How Your Diet Can Make Menopause Better (Or Worse)

Menopause brings on a range of uncomfortable symptoms. From hot flashes to mood swings, symptoms can range in severity from mildly frustrating to almost unbearable. Whatever your personal experience with menopause, you’ve likely tried at least a couple of techniques to alleviate your discomfort.

While it isn’t a cure-all, there’s evidence to suggest that modifications to your diet could provide some relief for menopause symptoms. Here are some foods you can eat to reduce symptoms, and, just as importantly, some foods you should avoid.

What to Eat to Alleviate Menopause

Dairy

Menopause causes hormone changes that include a natural decline in the reproductive hormone progesterone. Because progesterone is a sleep-producing hormone, you may find it more difficult to fall and stay asleep during menopause.

If you’re not lactose-intolerant, dairy products may help. They’re high in amino acids, which have been linked to better sleep. As an added bonus, they’re also rich in vitamins D and K, which contribute to bone health. During and after menopause, bone density decreases, putting women at a greater risk for fractures, but dairy products may reduce that risk.

Fruits & Vegetables

There are dozens of reasons to incorporate more nutrient-rich fruits and veggies into your diet, and easing menopause symptoms is just one of them. Research has shown that diets high in fruit, vegetables, and fiber are associated with reduced hot flashes, so stocking up on produce has its perks.

Healthy Fats

Chia and flax seeds and fatty fish such as mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients may alleviate night sweats. (Despite some anecdotal reports, omega-3 has not been proven to reduce hot flashes.) If you prefer to skip the seafood, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement may be worth considering.

Phytoestrogens

Found in soybeans, barley, chickpeas, berries, plums, and green and black tea, these compounds act similarly to estrogens in the body. It’s suspected they may alleviate symptoms like hot flashes, though the science on this is not yet settled. *If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, please speak to your physician about phytoestrogens in your diet.

What to Limit or Avoid to Control Menopause Symptoms

Processed Carbs

Whenever possible, try to prioritize whole grains over heavily processed alternatives. Processed foods like white breads and pasta raise blood sugar more rapidly, and high blood sugar is associated with more severe menopause symptoms.

Alcohol

Alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns and may therefore worsen sleep-related symptoms. It also appears to lead to more intense (though not more frequent) hot flashes.

Caffeine

The verdict is out on whether or not caffeine can contribute to hot flashes. Some women feel that their caffeine habit actually reduces their symptoms, while others believe it may worsen them. If your hot flashes are severe, it may be worth temporarily cutting out your daily java to see if caffeine is a trigger.

Spicy & Salty Foods

It should come as no surprise that eating spicy foods could worsen hot flashes. Yet the evidence is limited, so, as with caffeine, you may consider temporarily avoiding spicy foods to see if they contribute to your symptoms. The science on excess salt is much clearer. It can elevate your risk of high blood pressure and lead to reduced bone density, two concerns for menopausal women. You should limit your use of salt to healthy levels.

If your menopause symptoms are interfering with your daily life, don’t hesitate to reach out to our providers. Schedule an appointment online or by calling (770) 385-8954.

Ashley Spears, Surgical Assistant with Covington Women’s Health Specialists, Explains the Benefit of Family Centered Cesarean Sections

* The following patient success story was developed with help from Piedmont Newton Hospital. If you would like to read the original piece, please click here. *

Ashley Spears thought she knew exactly what to expect as she prepared to deliver her second child at Piedmont Newton Hospital with Covington Women’s Health Specialists. As a surgical assistant with Covington Women’s Health Specialists, Spears spends a lot of time in the hospital’s Women’s Services department, and she had also delivered her oldest child at the hospital via cesarean section nine years earlier.

“Even though I’m working in the hospital on a regular basis, my experience as a patient was completely different,” said Spears. “As a patient, I experienced exceptionally personalized care. That’s one of the main benefits of delivering at a smaller hospital and with Covington Women’s Health Specialists. I received the same high-quality, clinical care patients think they have to travel to Atlanta to receive, and I was minutes from home. That’s incredible.”

Spears and her husband chose a family-centered cesarean section for her second child’s birth. Covington Women’s Health Specialists is proud to be the only practice in the Rockdale-Newton-Walton tri-county area offering these Family Centered Cesarean Sections. Just like during a vaginal delivery, our practice offers parents delivering by Cesarean Section the ability to watch the delivery, to see and hold their baby as soon as possible after birth, to enjoy skin to skin bonding, and cut the umbilical cord.

This process allowed both Spears and her husband to have more participation in the birth, including watching their son being born through a clear drape, her husband cutting the cord, and placing the baby immediately on her chest for uninterrupted skin-to-skin time.

