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May 15, 2014

Mother’s Day kicks off the celebration of National Women’s Health Week, a week designed to encourage the women of our lives (mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, friends, co-workers) to take some time out for them to really focus on their health. Women are known for making sure that their family and friends are taken care of and often put themselves last. However, without properly taking care of yourself, you’re doing them a disservice – you’re not your best self. This week on the Cherokee Women’s Health blog, we wanted to focus on a few key habits that will allow for you and your entire family to remain taken care of. happy woman photo

Annual Gyno Exam

For all women, annual well-visits are the key to maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. Gynecological services at your well-woman visit include a full pelvic checkup, any necessary tests such as screenings for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sexually transmitted diseases, among others. You will also be able to discuss family history, family planning, and ways to improve your overall health with your doctor and discuss any concerns you may have. When scheduling your next annual well-visit, make a list of all questions or topics you want to ask your doctor so you’re better prepared.

Breast Exams

Breast exams, which may or may not be performed at your annual well-visit, are also one of the services now offered without additional out-of-pocket costs. Breast exams, both in-office and at home, are imperative in detecting different types of abnormalities and warning signs.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

You’re busy. We understand. Trying to squeeze exercise into an already-jam packed week full of work, school schedules and outside activities can seem like an exhausting task in and of itself, but if you think about exercise in terms of a necessity, carving out 20 minutes here or there to go for a walk can really help keep you healthy. In combination with eating right and quitting smoking, exercise will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

To schedule your next well-visit at one of our two locations, contact our office.

Photo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net



May 6, 2014

Think your little sweetheart is the cutest of the cute? Then you’re in luck – Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists is having their 2nd Annual Cutest Baby Contest! We are lucky enough to have some amazing prizes from local businesses in Woodstock, Canton and Kennesaw, and all you have to do is show us those sweet cheeks between now and May 15th! The best thing? Your “baby” can be any age today, as long long as they were up to 24 months in the photo!

TEN Amazing Prizes Including:
A $200 photo shoot from Kaptured Photography
A $100 gift card from Once Upon a Child
A $69.95 one-hour massage from LaVida Massage
And more prizes from Chick-Fil-A, Bojangles and Papa John’s!

How Do I Enter?

1.) Head to our Facebook page and “like” us if you haven’t already.

2.) Next, click on the button in the top right that says Cutest Baby Contest Enter Here!

3.) Then, fill out the form, upload your photo(s) and most importantly, share your photo(s) with your friends so they can vote and enter their own babies!


Can’t wait to enter? Here are the official submission rules and other important contest info:

Entries for the 2nd Annual Cutest Baby Contest may be submitted from May 1st through May 15, 2014. Babies aged 0-24 months are eligible to participate.

1) Submit as many photos as you’d like – there are no limits!

2) Make sure it’s not any ol’ picture. We want to being “oohing” and “ahhing” when we see it so be sure your photo is good quality.

3) Include your baby’s name and something that makes them special (i.e.: “Kelly loves to play peek-a-boo with her daddy.”)

NOTE: All photos submitted to Cherokee Women’s Health will become property of Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists. Upon submission, you grant Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists the right to use the photo(s) in all forms of media, including throughout any of our publications (printed, online, or otherwise) and in our partners’ publications and websites.

  • Babies aged 0-24 months are eligible to win. This means they have to be 0-24 months in the photo and not necessarily what their age is today. And while we know that babies and kids of all ages are wonderful, for this particular feature we’re focusing on this age range.
  • Each photo must be submitted by a parent/legal guardian over the age of 18.
  • The parent/legal guardian must give a valid email address.
  • Please keep images close to 100KB in size.
  • We accept photographs sent in JPEG format only.
  • Parent/legal guardian warrants that the photo submitted is original and that the parent/legal guardian owns the copyright in such photo.

Users will be allowed to vote for as many photos as they like. However, users may only vote for each photo once every 24 hours. Any violations of the rules will be cause for disqualification or other contest changes to be determined by Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists.

The winner(s) of the 2nd Annual Cutest Baby Contest, in its various stages, will be determined by the highest number of votes said photo(s) receives.

Second Annual Cutest Baby Contest – Prizes

Does all of that sound good to you? Want to know what you’ll win if your babe gets the most votes? This year, we’ve added more prizes, which means your chance to win is even higher!

