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Category: Babies

June 22, 2017

woman eating healthy before getting pregnantYou’re considering getting pregnant! Mentally, you’re beginning to commit to the idea, so one of the first few questions you might ask yourself is, “What can I do before getting pregnant? How can I be sure my baby will be healthy? Is there anything I can do ahead of time to make sure everything goes right?”

While the physical part of creating new life is pretty simple to comprehend, but many women don’t actually consider that there are ways to prepare their bodies for reproduction well ahead of time. Even if you’re not ready to conceive right away, there’s lots you can do before getting pregnant, and most of it is pretty basic.

When you leased your very first apartment, you wanted everything to be just right. Before you even moved in, you eagerly imagined how you would decorate it. You carefully selected the best furniture and matching accessories you could afford. You thought of where you would put your bed and bought food for the refrigerator and pantry. Everything was positioned just right for the new home you were to live in.

When you get pregnant, your body is going to be your baby’s ’apartment’ for approximately the next 280 days. Your womb (uterus) will be its bedroom, the amniotic sac will be its bed and the umbilical cord will be its fridge and pantry. Why not prepare your body to give your child the best possible home until its first ‘lease’ is up? There are steps you can take to make that happen.

Long before the actual union of sperm with egg, there are numerous measures you can take to optimally prepare your body. You can make gradual, positive lifestyle changes in the months preceding pregnancy. Some of these include:

Diet: If you haven’t done so yet, begin incorporating more fruits, fiber, and vegetables into your daily meals. Cut out excess fat, sugar, and caffeine. Eat junk food in moderation. Eliminate as many additives and preservatives as possible from your food by carefully reading labels and avoiding those with a long list of ingredients that you need a Hubble telescope to read or a scientific dictionary to translate.

• Exercise: Getting into the habit of walking even a block or two regularly can strengthen bone, muscle, circulation, tissue, blood and organ function, benefiting not only your own overall health but that of your future baby as well.

• Lose weight: If you are overweight, slowly shedding those extra pounds and achieving your ideal weight during the months before conceiving ensures a much better chance of becoming pregnant and carrying full term. The same holds true if you are underweight and need to bulk up a little. A healthier weight will also allow for an easier labor and delivery.

• Eliminate toxins: It’s no secret that smoking is dangerous to both you and those around you, so it stands to reason that it can be disastrous to the fetus growing inside you as well, Smoking while pregnant can deprive the fetus of oxygen, compromise heart rate, and result in premature birth or low birth weight. It can also increase the chances of miscarriage, birth defects, and stillbirth. Studies show there is a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in babies whose mothers smoked. Even exposure to secondhand smoke can have an adverse effect on your baby. Quitting before conception should be one of your top priorities. This also applies to excessive alcohol intake and any recreational drug use. Prescribed or over the counter medications should be discussed with our doctors before you become pregnant.

• Birth control: Ovulation can be calculated easier when you have had at least one normal menstrual cycle before getting pregnant. Though it’s not absolutely necessary to stop taking birth control months before you plan to get pregnant, this is something that should be discussed at your preconception counseling session with us, especially if you are currently using a long-lasting form of birth control, such as progestin, which may inhibit fertility for several months.

• Preconception counseling: Preconception counseling can evaluate, test for, diagnose, and determine any problems that may be a setback to a full, healthy and safe pregnancy for both mother and child. Your preconception counseling session with us will delve into a much more thorough list of steps you can take to make your future pregnancy as safe, smooth and healthy as possible. Ideally, it is best to book an appointment with us to discuss your plans approximately three months before you wish to conceive. At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, we are committed to giving you the best possible preconception care available to women today in order to ensure the optimum health of both you and the baby you are planning to have.

These are only several of the many things you can do before you decide to get pregnant. Our comprehensive staff includes Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeons (FPMRS), urologists, nutritionists, OB-GYNs, physical therapists and midwives. Their combined decades of experience and expertise can guide you through the preconception process, pinpointing any problems that may inhibit or be detrimental to your pregnancy. They can correct any physical abnormalities that may be hindering the process as well. Your reproductive health and the wellness of your future baby is our primary concern. No question is too trivial or embarrassing, and you will be treated with the utmost respect and confidentiality.

To book an appointment, please call our clinic at 770.720.7733.

Female patient listening to doctorPreconception counseling can help rule out any imminent detriments to you or your baby that may arise during conception, gestation, delivery, and even after birth.

Our expert staff at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, with our decades of combined knowledge and experience, are always prepared to help you, guide you, and answer any concerns or questions you may have during this event in your life. Your honest, detailed history will enable us to foresee and address any potential risks to you or your baby, always maintaining the strictest confidentiality

I’m Perfectly Healthy, and the Women in My Family Have Never Had Trouble Conceiving. Why Would I Need Preconception Counseling?

Although family history plays an important part in a woman’s ability to conceive and have a healthy baby, every female is different and unique. The food you eat, the medication you take, and the lifestyle you live are only a few of the things that may hamper or otherwise impact your plans to have a baby.

When Should I Schedule a Preconception Counseling Session?

Ideally, if you are healthy, fit, have a regular menstrual cycle, and have already given birth successfully, we recommend you schedule an appointment three months before you plan to conceive. However, if you are on a long term birth control regimen, or suspect you may have trouble becoming pregnant for any reason, it’s always best to call us and state your concerns. We will advise you accordingly based on your individual case.

What Information Do You Need? Is There Anything I Can Do or Bring to My Appointment?

