What to Expect at Our Newly Renovated Birthing Center

Reception area at UM CRMC's Birthing Center

The nursery is ready. The hospital bags are packed. You’re getting ready to welcome a new baby into your life, and you want everything to be just perfect. We want everything to be perfect for you, too, and we’ve been working hard to upgrade our facilities to ensure everything for expecting parents is as joyous as possible. 

Here’s what you can expect from the newly upgraded Birthing Center at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center.

Upgraded Labor-and-Delivery Rooms and C-Section Operating Room

Every update we made during our Birthing Center renovation has been made with you in mind so you can enjoy the life-changing experience of welcoming your new child. That’s why we expanded all of our labor-and-delivery rooms for added privacy and to ensure maximum comfort for you, your support person, and your newborn.

In addition to a bed that can be adjusted for various positions throughout and after labor, each room includes a television, wifi, a private bathroom with a shower, and easy-to-use controls that adjust room lighting to a variety of brightness levels and colors. And if you ever need the assistance of a nurse, they’re just a tap away with a connected bed remote.

As a part of these renovations, we’ve also made several enhancements and upgrades to our cesarean-section operating room. So no matter what kind of birth you’re expecting (or not expecting), our Birthing Center has you covered.

Enhanced Security for Peace of Mind

The safety of our patients is our top priority, and we make no exceptions for even our newest, littlest patients. While in our Birthing Center, you, your support person, and your baby will receive special matching ID wristbands. Your baby’s tag is specially designed to notify nurses if it loses contact with the baby’s skin or is taken outside of designated areas.

Additionally, our Birthing Center is constantly monitored by security cameras and is protected with locked entries to ensure the most secure environment for our growing families. 

Expert Staff Always On-Hand

There’s nothing more important than knowing that you and your baby will be taken care of by expert medical staff. And at UM Charles Regional Medical Center, we have an OB-GYN and a pediatrician on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so you’ll be in good hands before, during, and after labor.

After delivery, our experienced lactation consultant is available to help new mothers with advice and strategies for breastfeeding.

Additional Resources for Expecting Parents

Ready to see the newly renovated Birthing Center for yourself? We offer regular maternity tours for you and a guest. During your tour, you’ll meet our highly trained staff, see the expanded labor-and-delivery rooms, and have opportunities to ask questions about the upcoming birth of your baby.

Our team also proudly provides a variety of classes designed for expecting parents. From our weekly breastfeeding support group meetings to two-night childbirth classes, you’ll find the answers to all your questions with the help of our team and other parents-to-be. Check out our Classes and Events calendar on our website or call (301) 609-4312 to learn more today.

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5 Dietary Changes That Will Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Spread of colorful fruits and vegetables on a gray surface

Research points to diet as a useful tool for reducing your cancer risk. Progya B. Aakash, RD, a clinical dietitian at UM Charles Regional Medical Center, offers her tips for creating a diet that’s optimized for cancer prevention:

Watch Your Plant-to-Meat Ratio

A balanced diet full of variety is just common sense for overall health at this point, but there’s also evidence to suggest that how you’re balancing your food groups is just as important in limiting your cancer risk. 

Research done by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research says plant-based foods should ideally make up at least two-thirds of what you’re putting on your plate. As for meat? It should make up less than one-third of your meal.

Consume Meat Mindfully

Even if you balance your meat consumption with other food groups, the type of meat you choose to consume — and how you choose to cook it — can also have an impact on your cancer risk.

Limit your intake of red meat and consume fewer than three portions per week. You’ll also want to avoid processed meats whenever possible because they contain compounds that can be carcinogenic (i.e., potentially cancer-causing). And be considerate about how you’re cooking your meat because studies have shown a greater concentration of carcinogens in meats cooked at high temperatures.

Avoid Alcohol

There are already plenty of reasons to avoid overdoing it with alcohol, but one of the most commonly overlooked is its ability to inhibit your body’s natural cellular functions. Alcohol alters the creation and the repair of cells in your body which increases the number of carcinogens that enter your cells.

“The effects of alcohol on your body are especially harmful when combined with smoking or tobacco use,” Aakash said.

Get a Side of Exercise

Pairing a healthy diet with regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your cancer risk. From strengthening your immune system and regulating hormones to aiding in digestion and reducing inflammation, there are so many reasons to get moving. Oh, and of course, it helps moderate weight, too.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

A nutritious diet paired with regular exercise can help you stay at an ideal weight, which is an important element of reducing your cancer risk. Being overweight changes the body in ways that increase your risk for cancer, such as altering delicate hormone balances, changing metabolism, and creating chronic inflammation.

