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Traveling with your breastfeeding infant doesn't have to be difficult.

For nursing mothers, the idea of trying to travel with their child might seem daunting. But with some planning and proper strategies in place, it can be done so that both mother and baby enjoy their trip. And some experts say it’s actually easier to travel with a baby who’s breastfeeding rather than taking formula, since mom doesn’t have to mess with packing the bottles or formula and worry about keeping the bottles sterile.

Things to Take

Some things to consider taking before heading out on your travels include:

  • Loose-fitting tops that you can easily pull up
  • A light blanket to screen yourself when you can’t find a private spot
  • A sling or soft infant carrier, which has several benefits:

    • Makes it easier to carry a child for long periods
    • Keeps skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, which helps sustains the mother's milk supply
    • Offers the baby extra protection

Things to Do

  • With infants under six months old, feed them on demand, which will maintain milk supply and keep the child happy.
  • For long car trips, try to plan for stops that will allow for easy, comfortable feeding locations.
  • If you need to use pumped breast milk during your travels, store it in clean, tightly sealed containers.
  • Don’t worry about refrigerating pumped milk for short periods. Freshly pumped milk remains safe at room temperature for up to eight hours.
  • Get any needed vaccinations for your particular travel destination. In most cases, vaccines will not make your milk unsafe (you can get more information here).
  • If you’re flying, try to get an aisle or window seat to make it easier to feed during the flight.
  • If you’re flying and bringing pumped milk with you, notify TSA agents if you have more than 3.4 ounces.
  • Learn the laws about public breastfeeding for your final destination. Most states allow public breastfeeding, but check to make sure.

At North Hills Hospital, we know the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child. We’re proud to partner with Pevytoe Consulting to offer prenatal education that includes classes on breastfeeding. For more information call 817-380-5929.

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Here's a few facts you might not know about breast cancer.

September is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and many media outlets focus on the most common risk factors for the disease and its typical symptoms. Meanwhile, breast cancer research continues to explore new causes for the disease, and, because breast cancer can take several forms, some symptoms might not be well known either.

What’s in Your Food

Eating more plants seems to lower the risk of developing cancer, but a chemical found in the soil around them may boost it. In one study scientists saw a link between breast cancer and cadmium. This heavy metal turns up in many fertilizers used to grow our food. Other sources of cadmium include:

  • Burned fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas
  • Burned wood
  • Emissions from incinerating municipal waste and medical waste
  • Crabs and mussels
  • Organ meats

Chemicals in the Air

Certain chemicals in environmental pollutants are similar to estrogen and other hormones. Exposure to those chemicals seems to raise the risk of breast cancer. The chances of breast tissue damage is highest when:

  • An unborn baby's mammary glands are forming
  • A girl reaches puberty
  • A woman is pregnant

Drinking and Hormones

Postmenopausal women who drink alcohol daily and take hormone replacement therapy for five years or more increase their chances of developing breast cancer. One study showed that mixing the therapy with 1.5 drinks per day doubled the risk. The good news is that the risk is lowered when the therapy ends.

The Unexpected Symptoms

Some less well-known symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Swelling of the breast
  • Enlarged lymph node under the arm with associated redness
  • Discoloration of the breast
  • Dimpled texture to breast skin

Some of these symptoms are associated with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare form of the disease.

If you experience any unusual changes to your breast or nipples, don’t hesitate—see a doctor. In most cases, the cause is not cancer, but it’s better to be safe. And if you have questions about women’s health issues or need a doctor,  call North Hills Hospital at 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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Learn the factors that increase your risk of developing this cancer.

Ovarian cancer strikes only a small percentage of women, but it can be deadly. It causes more deaths than any cancer of the female reproductive system. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to learn the factors that increase a woman's chance of developing the disease.

Factors You Can’t Control

  • Genetics – mutations in genes called BRCA1 and 2 are linked to higher rates of ovarian cancer. Other genetic mutations can lead to Lynch Syndrome. While more closely associated with colorectal cancer, it can be a factor with ovarian cancer too.
  • Family history – if any close female relatives have had ovarian or breast cancer, your chances of developing ovarian cancer are higher.
  • Personal medical history – if you had or have breast cancer or certain other cancers (including melanoma and uterine cancer), your risk increases. Taking estrogen alone after menopause for hormone replacement therapy also boosts the risks.
  • Reproductive history – if you cannot (or choose not to) have children, you might be at higher risk. Each full-term pregnancy a woman has reduces her chance of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Age – most ovarian cancers are diagnosed in women who have gone through menopause.

Lifestyle Choices and Other Controllable Factors

  • Diet – a low-fat diet has been tied to lower rates of ovarian cancer.
  • Fertility drugs – women who are at a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer should avoid clomiphene citrate (Clomid), as this drug has shown to further increase your risk.
  • Contraception – using birth control pills or injectable hormone contraceptives lowers the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Assessing the Risk

If you’re curious about your risk of developing ovarian cancer, there are several online assessment tools available, including one here. Of course, if you’re truly concerned, you should see your doctor.

At North Hills Hospital, we’re concerned about women’s health too. If you’re looking for  a physician to address reproductive or other health issues, use our online physician finder or call 1-855-5NHILLS for a referral.

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Get the facts on common myths about being pregnant.

When you’re having a baby, you’ll come across plenty of advice. Your friends and family will probably give you lots of tips, but some of them may be based on common pregnancy myths. To help clear up the confusion, here are five of the most common pregnancy myths debunked.

1. Avoid getting stressed out or it will hurt the baby.
If you’ve seen headlines linking stress to problems in pregnancy, try not to worry. These studies are generally based around significant stress and trauma, not everyday worries. A normal amount of stress is fine. If you find yourself feeling like you’re unable to cope, talk to your doctor.

2. Pregnancy makes you crave ice cream and pickles.
Many women experience strange cravings during pregnancy, but they won’t necessarily be similar. This is a pregnancy myth illustrating how surprising cravings may be. You may not even experience any at all.

3. You’ll glow and feel wonderful while you’re pregnant.
Being pregnant doesn’t necessarily mean feeling blissful and content. For a variety of reasons, pregnant women may feel uncomfortable, sick or even depressed. Try not to set unrealistic expectations for yourself. It’s okay if you don't always feel great or better than usual.

4. You shouldn’t work out when you’re pregnant.
The American Pregnancy Association’s recommended guidelines do not prohibit a woman from working out. As long as your pregnancy is low risk, you can continue your normal fitness routine. Be careful about starting anything new or strenuous, and avoid contact or dangerous sports.Talk to your doctor about your workout plans.

5. You should be eating for two.
According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should not use pregnancy as an excuse to eat more than is necessary. Eat what makes you feel good when you’re feeling nauseated, but try to focus on a balanced diet. Talk to your doctor about what supplements are necessary for you.

At our Women's Center, get the very best care before, during and after the birth of your baby. If you would like to set up an appointment or find a doctor to speak with, call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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Find out when women should worry about abdominal pain.

If you're a woman, you are probably no stranger to abdominal pain. There are a number of causes for abdominal pain and many times women can determine the cause for their pain and treat it accordingly. However, it is important that women don't take for granted certain types of pain and know when to seek treatment. Here are some common causes for abdominal pain in women, some of which should be taken very seriously.

Ectopic Pregnancy
Any sexually active woman should know the signs of an ectopic pregnancy. These typically include a sharp abdominal pain on one side that occurs 6 weeks into a pregnancy, followed by vaginal bleeding. The pain worsens with movement or straining and, over time, signs of shock occur resulting from internal bleeding. If you suspect an ectopic pregnancy, seek medical attention immediately.

Heart Attack
Women are at a higher risk of dying from a heart attack because their symptoms vary from men, and women are more likely to ignore their symptoms. Abdominal pain can be a sign of a heart attack including chest pressure or squeezing, shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, nausea and pain in the arm, neck, chest or back. Never ignore these symptoms and call 911 if you suspect you may be having a heart attack. 

UTI
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can make urinating uncomfortable, but it can also cause your belly or back to feel tender or it may make your abdomen feel heavy. It is important to have a UTI treated so that the infection does not spread or affect your kidneys.

Norovirus
Severe abdominal pain or nausea may be a sign of norovirus. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills and stomach pain. It is very easily transmitted, especially for those living in close quarters. It can be particularly dangerous for small children or older adults.

Appendicitis
Pain from appendicitis can start around the belly button and then worsen to a sharp pain localized to the right side of the abdomen. The severity of pain usually increases over a 6-12 hour period and can include symptoms like nausea, abdominal swelling, tenderness, pain during movement, fever and diarrhea. It is critical that those with appendicitis seek immediate medical treatment.

Digestion Complications
A number of conditions related to digestion can cause abdominal pain for women. GERD (or heartburn) can cause severe discomfort in the upper abdomen and chest. IBS is a common condition and may result in digestion issues including cramping, diarrhea or nausea. During a woman's period, she may experience diarrhea or abdominal bloating in addition to menstrual cramping. Gallstones, pancreatitis and Crohn's Disease are also more serious digestive conditions that result in abdominal pain.