You will, of course, be advised what to do when you call us, but listing the following information with as many dates as possible would greatly help us study your case with much more detail:

• Family history: Mention If any of your siblings, parents, grandparents, or other relatives have had any medical conditions such as diabetes, seizures, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure etc.

• List of medications, both recreational, prescribed, and over the counter, including vitamins and supplements: If any of these are harmful to a fetus, you may need to be weaned off them, change prescriptions or modify dosages, if at all possible, before your anticipated pregnancy. It is also important to disclose if you smoke or drink alcoholic beverages regularly or consume excessive amounts of caffeine.

• Health history: List any medical conditions, chronic or not, which you may be suffering from presently or may have suffered in the past. What may seem trivial to you could be important and enables us to judge whether these can affect your pregnancy or ability to conceive. Even childhood illnesses you’ve long since recovered from, such as asthma, mild heart murmurs, or measles should be documented.

• Surgical history: Any and all surgeries, past or pending, should be brought to our attention no matter how many years ago they took place, especially any gynecological procedures such as fibroid removal, biopsies, etc. Mention any abnormal Pap smears or other findings you any have been diagnosed with in the past. You should also disclose if you have ever had any blood transfusions.

• Previous pregnancies, caesareans and/or miscarriages: Whether you delivered a full term healthy baby or had complications, you should inform us so that we can do everything within the scope of our expertise to avoid repeating the latter scenario.

• Birth control and menstrual cycle: It is important for us to know if your period is typically regular or irregular in order to pinpoint ovulation times and facilitate subsequent successful conception. We can also recommend how long you need to stop using your birth control before you try to become pregnant, depending on the type you may be using.

• Environment: Where you live and work, along with your social and familial network may factor into successful conception. Certain elements in your environment, or that of people you associate with can prove to be dangerous and heighten risks. For instance, exposure to some metals may cause birth defects. Second-hand smoke may compromise both your lungs and the baby’s. Recent illnesses of those around you may prompt us to advise you to you wait awhile before beginning or adding to your family. It is always wise to let us know if you’ve encountered any such hazards.

• Sexually transmitted diseases: We are not here to judge, only to help. Genital herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, and other such diseases can drastically hurt you and your baby, and may even jeopardize your capability to reproduce. Complete honesty on your part can prevent tragedy. Your secrets are safe with us.

• Vaccinations: Bring a list of all vaccinations. Any that are not up to date may be administered in order to protect you from such threats as chicken pox or rubella. Usually, it is necessary to put off conception for a short period of time until the vaccines become fully effective.

What Can I Expect at a Preconception Counseling Session?

The information you provide, whether you bring it with you, or we acquire it during your appointment, will direct us towards any course of action we may need to take to minimize any foreseeable problems. Along with the associated risks already mentioned earlier, the following will also be discussed.

• Age: Your age and your partner’s may be important factors in determining if you need to be monitored more carefully for such conditions as Down syndrome, gestational diabetes, etc.

• Weight, diet, and exercise: If you are overweight or underweight, we may discuss your diet and activity level. We may recommend testing if we suspect the problem is a metabolic one in nature. Based on our findings, we can offer any necessary counsel. Furthermore, our nutritionists and physical therapists are available to help you achieve a healthy weight prior to conception. If you are extremely active, moderately active or very inactive, suggestions to modify any of these levels by decreasing or increasing them may also be covered in your session.

• Vitamins: We may recommend vitamins and supplements that your body may be lacking. Folic acid is often prescribed prior to pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects.

• Genetic counseling: A study of the family history you furnish may compel us to order certain tests on your behalf in order to check for the possibility of any hereditary or genetic complications, defects, or developmental and intellectual challenges your baby may be at risk for.

A complete physical examination, including a pelvic exam and Pap smear, is also usually administered to detect any physical abnormalities. Screening, cultures, and blood tests based on those findings will be ordered if necessary, along with any other tests deemed necessary.

Preconception counseling ensures that every possible precaution is taken to prevent future problems throughout gestation, labor, delivery and even afterwards. Your peace of mind combined with our experience and expertise is our ultimate goal so that you may enjoy a safe and healthy pregnancy.

To book a preconception counseling appointment, visit our clinic or call us at 770.720.7733.

June 3, 2017

Banking umbilical cord blood can benefit children as they grow.Expectant parents can be overwhelmed with everything that goes into preparing for a new child. It’s important to understand your options ahead of time. Donating cord blood can be easily achieved and potentially help others.

What is Cord Blood?

Cord blood is simply the left inside the umbilical cord and placenta after your baby is born. Cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells which are important in treating certain diseases. Unlike most other cells in the body, hematopoietic stem cells have the ability to mature into different types of blood cells within the body.

Benefits of Blood Cord Banking

There are numerous reasons expectant parents may want to choose to collect and store cord blood. Both bone marrow and cord blood have benefits, namely the potential to contain life-saving hematopoietic stem cells.

Cord blood transplants have helped over 30,000 people with the correction of inborn errors such as metabolism, hematopoietic malignancies and genetic disorders both in the blood and immune system.

Currently, it is also being studied for regenerative medicine and infectious diseases.

Today we’ll take a look at a few reasons cord blood is more advantageous than receiving hematopoietic stem cells than from bone marrow.