Want to put together a healthy diet plan that could help reduce your cancer risk? We’re proud to offer diet and nutrition services at UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Primary Care in La Plata and UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Diabetes & Endocrinology in Waldorf, led by Clinical Dietitian Jamilah Bugayong, RDN, LDN. To learn more or make an appointment, please call (301) 609-5044.

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Having a Happy & Healthy Pregnancy

How to Have a Happy, Healthy Pregnancy

Whether you’ve been planning this moment for years or have just been surprised to learn that a bundle of joy is on the way, every pregnancy promises a unique and life-changing experience.

Soon you’ll discover there’s no right way to parent, and the same idea is true for pregnancy. That said, the following information will give you a basic roadmap to help maximize your journey.

Preparing for Pregnancy

Even if you live a relatively healthy lifestyle already, there are still additional steps that you should consider taking to boost your preconception health. Just a few small changes can make a world of a difference down the line, as there is a greater risk of low birth weight and preterm babies when you fail to prepare for pregnancy.

You can improve your preconception health in a number of ways:

  • Take a folic acid supplement 
  • Avoid toxic substances, alcohol and smoking 
  • Monitor any preexisting conditions 
  • Talk to a doctor about your current medicines

Tackling Each Trimester

Congratulations — you’re expecting! It’s a long road until you’re holding your baby, but these 40 weeks are home to critical development within your womb, which translates to a lot of big changes for your body and lifestyle as well. Here are some common things that you might experience.

First Trimester

Hormonal changes can affect every part of your body and can trigger unique reactions. Some common symptoms include: 

  • Tiredness
  • Upset stomach 
  • Cravings 
  • Mood swings

Second Trimester

Many say that the second trimester is easier than the first. That said, more noticeable changes may affect your body including: 

  • Body aches 
  • Stretch marks 
  • Patches of darker skin on the face 
  • Numb or tingling hands

Third Trimester
Some of the same discomforts will continue, and other new ones may develop in preparation for the birthing process:

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Heartburn 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Swelling (see doctor if severe)

Birth and Beyond

It can be difficult to tell when your baby is ready to make their grand entrance. You could be having contractions, but what if it’s false labor? You could have felt your water break, but what if it’s just urine? When in doubt, seek a medical professional to confirm if you are just approaching or already in labor.

One decision you can plan for in your labor experience is how to manage the pain. The epidural is one commonly-known and popular method of pain relief, but other medical options are also available, as well as more natural routes that can also make the experience more bearable.

Once you get through labor, the pain will start to subside, but recovering from the birth should not be overlooked. New mothers must not only tend to their baby, but also take special care of their own bodies.

You will likely experience a number of physical changes in the days following the birth. Some symptoms you may encounter are vaginal discharge, cramping, swelling or constipation. Rest is a crucial component of the recovery process, and leaning on loved ones in these early days will help you bounce back.

Emotionally, childbirth will have changed your hormones and may bring unexpected feelings of sadness. This is completely normal and will usually go away on its own. If it doesn’t, reach out to your doctor and inquire about postpartum depression, a serious but treatable condition that can happen any time within the first year after birth.

If you’re seeking additional support as you go through your pregnancy journey, UM Charles Regional has a newly renovated Birthing Center with medical professionals and resources for each step of the way.


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Looking Ahead: What’s to Come for UM Charles Regional in 2020

Photo of exterior of UM Charles Regional Medical Center

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is already in the rearview mirror. Our 80th year in Southern Maryland was really one for the books, and we’re so grateful for the support of our community and the hard work of our team to make it one of our best years yet.

As we reflect on all that we accomplished last year, we’re also looking ahead to everything that will shape our medical system here in Charles County. From new practices to upgrades for existing facilities, 2020 is sure to be a great year for UM Charles Regional. Here’s a look at some of the bigger changes on the horizon for our hospital and its associated practices:

Expansion of Our Birthing Center

One of the biggest updates to come to UM Charles Regional Medical Center in 2020 is the expansion of our Birthing Center. The upcoming upgrades to this highly rated unit will enable our team to serve more expecting mothers than ever before — all with the same great level of care you’ve come to expect from our obstetrics team.

Neurology Specialists, Right Here in Charles County

If you live in Southern Maryland and are in need of neurological care, you won’t have to travel outside of Charles County to get high-quality, expert care because UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Neurology is now seeing patients in La Plata. Led by Dr. Temesgen, this new specialty practice is located at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion (just off Washington Ave.) and offers a wide variety of treatments for neurological conditions.

