essential. The way to attain the highest quality childbirth education in the limited time that pregnancy offers is to seek out experienced, well-informed childbirth education classes.

How do you know if the classes you've chosen are the best offered? Here are a few questions you can ask to help you make your decision...

Is the provider of the childbirth classes independent or contracted?

Independent means that no hospital or care provider is paying them. They are not censored in teaching or have vested interest in "selling" you any procedure because of someone else's policies.

What is the class length?

You obviously receive and retain more information and skills in a 8 week or more class series than a weekend or 2 week "crash course."

What is the training, experience, and philosophy of the class provider?

Look for an educator that stays well informed of current findings, is well read, attends conferences, and teaches from a view point that supports your goals; i.e. if your goal is a natural, unmedicated birth it makes sense to seek classes that emphasize normal, healthy birth and provides in depth comfort techniques and coping measures.

Making the effort to become well-informed of childbirth itself, and typical birth practices and options, is truly an investment with lifelong rewards of better health and memories that will stay with you forever.

Don't be left with the feeling, "If only I had known more or made different choices, would my birth have been more satisfying or healthy?"

Take responsibility and provide yourself and baby with the best possible experience by seeking out quality childbirth education classes.

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People mostly rely on their brain when conducting day to day activities and in the process it becomes drained and exhausted. Due to the ever growing demands at the workplace people tend to overwork and also have very little time off for relaxation. This often leads to breakdowns, anxiety and depression. It decreases a person's efficiency at work and thus makes the situation even worse. On the other hand there are ways that one can easily rid him or herself of depression and be on his way to being productive.

Anxiety depression is a state where a person behaves in an irregular manner and is not able undertake simple day to day activities properly. This is triggered by an ongoing exposure to stress. Stress at the workplace is the main reason behind anxiety depression. People need to be determined to take on the pressure and not succumb to it. It is tough to maintain your composure but you must try to do the same and eventually you will succeed.

When you really want to get over the anxiety depression problem you need to really motivate yourself and think towards getting rid of it. Analyze your situation with the help of a friend and consult a qualified psychiatrist who can accurately diagnose the problem for you. The various types of depression are:

Manic or Bipolar depression - An abrupt change in one's metal state for instance, from joyous and relaxed to a grim state of mind can signal depression.

Postpartum depression - An expectant mother may feel anxious about her new baby and feel stressed as a result of the extra responsibility that she has to take on.

Dysthimia - It is a condition of moderate depression; not so serious but should be treated as soon as possible.

Cyclothemia - This is one type of illness which a person with a hectic lifestyle suffers from. Although rare, there are sudden changes in one's mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder - The name suggests that it is seasonal (in winters, summers, spring). More people have been found to feel that they are stuck in a rut in winters. It is also characterized by sudden changes in mood.

The above types are the conventional types but the type which people most suffer from is anxiety depression. Anxiety by itself is completely normal human behavior. You may get anxious about your exam next morning or your dream date. Being anxious actually helps you to cope with the increased stress levels. On the other hand anxiety depression cannot be ruled out as just "nerves". It is a serious illness and can be due to hereditary reasons.

Various types of anxiety depressions are characterized by unique symptoms. GAD or Generalized anxiety disorder is a severe form of anxiety depression in which a person becomes unreasonably paranoid even when there is no reason to be so. The anxiety levels remain on a high, person suffers from lack of sleep and feels tired easily. They have a strong feeling of depression which is curable but takes time and will from the patient. Average anxiety depression is not that complicated as GAD and can be cured comparatively easily.

In both cases a reputed therapist should be consulted and care should be taken to complete the course of medicines prescribed with treatment.

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There are a large number of women who suffer from the Postnatal depression. It is also known as Postpartrum Depression. This is one of the major types of clinical depression as well. By and large from 5% to 25% women are affected with the postnatal depression.

There are various symptoms which will help you in recognizing postnatal depression. These Symptoms of post natal depression can occur anytime within the first year postpartum. Some of the symptoms of the postnatal depression are mentioned below.

o Inability to be Comforted: The patient will always feel restless. There will be no comfort level for the patient. The patient will never be happy.

o Exhaustion: The patient will suffer from tiredness and exhaustion. She will feel like sleeping always.

o Emptiness: The patient will feel that something is missing in her life. She will not be able to enjoy the positive environment around her.

o Inability to Enjoy Things One Previously Enjoyed: She will dislike the things that she had liked earlier.

o Social Withdrawal: The patient will withdraw herself within her room and will not interact with anyone else.

o Low Energy: Energy levels will be low for the patients. She will always look as she has not eaten anything or she will look extremely tired.

o Easily Frustrated: The patient will be frustrated easily and will also fight over small and minute things. Feeling Inadequate in Taking Care of Baby

o Sadness: A sense of sadness will prevail over the patient always. She will looked extremely depressed at the first sight itself.

o Hopelessness: The patient will feel that she has lost everything in her life.

o Low Self-Esteem: She will also loose her self respect.

o Guilt: Guilt will take over the happiness that has had gained when she had conceived the baby.

o Sleep Disturbances: The patient will not be able to sleep properly in the night.

o Eating Disturbances: The food habits of the patients will be changed. She will not like eating things which she used to love earlier.

A lot of research activities as well as experiments going on which has resulted in the development of medications as well as remedies for the people. Some of the major postnatal depression treatment includes the following:

o Medical evaluation in order rule out physiological problems: The patient should be taken to a doctor who will help in diagnosing the disease and offer proper medication.

o Cognitive behavioral therapy: Psychotherapy is advised by the doctor which is one of the best medicines in this case.

o Possible medicines: All the possible medicines should be given to the patient so that she will be able to recover fast.

o Support groups: family and friends are the best support groups. The husband should take special care of his wife.

o Home visits/Home visitors: Family members as well as relatives should also visit the patient so that she can cope up the depression.

o Healthy diet: Tasty and delicious food should be offered to her so that she is tempted to eat. Her favorite dishes should be on the platter.

o Consistent healthy sleep patterns: Sleep is an important part of the treatment of the postnatal depression. The family members should take care that the patient gets ample sleep and follows a regular sleep pattern.

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Depression can affect anyone, no matter what their age, lifestyle, family history or gender. The causes are wide ranging and can be triggered by a number of factors or events in a person's life. Sometimes it does not have a cause or trigger. While it can affect anyone, the effect on some people or demographics may vary. Research in to the demographics of depression sufferers has shown that:

Women:


  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men;

  • Women may be at higher risk of suffering depression partly due to hormonal changes brought on by puberty, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy

  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety or phobias than men and when the anxiety is present alongside depression, treatment can be a great deal more complicated

Interesting Fact

Depression is a real mental illness, not a sign of weakness. Some of the world's most famous and powerful leaders have suffered from it, including Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi.

Men:


  • Although women are more likely to suffer from depression, men are more likely to commit suicide - this may be because men are more reluctant to seek help (NHS, 2009);

  • Men are more likely to use alcohol or substance abuse to cover their condition and many will go undiagnosed.

Children:


  • Depression can affect people of any age, including children;

  • Studies have shown that 2% of teenagers in the UK are affected by depression (NHS, 2009);

  • Approximately 1 in 10 children under the age of fifteen has a mental health disorder such as depression. The difference between girls and boys is smaller than the difference between adult men and women

  • The rate of mental health conditions tends to increase in adolescence.

Elderly:


  • Older people may lose loved ones and have to adjust to living alone. They may become physically ill and unable to be as active as they once were. These changes can all contribute.

  • Many older people are not diagnosed with depression and do not seek help for their condition;

  • Approximately 1 in 5 elderly living within the community suffer from depression, while 2 in 5 living in care homes will struggle with this disorder

General:


  • People with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves (NHS, 2009)

  • It is estimated that 420,000 Britons are challenged with work related stress that is making them ill with conditions such as depression and anxiety.

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Your obstetrician or midwife will tell you to sleep on your side, preferably your left, for optimal pregnancy positioning at night. If you are lucky they will suggest a pillow under your knees for comfort. But that is about all you get for advice on pregnancy sleep ergonomics; usually you are left with something to the effect of, "you'll feel better once the baby is born." If you have months to go and spend hours every night tossing and turning, waking up feeling worse than when you when you went to bed, here are some valuable suggestions for you.

The secret to ensuring a better night's sleep when you are pregnant is alignment through pregnancy pillows. That means your body needs to be straight and there should be no pressure on key joints, muscles or ligaments. Below are 10 great tips to help you get aligned at night for better sleep:

1. Start out by making sure it is easy to get in and out of your bed. If you need to change the height to make getting in and out comfortable, do so. This is a safety suggestion as well as making your night-time space more ergonomic.

2. Use a cervical curve memory foam pillow. Your neck should be straight, not angled towards the bed or the ceiling. For side position this might mean a thicker pillow than you are used to, especially if your shoulders are wide.

3. Have a pillow just for your arm and hand to rest on. This keeps your hand and wrist elevated to reduce swelling and carpel tunnel symptoms. It also lifts your arm slightly off your chest to promote easier breathing.

4. If you have heartburn, try elevating your head with a wedge. Make sure the wedge is long enough to go all the way to your hips, otherwise it bends your spine in a way that is uncomfortable and will hurt at the waist.

5. Use a wedge pregnancy pillow under your belly, to reduce strain on the uterine ligaments.

6. Equally important as the belly wedge, a similar wedge tucked behind your low back on the other side keeps your spine aligned, not sinking in towards the mattress. This also helps prevent you from rolling on to your back in your sleep.

7. Use one or maybe two pillows between your knees to support your leg from your knee to your feet, making sure it is thick enough. How thick? You want to make sure your thigh is parallel with the bed. This will reduce strain on the muscles and ligaments that cause low back strain and sciatic pain in your hips and legs.

8. If this position does not remove your pain, try using pillows stacked under your top leg with your knee bent. Leave your other leg straight on the bed. This position also reduces the pressure on your lower hip joint against the bed.

9. Make sure your leg pillow is long enough to also support your whole foot. Supporting the foot will reduce swelling; leaving it dangling off the pillow will actually increase the swelling.

10. Ideally, you want your pillows organized symmetrically, so when you turn over at night you do not have to pull them with you from side to side. The faster you can turn and resettle, the faster you can get back to sleep!

Now you know how to get a great night's sleep when you are expecting a little one. Best wishes to you, and sweet dreams!

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There are a number of reasons why many women experience low sex drive. Low sex drive can be brought on by many physical problems. The most severe medical issues related to low sex drive are disorders that affect the neural (nervous) system or cause nerve damage, such as Diabetes, Multiple Sclorosis, Parkinson's Disease, and stroke.

If you have poor circulation, blood won't flow properly to the genetalia, and will not only make arousal more difficult, but can inhibit your natural lubrication, making intercourse painful and unpleasant. This can also happen as a result of Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), STD's, and liver disorders. Alcohol can aggravate these conditions, increasing with age, as can smoking.

Hormones play an important part in sexual interest, and any type of hormonal imbalance will also affect sex drive. Women who are nearing or experiencing menopause, are pregnant or postnatal, or who have had a full or partial hysterectomy, may experience low sex drive, as a result of fluctuating levels of the hormones estrogen and prolactin.

Certain medications, including birth control pills, blood-pressure pills, and anti-depressants, can cause hormonal imbalance and low libido as well. Androgens, such as testosterone, decline in women with age, but there is still much debate about whether or not low levels of testosterone have anything to do with a decrease in libido and treating a woman who is experiencing low libido with testosterone can prove effective for some.

Excess weight and inactivity are other common causes of lessened sexual desire. Being overweight contributes to many physical and mental issues, including fatigue, depression, insecurity, and more importantly, high cholesterol, breathing difficulties, and heart strain.

Any of these, alone or combined, can have a major negative impact on sex drive. Exercising often, even if it's only a 20 minute walk every other day, can greatly improve your overall sense of well-being, and libido.

For some women, low sex drive stems from a psychological or emotional issue. The most common complaint is stress. Since women are emotional creatures, stressful situations can and often do affect every aspect of our lives. Marital or relationship problems, financial struggles, life crisis, anxiety, problems at work, excess weight, religious repression, guilt - there are endless factors that can cause stress and, in turn, a decline in sexual interest.

For a much more detailed explanation which takes you step by step into the causes of low sex drive in women and an in-depth look into some of the best vitamins and herbs for low sex drive in women, please see: http://www.womans-health.net/low_sex_drive.htm.

While there are several medical options that help improve low sex drive, you may only need to look as close as your personal habits and your kitchen.

Aside from frequent exercise, there are many foods and spices that will not only make you healthier, but will make you feel better, improve your mood, and raise libido. Remember: anything that is good for your overall health is good for your sex drive as well.

A low-fat, well balanced diet, including things like cold water fish, such as salmon, a lot of vegetables, and avoiding high-sugar, starchy foods, junk foods, and sodas, is a great place to start. Spices such as cumin, cayenne, and curry warm your body, and will also act as a kind of aphrodisiac. So, try putting a new spin on the term "romantic dinner," and see what you can cook up, both in - and out - of the kitchen.

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During pregnancy a woman's thyroid hormones take on newfound importance. For the first 10-12 weeks of gestation, the developing baby depends solely on its mother's production of thyroid hormone to meet its developmental needs.