  • More matches available. Stem cells from cord blood are more versatile and can be given to a wider range of people than those that come from bone marrow.
  • Can be stored. Unlike bone marrow that needs to be used right away, cord blood can be frozen and store for future use.
  • Helps to strengthen the immune system. Cord blood has been shown to strengthen the immune system for patients going through cancer treatment. Bone marrow has not.
  • Less painful for the donor. Donating cord blood is less risky and less painful than donating bone marrow.
  • Less chance of rejection. Bone marrow has a larger chance of being rejected by the recipient than cord blood.

What Should You Consider Before Donating?

There are two types of facilities that can collect and store umbilical cord blood; public and private. When considering blood cord banking, talk to your OB/GYN or midwife about the differences between the two so you can make an informed decision.

Both public and private blood banks are required to follow the same rigorous screenings and infectious disease testing meeting the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug administration.

Here are some of the differences between each to give you an idea of what might be right for you.

Public Cord Blood Banks

The first public cord blood bank was established in 1991, however, now there are now many spread throughout the US that collect and store cord blood free of charge. Many are funded through government grants, public donations, and compensation for cord units used for transplant.

Public blood banks primarily store blood for use for anyone; related or not. However, if you have a family member who has a disease that could potentially be treated with a transplant, some public banks will store that blood for free as a directed donation.

Because ethnic minorities are not as well represented in cord blood banks, donating to one can increase the chance of all ethnic groups finding a match.

Private Cord Blood Banks

Private cord blood banks were not established until 2005 and are widely marketed for ‘biological insurance.’ Private or family banks are funded through processing and annual storage fees. Before you go into labor, you’ll be asked to sign a contract for the collection, processing, and storage.

If you plan to store your cord blood for your baby later in life or directed donation for a family member or sibling, you may want to think about a private bank.

It should be noted, however, that the scientific evidence is lacking when it comes to cord blood helping the same individual. In fact, stored blood cannot be used to treat the same person in many instances because most conditions already exist in his or her own cells which is why biological insurance is often not recommended.

How Does Blood Cord Banking Work?

Once you’ve chosen whether you’d like to donate to a public or private blood bank, you’ll need to let your doctor know as soon as possible. Collecting cord blood is not routine obstetric care or medically indicated.

Many hospitals have collection kits on-hand but on occasion, it can take up to 6 weeks for the hospital to receive one from the bank if an order needs to be placed.

Blood can be collected before or after the placenta is removed. The fresher the blood is the better. Cord blood is collected by puncturing the umbilical vein with a needle and gravity fed to a bag. Even with 40mL of blood needed to ensure there are enough blood cells for transplantation, the process generally takes around 10 minutes.

After blood is collected it will be ‘typed’ and tracked for quick delivery the moment someone is in need of it.

Keep in mind, there are some circumstances during labor or delivery that can prevent the collection of enough cord blood.

Your OB/GYN will not compromise the obstetric or neonatal care to obtain cord blood. Nor should the collection of cord blood alter the routine practice or timing of the umbilical cord clamping.

Final Thoughts

Talk to your doctor to learn more about understanding your options when it comes to donating cord blood. Blood cord banking is not a routine procedure in obstetric or neonatal care, so it’s imperative that you let your OB/GYN know before you go into labor if you decide to donate.

Don’t hesitate to call with any further questions you may have or schedule an appointment regarding blood cord banking. Education is key, and our staff is always happy to help provide knowledgeable advice.

April 24, 2017

Natural Childbirth is a labor and delivery that does not include the use of routine medical interventions, particularly anesthesia, the most common forms being epidurals and spinal blocks. It also attempts to minimize surgical interventions such as episiotomies, forceps, and caesarean sections.

Many women prefer natural childbirth.A natural childbirth may occur in a hospital while under the supervision of a physician or midwife, or at home assisted by a midwife. Statistics show that in 2008 approximately 39 percent of documented vaginal births in the United States were natural.

Natural Child Birth Options

Pregnant women who are approaching their due date may often become anxious about the process of delivering a healthy baby and what it may entail. In order to relieve any unnecessary anxiety or concern, it is helpful to become informed about childbirth, which options are available and have a birth plan ready for when it is time for delivery.

It is important to speak with your health care provider to explore both natural and medical options for you and your baby. This way you can be prepared and empowered to make a decision. Each birth is different, and the health of mother and baby is ultimately paramount.

The following are different options that are available as an alternative to medical interventions.

Massage

Massage stimulates your body to release endorphins that can help ease the pain, reduce anxiety and make contractions feel less intense. Massage can be performed on the shoulders, back, feet/hands and the perineal area.

Breathing and Relaxation Exercises

This can include a variety of methods such as mindfulness and meditation, specific breathing techniques, vocalization, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Acupressure

A form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupressure can be used to apply pressure on specific points to provide pain relief, calm anxiety and encourage an efficient labor. This can be learned and practiced on yourself or by your partner.

Positioning and Movement

Certain birth positions have been favored in natural childbirth including squatting, and being on hands and knees versus the traditional lithotomy – laying on the back with hips and knees flexed – position. Walking, gentle stretching and the use of a birthing ball can also be helpful in the labor process.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Intermittent heat and cold in the form of warm and cold packs may be used on the lower back, lower abdomen and perineum during labor to help with pain and discomfort.

Hypnotherapy

This is an integrative mind-body technique which can aid women to replace fear and expectations of pain with expectations of a safe, gentle and comfortable birth. It can be self-performed or performed by a partner using deep breathing, vocabulary cues or visualization.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to childbirth today, women have a variety of options to explore and choose from. It is important that you feel as comfortable, prepared and relaxed as possible when preparing for your labor and delivery.