“When my first child was born, I remember being sad because I felt like I only saw her briefly before she was taken to another part of the room to be measured and weighed,” said Spears. “With the family-centered c-section for our second child’s delivery, both my husband and I were able to fully engage in our son’s birth and the baby was immediately put onto my chest. It was an incredible experience for both my husband and me.”

Our very own Dr. Cathy Larrimore initiated the Family Centered Cesarean Sections in Newton County more than ten years ago. We’re proud to partner and deliver exclusively at Piedmont Newton Hospital where the Labor and Delivery staff is trained in the performance of Family Centered Cesarean Sections.

According to Spears, once she moved into a postpartum room, she experienced another change the hospital recently implemented; quiet time. Understanding that rest plays a role in healing, as well as gives new families uninterrupted bonding time, Piedmont Newton has ‘quiet hours’ from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. During quiet time, there will be limited disruption to patients to allow for rest and recovery.

“During the designated times, the entire department was quiet,” said Spears. “Hospitals are busy places, so to have those few hours of quiet gave us an opportunity to bond with our son, as well as get some much-needed rest without a constant influx of people in and out of the room.”

If you are expecting or planning to deliver by Cesarean section and would like to see us for your care, please call for an appointment 770-385-8954 or click here.

How to Best Prepare for Delivery Day

When you’re preparing to give birth, it can be an overwhelming and exciting process. There’s so much to do and to think through that you might be anxious about where to start first. Our experts are here to make the process easier for you. Here’s how to best prepare for delivery day.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

As you are anxiously waiting to meet your baby and your due date gets close, make this time productive. Get all the basics completed in your preparation for childbirth, such as registering at Piedmont Newton Hospital where our practice attends deliveries, discussing your pain management plan, and researching cord blood banking.

You will want to obtain and install a car seat in the car you plan to take home your baby after delivery. Also, have your bags packed and ready to go for the hospital. Be sure to know the hospital’s visitor policy, which are probably dramatically different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s lots of little details to think about when it comes to your delivery day preparation and that’s why we have developed a “Guide to Pregnancy” for our patients.  Check it out if this is the part of the process you’re currently working through!

Educate Yourself

If you know nothing about what it’s like to give birth, it’s vital you educate yourself. We recommend taking a local class so that you can learn from an expert and other expecting moms! When you educate yourself fully, you’re able to make wise decisions for your birthing process and also boost your confidence.

Reach for Others

Giving birth can be a stressful experience. However, you don’t have to do it alone! Don’t forget to reach for others as you get ready to go through this process. Whether it’s your partner, your Mom, or your friends who have given birth before, make sure to let them know what you’re feeling and how they can help. We’re sure they’ll be eager to do whatever they can to make it a positive experience for you! And it lightens the load for yourself.

Focus Mentally

On top of all the physical preparations you make for your birth plan, don’t forget to focus on preparing your mind for what’s to come. It can be easy to get distracted by all the birth stories out there, what worked for other women, and the nerves of the approaching day. That’s why it’s vital to practice your focus skills, your ability to calm yourself in stressful situations, and focusing on the positive.

Doing all of those mental tactics will make a good impact on your birthing process. It’ll help keep yourself nice and relaxed during the painful parts so you can focus on what’s most important: your incoming baby!

 

If you have any more questions about how to best prepare for delivery day, reach out to our experts by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954.

Balancing Staying Active for Women

With everything women balance, it can be difficult for them to find ways to stay active. However, while you’re working on your career, passions, and focusing on loved ones, it’s also vital that you find those moments to work on your physical health. 

Our experts are giving tips for balancing staying active for women. 

Shift Priorities to Balancing Staying Active for Women

Staying active is essential for remaining healthy, managing stress, boosting your immune system, and many other benefits. Physicians recommend getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you’re able to, shift priorities around to make time for staying active. Try to schedule everything else around when you know you’ll have time to go to the gym or go running. If you make exercising your number one priority, then it’ll be much easier to find the time to do it. 

Look for Exercise in the Daily Moments 

If you’re too swamped to carve out the time to do daily workouts, then find ways to sneak in exercises. If you’re tidying up your home, add some squats or weight lifting exercises as you move from place to place. Going shopping or meeting someone out? Park further away to increase your steps for the day! Find moments to get up and stretch during work or to take a short lap around the block. These small ways to stay active can keep yourself healthy and happy. 

Find Something You Love and Stick With It

If you’re having a hard time being motivated to exercise, it might just be because you haven’t found the right type yet! If you’re forcing yourself to run and hate it, no wonder it’s a big ordeal to get yourself out the door to do it. 