  • 1st place: $200 photo shoot with Kaptured Photography of Canton.
  • 2nd place: $100 gift card from Once Upon A child of Kennesaw.
  • 3rd place: $69.95 one-hour massage from LaVida Massage of Hickory Flat.
  • 4th place: Bojangles’ tailgate party pack
  • 5th place: Chick-Fil-A nugget tray with prizes
  • 6th place: Papa John’s pizza
  • 7th place: Papa John’s pizza
  • 8th place: Papa John’s pizza
  • 9th place: Papa John’s pizza
  • 10th place: Papa John’s pizza

Our contest this year is only a few days in so far (entries are accepted through May 15th), so don’t hesitate to get your babies’ photos in so you can start counting those votes! Good luck to everyone!

*Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists reserves the right to change these rules at any given time.
May 4, 2014

1743574_10152171240838813_4319432320132342469_nDuring your pregnancy, you are no doubt taking every step to keep yourself and your baby as healthy as possible: you are abiding by the foods-not-to-eat list; you are not drinking any alcohol; you are limiting your caffeine; and you are making sure you are drinking plenty of water. So, what about being active? While this is not the time to start training for your first marathon, exercise during pregnancy leads to healthier moms and babies.

The Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

Exercise has already been proven to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes as well as improve the endurance of the mother, resulting in an easier delivery. Not to mention, you more likely to get back to your pre-baby weight faster than if you were not active. While we know that pregnancy fitness is beneficial for the mom, new studies indicate that maintaining a regular fitness regime during pregnancy will actually lead to a healthier baby, too.

A New Zealand study is being published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, and it shows that women who exercised regularly during the second half of their pregnancy were more likely to give birth to babies with a lower birth weight. While a lower birth weight might not seem preferable, it actually is healthier since a too-high weight is an indicator of childhood obesity.

How to Exercise Safely During Pregnancy

Now that you know the many benefits to staying active during your pregnancy, you need to make sure you are not doing anything too strenuous that could result in injury. So, here are a few guidelines to safely exercising during your pregnancy:

  • Consult your doctor – It’s a great idea to discuss your fitness regime with your obstetrician and get his/her approval first. While it is healthy to continue exercising, your body is different now and some activities may not be conducive to your pregnant state.
  • Don’t Overdo It – This is not the time to try for a personal record in the upcoming 5K or to push yourself to tackle a new goal. You are growing a human being, and that takes a lot of effort. As a result, your body may need more recovery time in between workouts and you may need to reduce the intensity of your workouts – like switch to power walking or swimming instead of running.
  • Be Aware of Your Pregnant Limitations – Your growing belly comes with a few restrictions in regards to activity, like avoiding any exercises that require you to lie on your back. Also, your balance is not what it used to be, any activities that pose a high risk of falling, like rock-climbing and water skiing, are off-limits, too.

Cherokee Women’s Health encourages you to remain active during their pregnancy, as long as you get the go-ahead from your obstetrician. Don’t hesitate to contact our office with any questions you may have about exercising or pregnancy in general.

April 23, 2014

morning sickness in pregnancyShortly after you get the exciting news that you’re pregnant, the first trimester symptoms begin. One of the most common and unpleasant is morning sickness. Typically, morning sickness begins at about six weeks gestation, and it affects approximately 75% of pregnancies. If you are one of the lucky ones who sail through your first trimester without feeling sick, enjoy it. For the other three quarters of women, morning sickness is  a general term for nausea and vomiting. The severity of the symptoms differ from pregnancy to pregnancy and range from slight nausea to, in rare cases (like the Duchess of Cambridge), hyperemesis gravidarum, which requires hospitalization.

How to Alleviate Morning Sickness

Since you can’t put your life on hold during the first few months of pregnancy while battling morning sickness, you need to find ways to minimize the symptoms. So, Cherokee Women’s Health has a few suggestions to help you get through the day:

  • Avoid Having an Empty Stomach – The idea of eating may not be the most enticing, but having an empty stomach actually intensifies morning sickness. Try eating bland foods – crackers, toast, rice, soup, etc. – anything that will get some food in your stomach. Choosing to eat small meals more frequently throughout the day is a good way to keep your stomach full.
  • Avoid Gulping Beverages – Drinking too much water or other fluid in one sitting can make you feel full and cause you to eat less. It can also be a trigger for vomiting.
  • Try Ginger – Ginger is a natural remedy to ease an upset stomach and queasiness. You can use ginger in your cooking or drink ginger ale, just make sure it is made from real ginger or it won’t have the desired effects.
  • Get Fresh Air – Open a window or go for a walk, whatever you can do to get a breath of fresh air.
  • Don’t Lie Down After Eating – Lying down immediately after eating can disrupt the digestion process and make you feel worse.
  • Medication – There are medications you can take during your pregnancy to help alleviate symptoms. To ensure they’re safety, be sure to discuss any medications with your obstetrician or midwife prior to taking.

While unpleasant, we hope that you can take comfort in the fact that experiencing morning sickness is perfectly normal and these symptoms usually subside during your pregnancy.

If you have any questions or concerns about morning sickness or anything about your pregnancy, don’t hesitate to contact our office.

April 16, 2014

pregnancy test When you are trying to get pregnant, waiting to find out can be excruciating. Wouldn’t it be great if there were something that could tell you “Yes, you are pregnant” the moment you conceive? Well, unfortunately these things do not exist, so we rely on the home pregnancy test. These days, home pregnancy tests are extremely accurate, as long as you understand how they work and when to take them.

How Does a Home Pregnancy Test Work?

Home pregnancy tests are designed to detect Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), also known as the pregnancy hormone. The hormone is excreted as soon as the fertilized egg implants into your uterus, and your levels of this hormone double approximately every 48 hours from then on. Yet, they really are not high enough to detect in your urine until at least two weeks after conception.

Just to give you an idea of what the levels are like each week and how they increase, here is a guideline of hCG levels in weeks from your last menstrual period (LMP) :

  • 3 weeks LMP: 5 – 50 mIU/ml
  • 4 weeks LMP: 5 – 426 mIU/ml
  • 5 weeks LMP: 18 – 7,340 mIU/ml
  • 6 weeks LMP: 1,080 – 56,500 mIU/ml
  • 7 – 8 weeks LMP: 7, 650 – 229,000 mIU/ml
  • Non-pregnant females: <5.0 mIU/ml
  • Postmenopausal females: <9.5 mIU/ml

Remember that this is just a general guideline. As every women’s pregnancy is different, their levels of hCG can rise differently as well.

When to Take a Pregnancy Test

In order to get the most accurate result from an at home pregnancy test, read the instructions and follow them precisely. Many times they will tell you to take it first thing in the morning, as this is when your urine is most concentrated. As far as when into your cycle should you take a test, your hCG levels should be high enough to get an accurate result when you expect your period to start.

False Negative Pregnancy Test

Now that you have a better understanding how pregnancy tests work, I think you can figure out why false negatives are so common. In fact, it isn’t really even a false negative; it just means that your levels of hCG were too low at the time for the test to detect. So, if you think that you are pregnant and get a negative result, just try again a few days later.

As each brand of pregnancy test is different, and they each have a different calibration for detecting hCG  levels – some are more sensitive than others. The more sensitive ones would be able to give you a positive test earlier, and some brands even claim to detect pregnancy before your missed period.

Positive Pregnancy Test

It is extremely rare to get a false positive result on a pregnancy test, but it can happen. But usually, no matter how faint the line, plus sign, words, etc. may be, if you can see it at all, then it is likely a positive pregnancy test result. This would be the time to call your obstetrician or midwife and set up your initial prenatal appointment.

April 3, 2014

delivery roomAs the big day approaches, you have no doubt planned everything: your birth plan; your hospital bag; out of town guests secured; help for when you get home with the baby and travel plans to and from the hospital. Yet one detail that you may have overlooked is who you will have with you in the delivery room. Unless you are having a C-section where only you and the baby’s father are allowed in the delivery room – along with the medical staff – then this decision will take some consideration before the big day.

Selecting only a few individuals to be with you while delivering your baby does not mean that you are excluding everyone from coming to the hospital to experience this amazing event with you. Bear in mind that labor, typically speaking, is a long process. So, you may choose to  have visitors come in and out of the delivery room at your discretion throughout the entire time. You may want to ask that once you start pushing, these visitors respect your desire for privacy and wait in the waiting room until after the baby is born. Then, once you are comfortable, you may then want to welcome visitors back into the room to meet the new baby.

In the Delivery Room

So, who do you have with you? Truthfully, only you can answer this question. It’s a personal choice that is completely up to you. There are some factors you should consider to help decide:

Do you want someone there specifically to take pictures? The nurses and obstetrician/midwife are there to medically help you deliver your baby and care for your baby once he/she is born. If your significant other is there to support, you may want to include someone else to take photos.

Do you want to share this magical moment with extended family and friends? There is absolutely nothing that can compare to the first time you meet your baby, and this statement is also true for grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends. However, you need to decide whether you want this first meeting to be a moment that you share with just you and your baby’s father or if you want it to be the whole family. Frankly speaking, labor is not a time for you to worry about modesty. So, if you don’t want anyone other than medical professionals to see so much of you, then it might be a good decision to keep the delivery private.

