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confused womanYou've probably seen stories of celebrities who are pregnant and joke about forgetting things. Pregnancy brain isn't a laughing matter for mothers-to-be who feel like their mind is always in a fog. But is this a real medical condition?

If you ask a medical professional, the answer is probably “no.” A 2014 study found no evidence of memory or attention problems among pregnant women as compared to women who weren't pregnant. But the pregnant women in that study still felt they’d done poorly.

So is pregnancy brain is all in your head? Yes it is, and that makes it feel very real.

Surging pregnancy hormones can have an effect on your memory. Research has shown that your brain functions differently during pregnancy, with more brain activity associated with emotional skills to help you bond more easily with your baby. 

Those same hormones can do a number on your sleep schedule and contribute to attention deficit, and it doesn't end when the baby arrives. A study found that half of new moms still felt very sleepy 18 weeks after giving birth.

Pregnancy hormones can even affect how you see the world. A 2010 study showed that your spatial memory is reduced in the latter stages of pregnancy. This is what helps you remember your way to somewhere, or where you put something.

Even though you won't find “momnesia” in a medical journal, most women will experience some of the symptoms of pregnancy brain.  Amid this mind fog, try to remember that it's normal to forget some things or get confused at times.  Talk to your doctor if you feel this is seriously affecting your quality of life.

The cure for pregnancy brain comes when your baby arrives. That's when you'll forget you've forgotten so much and start to remember all the things you need to know as a new mother.

 


number 50You've hit the half-century mark. Congratulations! Maybe you already reached menopause and are taking steps to deal with the health effects of changing hormones. But what else can you do to stay healthy in your 50s? Here are five suggestions:

1. Boost Your B12 But Ditch The Extra Iron
Vitamin B12 supports healthy nerve and blood cells, but as you age it's harder for the body to absorb it from food. Adding B12 to your diet as a supplement can help prevent problems long before they start. On the other hand, too much iron can be toxic for your liver and heart. Most post-menopausal women don't need iron supplements, so avoid any multivitamin that includes extra iron unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

2. Build Your Brain And Bones
If the brain is the biggest muscle in your body, more exercise in your 50s can help you build it up. People who exercise see more activity in the region of the brain that's responsible for memory. Likewise, regular exercise including strength training such as lifting weights can battle the effects of bone thinning that can lead to osteoporosis.

3. Eat Like a Greek
The Mediterranean Diet is associated with better heart health and longer life, so it's a natural choice for women over 50. It includes includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, moderate wine consumption and olive oil. It's also a good way to maintain a steady weight, which should be your goal in your 50s.

4. Don't Skip Those Screenings
Your 50s is not the time to ease-off on regular health testing. On the contrary, you'll need to add some new ones like colorectal cancer screening that should include a colonoscopy. And keep getting mammograms and Pap tests on the schedule set by your doctor.

5. Make Time to Help Others
Paying it forward can pay real dividends for your health. Women in their 50s often have more time to volunteer because children are grown and out of the house. The health benefits of volunteering can be measured. In one study, people age 55 and older who did volunteer work had a 44% lower risk of dying over a five-year period.

 


woman pregnant weight smYour grandmother may have had a week of bed rest after delivering a baby, but it's different these days. You're on the go right away and you may feel like you should drop that baby weight just as fast. But that new bundle of joy can make it hard to find the time to exercise, so what's a mom to do?

First, check with your obstetrician before resuming physical activity. Most women can begin exercising fairly soon after giving birth, but consult with your doctor before starting any vigorous activity or lifting weights.

Don't be in too much of a hurry to shed all those pounds. Your body needs about a month to rid itself of fluids that were retained. After this weight loss, you'll be left with the additional stores of fat that built up during your pregnancy.

Remember that your body's framework also needs time to adjust after delivery. Tendons and ligaments that were stretched to accommodate a growing baby may still be loose, so twists and sprains can happen more easily. Ease into exercise and build up slowly with a goal of doing a bit more each day.

Walking is a great way to exercise after pregnancy. It's easy to gauge your effort based on the amount of time and distance that you walk. Plus, your baby can come along with you in a stroller. And consider walking with other new mothers. Social support is important, and who better to help than someone who's experiencing the same thing?

Your goal might be to walk briskly enough to get your heart rate up to 60 to 80 percent of your maximum rate. Remember to take five minutes to warm up and cool down after a brisk walk.

Diet is also important, but don't slash your food intake in hopes of dropping baby weight faster. Begin by limiting sweets and eating more vegetables. A conventional diet is usually safe for new mothers. You might lose a pound a week at the start, but this will slow as you approach your target.  Most women need about six months to lose weight from a pregnancy.

You may have heard that breastfeeding makes the pounds melt away. It's true that breastfeeding burns about 850 calories a day, but it can also make you more hungry. Satisfying that urge to eat with simple carbohydrates such as snack foods can sabotage your efforts to lose weight.

Choose wisely and help yourself by keeping healthy snacks like cut vegetables or fresh fruit on hand for when those hunger pangs hit. And aim for six smaller meals per day to help you avoid cravings.

 

hormones smWhen we talk about women and hormones, it's usually the big two – estrogen and progesterone. But your health is affected by a handful of other hormones that rule your life for better or worse. The good news is there are steps you can take to make these hormones work for you.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that's kept humans alive for thousands of years when the choice was “fight or flight.” When you're in danger, cortisol raises your heart rate, sends extra oxygen to your brain, and gives you an energy boost from fat and glucose. That's good when it's life or death, but too much stress on a regular basis can leave you with too little cortisol, and that can make you feel worn out all the time.


number 40 smThe fifth decade of life is often a period of great transition for women. The nest may be emptying at the same time that your reproductive years are coming to an end. Reaching age 40 can be a turning point for your health, so here are a handful of tips to make it easier.

1. Know Your Numbers
It's important to know your readings for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and body weight. These numbers can indicate your risk for some serious conditions. Higher blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Higher blood sugar and body weight can indicate a risk for type-2 diabetes. Visit your doctor for a blood sugar test and cholesterol check and find out your blood pressure.

 

2. Climb Your Family Tree
Completing a family health history can help you learn if genetics increase your risks for some diseases. Conditions like colon cancer and heart disease can have a strong genetic component. If your family history dictates it, you may want to begin screening sooner that is typically recommended, to find out if treatment needs to start now.

3. Butt Out
If you're smoking, reaching age 40 should be your wake-up call to kick the habit.  Quitting can lower your risk for everything from lung cancer and emphysema to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. When you quit smoking in your 40s, your risk of stroke and diabetes drops to that of a non-smoker and your risk of lung cancer is cut in half after just five years.

4. “Lift” Your Metabolism
Your 40s are often when everything you eat begins to show up on your hips or waistline as metabolism slows down. Strength training can counteract this by improving the way your body burns calories. It also offers the added benefit of strengthening bones and building muscles to help you maintain better balance as you age.

5. Strengthen Those Ties That Bind
Relaxing with others reduces stress, boosts self-esteem, and even improves your relationship with your partner, so don't let friendships fall by the wayside. Women who socialize regularly through family, friends, volunteer organizations or religious groups have lower blood pressure, less diabetes, a reduced risk of heart disease, and fewer strokes.

 

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax