Purpose Statement

This blog is intended to educate women on issues that affect women. Although we are all healthcare professionals, we are not here to give medical advice. Rather we hope this will encourage women knowing that help is available and give them the courage to seek help.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pregnancy and Posture

An important part of having a healthy pregnancy is maintaining good posture. During pregnancy, your body produces special hormones that lead to physical changes in almost every part of your body. One of those changes can affect the ligaments that hold your bones together which can cause loosening of your joints and lead to pain. Postural changes which occur during pregnancy can have an effect on many areas of your body but a common complaint is low back and pelvic pain. As your baby grows and your uterus expands, your low back will typically get a more pronounced curve as your center of gravity is shifted forward. This can also cause a ripple effect of changes all the way up the spine. To compensate for postural changes some of your muscles must work harder to support the body in the upright position and over time they can become shortened and less flexible. Other muscle groups have to work less than they normally do and over time they can become weak. Your abdominal muscles can become stretched as the baby grows which causes them to be less able to contract and keep your back in good alignment.

There are some things you can do to help maintain a better posture and protect your back throughout your pregnancy:




*Always try to stand up straight by imagining that someone is making you taller by pulling a string attached to your head.
*Tuck your pelvis under so that your ears, shoulders and hips are in a straight line.
*Avoid standing in one position for long periods of time. If you do have to stand for a prolonged time, place one foot up on a foot stool to take some pressure off of your back.
*Consider wearing a maternity support belt.
*Make sure your back is well supported in sitting by placing a towel roll or cushion at your low back. If you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, try to get up and walk around every 20 minutes.
*Lying on your side is a good position to take stress off your low back without reducing the blood flow to the placenta and your baby. Place a pillow between your legs to take the strain off your back and a pillow under your abdomen to support the weight of your uterus.

These are just a few of the suggestions for maintaining a better posture throughout pregnancy. More suggestions and information may be addressed in a later blog. If you have additional questions at this time, please talk to your healthcare provider.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

YOU HAVE TO WORK TO TREAT THE BLUES

Masked behind the smiles and excitement of December holidays, many women - and men – and children - experience a transformation that makes them irritable, hungry, fatigued and despondent.  Brought on by changes in daylight, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common occurrence in regions that have shorter days in winter and distinct seasons.
While SAD is generally thought of as an adult disorder, the American Journal of Psychiatry reports that children as young as nine may exhibit symptoms.  The cause, according to neuro-scientists, is thought to be changes in the body’s production of serotonin and melanin.

Women who have chronic pain syndrome often are sad (dysphoria) and find little pleasure in life (anhedonia).  As the days grow shorter and light grows weaker, SAD may occur, and it is often said that the individual has “double depression.”

Norman Rosenthal, the Maryland psychiatrist who in the 1980’s first described the cluster of symptoms now called SAD, lists the following as common complaints on his website www.normanrosenthal.com

  • Reduced energy
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • A greater need for sleep
  • Increased appetite, especially for sweets and starches
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Sadness and depression
Dr. Rosenthal points out that sadness and depression are often the last SAD symptoms to manifest themselves. 

Many women with chronic pain report intense feelings of dysphoria.  Because they are hurting, they feel miserable, think distressful thoughts, and move slower and more cautiously than others.  They describe feeling conflicted about their medications which ease their pain but keep them feeling sedated, lethargic and moody. 

Women with chronic pain and depression must work to treat their blues.  Anti-depressant medication is only a helper.  Making a commitment to change - to be less of a spectator and more of a participant in life helps women become less self-centered. Life takes on a more positive meaning. As one of my clients recently said, “I have to keep myself distracted so I don’t wallow in my pain and misery.”

Some ways to increase distraction and participation are:

  • Practice good hygiene
  • Laugh
  • When tempted to eat unhealthy foods, drink iced water (the colder, the better)
  • Get involved in volunteer work
  • Have a “date” with your spouse once a week
  • Stretch and exercise daily as best you can
  • When feeling stressed, ask yourself, “Is this my problem, or is it someone else’s problem to solve?”
  • Keep track of sunrise times and get up early to take advantage of winter sunlight
  • Use “daylight bulbs” in your home to have full spectrum lighting (www.topbulb.com)
  • Make or purchase a “light box” to help with serotonin and melanin production
  • Have your family help with the housework or hire a housekeeper
  • Go outside, take a walk or a drive and get fresh air
Written By: Rhonda Borman, LCSW