Experiment with new types of exercise! Try dancing with guided classes. Give weight lifting a chance. Maybe attempt to do cycling. The possibilities are endless! 

Ask for Friends To Work Out With You

If you have a lot going on and don’t have enough time for your loved ones, sneak in time with them by asking them to work out with you! That way you get to be with your friends or family and you also get in exercise that’s great for your health! 

If you have any more questions about balancing staying active for women, reach out to our experts by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954

Struggling with Mental Health? Here’s How to Help

This time has been difficult for many people with the stress of the pandemic. Thousands of people are finding themselves struggling with mental health. 

However, going through problems with anxiety and depression can sometimes be unbearable. If this resonates with you, the experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists are sharing tips for those struggling with mental health. 

Speak With a Professional 

Our most important tip is to schedule time to speak with a professional psychologist or therapist. These experts will be able to give you guidance on how to manage your specific mental problems, and they’ll always be there for you during the more difficult times with professional advice and tips. 

The good news is that many local places are offering virtual visits. Search around to see if you find a therapist that will work well with your preferences and schedule. 

Self-Care Methods and De-Stressing 

Negative mental health can often be a byproduct of stressful situations. If that’s the case for you, it probably means you’re in dire need of time to relax. Here are some of our favorite ways to destress and take care of yourself. 

  • Journaling: Writing down your struggles and thoughts can help you navigate experiences when it gets to be too much. Also, practice gratitude journaling to help remind yourself to look at the positive during difficult times. 
  • Physical care: There’s nothing like stepping into a hot bath to relax. Or maybe you love to get a massage and facial done. Either way, don’t feel guilty for indulging in taking care of yourself physically. Whether that means spending some time and money at a spa or just carving out time to do your nails at home, do it, especially if it helps your mental health. 

Work on Other Healthy Habits Too 

It can be tempting to leave behind other healthy habits when you’re struggling with mental health. But sticking with exercise and eating healthy can make a huge difference in your happiness levels. As difficult as it can be, make sure you’re still going outside to work out and that you’re still pilling your plate high with fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Lean on Loved Ones 

During our most difficult days, our loved ones can really be an extra layer of support and love. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends and family and let them know what’s going on with you. They’ll be there to give you advice, let you vent, or whatever else you might need from them. 

If you’d like more tips or additional help if you’re struggling with mental health, reach out to our experts by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954

Questions About The COVID-19 Vaccine As A Pregnant Woman? Read This!

If you’re a pregnant woman with questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, we understand your worries and concern. However, Covington Women’s Health Specialists is here with information to answer any questions you may have and bring reassurance. 

Protect yourself and your baby by getting the COVID-19 vaccination if you are in a high-risk group.  Our very own Dr. Samuels received her first COVID-19 vaccination when she was 27 weeks pregnant and her second vaccination when she was 30 weeks. She is participating in a study that monitors pregnancy outcomes for women who are vaccinated during their pregnancies. The study results will help us all! 

Covington Women’s Health Specialist Dr. Samuels is pregnant and recently received the COVID-19 vaccination.

  • The physicians of Covington Women’s Health Specialists (CWHS), the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that COVID-19 vaccines should be administered to pregnant individuals who meet the criteria for vaccination. 
  • People considering a COVID-19 vaccination should have access to available information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, including being advised that the vaccine safety studies did not include pregnant or breastfeeding individuals.  
  • Important things for you to consider are:
    • the number of people with COVID-19 infection in your community
    • the effectiveness of the vaccine which provides 50% protection after one dose and 95% protection after two doses
    • the risk that the COVID-19 virus may cause an illness for you which may have effects on you, your fetus, and/or your newborn
    • the safety of the vaccine for pregnant patients and their fetuses which have not been studied, however since the vaccine does not contain a “live” virus, it is considered safe as are other vaccines that do not contain a “live” virus
  • Additionally, being a messenger RNA vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine does not enter the area where the DNA is and therefore cannot cause genetic changes in DNA to occur
  • Pregnant patients who decline COVID-19 vaccination should be supported in their decision. These patients as all people should perform other prevention measures such as hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing a mask.

COVID-19 Infection poses a greater risk in pregnancy:

  • In other words, if you cannot breathe, your baby will suffer!
  • Studies show that pregnant patients with COVID-19 infection are at increased risk of more severe illnesses compared with nonpregnant patients. Pregnant women face an increased risk of ICU admission, need for mechanical ventilation, and death compared to patients who are not pregnant. 
  • If you are pregnant, protect yourself and your baby now by performing prevention measures such as hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing an N95 mask.
  • Please also get your flu shot because the SAME logic and warnings apply.

If you have any more questions about the COVID-19 vaccine as a pregnant woman, our staff are here to help. Reach out to our experts by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954

How Pregnancy Can Impact Your Skin

When you’re pregnant, so much changes in your life and in your body. While the way your belly grows might be the most obvious difference, your skin also experiences a lot of shifts. From breaking out heavily to becoming a totally different type of skin, every woman experiences skin changes during pregnancy differently.  

If you’d like to learn more, the experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists are digging into how pregnancy can impact your skin below.  

The Famous Pregnancy Glow 

Many women experience what’s called pregnancy glow, when a pregnant person’s skin seems to be luminous. Experts believe this is due to the increased hormones, oil, and also blood volume.  

Enjoy this time and treat your skin gently! And know that when things go back to normal, your skin will be just as beautiful.  

Stretch Marks  

Your body is growing to make room for the fetus. Stretch marks are an absolutely normal and expected part of pregnancy! They most usually appear around your abdomen, hips, butt, thighs, and breasts after your skin has stretched to cover the expanding parts of your body.  

While some creams and products can help lessen their appearance if your stretch marks are really bothering you, they can’t treat them fully. We recommend understanding they’re natural and that there’s nothing wrong with these marks.  

Breaking Out  

When you’re pregnant, your progesterone levels increased, which means more oil production for your skin. This often leads to breakout, no matter your age when you’re expecting!  

However, it can be difficult treating this issue as many products for acne control can have products that might lead to birth defects. Don’t pick your skin!  And do not use creams with retinol, retinoids, or salicylic acids. Instead, use benzoyl peroxide, wash gently and consider natural essential oils such as sea buckthorn that has anti-inflammatory properties.  

Additions to Your Skin  

Many women experience changes in the appearance of their skin during pregnancy. This could mean moles growing in size or additional ones appearing, skin tags producing, and dark skin patches showing up, a condition called melasma.  

Keep an eye on all these changes. For new moles, it’s always important to get them checked for potential skin cancer. For other issues, it’s best to let them develop and treat them after you give birth and are finished with breastfeeding. Speak with your dermatologist for the best course of action to do so!  

Varicose Veins  

Another impact of increased blood flow during pregnancy is varicose veins. These occur when the leg veins experience additional pressure and swelling. They appear to be darker and more obvious veins, sticking out on the skin of your legs.  

How to beat this? Some of the changes are due to hormones which we cannot change during pregnancy, so change the things you can by avoiding excessive weight gain!  Get up and start moving! Exercise boosts circulation and prevents blood from pooling in the legs. Choose healthy foods and control your portions.  You are not eating for two grown-ups!  As your midwife or doctor about a pregnancy meal plan that considers your pre-pregnancy weight. 

If you have any more questions about how pregnancy can impact your skin, reach out to our experts by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954.  

Safe Sex Toys: Don’t Be Afraid to Explore!

Not many people are comfortable discussing sex toys. However, sex toys are a healthy and fun way to satisfy yourself and your partner, which can lead to wonderful health benefits like sleeping better, dissolving stress, and maintaining the health of your vagina.  

But with an overwhelming number of options out there, it’s important to know what’s safe to buy and what you should be looking out for when shopping. To help all of our patients when it comes to safe sex toys, we’re describing the best options to buy and what to look out for.

Know What You Want  

The number of sex toys available on the market is obscene!  Pun intended! First, consider if you looking for something that will focus on a certain body part? Or would you prefer a toy that requires you and your partner to work together?  There are toy options that will allow your partner to deliver vibrations to your most sensitive areas, whether your partner is in the room with you or in another country!  Would you prefer a rechargeable toy or a battery-operated toy? 

If this is your first purchase, it’ll help tremendously for you to know what you want, so that you get right to the point and don’t get distracted by all the options.  Considering too many options may cause you to shy away.

Research Reviews  

Just like you do when shopping for something else, check out the reviews for a sex toy you have your eye on. See what other people are saying about their satisfaction with the product or if they experienced any issues with comfort or toy performance. 

Check Out What It’s Made Out Of  

This is especially important, as many sex toys aren’t FDA regulated. 

Most commonly, sex toys are made out of three types of products: porous, slightly porous, and non-porous. You’ll want to pick something that is non-porous, as this means you will actually be able to clean all the surfaces and destroy any lingering bacteria. Non-porous materials included silicone, ABS plastics, pyrex, and stainless steel. If you are not sure what ABS plastic is, this is a hard plastic which many children’s playthings are made of such as Legos.  Silicone toys are softer than plastic, are easy to clean and are what most sex toys are made of.  Don’t pick anything with un-tempered glass or something that can break easily and potentially harm yourself.  