When to Seek Medical Attention
Abdominal pain is common in women, but its cause or source can vary dramatically. If abdominal pain continues without relief and is paired with other unusual symptoms, it is important to seek treatment since the reason may not always be apparent. Are you experiencing unexpected or unusual abdominal pain? Call North Hills Hospital at 1-855-5NHILLS to request a physician referral. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.

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dad

My husband and I are expecting our first baby any minute. Okay, in four weeks, but technically she could arrive tonight if she wanted to (and we wouldn’t complain if she did). Mother’s Day and Father’s Day hit at that in-between time for us – technically we’re not parents yet, but we sure have done a lot of work preparing for baby girl’s arrival. And so we discussed it and decided that yes, indeed, we were going to celebrate both holidays this year.

Plus, let’s face it, we just love any excuse to celebrate.

My husband thoroughly spoiled me on Mother’s Day (hello prenatal massage gift certificate!) and I have some surprises up my sleeve for him this weekend. What about you? Did you celebrate Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) while you were pregnant?

And, because I’m new at this – what were some of the BEST Father’s Day gift you or your kids ever got your husband? We’ve created a Pinterest board with some last-minute homade ideas for the kiddos, but we’d love it if you would share your ideas as well! Link to your blog post with your own idea, or summarize it in the comments below.

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Bethe Wright is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at North Hills Hospital, a wife, and a first-time mom-to-be in July who will be delivering right here at North Hills.

Need an OBGYN? Check out our “Meet our OBs” section on the blog.

packing

I live my life based on to-do lists – it’s the only way I know how to survive. So you can imagine the giant to-do list I have going right now, at 33 weeks pregnant, unsure exactly what day my sweet baby girl is going to decide to make her grand entrance into this world. With most major milestones in life, you know exactly what date it will take place – but with babies, they come on their own timing – and sometimes quite unexpectedly.

And so I’m tackling my to-lists now, just to be on the safe side. One BIG to-do item looming over me is packing for the hospital. Since I’m a first-timer, I decided to go straight to the experts – I asked our Labor & Delivery department what they think every new mom should pack for the hospital. Thanks to nurses Angie and Courtney for coming up with this great list. (please note – some of these hospital-related items only apply to moms delivering at North Hills Hospital):

• Toiletries, lotions (the hospital will provide you with lip balm)
• Hair tie
• Hair dryer
• Your own fluffy pillow and a soft throw for comfort (the hospital provides both, but there’s something about having your bedding from home that brings extra comfort). Use a colored pillow case so it doesn’t get mixed up with the hospital’s pillows.
• Fun socks for labor and pushing (Angie says you’ll always remember these as your “lucky labor socks.”)
• If you are sensitive to smells, bring a scented plug-in.
• Camera/charger
• Chargers for your phone, laptop and/or iPad
• Movies
• Soft music, speakers for your iPhone (or, a special laboring playlist)
• Small hand massager for your husband to use on your upper and lower back during labor for pain relief
• Microwavable warm pack for your shoulders and neck
• Nursing pajamas, robe and slippers (remember, you’ll have a lot of visitors, so bring something cute)
• You should not need a nursing bra or pads while you are in the hospital, but make sure you have these ready for day 3 after delivery.
• Breastfeeding pillow/Boppy
• Scrapbook page or baby book for handprints and footprints after the baby’s first bath
• The hospital will provide dad with a snack bag – bring extras if you have a particular favorite. We also have vending machines and a cafeteria – and a Starbucks on weekday mornings.
• A loose, comfortable going-home outfit for you and the baby

Other checklist items:
• If you want newborn photos, book a professional photographer ahead of time, as most prefer to photograph your baby within the first 7-10 days.

• Be sure to pre-register with the hospital well in advance. They recommend at least two months before your due date. At North Hills Hospital, we offer online pre-registration on our website. I just did it and it took less than 5 minutes.

To you seasoned moms out there – what other items would you recommend packing for the hospital? And what did you pack that you wish you had left at home?

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Bethe Wright is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at North Hills Hospital, a wife, and a first-time mom-to-be in just a few weeks.

Need an OB? Check out our list of physicians who deliver at North Hills Hospital.

Find out what habits can boost your health and lower your risk of disease.

Both genders can benefit from the same general health advice, but it's important to know the best ways to take care of certain aspects that are specific to women. Learn which habits to adopt in order to live a long, healthy life.