Visit our website to learn more, or call (301) 609-5044 to schedule your appointment today.

New Women’s Health Office for More Convenient Visits

The team at UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Women’s Health continues to provide compassionate care in La Plata, and we’re excited to announce that seeing a women’s health specialist is getting even more convenient if you live near Waldorf. While the existing La Plata office will continue to serve patients as always, a new office will be opening up in Waldorf later this year.

Our Annual Celebration Gala to Help Support It All

Without the support of our community, none of this would be possible. And with the help of the CRMC Foundation, we’re able to provide more services and better care right here in Charles County.

You can help support our mission of making Southern Maryland the happiest, healthiest place to call home by joining us at our annual Celebration Gala on February 29. Proceeds from this black-tie event benefit the CRMC Foundation and help us continually update and improve our care and medical practices just like those outlined in this blog. 

Visit the CRMC Foundation’s website to learn more and to reserve your tickets today!

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7 Local Events and Classes Worth Checking Out This September

Hospital Events This September

As part of University of Maryland (UM) Charles Regional Medical Center’s mission to make Southern Maryland a happier, healthier place to call home, we’re proud to host so many events and classes here in our community. From exciting fundraisers to health-focused support groups, our calendar is chock-full of events 

22nd Annual Autumn Wine Tasting (September 7)

We’re just days away from Southern Maryland’s favorite fundraiser! Taking place on the grounds of historic Port Tobacco Courthouse, this event is about so much more than just wine. In addition to the offerings from local restaurants, it will also feature an impressive selection of silent auction items up for grabs.

Tickets are still available in limited quantities and can be purchased online or by calling (301) 609-4132. Proceeds benefit the CRMC Foundation!

Stroke & Brain Injury Support Group (September 9)

UM Charles Regional Medical Center is a Primary Stroke Center and recently received the Stroke Honor Roll Elite Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association, and we’re proud to offer this free support group.

Designed for members of our community and their loved ones who have been affected by stroke or a traumatic brain injury, this group meets monthly to go over education materials, take part in question-and-answer sessions, and listen to guest speakers.

To learn more about our Stroke & Brain Injury Support Group, please call (301) 609-4890.

Breastfeeding Support Groups (Wednesdays)

If you’re a new mom who could use the support of other moms as you work through questions and concerns about nursing your newborn, you’ll want to attend one of the weekly support group meetings hosted by one of our lactation consultants.

Support group meetings take place every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the 3 South Conference Room here at the hospital. 

Better Breathers Club (September 13)

If you or your loved one are currently dealing with chronic lung disease, this is the support group for you. 

The Better Breathers Club provides patient-focused, community-based education support, and we invite you to join us in the Nagula Conference Room #1 (first floor) for the next meeting. For more information about this support group or to learn more about our Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Department, call (301) 609-4391 today.

Childbirth Class (September 17-18)

This two-session series is designed to prepare you and your support person for a safe and happy birthing experience. 

The class, taking place from 5:30-8:30pm on both dates, includes instruction for breathing, relaxation techniques, comfort measures, medications, hospital procedures, stages of labor, deliveries, and infant care. Instructors will also address complications that can arise during your pregnancy and childbirth.

The cost of this event is $85 per couple and includes the two-day class with hands-on training, a tour of the Family Birthing Center, and food for you and your partner.

Classes fill quickly, so be sure to register early on our website.

Prediabetes/Type 2 Diabetes Support Group (September 24)

If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, you’re not alone, and this free support group is designed for people just like you. Join members of our Center for Diabetes Education to discuss different topics relating to managing and living with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. 

Meetings are held in the Nagula Conference Room 2, and RSVPs are not required but are preferred. You can RSVP by calling (301) 609-5444 or emailing DiabetesCenter@umm.edu.

Yoga, Body, and Mind (Beginning September 24)

Feeling stressed? This six-week course is designed to provide stress reduction and increase flexibility while you work on gentle body toning and building strength through asana work and other exercises. As a Traditional Hatha Yoga class, it is intended for those who are new to yoga as well as those who have some experience.

Preregistration/prepayment is required ($40 for the entire six-week class). To learn more, visit our website or call Anne Machetto at (240) 682-3229.

Want to see the full University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center events calendar? Visit our website today.

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Breastfeeding Benefits and Facts Every New or Expecting Mother Should Know

Photo of group of infants

If you’re a brand new mom or are getting ready to be one, you probably have a lot of questions about breastfeeding. You might be wondering whether breastfeeding or formula is the right way to go, or you’re simply wondering where you can find resources for breastfeeding near you. Fortunately, it’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, so we’re breaking it all down. Here’s what you need to know.

Breastfeeding Has so Many Benefits for Babies

Although great strides have been made to make infant formula as nutritious and healthful as possible over the past several decades, there’s no question in the medical community that breast milk provides the greatest benefit to babies and their mothers.

Here’s what Dr. Ruth Peterson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had to say about breastfeeding:

“It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby.”

Breast milk is such a good source of nutrients that breastfeeding has been found to reduce the risk of the following conditions among infants:

  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Ear and Respiratory Infections
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal Infections
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis
  • Allergies
  • Eczema

It Also Benefits Mothers, Too

One lesser-known fact about breastfeeding is that it can also have potentially beneficial health benefits for nursing mothers. 

The American Institute for Cancer Research notes that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. And it’s also been linked to a reduced risk of the following conditions:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Breast Cancer

Studies have also shown that breastfeeding for at least three months can help women lose weight after giving birth. 

Only 25 Percent of Infants Are Breastfed According to Recommendations

While the case for breastfeeding is a strong one, the CDC estimates that just one in four infants are exclusively breastfed (i.e., breastfeeding without supplemental infant formula) through six months after birth — the time frame recommended by the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Although breastfeeding has grown in popularity significantly since the 1990s, it’s clear that many babies still aren’t being breastfed or aren’t being breastfed for long enough. This trend has especially affected black infants, whom the CDC says are 21% less likely to be breastfed at all.

Many Mothers Stop Breastfeeding for a Variety of Reasons

There’s no question that moms just want to do what’s best for their children and their family, so the reasons why they don’t start breastfeeding or don’t continue doing it for the recommended amount of time are important to understand.

It’s estimated that 60% of mothers stop breastfeeding before they planned to, and these are a few of the most common reasons why:

  • Issues with Lactation and Latching
  • Nutrition and Weight Concerns
  • Unsupportive Work Policies
  • Lack of Support from Family
  • Didn’t Feel Aligned with Cultural Norms

With these things in mind, it’s essential for communities and medical professionals to continue supporting mothers who breastfeed by breaking the stigma or making education a top priority for new moms. And, that’s why University of Maryland (UM) Charles Regional Medical Center regularly hosts breastfeeding support groups. These free support groups are facilitated by a lactation consultant who can answer nursing moms’ questions and concerns. Visit our classes and events calendar to find out when this group meets next.

Not Breastfeeding Can Be Costly

Beyond the added upfront costs of purchasing baby formula — which can be a very expensive experience in and of itself — choosing to feed your baby formula instead of breast milk can have even more costly long-term effects.

Because breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of so many conditions and ailments, it’s important to view breastfeeding as an investment in health rather than just a lifestyle choice. In fact, the CDC estimates that low breastfeeding rates can cost Americans over $3 billion per year as a result of indirect medical costs. Unfortunately, studies have shown that breastfeeding rates are actually lower among lower-income Americans, so these health costs may be disproportionately affecting those who can least afford them.

Resources for New and Expecting Moms in Southern Maryland

Deciding whether or not you want to breastfeed your child is a personal choice. New and expecting mothers should always talk with their doctor to learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding versus formula so they can make an informed decision about what’s best for them and their family.

If you’re still unsure about breastfeeding or simply want the perspective of a women’s health doctor, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Women’s Health in La Plata, MD. Led by Dr. Erica Contreras and Dr. Katreena Settle, this practice is where you can get answers to your most pressing questions and care from women doctors who have a combined 22 years of experience.

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Why Cord Blood Banking is Something Expecting Parents Should Consider

Infant child sleeping

If you’re an expecting parent, you probably have a long to-do list of things that need to get done before the big day. But if you haven’t added “donating cord blood” to that list yet, here’s why you should consider it:

What is Cord Blood?

Cord blood is the blood that’s found in a newborn baby’s umbilical cord and placenta. This blood is a primary source of stem cells, which are the cells that are necessary for producing blood. 

Here’s a quick video that explains what cord blood is and how the stem cells found in cord blood can benefit patients in the case of a transplant: 

What Normally Happens to Cord Blood?

Although the potential of cord blood and its stem cells is incredible, this is still an emerging element of modern medicine. For that reason, the umbilical cord and placenta are often discarded as medical waste today rather than used for potentially lifesaving transplants.

How Does Saved Cord Blood Get Used?

The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation notes that about 70% of patients who need a stem cell transplant don’t have a matching donor in their own family. Fortunately, cord blood doesn’t have to be perfectly matched to help those dealing with ailments such as:

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Sickle Cell
  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune Disorders

Although these cancers and disorders can often be treated by bone marrow transplants, cord blood donations can contain as much as 10 times more stem cells than bone marrow donations. In addition, stem cells from cord blood are less likely to be rejected than those from bone marrow.

Public vs. Private Cord Blood Banking

While the general concept of cord blood banking involves the preservation of cord blood, there are a few different types of cord blood banking:

Public cord blood banking doesn’t cost anything for the parents and is designed to make the potentially lifesaving cells available to anyone who needs them. Public cord blood banks collect, test, and preserve the cord blood until it is needed by a patient or patients.

Private cord blood banks do exist, too. Sometimes called “family banks,” these are designed to save cord blood exclusively for members of your family so that it can be used if there are any specific medical needs within the family. Unfortunately, private cord blood banking means that the cells are not made available to those outside of your family, so those who are in need will not be able to make use of those cells if they need a transplant. Moreover, private cord blood banks are usually expensive and, even if the cord blood comes from a family member, there’s only about a 25 percent chance that another family member’s body will even be able to receive the cells.

Cord Blood Donations at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center

Although we do not currently offer public cord banking here at the hospital, we encourage families to consider participating in one of many mail-in programs that you can learn more about here

Ultimately, your decision to take part in cord blood banking — public or private — is up to you and your family, and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. If you’re considering cord blood banking, visit the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation’s website and be sure to talk to your doctor and/or your midwife to find out more and to answer any questions you may have. 

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For Women, Taking Care of Those You Love Starts with Taking Care of Yourself

Female doctor smiling at female patient

People are counting on you.

From your family and friends to your co-workers and just about everyone else, we know that the demands on your time and energy are very real. That’s the reality of women everywhere.

Most women don’t hesitate to make sure the ones they love are healthy and happy, planning healthy meals and scheduling doctor’s appointments when needed. Taking care of other people comes naturally.

Taking care of yourself? Well, for many women, that’s a little more difficult.

The good news is that you have plenty of resources right here in Southern Maryland that make it easy and convenient to prioritize your health. Because if you’re going to be there for the ones you love, you have to be there.

University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Group – Women’s Health, located in La Plata, offers a variety of services designed to keep you healthy and make regular checkups part of your routine.

Their experienced OB/GYNs offer obstetric, gynecological and well-woman care for all stages of life.

The comprehensive care at Women’s Health includes: 

  • Annual pelvic exams
  • Breast exams
  • Management of menopause symptoms
  • Urinary incontinence treatment
  • Minimally invasive surgery to treat uterine fibroids, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome

Part of your plan of care should also include annual mammograms once you reach age 40 –– or earlier if your family history suggests a higher risk of breast cancer. Advancements in technology mean that a quick visit to a place like UM Charles Regional Imaging can provide you with a crystal clear picture to confirm your health or identify any issues early on.

Available services include both screenings and diagnostic mammograms.

  • Screening mammograms help find unsuspected changes in your breast tissue
  • Diagnostic mammograms are performed if a change is identified in your breast tissue with a screening mammogram or if you have had a previous breast cancer diagnosis
  • 3-D mammography (breast tomosynthesis) produces three-dimensional images of the breast, leading to better cancer screening and detection.

Whether it’s a visit to Women’s Health or Imaging, an appointment is only a phone call away. It’s easier than ever to take care of yourself. 

So make the call. Make an appointment. And make your health a priority. Because the people you love are counting on you to be there to take care of them.

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5 Ways High Blood Pressure Can Affect Your Body

High Blood Pressure Measurement Photo

Did you know that one out of three adults in America has high blood pressure? And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that only about half of those nearly 75 million people have their blood pressure under control?

It’s true — high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) has become a serious medical problem in our country. And if you have high blood pressure, it’s far more serious than you might think.

While the most immediate, short-term damage done by high blood pressure might not be instantly apparent, this condition is one of the leading contributors to serious long-term health problems among Americans.

Your blood pressure is the force at which blood is being pushed against the walls of your arteries. Here are just a few ways your blood pressure can affect your body when it’s at a higher level than it should be:

It Can Damage Your Heart

The CDC notes that your heart often bears the brunt of the damage caused by high blood pressure. This is because, over time, high blood pressure can harden your arteries, which makes it more difficult for your body to get blood and oxygen to and from the heart. When that happens, these are just some of the potential outcomes:

It Can Increase Your Risk of Stroke

As we’ve previously discussed on our blog, stroke is a serious medical condition and one of the leading causes of death and long-term disability in Americans. Unfortunately, the reason why it’s so common in our country is because high blood pressure is, too.

The simple truth is this: Hypertension is the primary cause of stroke.

It Could Eventually Cause an Aneurysm

An aneurysm happens when a section of an artery’s walls are weakened and bulges. If the bulging gets too extreme, the artery can rupture and cause internal bleeding — a serious, life-threatening situation.

Though the exact causes of aneurysms are far from certain, high blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of developing an aneurysm because of the long-term damage it can do to arteries.

It Can Lead to Kidney Failure

Sustained high blood pressure can lead to damaged blood vessels in the kidneys. Once damaged, the filtering process that occurs inside your kidneys, which helps your body rid itself of waste and toxins, becomes more difficult and less effective. Over time, this can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.

It Can Damage Your Eyes

One little known fact about high blood pressure is that it can have a significant impact on your eyes, specifically your retina.

The retina is found at the back of your eye, and high blood pressure can affect how well this tissue is able to function. This is because abnormal blood pressure can cause damage to the vessels in the retina — leading to double vision, dim vision, headaches, or even total vision loss.

Usually, this damage is done over time, but there are instances where very high blood pressure spikes can cause symptoms to appear suddenly. These situations are medical emergencies and should be treated as such if they ever happen to you or someone you know.

Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine website to learn more about how blood pressure levels can affect your eyesight.

High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that affects millions of Americans young and old. Unfortunately, many people with high blood pressure don’t know that they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure levels checked regularly and get your blood pressure in check by practicing healthy living habits. Talk to your primary care provider to learn more about your blood pressure and how you can get on track to preventing high blood pressure.

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Our Top Tips for a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy

Pregnancy Checkup Photo

There’s a lot of information out there on how to give you and your baby the best headstart with a healthy pregnancy. We’ve narrowed down the noise to give you some important tips that you may not have heard before or, at least, ones that deserve a second look.

Tip #1: Eat Right

Such extensive focus is paid to what you CAN’T eat during pregnancy that it’s easy to overlook what you can! These foods aren’t just delicious — they provide essential nutrients that aid in your baby’s development.

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk or non-dairy drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
  • Protein from healthy sources, like beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood (8 to 12 ounces per week) and unsalted nuts and seeds

It can be helpful to keep a pregnancy food journal to keep track of your intake of these important goodies.

Tip #2: Monitor Your Weight Gain

According to the National Institute of Health, gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy helps your baby properly develop and grow to the right size. However, gaining too much weight (or not gaining enough) can have harmful effects on both you and your child. Use the chart below as a reference point, and talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your pregnancy weight gain.

Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass IndexHealthy Weight Gain
Less than 18.528 to 40 pounds
18.5 to 24.925 to 35 pounds
25 to 29.915 to 25 pounds
Greater than 3011 to 20 pounds

Tip #3: Prioritize Your Sleep

Expectant mothers need to remember that they’re not just eating for two, they’re sleeping for two as well. Thus, it’s important for them to get 7-8 hours a night, if possible. But, what about when sleeping gets less and less comfortable as pregnancy continues? Some simple ways to combat the strained sleep of the third trimester include:

  • Sleep on your left side and spend as little time as possible lying on your back. This allows for the best blood flow to the fetus and to your uterus and kidneys.
  • If you are experiencing leg cramps, you may want to avoid carbonated sodas and drinks
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t lie in bed forcing yourself to sleep. Get up and read a book, write in a journal, or take a warm bath.
  • If you get a cramp in your leg, straighten your leg and flex your foot upward. Try doing this before going to bed several times to help ward off future cramps.

Tip #4: Absolutely NO Alcohol, Tobacco or Drug Use

Recently, conflicting information has been circulating regarding whether or not some amount of alcohol, e-cigarettes, or the newly legalized medicinal marijuana is acceptable to consume during pregnancy. Despite this, it is still strongly encouraged to cease all alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. According to a 2019 report by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is most likely to occur in babies born to women who drink heavily throughout pregnancy. But alcohol-related problems can occur with lesser amounts of alcohol use. It is best not to drink at all while you are pregnant.” For medicinal marijuana usage, talk to your doctor to adjust your medication in preparation for your pregnancy.

If you are having trouble reducing your alcohol or drug consumption, talk to your trusted health professionals about your consumption habits.

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