Take time to think it over, but make sure you establish the rules before you get to the hospital so that everyone will know what to expect and you can have a more relaxing delivery.

If you have any questions about labor or your pregnancy, please call our office at 770-720-7733.

March 26, 2014

woman-consulting-doctorOnce you get the positive result from a home pregnancy test, the next step is making your first appointment with your obstetrician or midwife. While you will be visiting your doctor’s office many times throughout your pregnancy, the first appointment can be the most overwhelming, especially if this is your first pregnancy. So, Cherokee Women’s Health would like to walk you through your first OB appointment to give you a better idea of what to expect. The appointment should take about an hour to complete as there are many things to be done.


Once you check in, you will be given a packet of paperwork to fill out as well as be asked for your insurance card. Please take the time to read through everything thoroughly, and write down any questions that you might have for your doctor or midwife so that you won’t forget them.

First Prenatal Ultrasound

After the paperwork has been completed, the ultrasound technician will take you back to do your first ultrasound. In this early stage of pregnancy, we utilize a trans vaginal probe to get a good look at the baby. So, don’t be alarmed when the ultrasound equipment is not rubbed on your belly, like you see on television. In these early weeks of pregnancy, we can’t always get a clear picture. So, if you aren’t able to see anything, don’t worry; it just means it’s too soon and you’ll get a picture in a couple of weeks.

We use this initial ultrasound to help determine how far along you are and to determine your due date. Ideally, you will get a heartwarming picture of your little bundle of joy and get to bring it home. Lots of parents use this as a visual aid when they announce their pregnancy to family and friends.

Weight, Height, Blood Pressure and Urine Sample

From the ultrasound, a nurse will take you to check your weight, blood pressure and get a urine sample. You can expect that these three things will be done at every appointment throughout your pregnancy.

Meet the Doctor, Ask Questions, Pelvic Exam

Then, you will meet with your doctor or midwife. This is your opportunity to ask any questions that you may have about pregnancy. Do not be afraid to ask questions! We know that you have them, and we are here to help ease your mind of any concerns that you may have.

There will be a pelvic exam done following the consultation. Here, the doctor is checking to make sure your cervix is closed and ready for pregnancy and may do a pap smear if needed.

Goody Bag

You’re almost finished, and the good news is that you now get a goody bag filled with things like prenatal vitamins as well as important pregnancy literature, which you should take your time reviewing.

Blood Work

Finally, the last step before check out is to get some blood work done. We are just running some tests to ensure everything is going smoothly with your pregnancy.

Check Out, Make Next Appointment

Before you leave, stop by to check out and schedule your next prenatal appointment, which will be in two to four weeks.

Congratulations On Your First OB Appointment!

You are likely overwhelmed with information as well as emotions, but don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out already. Just take time to enjoy this exciting news while you navigate through your first trimester.

March 21, 2014

pregnancy boy or girlOne of the first questions others ask once you tell them that you are pregnant is “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” No doubt, as you navigate your first trimester, you ask yourself this same question on a daily basis. The ultrasound to determine the baby’s gender, which is usually between 18 and 22 weeks, is still months away, and the anticipation is killing you. Isn’t there some way to find out if it’s a boy or girl before then? While there is nothing definitive, there are a myriad of characteristics of your pregnancy that suggest you may be carrying one gender versus the other. Cherokee Women’s Health has a list of these old wives tales for you compare:

It’s a Girl

  • You’re carrying high
  • Baby’s heart beat is higher than 140 beats per minute
  • You’re experiencing morning sickness
  • You’re craving sweet foods
  • Your hair is thinner and dull*
  • Your face is fuller and rounder than usual*
  • You’re experiencing acne during your pregnancy*
  • You are graceful during your pregnancy
  • Dad-to-be is gaining weight with you
  • When stringing your wedding ring over your belly, it moves back and forth

*Noticing a trend that suggests your pregnancy may not be too kind to your natural beauty? This is indicative that you are having a baby girl because she is stealing your beauty, or so the old wives tale goes.

It’s a Boy

  • You’re carrying low
  • Baby’s heart beat is below 140 beats per minute
  • You’re having little to no morning sickness
  • You’re craving salty foods
  • Your hair is full bodied and shiny
  • Your face is long and narrow
  • You are more clumsy during your pregnancy
  • Your feet get colder now than they did before your pregnancy
  • Your areolae have darkened
  • When stringing your wedding ring over your belly, it moves in a circle

Do your pregnancy symptoms favor one gender over the other? Well, these are all in fun and have not been proven to be an accurate indicator of your baby’s gender. Other than the second trimester ultrasound and an amniocentesis, the most accurate gender predictor is simply a mother’s intuition – 71% of the time, the mom-to-be knows the gender of her baby.

We hope that these fun gender predictors will help make the wait for your gender revealing ultrasound a little easier to bear. If you need to schedule a second trimester ultrasound, don’t hesitate to contact our office by calling 770-720-7733.


March 13, 2014

This is one of the first questions most moms-to-be ask when they reach 37 weeks and become full term. The big problem is that television and movies have led us to believe that labor begins when your water breaks, and then after a grueling hour, the baby is born. However, this is not an accurate portrayal of the labor process, and if you take yourself to the hospital at the first sign of labor, you will likely be sent home. So, how do you know when to go to the hospital?

Early Labor

pregnancy laborEarly labor can be difficult to determine. Once you understand what the difference is between Braxton Hicks and real contractions, you’ll know when real labor has begun. Yet, even if you have determined that you are in the early phase of labor, it is still not time to go to the hospital. Labor is a long process, so the longer you can spend in the comfort of your home, the better. During this phase, your cervix is effacing and dilating to about three centimeters. As this is a gradual process, the contractions are fairly mild and easily managed without the use of any pain management techniques. Use this time to get some rest because you are going to need it. This is also the time to enjoy a final meal since you won’t be able to eat or drink anything in the hospital until after the baby is born.

Active Labor

Once your contractions get to be about five minutes apart, you have successfully transitioned into the active phase of labor and this is when you want to go to the hospital. At this point in the labor process, the contractions have likely become more painful, making it uncomfortable to labor at home. We would love to be able to tell you that since you are now in the active phase of labor, the baby will be arriving shortly. However, this is not usually the case. While this phase of labor is much shorter than early labor, it can last up to eight hours or even more. As the pain has become more severe, it is during this phase when you will get an epidural, if you want one.

When Does My Water Break?

As far as the breaking of the water goes, it varies from person to person. Typically speaking, it will break when your cervix is almost fully dilated. It is funny that pop culture has portrayed the breaking of the water as something that signifies labor has begun, when in reality it is something that happens near the end of labor. Of course, there are circumstances in which the water does break before labor begins, and in these situations we recommend you call your obstetrician or midwife immediately for advice on when to go to the hospital. Since your water has broken, you do not need to wait until active labor has begun.

If you have any other questions about labor, do not hesitate to ask your midwife or obstetrician at your next prenatal appointment.

February 27, 2014

In slight continuation of our “Is it Safe to…” blog post from last week, one main question on lots of mamas-to-be minds is getting enough omega-3’s to help with baby’s development. Omega-3’s have been reported to help promote healthy fetal brain development, and reported benefits include fewer behavior problems, better verbal skills, and even higher IQ’s.

However, understandably, some pregnant mamas are concerned with the levels of mercury in certain fish, and knowing which fish to eat to gain this important nutrient and which to avoid can be tricky. Cherokee Women’s Health shares some important facts on which fish are safe to eat and which fish you should avoid until after your delivery.

Happy Fish, Sad Fish, Good Fish, Bad Fish

The FDA and EPA say pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces of seafood a week. So which fish is best for pregnant moms? Ideally, you want to shop for or order fish low in mercury but high in omega-3’s. Salmon makes for an excellent choice in both categories (whether wild-caught or farm-raised). Herring, trout and sardines are are low-mercury, high-omega-3 options. Other safe choices include shrimp, pollock, catfish and canned light tuna, but you should limit albacore tuna and tuna steak to no more than 6 ounces a week.

The fish found to have higher levels of mercury include shark, swordfish, escolar, marlin, and orange roughy. Pregnant women are advised to limit these to twice per month.

Other Safety Guidelines Making healthy food choices during pregnancy

Of course, when eating any type of fish, you want to make sure it’s cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F. As a general rule, the fish is done with it separates into flakes and appears opaque throughout. For shrimp, lobster and scallops, cook until they’re milky white, and don’t eat any clams, mussels and oysters until their shells open. (And discard any unopen shells.) If you aren’t sure about the best way to prepare it, Pinterest has a ton of delicious-looking options that are sure to whet any pregnant mom’s appetite.

If fish has you thinking “yuck,” don’t worry – there are other ways to get omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and soybeans are all good sources of omega-3’s, and other foods have been fortified with this nutrient, including yogurt, milk, and eggs. Additionally, you can talk to your obstetrician or midwife about an omega-3 supplement at your next prenatal checkup.



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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