After that the baby will begin to produce thyroid hormone on its own, but still depends on the mother's adequate dietary intake of iodine in order to make thyroid hormones.

If a woman is suffering from hypothyroidism, of which Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause, even at a subclinical level, her baby could be seriously affected. Further, because many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism -- fatigue, weight gain, constipation -- mimic those of pregnancy, the condition can be incredibly easy to miss.

Health Risks to Baby from Mom's Hypothyroidism

If your body is not producing enough thyroid hormone during pregnancy both your health and your newborn's could be at risk.

When left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to preeclampsia -- a potentially serious condition involving high blood pressure -- placental abnormalities, low birth weight infants, stillbirth, miscarriage, anemia, and postpartum hemorrhage (bleeding).

In the baby, thyroid hormone is essential for normal brain and nervous system development, so low-functioning thyroid in the mother may lead to cognitive and developmental disabilities in the newborn. Even mild subclinical hypothyroidism during pregnancy may lead to subtle brain abnormalities in the child.

For instance, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that children born to women who had untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy were nearly four times as likely to have lower IQ scores, and also were significantly more likely to have problems with attention, language and reading.[1]

Because the effects may be most severe when hypothyroidism is left untreated during the first trimester... a time when many women may not even realize they are pregnant yet... it's often important to get your thyroid checked prior to pregnancy.

Thyroid Screening for Pregnant Women Remains Controversial

A debate is raging over whether or not thyroid screening should be a routine part of pregnancy care. As it stands, pregnant women are NOT routinely screened, as the potential health benefits have been deemed inconsequential in relation to the costs of testing millions of pregnant women each year.

The exception is those at high risk of thyroid disease. Women with the following thyroid risk factors WILL be routinely tested for thyroid problems during pregnancy:


  • Family or personal history of thyroid disease

  • Goiter

  • Symptoms of thyroid disease, including anemia or high cholesterol

  • Type 1 diabetes or other autoimmune disorders

  • Have received radiation to the head or neck as part of a medical treatment

  • History of miscarriage or premature delivery

  • Infertility

The concern is, however, that since many women may be suffering from hypothyroidism on a subclinical level, they may miss out on being screened and never know they have the condition.

In fact, a new study in the journal Clinical Thyroidology revealed that over half (55 percent) of pregnant women with Hashimoto's disease would be missed if only high-risk criteria like those listed above were examined.[2]

Another concerning issue has to do with thyroid antibodies. It's recommended that pregnant women be tested for thyroid problems if they test positive for thyroid antibodies, as this can be a sign of impending thyroid problems.

Research suggests that 3 percent to 20 percent of women have circulating thyroid antibodies during or shortly after pregnancy, and this increases the risk of becoming hypothyroid during pregnancy. However, thyroid antibodies are not normally a part of routine testing for pregnant women.

What Should You do if You're Pregnant or Thinking of Becoming Pregnant?

First, be aware of the signs and symptoms that you may have low-functioning thyroid:


  • Fatigue

  • Unexplained weight gain

  • Cold intolerance

  • Dry skin

  • Joint and muscle pain and stiffness

  • Muscle weakness

  • Constipation

  • Thinning hair

  • Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods and impaired fertility

  • Depression

  • Slowed heart rate

If you notice any of these symptoms, insist that your health care practitioner check your thyroid function, ideally before you become pregnant.

However, it's very possible to have subclinical hypothyroidism and not experience (or notice) any symptoms at all. In fact, it's estimated that about 13 million Americans have hypothyroidism but have never been diagnosed. You could be in this group even if you've had your thyroid levels tested, as conventional lab tests to diagnose the disease can be misleading, labeling thyroid hormones as within the normal range when a problem still exists.

So if you suspect that you may have a thyroid problem, find a knowledgeable health care practitioner in your area who will work with you to determine if a problem is present. This is of crucial importance if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as your baby's healthy development during the first trimester of pregnancy depends on your healthy thyroid function.

Keep in mind, too, that pregnancy places an increased demand on your thyroid gland. Because of this, if you are currently being treated for hypothyroidism you may need to adjust your treatment plan to account for this extra demand. Again, it is imperative that you work with a practitioner who understands the complexities of thyroid function, including during pregnancy, for your health and the health of your baby.

References

1. New England Journal of Medicine 1999 Aug 19;341(8):549-55.

2. Clinical Thyroidology Volume 22 Issue 11 November 2010 "Over half (55%) of the pregnant women with clear abnormalities suggestive of autoimmune thyroiditis with or without thyroid insufficiency would be missed if only the high-risk criteria are examined."

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