Eat a balanced diet
Dieting isn’t always about losing weight, although you should talk to your doctor about safe ways to get fit if you are currently overweight. To focus on health, you need to focus on a diet that offers you balanced nutrition, reasonable portions and meets your dietary needs. Learn how to read nutrition labels.

Get your annual exams and screenings
Check in with your healthcare provider every year for a basic exam, including a pap smear. These crucial screenings are an excellent way to stay on top of your health. Use this appointment as an opportunity to bring up any concerns you might have.

Even if you’re not at the age that doctors begin recommending mammograms and colonoscopies, you can still get screened for cancer. Talk to your dermatologist or general practitioner about screening for signs of skin cancer. Perform self-exams on your breasts.

Prioritize sleep
There are many proven health benefits when it comes to getting enough rest. Make it a priority in your life to get enough sleep at night. This means talking to your doctor if you’re experiencing chronic sleep issues.

Seek mental health care
If you’re frequently stressed, depressed or anxious, don’t hesitate to seek help. Talk to your doctor about finding the right kind of therapist or counselor to get support from. Open up to friends and practice self-care. Sometimes this means saying no to obligations.

Stay active
It’s crucial to stay active as you age. It’s recommended that adults get about 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, so find ways to get moving that don’t feel like work. It may take some experimenting to figure out what kinds of physical activity are right for you.

Take control of your health with North Hills Hospital and schedule your yearly exams. Call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral to get started today.

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Find out what you can expect after labor and delivery.

Many pregnant women focus on labor and delivery and don’t think about what happens afterwards. Don’t fret. We’ve got the basics on what to expect once you’ve met your little bundle of joy.

Early breastfeeding
Before your milk comes in, you’ll produce a substance called colostrum. This is nutrient-rich and exactly what your baby needs. Begin nursing as soon as you can if you are able. WomensHealth.gov recommends telling your doctor or midwife that you would like to nurse immediately. Your brand new baby will have the instinct to suck and when your milk comes in, your breasts may be very enlarged and tender. Talk to a lactation consultant to help with any struggles you may have. It’s normal to need assistance.

Your body
After delivery, you’ll experience what feels like a heavy period. It will start out as heavy bleeding and over the course of a few days will change in color and consistency. This discharge is called lochia, and it’s totally normal. Stock up on menstrual pads or even adult diapers. You cannot use tampons after delivery. Your doctor or midwife should send you home with a squirt bottle to assist with hygiene and comfort. If you’ve had stitches, your medical care provider will give you aftercare instructions.

Your mood
Most women have heard of postpartum depression. When you learn about it, you may think it’s something that would never happen to you. Keep in mind that women can have postpartum depression or anxiety even if there’s no previous history of mental health issues. It’s normal to be fearful, crying, anxious or moody after delivery. According to Medline Plus, if these feelings persist beyond the first month or begin later, you should talk to your doctor. Don’t be ashamed of your feelings. Help is available and the symptoms can be relieved.

At our Women's Center, our experienced medical staff is committed to your care before, during and after the birth of your baby. If you would like to set up an appointment or find a doctor to speak with, call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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Learn how to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

According to the National Cancer Center, over 230,000 women will develop breast cancer. An estimated nearly 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2013. In the face of these sobering statistics, discover the top three ways you can lower your risk of breast cancer.

1. Screen for breast cancer regularly
While this won’t prevent you from developing cancer, it can help you catch cancer while it is still in a more treatable state. Perform a self-exam on your breasts regularly. If you’re not sure if you’re doing it right, ask your doctor to guide you through an exam during your next well visit. Talk to your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms in addition to having a clinical breast exam during annual visits. If your genetic risk is high or you’ve had breast cancer before, your doctor may also want you to have an MRI to screen for breast cancer.

2. Limit your risk factors
While many risk factors of breast cancer are unavoidable, such as race, age and family history, there are factors you can control. According to WomensHealth.gov, the more alcohol a woman drinks, the greater her risk of breast cancer. Limit alcohol use. If you’re of childbearing age, consider breastfeeding. This can lower your risk.

3. Keep your body healthy
Obesity and limited physical activity can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Exercise regularly and talk to your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Focus on ways to lose weight that are gradual and sustainable. Consider working with your friends to establish fun ways to work out that you’re more likely to stick with throughout your life.

You have the power to take control of your health. Learn more about breast cancer from North Hills Hospital's online health library. If you would like to find a doctor to speak with about your risk factors, please call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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