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woman pregnant weight smYour grandmother may have had a week of bed rest after delivering a baby, but it's different these days. You're on the go right away and you may feel like you should drop that baby weight just as fast. But that new bundle of joy can make it hard to find the time to exercise, so what's a mom to do?

First, check with your obstetrician before resuming physical activity. Most women can begin exercising fairly soon after giving birth, but consult with your doctor before starting any vigorous activity or lifting weights.

Don't be in too much of a hurry to shed all those pounds. Your body needs about a month to rid itself of fluids that were retained. After this weight loss, you'll be left with the additional stores of fat that built up during your pregnancy.

Remember that your body's framework also needs time to adjust after delivery. Tendons and ligaments that were stretched to accommodate a growing baby may still be loose, so twists and sprains can happen more easily. Ease into exercise and build up slowly with a goal of doing a bit more each day.

Walking is a great way to exercise after pregnancy. It's easy to gauge your effort based on the amount of time and distance that you walk. Plus, your baby can come along with you in a stroller. And consider walking with other new mothers. Social support is important, and who better to help than someone who's experiencing the same thing?

Your goal might be to walk briskly enough to get your heart rate up to 60 to 80 percent of your maximum rate. Remember to take five minutes to warm up and cool down after a brisk walk.

Diet is also important, but don't slash your food intake in hopes of dropping baby weight faster. Begin by limiting sweets and eating more vegetables. A conventional diet is usually safe for new mothers. You might lose a pound a week at the start, but this will slow as you approach your target.  Most women need about six months to lose weight from a pregnancy.

You may have heard that breastfeeding makes the pounds melt away. It's true that breastfeeding burns about 850 calories a day, but it can also make you more hungry. Satisfying that urge to eat with simple carbohydrates such as snack foods can sabotage your efforts to lose weight.

Choose wisely and help yourself by keeping healthy snacks like cut vegetables or fresh fruit on hand for when those hunger pangs hit. And aim for six smaller meals per day to help you avoid cravings.

 

hormones smWhen we talk about women and hormones, it's usually the big two – estrogen and progesterone. But your health is affected by a handful of other hormones that rule your life for better or worse. The good news is there are steps you can take to make these hormones work for you.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that's kept humans alive for thousands of years when the choice was “fight or flight.” When you're in danger, cortisol raises your heart rate, sends extra oxygen to your brain, and gives you an energy boost from fat and glucose. That's good when it's life or death, but too much stress on a regular basis can leave you with too little cortisol, and that can make you feel worn out all the time.


number 40 smThe fifth decade of life is often a period of great transition for women. The nest may be emptying at the same time that your reproductive years are coming to an end. Reaching age 40 can be a turning point for your health, so here are a handful of tips to make it easier.

1. Know Your Numbers
It's important to know your readings for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and body weight. These numbers can indicate your risk for some serious conditions. Higher blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Higher blood sugar and body weight can indicate a risk for type-2 diabetes. Visit your doctor for a blood sugar test and cholesterol check and find out your blood pressure.

 

2. Climb Your Family Tree
Completing a family health history can help you learn if genetics increase your risks for some diseases. Conditions like colon cancer and heart disease can have a strong genetic component. If your family history dictates it, you may want to begin screening sooner that is typically recommended, to find out if treatment needs to start now.

3. Butt Out
If you're smoking, reaching age 40 should be your wake-up call to kick the habit.  Quitting can lower your risk for everything from lung cancer and emphysema to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. When you quit smoking in your 40s, your risk of stroke and diabetes drops to that of a non-smoker and your risk of lung cancer is cut in half after just five years.

4. “Lift” Your Metabolism
Your 40s are often when everything you eat begins to show up on your hips or waistline as metabolism slows down. Strength training can counteract this by improving the way your body burns calories. It also offers the added benefit of strengthening bones and building muscles to help you maintain better balance as you age.

5. Strengthen Those Ties That Bind
Relaxing with others reduces stress, boosts self-esteem, and even improves your relationship with your partner, so don't let friendships fall by the wayside. Women who socialize regularly through family, friends, volunteer organizations or religious groups have lower blood pressure, less diabetes, a reduced risk of heart disease, and fewer strokes.

 


woman hot flashIt's something that 75 percent of menopausal women experience, but just because hot flashes are common doesn't mean you should ignore them. It could be your body's signal to look for other health issues associated with menopause.

You should talk to your health care provider about hot flashes because if you're having symptoms that significantly impact your life, there may be other problems as well. Everything from painful intercourse to fragile bones and depression can be the result of menopause and a discussion with your doctor can open the door to exploring all the ways to address these issues.

That might be as simple as suggesting light exercise such as daily walking to fight menopausal weight gain that can lead to obesity. Exercise is also a proven stress reliever. Discussing hot flashes with your doctor may open a dialogue on the question of whether to consider hormone therapy.

Getting help for hot flashes also offers an opportunity to examine whether you're at a higher risk for bone-thinning osteoporosis. A bone scan may be needed to determine if additional treatment is necessary.

When you skip the discussion about hot flashes, you may also miss out on learning the latest about emerging treatments and new science regarding menopause. The Internet offers some reliable sources, but your doctor should be your primary contact for medical information because he or she knows you best.

You may be able to take the heat of hot flashes, but it might not be that simple. Talk with your doctor about hot flashes to find relief and ensure that you're in the best shape to live healthy all through menopause.

 


woman heart attackA heart attack doesn’t always feel the same in women as it does in men, and knowing the symptoms you may experience can make the difference for survival.

It's an important distinction because heart attacks are more deadly for women. That's why the American Heart Association is hoping to raise awareness about key differences in heart attack indicators in women.

A first-of-its-kind scientific statement from the AHA says that while chest pain or discomfort is the most common heart attack symptom, women are more likely to report shortness of breath and nausea and vomiting. Pain in your arms, back or neck is more common in women than in men. That can be confusing if you expect the pain of a heart attack to be focused on your chest and left arm. For a woman, the pain can be gradual or sudden, and it may come and go before becoming intense.

Women may also suffer stomach pain or severe abdominal pressure, and breaking out in a nervous, cold sweat is common among women who are having a heart attack. Some women who have heart attacks feel extremely tired and may not be able to stand up and walk.

Because these symptoms may not seem like a heart attack, some women delay getting emergency treatment and that can be a deadly decision. If you have chest discomfort and experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Don't drive yourself to the hospital or have a friend or relative take you, because you may not get there fast enough.

Most of all, don't dismiss what you feel. Don't worry about being embarrassed if it's not a heart attack.  It's better to be safe than to become a grim statistic.

 

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax