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Voted "Best OB-GYN" in Towne Lake, Woodstock and Canton Voted "Mom-Approved OBs" by Atlanta Parent magazine readers
May 21, 2018

An interview with Air Force veteran Dianna Hornes, third-time mom and our OB “Cover model” for this spring’s AroundAbout magazines.

 

“I joined the Air Force after high school to get as far away from home as possible,” Dianna opens her story. “And they sent me from Phoenix to Las Vegas!” She laughs. “My friend and I joined at the same time. She wanted to be as close to home as possible – and they sent her to Guam! Go figure.”

Dianna’s new baby Matthew is the first child of her second marriage to Dennis, a Woodstock policeman. As she already had two daughters from her first, we suspect that her journey from military through family life may not have been smooth.

Q: So, first off – you’re married to a Woodstock policeman and fellow veteran, you have two little girls from your first marriage and now a newborn, Matthew. Would you mind just telling us a little bit about your story?

I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. I am the oldest and have 4 sisters and 2 brothers. As I said, I joined the Air Force after high school to get as far away from home as possible…

But the military experience was wonderful, in fact, one of the best experiences ever! I got to travel the world and see everything. I experienced life on a different level, and it made me more appreciative. From my first marriage I have Madison and Kayla … and now with Dennis I have little Matthew, as you know.

Q: How did you meet Dennis?

We are one of those Match.com success stories. It’s funny too, because I reached out to him first. After I divorced, I waited a year before I considered dating again. I had two daughters, Kayla and Madison, from my first marriage. At around a year, I created a Match.com profile. One day I was scrolling through all the profiles, specifically looking for matches who were interested in someone with kids. I came to Dennis’ profile, and his just happened to say “no”. 

But I was looking at pictures and I thought, “He’s a good-looking dude, you know what, screw it. I’m just going to send the message.” I’m very straightforward, and I believe you don’t need to sugar coat things or hide things from folks.

If you change your mind, message me. If not, have a nice life.”

So, I sent him a message saying, “Hey, you seem like a good-looking, nice guy. I have two daughters, I know you said you’re not interested in someone with kids, but if you change your mind, message me. If not, have a nice life.” And it took a couple of weeks, but he responded, and we went on our first date to Starbucks. Starbucks seemed like a safe bet in case things didn’t work out. Surprisingly, our first date was nine hours long. We met for coffee and stayed there for a few hours. Then we went to a restaurant, and we closed the restaurant down. After that, we drove home and continued to talk on the phone for like, 2 hours. We had a lot in common—he was in the Army, I was in the Air Force, and we connected and teased each other about which branch was better. The Air Force, of course! 

Q: What made you decide to marry Dennis?

He makes me want to be a better person for me and for everybody else. I couldn’t believe people when they said they met their true love or that they were in love with their best friend. It just didn’t seem real to me. I suppose I was a bit jaded from my divorce. Then I met Dennis. He makes me laugh, he’s someone who appreciates me, loves me and makes me feel good, and I realized, this is how it’s supposed to feel. I’m very much in love with him. He’s my best friend.

“I couldn’t believe people when they said they met their true love… It just didn’t seem real to me.”

Q: Did you have any concerns about starting over or creating a blended family?

Yes, I was very much against starting over and starting another family. My husband was also married before, but he didn’t have children with his ex.  It took me dating him for 4 months before I introduced him to the girls. I didn’t want them to meet this random person, and I didn’t know how dating would be for me. 

When we first started dating, and the first few months after being married, I wasn’t sure if I wanted more children. He was okay with that. He loves them very much, and he is very much their parent. People find it hard to believe that they aren’t his biological girls. He’s a natural with them.

Though, I could see how happy he was with being a father to the girls I knew he wanted to have a baby of his own. And that’s when I realized that when you love someone, their wants and needs become your wants and needs. I wrapped my head around that and am very much in love with him. I realized I wanted to have that connection with him forever, so that’s when we started trying to have a baby.

“When you love someone, their wants and needs become your wants and needs.”

I had a Mirena and decided, “it’s time we took this bad boy out.” When I told him that I was ready to start a family with him, the look on his face was just love and excitement and joy. And then when we were pregnant the first time it was, oh my gosh, it was the most amazing feeling in the world to have created a life with him. But the last two pregnancies (and miscarriages) were just horrible to go through.

But they made us stronger as a couple, and we also appreciate every moment that we have with Matthew. 

I want my husband to experience every little moment with his son and have all the input he wants on what we do day-to-day. I have already experienced caring for the girls, making a big deal about decorating their rooms, etc. So, every chance I get, I’ve put my husband’s wants and input into things. My husband is a huge Star Wars fan. To the point that we even had a Star Wars themed wedding. So, Matthew’s room is a Star Wars theme. We even had infant pictures taken with a little Yoda hat.  

Q: How are things with a newborn?

Things are great. Exhausting, but great. We’re supposed to take it easy for the first six week, but after Matthew’s birth, I just couldn’t. I’m a real estate agent and the market is insane right now. I was out going on appointments and showing houses with Matthew in tow. I think by the third week I had shown around 75 houses. Since we couldn’t take him to daycare because he was still so young, it has been quite the struggle. 

But my husband is very supportive and helps out any way he can. He works nights with the City of Woodstock Police, so our schedule has been challenging to say the least. Juggling a newborn, a 10y/o & 6y/o with both of our careers and life has its stresses, but it’s very rewarding at the same time. I am just thankful I have a really good support group surrounding me. 

Q: How was your pregnancy this go around?

This pregnancy was very good. I have practically been pregnant for two years. We had two previous miscarriages, so Matthew is our rainbow baby. During this pregnancy I took a lot of things very slow and very easy because the two times before were very hard, gut-wrenching and emotional. I didn’t want to go through that again. Each time we made it to the end of the first trimester then lost our babies. It was just a very, very sad experience. So, for this pregnancy it was tough in the beginning. You want to fall in love once you see that you’re pregnant with the positive pregnancy test, but you’re scared to let your emotions go. It’s hard to believe that it’s actually happening; that the baby is gonna stay. 

We had two previous miscarriages…you’re scared to let your emotions go.”

After the first trimester it was starting to feel real. I was able to wrap my head around the fact that this pregnancy was going to be successful. I was very fortunate to only have mild aches and mild nausea. The third trimester was great. I felt huge and as you can tell I had a big’ole moon belly! 

Q: How are the girls reacting to the new baby?

They love him. They absolutely adore him, and even fight over him. They want to hold him constantly. Since he is being breastfed I started pumping to give them an opportunity to help feed him with a bottle. They’re so wonderful with him. Kayla, the youngest, she calls him Moo-Moo. He eats a lot of milk and the “M” is for Matthew, so, yeah—Moo-Moo.

Yeah, the girls love to play with him and show him off. They love being big sisters. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new relationship and family?

I’m looking forward to creating memories and just taking it all in. It’s weird, when I had the girls I was in a different place mentally and emotionally, and I don’t think I quite took in as much as I should have. I would say just being more in the moment and appreciating the moment.

Q: If you could give advice to other women based on your experiences, what would you tell them?

I would tell them that life is too short to not be happy. If your gut tells you you’re not happy, if something inside of you says, “There might be something else for me,” then there is something else for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. There will always be someone to love you. There will always be someone who will have their heart open, and if you have kids from a previous marriage, there will always be somebody out there for you who will welcome you and your family in and love them just like their own. Don’t settle; never settle. You are stronger than you realize.

“If your gut tells you you’re not happy…never settle!”

Q: What life lessons would you hope to instill in your children?

Always respect yourself and respect the person that you’re with. Also, never settle. Know your self-worth and know that you’re capable of… and this is going to sound so cliché… so much, and I know that if they were to apply themselves, they can do anything that they set their minds to. It’s a mental game, and they’re really strong. They can do whatever they want to do.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add to the interview?

I also want to say that Dr Gandhi and Jordan and both offices and all the women at Cherokee Women’s: I freaking love them. They’re awesome. You know, I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with everything. The emotional part; just being there for us and being silly with us, meant so much. Even when we were delivering via c-section, Dr. Gandhi was amazing and funny! I wasn’t excited about having to have a c-section, I really wanted a VBAC, but Dr. Gandhi is a doctor for a reason… She knows best!

My husband and I always feel comfortable enough to be able to joke around with her and with Jordan – they made our experience better. I’d would jokingly say, “I’m going to have a VBAC.” And Dr. Gandhi would reply, “Sooo, when we’re having the c- section…”. 

We did asked for a “gentle c-section”. It’s where we were able to have the blue tarp removed and replaced with a clear one to see pretty much everything. I’m weird like that. When we were taking pictures at the end, Dr. Gandhi was being silly and fun, and it made the entire experience very lighthearted and not so stressful or scary.

Dr. Gandhi is so funny and so amazing. I love that I can joke with her, then turn around and ask serious questions. Jordan is also hilarious, and easy to talk to.

So definitely, yes, it’s been a blessing to be with this practice and I’m just so thankful that I was able to use my VA benefits here.

Lots of medical practices do not like working with the VA as their payments can take a while to be sent. After researching doctors and practices, Cherokee Women’s was up on the list. I talked to the billing department and they were able to accept the VA’s payment. I was able to get great care and fell in love with Dr. Gandhi and nurse Jordan. They’re both great women, and I couldn’t have been happier with all of this.

“Everything happens for a reason!”

– We’re so happy that you ended up here and that you had an amazing experience with Dr. Gandhi.

I’m so blessed. I am beyond blessed. I must have done something right in another life because I don’t know what I did to deserve a wonderful husband and healthy daughters, a healthy son and great doctors to look after me. I truly am, and I believe it from inside my soul that I am very blessed with everyone that in my life right now.

May 3, 2018

Have you decided that it’s time to make your family of two an official family of three or more? The decision to start trying to get pregnant is exciting, but it’s easy for hopeful mamas to get discouraged after a few months without seeing those two little lines. Studies have shown the link between stress and a woman’s ability to conceive, so the first step in trying is an easy one – relax and enjoy the process.

Preconception Counseling Visit preconception appointment

Next, visit your doctor for a pre-pregnancy checkup. Also referred to as a preconception counseling visit, this appointment is your opportunity to discuss your current lifestyle, weight, medications and medical history with your doctor. Together, you discuss how all these factors affect your chances of getting pregnant. He or she can also recommend changes you can make to help you get pregnant faster.

Here are some additional steps you can take to get pregnant sooner:

  • Start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. Start taking prenatal vitamins at least a month before you officially start trying to conceive. Most prenatals contain the 400 micrograms of recommended folic acid, but check the label just to make sure. Folic acid is also naturally found in leafy green veggies, citrus fruits, beans and whole grains, so doubling up is always a plus.
  • Improve your diet. Healthy babies start with healthy moms. Try to avoid junk food and load up on fresh fruits and veggies, which will aid in both helping you maintain a healthy weight and give you the energy to maintain a baby-friendly exercise plan.
  • Start limiting your caffeine intake. If you’re a 2-or-more-cup a day gal, it’s best to start cutting back, as the recommended daily intake of caffeine is 200 milligrams while pregnant.
  • Have your teeth cleaned. A rise in hormones causes gums to bleed more often than usual during pregnancy, causing what’s known as pregnancy gingivitis.
  • Get to know your cycle. Knowing when you ovulate will increase your chances of timing intercourse, which should be during the three to four days around your most fertile time of the month. There are lots of ways to track, including free apps for your phone or the good ‘ol fashioned way – with pen and paper.

Quick Conception Numbers

Overall, around 70% of couples will have conceived by 6 months, 85% by 12 months and 95% will be pregnant after 2 years of trying. Only about 8% to 10% of couples get pregnant within a one-month time frame, and the ‘per month’ rate for a normally fertile couple is around 20%.

With all these facts and figures, it’s important not to stress out to give it time and try to relax and enjoy the time you have alone with your partner. By meeting with your physician during a preconception counseling appointment before you start the process of trying to conceive, you can ensure 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 experience and expertise is our ultimate goal so that you may enjoy a safe and healthy pregnancy. For any additional questions or concerns, or to schedule your preconception counseling appointment, call us at 770-720-7733.

 

 

January 24, 2018

If your doctor looked at your face discoloration that has been worrying you and quickly murmured the word, ‘melasma’, you have nothing to fear. It is not only treatable but oftentimes, it is temporary and in no way a health risk.

What is Melasma?

Melasma is a skin issue that most often affects women, but men can experience it too. Brown or brownish-gray blemishes, or inflamed, red patches (erythrosis pigmetosa faciei) begin to appear in a typically recognizable configuration and hue that physicians can easily identify in areas such as:

  • The jawline (mandibular pattern)
  • The cheek (lateral cheek pattern)
  • Nose, cheeks, upper lips and forehead (centrofacial pattern)
  • Nose and cheeks (malar pattern)
  • Upper arms and shoulders (acquired brachial cutaneous dyschromatosis)
  • The sides of the neck, usually after the age of 50 (poikiloderma of civatte)

What Causes Melasma? Melasma is a common skin condition during pregnancy

The cause is unclear, but there is speculation that hormonal factors, combined with heat, sun, and light exposure, may create an imbalance of cells in the body called melanocytes. These melanocytes normally create the skin pigmentation, melanin, which decides the uniform color and shade of your skin. When melasma occurs, it is thought that the confused melanocytes sense some sort of disruption and command the melanin to generate more pigment. This results in patches of off-color skin.

Who Gets Melasma?

Melasma is completely impartial. Anyone, male or female can get it, but it is more commonly found in:

  • Pregnant women: This form of melasma is known as ‘chloasma’ or ‘the mask of pregnancy’.
  • Women taking contraceptives: Because progestin and/or estrogen found in birth control pills fool the body into believing it is in a state of pregnancy, women taking these medications are also prone to chloasma.
  • Women taking hormonal replacement drugs or steroids
  • Women using intrauterine devices or other implants
  • Women using certain medications for cancer and other problems that may make them more vulnerable to solar rays (photosensitivity)
  • Women using essential oils or certain toiletries, hygiene, and cosmetic products such as soaps, deodorants etc. that may result in skin reactions (phototoxicity) when exposed to the sun’s rays.
  • Darker skin-toned women such as females of Middle Eastern, North African, Latin, Mediterranean, Asian, and Indian descent
  • Women whose backgrounds may include a family history of melasma
  • Women between the ages of 40 to 60 and beyond who have been regularly exposed to the sun.
  • Women suffering from hypothyroidism or other medical issues
  • Women suffering from stress.

How is Melasma Diagnosed?

Melasma is easily identifiable and usually only requires a visual diagnosis, especially if you are obviously pregnant, or if any of the abovementioned criteria apply to you. However, if there is any doubt on the part of your doctor, certain tests can be performed.

One is called a Wood’s lamp examination. This lamp emits a particular light that, when scanning a targeted mottled section, can enable your physician to evaluate the depth of skin affected by the suspected melasma. Treatment would then depend on those findings.

Once the number of skin layers affected by melasma is determined, the Wood lamp results are usually categorized into one of these three classifications:

  • Epidermal melasma which responds very well to treatment
  • Dermal melasma which can be difficult to treat
  • Mixed melasma which can be treated partially.

If the doctor is still not positive that you are presenting with melasma, an additional procedure of removing a small skin sample for further analysis (biopsy) may be required.

Is Melasma Dangerous?

Not at all. Melasma poses no physical health risks whatsoever. It is purely a visual cosmetic issue. Its impact is more emotional and psychological due to the fact that it is predominantly a facial discoloration that is always noticeable. Women with severe melasma often suffer from low self-image, social discomfort and even depression depending on the severity of the condition.