Being educated about both natural and traditional medical birth options will allow you and your doctor to make an informed plan that best suits you and your baby’s needs.

Please don’t hesitate to call with any further questions or concerns you may have regarding Natural Childbirth.

December 1, 2016

In vitro fertilization has become a wonderful option for many women who suffer from fertility issues. At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, our OB-GYNs and Female Pelvic Medicine Specialists are not only qualified to diagnose and treat these issues, but have the accreditations and combined decades of experience to effectively change lives child-free lives with their accumulated wisdom, experience, and access to the most cutting edge, up-to-date medical technology.

What is In Vitro Fertilization?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most successful of several fertility treatments known as assisted reproductive technology (ART). Both the female egg and sperm are fertilized outside of the body, processed, and then reintroduced into a woman’s uterus to achieve conception.

Is In Vitro Fertilization My Only Recourse If I Suffer From Infertility?
There are several assisted reproductive technologies. In vitro fertilization may be necessary if other methods cannot help you achieve conception. Our OB-GYNs and FPMRS specialists are skilled in all aspects of Women’s Health, including fertility issues. We examine, diagnose and treat each patient with the same intense scrutiny and care we would a member of our own family. You will be assessed on an individual basis. We will recommend the best options based on your unique case, providing you with any available resources and referrals that meet your specific requirements.

Am I a Good Candidate for In Vitro Fertilization?
When other options have failed, or if we consider IVF the best course of action based on our expertise and knowledge, then this procedure will be recommended, if you:

  • Have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive through unprotected sex for more than six to twelve months.
  • Have ineffectively tried other forms of assisted reproductive technology.
  • Are 35 years or older (natural egg production decreases as women enter their late thirties).
  • Have blocked, scarred, missing or damaged fallopian tubes.
  • Suffer from endometriosis as endometrial scarring may prevent conception.
  • Have been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition where excessive androgen (male) hormones may inhibit or cause irregular ovulation.
  • Produce too much prolactin in the blood (hyperprolactinemia).
  • Have incurred damage from pelvic inflammatory disease or another STD.
  • Have a partner with male fertility issues, such as a low sperm count.

in-vitro-photoHow Does In Vitro Fertilization Work?
In vitro fertilization is done in stages beginning with hormonal treatments to stimulate the growth of multiple eggs needed in the event that one or more may not develop or fertilize during the later process. These eggs are subsequently retrieved through a simple surgical procedure, and inseminated with the prepared, furnished sperm. Eggs are then monitored carefully to insure that fertilization and cell division are occurring. If success is achieved, the egg officially becomes an embryo and is ready for transfer into the uterus, where implantation will hopefully take place. The entire process from retrieval to implantation takes approximately a week. Close monitoring is done at every stage of this process to insure optimal results.

What if My Eggs or My Partner’s Sperm Are Deemed Weak or Unhealthy, or if There Are Dangerous Genetic Factors in My Family Tree?
From the moment of your first appointment, we will study and assess any problems that may be preventing you from conceiving, after which we will outline your best options. In the case of a low sperm count, intracytoplasmic injection can be used to infuse a single strong and healthy sperm directly into the egg. If healthy sperm cannot be provided by your partner, if your own eggs are not viable for this procedure, or if you are a female in a same sex relationship, you may opt to use donor sperm or eggs.

If genetic abnormalities are a concern, we will thoroughly study your family history, along with your own medical information. After careful analysis and testing, if we concur that your child may be at risk for inheriting a genetic or infectious disease, the above mentioned donor option is, again, available to you. Today’s technology also allows us to screen an IVF embryo for certain diseases or conditions before implantation.

What About Multiple Births?
During the in vitro fertilization process, several fertilized eggs are reintroduced into your uterus to insure a better chance of successful pregnancy. However, if you prefer not to have more than one baby and wish to avoid a multiple birth, today’s technology makes it possible to limit the number of fertilized eggs implanted to one in order to insure a single birth.

What Happens to Perfectly Good Eggs, Sperm or Embryos That Are Not Used?
Both fertilized and unfertilized eggs and sperm can be frozen (cryopreservation) for use at a later date. If you no longer wish to have another baby, you are free to donate them for use by someone else.

Freezing for later use is an excellent option if, for some reason, it is inconvenient to become pregnant immediately due to health or other concerns such as cancer treatment, a medical condition that can compromise fertility, etc.

How Successful is In Vitro Fertilization and How Can I Improve My Chances of Getting Pregnant?
As with every assisted reproductive technology, there is never a 100% guarantee, but IVF is one of the most effective methods to insure pregnancy. You can help guarantee even better results with the following lifestyle changes:

  • Eat a nutritious, balance diet.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Take precautions to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Schedule regular medical and gynecological checkups.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Don’t use recreational drugs.
  • Try to keep a day job (studies shows that night or evening shifts can disrupt natural hormonal balance).
  • Exercise moderately (too much vigorous exercise can inhibit progesterone production).
  • Avoid exposure to toxins.
  • Limit caffeine consumption.
  • Practice pelvic exercises.

Today’s technology gives more women than ever the opportunity to conceive in cases where there was little hope only a few decades ago. For a consult with one of our OB-GYNs, book an appointment by calling 770.720.7733.