Use it Properly  

Once you’ve picked your sex toy, make sure to take care of it properly. This means cleaning it often. We recommend using warm water with soap after every use of the toy, and especially after using it on a different partner. Don’t forget to also let the product dry properly.  Each toy will come with its own care instructions. 

Why is the Rabbit Style the Most Popular Toy?

The rabbit style toy has been popularized in TV shows, such as Sex and the City, and in magazines.  The reason this style of toy is so popular is that because several erogenous zones are stimulated by this toy.  Using a rabbit toy, women are usually always able to achieve an orgasm, and the sensation is often very intense, lasts longer or can even be experienced as several back to back orgasmic waves otherwise know as multiple orgasms.  Check it out!

Still Feeling Shy?

Dr. Cathy Larrimore, the founder of Covington Women’s Health Specialists, has counseled thousands of women over the years concerning their sexual health.  Often, women are worried about what their children or other loved ones will think if they find a toy among their belongings in the event of incapacitating illness or unexpected death.  Dr. Larrimore suggests any ladies worried about this possibility place a note in the drawer or where ever the ladies keep their toys stating simply, “You found my toys, and now you know, that I was normal!  ; ) ”

If you have any more questions about safe sex toys, reach out to our experts by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954.  

Covington Women’s Health Specialists Student Spotlight: Courtney Dorris

Covington Women’s Health is proud to offer a student program intended to give the next best and brightest training physicians a glimpse into what it’s like working in women’s health. We created the student spotlight blog series to highlight certain members in this program to give everyone an insight into this opportunity and the amazing people who participate.

Next up is Courtney Dorris, SNM. She’s been with Covington Women’s Health Specialists for two weeks. Learn more about Courtney by reading below!

Why did you choose to work in the field of obstetric/gynecologic medicine?

I chose to go into midwifery because I am passionate about reproductive health and wellbeing.  I love being a source of information and support for women during both difficult and exciting times in their lives.

What’s the most rewarding part of your clinical work?

The most rewarding part of working as a midwife is being able to share in the most vulnerable and special moments of a person’s life. Birth is such a sacred process, and it’s an honor to participate in that special moment to be there as a support for the family. 

What are your favorite past-times?

My favorite past times are being outdoors, crafting, and spending time with my family! 

Want to learn more about our student program? Read this blog here! If you have any more questions about Covington Women’s Health, reach out to our women’s health experts here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954.

Deliveries During COVID-19

Written by Patient Kimberly Fambrough

It was worth it….

December of 2019 and we see those two pink lines. She was our secret from the world until we heard “there is a heartbeat and everything looks great”. We were around 8 weeks. We waited until we reached 12 weeks to tell our families.

It was worth it… Then March 2020 hit. An unprecedented pandemic where no one knew what to believe. I remember having so many mixed emotions, but hope being the biggest. Desperate hope that the pandemic would disappear come August. I’d go to doctors visits alone and thinking “this won’t last the whole pregnancy, we will be okay.” As the months continued and new protocols were put into place, I began to get nervous. It was worth it.

I’d think of all the questions I needed to ask. I’d try hard to remember all details and report back to my family. It was overwhelming on my own. Having a second person there to support or help me remember information was supposed to be a given, yet suddenly I missed it and wanted it desperately.

It was worth it.

Ultrasound after ultrasound and scan after scan, I was alone. I looked forward to getting my temperature checked and masking up to see this sweet girl. By July, we are still battling this virus and reality sinks in that it will indeed “still be a thing” when I deliver.

It was worth it.

I find out only my husband can be with me. I was anxious.

It was worth it.

The big morning comes. It’s 5 am induction time and I was nervous about the process, the Covid test, not having my family waiting to rush in to meet her. I was sad knowing that they would meet her through a hospital window. I was worried that her sister would feel less important not being able to see us or meet this new baby for days during our hospital stay.

It was worth it.

She makes her arrival, my husband announces that she is here and we are all doing well. As soon as my family rushes to lay eyes on her, I realize in that moment, it was all worth it. Seeing their tears and smiling faces was the most heartwarming moment. I realized it was never just me. My daughter was with me the whole time and we helped each other get through delivery until our final introduction.

My pandemic baby was perfect and healthy. Had it not been for my amazing doctors, midwives and nurses, this experience would have been truly traumatic. Their support and love made it…truly worth it.