Is There Any Treatment For Melasma?

Absolutely! With pregnancy-related melasma, the condition often disappears by itself after giving birth. Drug modification or complete cessation of medication containing steroids, hormones, or other melasma triggers can eliminate the problem as well.

Minor cases can be addressed through home remedies made with items found in your pantry or spice rack that contain natural bleaching or exfoliating properties. Many recipes are available online and include such ingredients as:

  • Turmeric
  • Papaya
  • Oatmeal
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Almonds
  • Onion juice
  • Horseradish
  • Lemon juice
  • Sandalwood
  • Aloe Vera gel
  • Mulberry extract

Over the counter preparations can help too. Your doctor may prescribe oral medications or creams containing medicinal ingredients.

For more stubborn or resistant melasma, there are other, more aggressive options that your doctor may discuss with you such as:

  • Dermabrasion
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Topical glycolic or acid peels
  • Fractional lasers
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL)

Does Melasma Always Go Away Completely?

Unfortunately, not all the time. Usually, the gentler interventions mentioned are enough to eliminate the problem altogether or lighten it to a more acceptable level. Some cases of melasma, however, are difficult to correct. They may require several treatments, and even ongoing care to minimize large or extremely dark blemishes. Every case is different and only a specialist can determine your unique needs.

Is There Anything I Can do to Make Sure I Don’t Get Melasma?

There are definitely precautions you can take to lower your risk of getting melasma. You can:

  • Wear SPF 30 or higher sunscreen daily, reapplying it every 2 hours
  • Select make-up that also includes sunscreen
  • Avoid extreme exposure to the sun
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, and make sure your neck, shoulders, and arms are covered or protected outdoors
  • Discuss all medications you are taking with your physician to see if any of them may make you more prone to developing melasma. Sometimes a simple adjustment can prevent the condition from occurring.
  • Avoid rough or abrasive cleansers and soaps
  • Apply moisturizer regularly if your skin is dry

 

If you have already been diagnosed with recurring melasma, or have been unable to eliminate all traces of it, there are now excellent camouflage cosmetics available that greatly reduce the appearance of darker discolorations. As well, if you are experiencing psychological repercussions that often accompany more severe cases. It may be to your benefit to join a support group that can help you share and possibly overcome these issues.

Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists Can Help You if You Have Melasma

At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, our doctors can diagnose most cases of melasma. Honest, open, confidential dialogue regarding all your concerns allows us to give you the best possible attention and discuss treatment options you deserve.  We can help you. Melasma can be treated and controlled, and we are available to make that happen.

To book an appointment to discuss melasma with one of our doctors, call (770) 721-6060.

January 15, 2018

Disturbing statistics show that, after previous years of decline, premature births are now on the rise in Georgia. Reports state that, in 2016, there was an 11.2% increase. Though this is partly due to lack of funding and, consequently, the shutting down of many medical facilities in Georgia, it is also happening nationwide.

Babies born before 37 full weeks of gestation are considered premature. Many maternal factors can contribute to preterm deliveries, and some of these include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • Pregnancies occurring within 6 to 18 months of each other
  • Racial and ethnic factors: Premature births to African American mothers surpass Caucasian ones by 50%
  • Malnutrition
  • Poverty hindering regular prenatal care
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Smoking
  • Limited access to prenatal care for women living in rural areas
  • Reproductive system irregularities such as a malformed uterus, short cervix, or closed cervix (incompetent cervix)
  • Placenta previa
  • Previous or existing infections and STD’s
  • Mothers who are obese or underweight
  • Multiple births, whether natural or through in vitro fertilization
  • Pregnancy before the age of 18 or after 35
  • Fetal abnormalities
  • Overwork, excessive standing
  • Uterine rupture
  • Previous fibroid removal
  • Blood clotting irregularities
  • Injury from domestic violence or abuse
  • Stress or recent traumatic life experience
  • Pollutant or chemical exposure
  • Previous abortion or miscarriage
  • Rapid hormonal changes
  • Prior birth by C-section (Cesarean)
  • Epilepsy
  • Mental illness

Premature babies often suffer from both short and long-term health complications, neurological issues, and developmental delay concerns such as:

  • Hypothermia
  • Infections
  • Underdeveloped lungs and breathing problems
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hearing and/or vision problems
  • Higher incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Cardiac irregularities
  • Blood pressure complications
  • Brain hemorrhage and/or brain fluid buildup (Hydrocephalus)
  • Gastrointestinal difficulties
  • Jaundice
  • Anemia
  • Metabolic issues
  • Lowered immune system
  • Dental problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Reduced cognitive skills
  • Psychological and/or behavioral problems

If you are not yet pregnant but may potentially give birth prematurely, prenatal counseling and testing are usually advised.

Is Your Pregnancy High-Risk?

If your pregnancy classifies as high risk with a danger of premature birth, you should find a fully accredited physician who is both familiar with and can treat complications associated with these pregnancies, as you will probably need extra monitoring throughout gestation.

Any medications, vitamins or supplements you are taking will be evaluated and possibly stopped or modified. Your diet might be adjusted to create a more nutritious and beneficial plan. Additionally, you will be provided with a list of any danger signs that may point towards a premature birth.

Prenatal Care for All Pregnancies 

At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, we offer you exceptional prenatal service. All of our professionals possess up-to-the-minute knowledge in their fields of obstetrics, gynecology, surgery, midwifery, cosmetic surgery, nutrition, medical assistance, nursing, holistic medicine, and equipment technology. They are committed to putting your well-being and that of your child first.

Unlike many OB-GYN facilities, we conveniently deliver multiple women’s health services to meet your needs under one roof. Our priority is to prevent as many premature births as possible by providing you with these broad amenities.

Along with being voted “Best OB-GYN in Towne Lake, Woodstock, and Canton, we are affiliated with Northside Hospital Cherokee, the nation’s leader in maternity services. We have unlimited access to their state of the art equipment, test center, and birthing center. Their Neonatal and NICU facilities have the most advanced technology to ensure that your baby is given every possible opportunity to fight against the challenges it might face due to a premature birth.

At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, we offer you exceptional prenatal service. Drs. Gandhi, Haley, and Litrel were among the first doubly accredited specialists in America to meet the high standards necessary to achieve certification in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS). This enviable distinction is only given to qualified individuals after years of training, education, and experience, and adheres to the stringent criteria demanded by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Their expertise enables them to administer superior care throughout your pregnancy. Additionally, Drs. Hale, Crigler and Clay and our certified-nurse midwives, Susan Griggs and Ruth Roser, complete our provider team and help us offer the best obstetrical care in Cherokee County.

Not all premature births can be foreseen or prevented, but at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, we try to do everything within our scope of expertise to deliver one healthy baby at a time.

Whether naturally or through in vitro fertilization, the number of women who are getting pregnant after 50 is increasing. Celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Sophie Hawkins, Kelly Preston, Geena Davis, Janet Jackson, and Halle Berry were well into their 40s and early 50s before giving birth.

As more women wait to secure careers and stablize incomes before starting a family, their decision can come with the following drawbacks to both mother and child:

  • Miscarriage
  • Delivery by Cesarean
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant
  • Premature delivery
  • Gestational hypertension leading to preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Death during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Greater possibility of stroke in later years
  • Lung development problems in babies
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth rate
  • Birth defects such as Autism or Down syndrome
  • Infant predisposition to overweight and diabetes

Because of these possible complications, pregnancies occurring later in life are considered high risk and therefore should be monitored more carefully. If you are considering getting pregnant after 50, you owe it to yourself and to your baby to choose an accredited OB-GYN whose experience, training and credentials encompass the entire spectrum of requirements and problems that could arise- one who will closely follow your progress throughout your entire nine-month gestational period. Prompt recognition and treatment of any complications that may occur from their onset are vital to both your health and that of your baby. 

Unless you conceive naturally, which is rare for women over the age of 50, you would probably have to become pregnant via in vitro fertilization, using either your own stored eggs or those of a donor. Preconception and fertility counseling might be recommended to inform you of both the risks and benefits that may arise with starting a family later in life. Your entire pregnancy should be monitored from beginning to end with regular ultrasounds, checkups, and prenatal testing. If you are overweight, wish to maintain an already healthy weight, or want additional advice regarding the best food and exercise plan during your pregnancy, it may be wise to consult a dietitian. Finally, if you prefer a more holistic approach and opt for a midwife, finding one that is familiar with pregnancies occurring after 50 is as important as any physician you would choose.

Cherokee Women’s Health Services not only offers all these amenities under one roof, but we offer them with a superlative degree of excellence. Our physicians and staff are trained to meet all your needs. Drs. Haley, Litrel, and Gandhi possess double accreditation in the field of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS). Receiving this credential requires years of additional education, skill, and training, not to mention meeting the strictest guidelines set forth by the American Board of Urology. Their 40 combined years of knowledge and proficiency ensure you will have optimum care during your mid-life pregnancy.

Our entire staff of OB-GYNs, counselors, and board certified midwives possess stellar credentials. They diligently remain abreast of the most advanced scientific breakthroughs in women’s health, thus offering you the finest obstetric care modern medicine has to offer. They work as a team, making sure you receive every advantage to make your prenatal experience as safe as possible.

Practitioners at Cherokee Women’s Health Services are affiliated with Northside Hospital-Cherokee and all babies are now delivered at its new location which opened earlier this year. Their birthing center provides a comfortable and modern environment with access to the latest technology only steps away should any last minute problems arise.

Our Patient Philosophy at Cherokee Women’s Health

Our basic philosophy at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists is a simple one–to treat every woman who walks through our doors with no less than the same consideration, understanding, and respect we would expect for any woman in our lives. This tenet is one of the many reasons that our full-service facilities were voted both “Best OB-GYN in Towne Lake, Woodstock, and Canton” and “Mom-Approved OBs” by Atlanta Parent Magazine readers. We take pride in these recognitions and make sure to pass the expertise that earned them on to you, the patient.

As we see more and more women get pregnant after the age of 50, we strive to keep ahead of all the improvements in medicine in regard to your special needs so that you and your baby can have a trouble-free pregnancy, safe delivery and can go on to enjoy the wonderful rewarding pleasures motherhood has to offer.

Call today to schedule an appointment with one of our OBs at 770.720.7733.

On May 6, 2017, the new Northside Hospital-Cherokee opened its doors to the public. That occasion was monumental, in that it was the beginning of providing the residents of Cherokee county with the most up-to-date, outstanding patient care and services available today. This modern full-service institution is prepared to provide the community with some of the most advanced technology known to medicine including top maternity, neonatal, and level II NICU facilities.

If you are a woman in Cherokee County who is planning to have a baby, you  can receive preconception counseling to help you determine if you are not only ready for motherhood, but to thoroughly investigate any possible genetic, hereditary, medical, physical and psychological history that may hinder the mental and physical futures of both you and your child.

If you are already pregnant, you can benefit greatly from Northside Hospital-Cherokee’s top prenatal, perinatal and neonatal services. This means that the health, safety, and well-being of both you and your baby can be monitored from conception to post-delivery, ensuring that any problems that may occur can be detected and treated as early as possible.

(For clarification, prenatal and perinatal care are the similar but with a slight overlap. Prenatal begins from conception to birth, while perinatal care commences at 154 days (22 weeks) of gestation and continues for a week after birth occurs.)

Because each woman is unique, every pregnancy varies in its needs and the level of attention necessary to insure the safest possible outcome. Depending on your medical history, you will be classified as normal, moderate risk, or high risk. Northside Hospital-Cherokee is prepared to expertly handle your pregnancy throughout all three.

Prenatal Care 

Regular prenatal care is one of the most important steps in making sure your baby is given every advantage possible. By going to all your appointments, following directions, taking the vitamins and supplements prescribed, and having all the tests suggested to make sure your child’s size, weight, progress and development is progressing well and on schedule, you are doing everything you can to ensure he or she is getting the best and healthiest start in life.

Northside Hospital-Cherokee will do its part in making all that happen while your baby is still in the womb and until he or she is safely nestled in your arms. From your first appointment, you will be given basic testing, blood work, urinalysis, and ultrasound at the correct time during gestation. They also offer noninvasive cell-free DNA testing, and were in fact pioneers- the first in Atlanta- to introduce most of these prenatal services, along with fetal echo and diagnostic radiology.

As your pregnancy moves forward, you will be carefully and regularly monitored, especially if you have been classified as high risk. Northside Hospital-Cherokee has the latest diagnostic and imaging equipment, operated by highly trained professionals and technicians to vigilantly follow the progress of you and your baby, keeping careful watch over even the smallest irregularity so that protective intervention is swift and immediate.

Once your baby is ready to come into the world, you will have access to individualized care in a private labor-delivery room until the birth, after which he or she will be taken to a full service newborn nursery.

Post-Birth Recovery

While recovering, you will have access to the lactation center if you choose to breastfeed. If this is your first experience with it, trained consultants will take the time to guide you through the process. You will also be offered additional assistance if needed, and be invited to attend a weekly support group.

Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists is proud to be closely affiliated with Northside Hospital-Cherokee and have collaborated with this institution for years. Our unlimited access to their technology, equipment and testing centers, along with our close association with many colleagues on its staff have enabled us to give our patients the quality care and service they deserve. The amenities they offer at their new location are among the best, most current and innovative in the nation. The medical advantages they have always shared with us have bettered untold lives and have enabled us to safely deliver over 10,000 babies over the years to mothers in Cherokee County and its surrounding areas. Their newest, top neo-natal facilities will guarantee that we will continue to deliver many more.

For more information on Northside Hospital-Cherokee’s facility, visit their website.

November 22, 2017

Cervical cerclage is only done in a small percentage of pregnancies.

It is the placement of stitches in the cervix to hold the area closed to prevent preterm labor or pregnancy loss for women who have a weak or incompetent cervix.

Cervical cerclage can be done as early as 12-weeks as a preventative measure for women who have had miscarriages due to a weak cervix. It can also be done as an emergency measure after the cervix has dilated. Typically, this procedure is not done after the 24-week mark.

When is Cervical Cerclage Recommended?

This procedure is recommended for women to prevent pregnancy loss or premature birth. Stitches are used to close the cervix around the second-trimester and typically removed no later than week 37.

Your doctor may suggest cervical cerclage if you qualify as a high-risk pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your cervix gradually softens, decreases in length, and begins to dilate in preparation for your baby. However, in rare cases, your cervix may open too soon putting you at risk for premature labor.

Your healthcare provider will assess your risk level based on the following circumstances.

  • If you’ve had one or more 2nd-trimester pregnancy losses related to dilation.
  • If you have had cervical cerclage during previous pregnancies.
  • If you have been diagnosed with painless cervical dilation during your second-trimester.

Generally, cervical cerclage is done through the vagina (transvaginal cervical cerclage). But, in some cases, it can be done through the abdomen (transabdominal cervical cerclage). Ask your doctor what is better for you and your baby.

Cervical cerclage and high-risk pregnancyIs Cervical Cerclage Right for You?

Your doctor may discourage cervical cerclage for any number of reasons. You may want to reconsider this procedure if you have vaginal bleeding, preterm labor, an intra-uterine infection, a rupture in the amniotic sac, or are carrying multiple babies.

Risks Associated with Cervical Cerclage

There are many side effects associated with cervical cerclage. Having the procedure doesn’t always prevent premature birth.

Women who experience premature dilation of the cervix during the second-trimester may have one or a number of these problems whether they opt for cervical cerclage or not.

Here are a few side effects that are occasionally associated with a cervical cerclage procedure. Consult your doctor about your risk factor based on previous pregnancies and what you can do to minimize side effects.

  • Infection
  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Tear in the Cervix
  • Leakage of Amniotic Sac (Prior to week 37)
  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm Labor or Birth

If you experience bleeding or leakage after your cerclage procedure, seek medical attention immediately. In such cases, your OB-GYN may recommend the removal of stitches early.

Closing Thoughts

Cervical cerclage is not for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about the options available to you. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the right decision about what’s right for you and your baby.

Whether you’d like a second opinion about your cervical cerclage recommendation or have other pregnancy-related questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Here at Cherokee Women’s Health, we offer a full range of services to help you along the way.

November 11, 2017

Placenta accreta can be discovered in the third trimester.When blood vessels and other parts of the placenta attach too deeply to the uterine wall during pregnancy, you have what’s known as placenta accreta.

As many as 1 in 2,500 pregnancies experience this condition.

Placenta accreta is a serious pregnancy condition that can cause serious blood loss after childbirth.

This condition can also be called placenta increta, or placenta percreta depending on the severity of the and deepness of the placenta attachment.

Symptoms Associated with Placenta Accreta

Generally, there are no symptoms or signs of this condition early on. During the third-trimester, some women who have placenta accreta may experience vaginal bleeding.

If you do experience bleeding, consult your doctor to discuss your risk level. If bleeding is severe, seek immediate medical care.

Who is at Higher Risk?

Placenta accreta is thought to be caused by abnormalities in the lining of the uterus. These abnormalities can be caused by a number of things such as scarring due to a past C-section or other uterine surgery.

You may at a higher risk for placenta accreta if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Older than 35. Women above the age of 35 are more likely to have placenta accreta.
  • Previous childbirth. Your risk factor increases with each birth.
  • Past uterine conditions. Uterine conditions such as fibroids can cause scarring or damage to the uterine wall.
  • Previous C-sections. If you’ve had a C-section or other uterine surgery in the past, you’re more at risk for placenta accreta.
  • Placenta position. When the placenta is partially or totally covering your cervix, the risk factor for accreta increases. Placenta accreta is also more common when the placenta sits on the lower portion of the uterus.

If you suspect you may be at risk for this serious medical condition, ask your physician about your risk factor.

How is Placenta Accreta Diagnosed?

Fortunately, some indicators of this condition can be spotted early on during initial ultrasounds.

If your doctor suspects you may be at higher-risk for placenta accreta, they will schedule a follow-up visit to discuss the condition and form a plan to manage it.

A follow-up visit may also include:

  • An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): Your doctor can better see how your placenta is attached to the uterine wall through an MRI.
  • A Blood Screening: Through a simple blood test your physician tests the levels of alpha-fetoprotein in your blood. A rise in these levels has been linked to placenta accreta.

Your doctor may suggest a scheduled C-section as early as 34 weeks to avoid an emergency premature birth.

How Can Placenta Accreta Affect Delivery?

After normal childbirth, the placenta typically detaches from the uterine wall. However, with placenta accreta part of the placenta remains firmly attached.

Women with this condition can experience severe blood loss after the birth of their child. Placenta accreta can also cause premature birth.

If you’ve been diagnosed with placenta accreta, your physician may recommend an early C-section.

You may also need a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus).

Final Thoughts

Placenta accreta can be a scary medical condition. Maintaining an open dialog with your doctor throughout your pregnancy can help alleviate some of your fears. Together you can develop a plan for a safe delivery.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding placenta accreta or any other pregnancy-related condition. A trained staff member will be happy to answer any questions or schedule a consult.

September 28, 2017

Imagine this: You’re pregnant and wake up with a horrible backache, or have lingering pain from a previous injury. You think, “I may still have some hydrocodone that my doctor prescribed for me, that might do the trick.” Stop–before you take any medicine, it’s imperative that you learn the dangers of opioid use during pregnancy or if you’re considering starting a family. Why? Opioid Use Disorder is on the rise in pregnant women, and many have no idea of the potential dangers.

Opioid use during pregnancy has increased dramatically over the past ten years. In fact, according to a recent United Nations report, Americans use more than 99% of the world’s hydrocodone. These startling facts are the reason more and more OB-GYNs are alerting patients to the serious complications associated with opioid misuse and opioid disorder.

While many people are familiar with hydrocodone, there are lot of different drugs that fall under the category of opioid. Many of them are prescription medications used for pain relief, often prescribed after surgery, dental work, or an injury. In addition to hydrocodone, other opioids include oxycodone, hydromorphone, codeine, methadone, propoxyphene, and buprenorphine. You may be surprised to learn that heroin is also an opioid.

The Dangers of Opioid Use During Pregnancy

Opioid Use Disorder is another name for opioid addiction. Symptoms of opioid addiction include using more than the amount of the drug that is prescribed for you; having work, school, or family problems caused by your opioid use; and feeling a strong urge or desire to use the drug.

Taking opioids during pregnancy can cause serious complications for the baby, including a drug withdrawal known as neonatal abstinence syndrome after the delivery. NAS occurs when your newborn baby, who is no longer receiving the drug from your bloodstream, may have withdrawal symptoms for days to weeks after being born. Symptoms of the syndrome include: shaking/tremors, crying, fever, poor feeding, diarrhea, vomiting, and sleep problems.

Other complications for babies related to opioid use during pregnancy may include:

  • Spina bifida
  • Hydrocephaly (excessive fluid in the baby’s brain)
  • Glaucoma
  • Gastroschisis (a hole in the abdominal wall from which the baby’s intestines stick out)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Placental abruption, growth problems, preterm birth, and stillbirth

Opioids: If You’re Pregnant

It’s very common for women to experience pain during pregnancy, such as pelvic pain, low back pain, or migraines. At your first pregnancy well-check visit, your doctor will provide you with a list of approved medications that are safe to take during pregnancy.

If you’re experiencing pain during pregnancy, it’s very important to have an honest and thorough discussion with your doctor, especially before deciding on a pain management option.

This is because there are many unknowns surrounding safe opioid doses for pregnant women. Because of these unknowns, even if you use an opioid per the exact instructions from your healthcare provider, it still may cause NAS in your baby.

Additionally, if you’re pregnant and are on opioids, it is not recommended to stop taking them without talking to your healthcare provider first. Attempting to quit “cold turkey” or without any warning can cause severe problems for your baby, including preterm labor or death. The most important step is to talk to your doctor about your opioid use, and together, come up with a plan to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.

Treatment for Opioid addiction during pregnancy involves medication-assisted therapy, or opioid-assisted therapy. Long-acting opioids are given to reduce the “cravings”, but they do not cause the pleasant feelings that other opioids cause. Examples of these medications are methadone and buprenorphine. Treatment for opioid addiction also includes drug counseling, which helps people avoid and cope with situations that might lead them to relapse.

Opioids: Trying to Conceive

If you’re trying to conceive or are considering getting pregnant and are currently using an opioid medication, use effective birth control until you’re no longer taking the medicine. Let your doctor know all of the medications you take to make sure you are as healthy as possible before getting pregnant.

At Cherokee Women’s, it’s important to each of our physicians to have open, honest communication with our patients. If you’re concerned about opioid use during pregnancy, contact our office to schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns with one of our physicians.

September 26, 2017

Can post pregnancy exercise help a woman get back to her post-pregnancy weight.If you’re like many new moms, you’re ready to shed that extra baby weight… and now! It’s a perfectly natural feeling but if you’re not careful it can lead to a never-ending cycle of harmful weight loss that doesn’t last.

There is hope, however.

A healthy combination of nutrition and exercise can get you back to pre-baby weight in a matter of mere months. Be sure not to rush it though. Remember, it took 9-months to get to where you are now. Don’t expect lasting weight loss to happen overnight.

Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine

Exercise can be a wonderful tool for new moms for many reasons. Physical activity can help reduce stress and help you sleep while keeping your muscles and bones strong.

Before starting a new routine, take care to get proper guidance on what to you can expect from your post-baby body. Heading to the gym for a workout right away can be harmful to your body, especially if you’ve had a c-section.

So what can you do?

  • Start slow. Having a newborn doesn’t leave you much time for anything, much less exercise. Try incorporating 30 minutes of walking into your daily routine broken into short 10 minute breaks as you can.
  • Incorporate strength training into your routine. Strength training with medium to light weights can help increase bone density as well as building muscle.
  • Don’t go it alone. You’re more likely to stick to an exercise program if you’ve got support from friends, family, or other new moms. Try joining a gym that has classes dedicated to new mothers.
  • Avoid jumping into old routines. Instead of worrying about what you could do before your pregnancy, focus on what your body can handle now. While you’re pregnant your body releases hormones that loosen your ligaments, making giving birth easier. It can take time for them to get back to normal.

Remember, don’t start any exercise until you feel ready. Women that have had c-sections or complicated births should consult a medical professional before starting any exercise programs.

Create A Healthy Diet Plan

Although exercise plays a strong role in meeting your weight loss goals, healthy nutrition is a primary factor for lasting weight loss. No matter how much you workout, exercise does not counteract an unhealthy diet.

It’s often hard to eat right when balancing life with a newborn. But it doesn’t have to be.

Try some of the following tips to get on the right track for reclaiming your body through healthy eating.

  • Eat at least 1,800 calories a day, especially if breastfeeding. Avoid crash diets. Pushing yourself to the max can leave you stressed which actually promotes weight gain.
  • Stock up on healthy snacks. Noshing on foods like sliced fruits, veggies or wheat crackers throughout the day is a healthy way to keep cravings at bay.
  • Choose a well-balanced variety of foods. Stick to foods high in the nutrients you need while low in calories and fats. Try a variety of lean meat, chicken, and fish as your primary source of protein to keep your energy levels up.
  • Drink lots of water. Not only does water keep you feeling full but some studies have shown that water can also aid in speeding up your metabolism.

When you were pregnant you likely changed your eating habits to support your baby’s growth and development. Making the change back to your old routine can seem daunting. Seek support from friends, family, or other new moms when necessary.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your post-baby weight loss. Every woman and every situation are unique. Here at Cherokee Women’s Health, we have a medically supervised weight loss program designed especially for women.

We can help nursing moms like you find a sustainable diet plan. Feel free to give us a call to learn more about our weight loss programs tailored just for you.

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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.”
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