November 4, 2016

ultrasound photo with brenda

Accredited ultrasound services require a highly educated and skilled expert to operate the ultrasound machine and perform diagnostic examinations. Ultrasound is used both for pregnancy and also for the diagnosis of GYN issues.  A physician interprets the resulting images. Based on one or multiple factors, he or she affirms that the anatomy is normal, or if an abnormality is suspected, recommends further testing or treatment.

How Ultrasound Changed Pregnancy

When the technology of ultrasound first emerged, pregnant women were excited to see their developing babies. A patient would lie on a cold table, bladder filled with the large quantity of water she was required to drink to yield a clear picture. The technician lubricated her stomach with cold gel, and proceeded to rub a transducer probe across her belly while the anxious future mom and dad looked on.

The pictures were often disappointing – blurred and grainy. Without the sonographer patiently tracing the image with a finger on the monitor, prospective pareents didn’t know if they were admiring their baby’s face or the uterus it was inside. As for gender, well, that was still a hit and miss thing – basically no different from the baby shower tradition of swinging a ring on a rope, and guessing the baby’s sex based on whether the ring twirled or swung like a pendulum.

Back then, only the sonographer’s experienced eye could differentiate the important information from the blips and blotches on the monitor to insure that all was well. But since then, the quality of ultrasound – and the training of technicians – have evolved a hundredfold.

Briefly, How Does Ultrasound Work?

The ultrasonographer sends harmless high frequency sounds, undetected by human ears, toward a ‘target,’ in this case, your growing baby. Those sound waves are directed via a probe called a transducer. The sound waves bounce back, creating an ‘echo’ when they encounter the bone or tissue of the baby. That echo creates an image on a monitor—a picture of your baby complete with all its parts, including internal bones, tissue, organs and even blood flow. You may recognize only larger parts of your baby, like face, limbs, heart, etc., but the technician knows what all the little pieces of the fetus are. He or she is trained to decipher and measure every part to verify due date, gender, and to detect if anything is out of the ordinary.

Does Our Practice Offer Ultrasound Services?

Yes, we offer ultrasound services at our practice and are accredited at both our Canton and Woodstock locations. Headed up by our chief ultrasonographer, Brenda Peters, our practice has earned a place on a limited list of practices fully accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in medicine for obstetric and gynecologic ultrasound. Brenda’s training includes a Bachelor of Science degree from the diagnostic medical sonography program of the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she graduated with high honors in 2000. She is also a registered OB-GYN Ultrasonographer by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and is certified in nuchal translucency, a specific screening to determine the presence of Down syndrome.

What Does Ultrasound Accreditation Involve?

The ultrasonographers in our accredited offices update their skills and stay current by attending the obligatory programs available. Additionally, our physicians take ongoing ultrasound classes and pass a test every three years to meet AIUM guidelines for reading ultrasound studies.

What Skills Does a Registered Ultrasonographer Have?

  • They are required to have basic knowledge of pathophysiology (knowledge of disorders and syndromes), anatomy, and physiology (knowledge of the function of living matter such as cells, tissues and organs)
  • They must be able to differentiate between normal and abnormal sonographic findings, recognizing particular conditions and diseases.
  • They must be able to recognize ultrasound patterns and imaging.
  • Sonographers do not simply diagnose findings, but must also know how to efficiently operate the equipment to acquire all the necessary data for diagnosis.
  • They must possess excellent clinical and communication skills
  • They must be able to assess and care for their patients, be adept at problem solving, and apply unbiased, logical, critical thinking to all findings.
  • They must adhere to all sanitary guidelines to prevent infection, and be mindful of all safety and health issues.
  • They are required to have knowledge of ultrasound physics
  • They keep image copies, accurate records, precise charts and detailed information, sharing their diagnosis with their medical colleagues in order to insure optimum patient care.
  • They often communicate findings to patients in real time, taking however long is necessary to explain all procedures, thus instilling trust, confidence and calmness in the person under their care.
  • They need strong verbal and written skills, in both medical and layman terminology to be able to communicate their findings to their colleagues.
  • In many cases, they may be required to move patients and be able to stand for long hours, requiring them to be in peak physical condition.Ultrasound Registry takes years of study, dedication and experience to achieve.
  • Reaccreditation is done every three years for our office.

Our staff of professionals in this field are available to care for you, the patient, with their knowledge and expertise at all times.

For more information, visit Northside Hospital Cherokee.For an appointment, call our office at 770.720.7733.

November 1, 2016

woman-choosing-food

It’s common knowledge that smoking, drinking or misusing drugs can be harmful to a growing fetus. It’s also becoming widely known that a proper prenatal diet is vitally important to a baby’s health and development.

We consider diet such an important factor in pre-pregnancy planning and prenatal care that we offer the options of both regular and holistic plant based prenatal nutrition information to all our patients. Our providers can help advise you on a regimen that works for you, based on your specific needs and preferences, even allowing for any budgetary limitations you may have. This service is available before, during, and after pregnancy.

Two of our physicians, Dr. Britton Crigler (MD, FACOG), and Dr. Kathryn Hale (MD, MPH, FACOG), are practicing vegans and pegans, respectively. Their expertise and input into prenatal holistic nutrition can prove invaluable should you choose to follow a plant based diet while pregnant.

What is Holistic Nutrition?

Holistic nutrition is eating foods that are as close to nature as possible. None of us would dream of walking into a lab, grabbing random test tubes, and drinking the contents. Yet, in essence, we do something similar to this every day by ingesting foods saturated in chemicals, additives and preservatives. Grocery store shelves bulge with genetically altered meat, produce, dry goods and beverages that make them look, sound, or taste more appealing.

The list of ingredients on most packaging has become so long that one almost needs a microscope to read the fine print. Even someone with 20/20 vision needs a PhD to decipher the multisyllabic contents on a box of crackers.

Your baby is completely dependent on you to provide her with the nourishment she needs to grow healthy and strong while she develops inside your body. Her bones, muscles, tissue and organs are sensitive to every bite you eat and every drop you drink, so if you opt for holistic nutrition, your baby also benefits from the purity of unprocessed, unrefined and organic food.

What’s the Difference Between a Vegetarian, Vegan and Pegan Diet?

A strict vegetarian diet consists of grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits, with no fish, meat, poultry, game or shellfish. In some cases, vegetarians will eat occasional dairy products and eggs, but emphasis in this diet is on the exclusion of all slaughtered animals. Less strict plant-based diets may include fish, dairy products, eggs and poultry. Most vegetarians exclude meat, but some include it infrequently.

A vegan diet is entirely plant based with no animal products. Emphasis is on seeds, nuts, fruits, grains and vegetables.

A pegan (paleo-vegan) low-glycemic diet consists of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and eggs. It omits dairy products, processed foods, grains, sugars and legumes.

Although these sound like contradictions of each other, they’re not. All three place importance on a natural plant based diet, and all are beneficial to good health, prenatal and otherwise. Though the pegan diet includes meat, it is in extremely limited quantities.

How Can Any of These Diets Help Me and My Baby?

Dr. Hale’s and Dr. Crigler’s diet regimens vary somewhat, but both stress the benefits of natural plant based nutrition to you and your baby. As a vegan, Dr. Crigler avoids meat completely and encourages eliminating it. He states:

“… A plant based diet has multiple benefits for women’s health…Even for our pregnant patients, a vegan or plant based diet free of dairy and meat can be very healthy for both baby and mother.”

As a pegan, Dr. Hale, who holds a plant based nutrition certificate, is not opposed to a scant quantity of organic meat or low toxin fish, but only considers inclusion of it as a second choice. Meatless pegan is her first. She also affirms:

“…Contrary to what many people think, pregnant women can be completely meat-free and get sufficient protein to support a healthy pregnancy…”

Both also agree that protein can be derived from other holistic sources.

Dr. Hale recommends taking B12 and DHEA if you opt for pegan. Dr. Crigler prescribes B12 and Vitamin D if you prefer vegan. These supplements round out a healthy regimen, supplying the body with everything it needs to maintain optimum prenatal performance.

Both are also in total agreement that vegan and paleo-vegan nutrition help prenatal and postnatal women in the following ways by:

    • Decreasing preeclampsia risk
    • Providing antioxidants
    • Producing more beneficial, purer breast milk
    • Preventing breast, colon and ovarian cancer
    • Minimizing incidents of allergies to your baby
    • Lowering exposure to additional or harmful hormones.

Holistic nutrition can also alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions and diseases such as:

    • Endometriosis
    • Lupus
    • Acne
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Heart disease
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Constipation
    • Systemic inflammation
    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
    • Heavy menstrual periods
    • Menstrual cramps.

Additionally, holistic nutrition has been known to enhance mental clarity, improve energy and help with weight loss.

Isn’t it Dangerous to Suddenly Change My Diet While Pregnant? Am I Not Eating for Two Now?

Pregnancy is one of the best times to address the subject of nutrition. In a sense, you are eating for two, but this doesn’t mean double the amount. It means that you have to fuel two growing bodies with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they both need to remain healthy.

A developing fetus can not only sap your energy by absorbing all the ‘goodness’ it needs from the food you ingest, it can deprive you of what you need to remain strong and fit enough to handle all the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that are going to happen during the next few months.

Proper nutrition replaces what the fetus depletes, preparing the two of you for the intensity of labor and delivery. Holistic nutrition counseling can help make the choices that are right for you.

For more information on high risk pregnancy, visit Northside Hospital Cherokee.

To schedule an appointment to discuss your needs, call 770.720.7733.

October 19, 2016

Routine prenatal care is not a luxury or indulgence. It’s something both you and your baby deserve, and it’s a service that we excel at and are happy to provide.

Just as a gardener waters, nurtures, and cares for the seeds that he planted in rich, fertile soil, your baby, who is even smaller at conception than those seeds, needs the same dedication and attention to insure its prenatal growth and development in the womb. We help make that happen.

Whether this is your first pregnancy, or you’re already familiar with the whole process of giving birth, the importance of prenatal care can’t be emphasized enough. No matter how typical your pregnancy is, or how little risk your baby is exposed to health-wise and genetically, proper vigilance from conception to safe delivery is vital.

routine prenatal care exam photoOur specialists are trained in every facet of women’s health. We excel in the fields of fertility, obstetrics, gynecology and pelvic surgery. Not only do we offer optimum prenatal care, but we treat you, the patient, the same way we would treat our own mothers, sisters, daughters and all other females in our lives. Having successfully delivered over 10,000 babies, our priority is to safeguard not only your continuing well-being, but that of your baby. We offer every advantage currently known to women’s medicine, all with a compassionate and dedicated approach.

What Can You Expect From Us?
From your very first prenatal care visit, we treat you with the utmost care and respect, beginning with the initial pleasant greeting you receive the moment you walk through our doors. We’re professionals, but first and foremost, we’re human, just like you. We want you to feel as comfortable as possible so that you can establish a trusting relationship with your physician, and with his or her assisting staff.

How Can You Prepare For Your First Visit?
Bring your medical history and background. They’re important. That information gives us an idea of how closely we need to scrutinize your progress. It can help us decide what tests we should run during your first few prenatal care appointments. Your information and subsequent test results, if merited, determine whether your pregnancy should be considered high risk, moderate risk or risk free. No matter what the results, we are qualified to treat all levels.

What Happens During Routine Prenatal Care Appointments?
Our standard examinations during each visit include the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Listening to your baby’s heartbeat
  • Urinalysis
  • Abdominal measurement to verify normal fetal growth
  • Pelvic examinations when necessary
  • Addressing any patient concerns.

When you’re ready for your first ultrasound, our prenatal care physicians are among the few who are fully accredited in the use of the most modern up-to-date 4D ultrasound. This procedure allows you to see your growing baby in full detail. It also lets our trained specialists evaluate your baby’s progress, detecting any potential problems that might occur as it matures from embryo to fetus, and finally to the infant you’ll cradle in your arms.

What Other Routine Prenatal Care Services Are Available?
We check for gestational diabetes, anemia and any genetic abnormalities. By conscientiously monitoring both your baby’s development along with your own, we want to relieve you of any stress or worry. When you leave after an appointment with us, we want you to do so with complete peace of mind.
We also offer the following prenatal care services:

    • Nutrition and diet: Our experts will help you maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy, insuring a less complicated delivery. We provide information on regular, vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, and holistic nutrition. We take every precaution to insure that you and your baby receive the proper nourishment you need to sustain a trouble-free pregnancy.
    • Physical therapy: On-staff professionals will guide you in preparing your body for labor. Their recommended prenatal exercises and fitness regimens will minimize any possible trauma your body might experience during delivery, such as perineum damage, pelvic organ prolapse, or urinary incontinence. Their expertise has been proven invaluable, reducing previously unavoidable pelvic injury while giving birth.
    • Midwifery: You may be more comfortable with a nurse-midwife to assist you during delivery. We will partner you with a highly skilled nurse midwife, who has decades of experience. As long as your pregnancy is uncomplicated and progressing within normal guidelines, this practitioner is available to you.
    • Counsel and advice: No topic or concern you wish to broach regarding your pregnancy is trivial to us. We’re happy to address any subject, including such topics as breastfeeding, natural childbirth, having participants in the delivery room, umbilical cord blood banking, signs of postpartum depression, or circumcision if you are having a boy. You might be strongly opposed to routine afterbirth procedures, like a nurse washing your baby instead of leaving that first bath to you, or allowing it to have a pacifier in your absence. If it’s important to you, it’s important to us. We’ll answer your questions, dispense guidance as you need it and accommodate you to the best of our ability.

Getting you through your pregnancy with as little stress and complication as possible is our primary focus. We accomplish this goal successfully during every routine prenatal exam by treating you as the important and unique individual you are.

To schedule an appointment, please call us at 770.720.7733. For more information on prenatal care, visit Northside Hospital Cherokee.

Midwife-attended births have doubled in the United States since 1990, and the numbers continue to rise every year. In fact, the demand for them is beginning to far outweigh their availability. We are proud that our staff of these professional caregivers is among the very best, and prouder still that they manage to find the time in their busy schedules to help ensure that their numbers continue to grow by mentoring, educating and indoctrinating future midwives to fill the fast growing gap of need.

What Exactly Do Midwives Do?
Our midwives have accumulated years of learning, experience and training in women’s health in order to receive their certification. They hold the highest degree possible in their field CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife). Their primary focus, however, is on providing care to women and their families during their pregnancy, delivery, and the following postpartum period. They are also qualified to:

  • Provide prenatal care
  • Dispense medication
  • Recognize any potential problems that may arise during pregnancy or delivery
  • Conduct annual women’s examinations
  • Administer birth control
  • Give pre-pregnancy counseling
  • Diagnose infections
  • Provide postnatal care to mothers and newborns
  • Advise on nutrition and diet
  • Arrange for all routine prenatal testing
  • Make limited medical decisions within their scope of training and expertise
  • Deliver routine pregnancy babies
  • Prepare women for delivery with relaxation and breathing techniques
  • Discuss breastfeeding and its options
  • Provide parenting education.

Why Would I Choose a Midwife Instead Of a Doctor?
Many women prefer to opt for natural childbirth in a more subdued, comfortable setting. Midwives approach childbirth as a holistic, rather than medicinal, experience. They concentrate on alternative drug-free methods to bring your child into the world, such as breathing and relaxation techniques, massage, comfortable positioning, and advice to help you cope with contractions as they become more intense.

midwife-photoAlthough our midwives encourage non-anesthesia delivery, you will not be refused medication if you should happen to change your mind during labor. In fact, if your midwife recognizes that you are in too much painful distress, she will urge you to accept relief so that the birthing process does not become a traumatic memory.

Our midwives also develop a more intimate bond with their patients, something physicians and surgeons are not always able to provide due to time constraints. Though all our doctors strive to answer all your questions and concerns, taking whatever time is necessary to put your mind at rest during your prenatal appointments, midwives offer more availability. Since they usually have less patients at one time than an OB-GYN, this allows them to concentrate more fully on each individual pregnancy.

By questioning and getting to know you better, our midwives will learn exactly what your preferences are during your natural birth process and will do their best to accommodate those wishes.

I’ve Already Had a Caesarean but Would Really Like to Give Birth Naturally This Time. Can I Still Ask for a Midwife or Natural Birth?
In many cases, absolutely! You’ll have to be evaluated by one of our OB-GYNs to make sure there is no risk to you or your child, of course. Your health and safety, along with your baby’s, are our primary concern at all times, but once we’re confident that a natural vaginal birth is possible, one of our staff nurse-midwives can take over your prenatal care, and often your labor and delivery.

Should any problems arise at any given time, our midwives are trained to immediately notify a physician for help and support.

Midwives are our respected colleagues, and we rely heavily on their knowledge and sound medical training to alert us to step in at any time we are needed to assist if they encounter a problem outside their scope of expertise.

Childbirth is one of the most memorable experiences in a woman’s life. A midwife is proficient in extracting the inner strength and determination you may not even be aware you have to give birth naturally and still revel in the whole process.

For more information on midwifery, visit Northside Hospital -Cherokee. To make an appointment with us, call us at 770.720.7733.

Our doctors have decades of combined experience and expertise in the field of women’s health and fertility assistance. We understand your frustration, sadness, and heartache over your efforts to conceive, and we want you to know that there is hope for your situation. Thanks to constant medical breakthroughs, that hope grows larger every day.

sad-woman-inferilityOur priorities are twofold. The first is to treat every woman that walks into our clinic with the same counsel, focused care, and individual attention that we would treat a beloved member of our own family.

The second priority, equally important to us, is to make sure that we are constantly abreast of the most up-to-the-minute technology and knowledge in all facets of women’s health. This includes reproductive assistance. Our technology is equally cutting edge, allowing us to correct many previously irreparable infertility issues.

What Causes Infertility?
Sometimes the causes are unknown, but the more common ones are:

  • Ovulation problems
  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Endometriosis
  • Inferior egg quality
  • Hormonal problems
  • Past infections
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Ovarian issues such as cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome)
  • Past miscarriages
  • Irregular periods
  • Low or ineffective male sperm.

If My Cause is Unknown, Can Cherokee Women’s Reproductive Assistance Specialists Still Help Me?
Yes. Even though your tests may come back completely normal, we can still help you. Though every reproductive system functions the same way, there are also differences. Just as you have a unique fingerprint, your body may have variations that can affect the process of fertilization. Simple lifestyle factors can affect your ability to conceive, and these can be as simple as:

  • Caffeine consumption
  • Diet
  • Overweight or underweight
  • Smoking
  • Medication, either prescribed or social drug use
  • Lack of exercise or excessive exercise
  • Alcohol intake
  • Stress.

Our staff of reproductive assistance experts is persistent in finding the reason for your infertility, and once we do, we will recommended different modifications to help you through your dilemma.

What Can You Do For Me?
Not only do we offer the most in-depth testing to pinpoint your specific reason for infertility, our diet and nutrition experts can help adjust or change your diet, and recommend vitamins and supplements to help with any deficiencies that might be contributing to your difficulties with conception.

If you are suffering from any weakness in your pelvic area that might be preventing you from carrying a baby full term, our doctors can customize an exercise regimen to strengthen those frailties.
Our OB-GYNs and FPMRS surgeons (Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery) hold the highest certifications and are qualified to perform the surgeries necessary to correct any physical impairment or disorder that may be interfering with your successful reproduction, including:

  • Laparoscopic surgery to correct ovarian disorders and restore ovulation.
  • Tubal cannulation, salpingectomy, salpingectomy, or fimbrioplasty to eliminate scar tissue or remove or rebuild damaged sections of blocked fallopian tubes
  • Tubal reanastomosis to reverse tubal ligation
  • Myomectomy to remove uterine fibroids
  • Laparotomy to remove larger fibroids.

What if I Still Can’t Get Pregnant?
There are still reproductive assistance options available. Once we’ve looked at and corrected any possible physical, nutritional or lifestyle detriments that may be hampering your ability to conceive, there are still alternatives available. These include:

  • Fertility medications and hormonal therapy to boost ovulation and egg production.
  • Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT): Eggs and sperm are extracted, mixed and placed in the fallopian tubes to fertilize.
  • Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT): An option in cases of low sperm count, or where at least one fallopian tube is unscarred. A scientifically fertilized embryo is injected into the healthy tube.
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A healthy sperm is injected directly into your egg.
  • Artificial or Intrauterine insemination: ‘Washed’ sperm is introduced into the uterus, bypassing any sluggish sperm issues or hostile environment, such as thick or acidic mucous preventing the sperm from reaching the egg to make conception possible.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF): A common approach today in cases where age, internal pelvic scarring, or low sperm count contribute to infertility. A lab developed embryo grown from egg and sperm is implanted into the uterus. Donor eggs from volunteers or previous IVF patients who no longer wish to have more children can be used if your partner’s sperm or your eggs are compromised and cannot achieve conception.

There are almost as many solutions as there are reasons for infertility, and our women’s health specialists are here to help you with your situation. To make an appointment for fertility assistance, please call us at 770.720.7733.

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“Dr. Litrel was a fantastic doctor. I had my first exam with him, although at first I was skeptical about a male doctor for my GYN. But after I met him I’m glad I kept an open mind, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better doctor. He cares about you as a person and not just a patient. The front desk ladies and nurses were very friendly and it’s a great office, very clean and not intimidating. I highly recommend Cherokee Women’s Health.”
- Vicki