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Why Breastfeed? Ask a Mom…

National Breastfeeding Week was the first week of August. In honor of that, I thought I’d dedicate a blog to this important topic. I think we’ve all heard a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding and if you’d like more information, I’ve listed several references at the end for you to check out.

But before I get to that- I asked several moms why they chose to breastfeed, what benefits they saw from breastfeeding, what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about it, and what helped them succeed.  You will see that although they each had different experiences with breastfeeding, they all stuck it out and were able to do it, despite the difficulties.

Sarah, Mom of a 4 month old boy:  I love the one on one time spent with each other. It might sound weird but sometimes I feel like I need that time with him more than he needs me. I love breastfeeding!

Leah, Mom of 5:  I have mixed emotions about breast feeding which stem from my past experiences with reoccurring breast infections. I just tend to be prone to them, with certain children more then others. So it’s a love/hate relationship. When I was able to breast feed and not get such adverse experiences I really loved it. To me it is a physical expression of a mothers bond to her child & also of a woman’s inherent & God given appointment of the care & nurturing of them.  I guess I “successfully” breasted all of my children but it wasn’t until my 4th child that I was able to not have severe pain, chapping, cracking & bleeding for the first month or so. I attribute that to a very great lactation specialist who had a very brief but effective tips & tricks session. I was so incredibly grateful to have foregone some of the “after pains” that seemed to linger because of breast feeding.

Megan, Mom of a 2 year old girl:  I thought breastfeeding was a good experience. I think it’s a great natural process and I loved bonding with my daughter. I also was most favorable to breast feeding because of the health benefits to both mother and child. However, when I went back to work part-time after 6 weeks and had to pump, I also saw the great bond my husband had by being able to feed our daughter and being responsible for that aspect, he had a huge process how he warmed the milk and I thought it was so cute. Overall, I think the health benefit is main the reason I did and will breastfeed in the future.  I thought having the different nurses on staff while in the hospital give their opinion was helpful in how to hold and get a latch worked best for me.

Mary, Mom of 3: Breastfeeding my babies, especially my first was a very empowering experience. I was able to provide something for my baby that no one else could. It wasn’t an instant bond after delivery with my first baby and I know breastfeeding was what helped the connection most. Being a new mommy was frightening and I didn’t know how to do many things but the one thing that came natural for me was breastfeeding. I could do it as often as I felt necessary and it instantly soothed my baby. Someday when I look back, I know my fondest memories with my infants will be the quiet late night feedings with my baby snuggled up close.

Danielle, Mom of a 1 year old boy: I have absolutely loved my experience breastfeeding even though there have been some bumps in the road. While pregnant, there were so many things about labor and delivery that I was nervous about and never gave a second thought to breastfeeding, except that I was going to do it. I assumed that it would come easy because that is what our bodies are supposed to. However, I struggled the first three months; trying to get my supply right, multiple infections, bleeding, cracking, etc… Somedays it was so hard and painful, but it has been all worth it to experience that special bond it creates between me and my son. Seeing a lactation specialist really helped me in the beginning and making sure to always “mind my milk” (drinking enough water and eating enough calories throughout the day). I am grateful that I stuck with it; now I love breastfeeding!

Melissa, Mom of 4: I have had a few relatively small bumps in the road of breastfeeding, such as painful bleeding/cracking, low milk supply, plugged ducts, infections, pumping at work, etc.  Through all of those experiences, nothing could deter me from breastfeeding.  I loved the special time I had with each baby, even when it was tiring in the middle of the night.  I loved that I could provide the perfect food, on demand, and at no cost.  It’s a win for everyone.  I did have to supplement at times with my second child due to a low milk supply, and that was really hard.  I felt like I was failing him, that I was incompetent.  I hated using formula, but he needed to eat, and I knew it was the next best thing.  I totally understand that there are situations when you cannot breastfeed, and I don’t think any mom should feel like a failure for that.  I will just say that each baby is different, and so each experience with breastfeeding is different.  Each child latches on differently, and so my advice would be to seek the help offered by a lactation consultant either at the hospital or from a support group (like La Leche League).  I felt silly, but they are qualified, passionate about what they do, and they want you to succeed. Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to connect with your child, to honor the female form and all the miraculous abilities it allows, and enjoy motherhood.  I would encourage all mothers to give it their best shot, get help if needed, stick with it.  If it doesn’t work out, give yourself a pat on the back for trying your best and leave the judgement behind.

These women are very wise and have dedicated the time and effort to providing their children with the best possible start through breastfeeding. I hope their perspectives have given any potential nursing moms the courage to breastfeed. Check out the resources below for more information on the benefits of breastfeeding, as well as where to get help if you have questions about or are struggling to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding Information:

womenshealth.gov

La Leche League

Breast Milk Counts

healthychildren.org

 

Breastfeeding Helps:

La Leche League

WIC Breastfeeding “Warmline”: 1-801-851-7312

Baby Your Baby: Lactation consultant- 1-800-826-9662

Pregnancy Risk Line: 1-800-525-3243

U of U Hospital Lactation Clinic: 1-801-581-2205

Beat the Heat this Summer!

Now that we are in the thick of summer, the high temperatures we have been enjoying won’t be cooling down anytime soon. That makes it more important than ever that we recognize heat related illnesses and what to do in case they happen to us or someone we are with.

Heat Exhaustion:

Symptoms:

Heavy sweating

Weakness

Cold, pale, and clammy skin

Fast, weak pulse

Nausea or vomiting

Fainting
What You Should Do:

Move to a cooler location.

Lie down and loosen your clothing.

Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.

Sip water.

If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat Stroke

Symptoms:

High body temperature (above 103°F)*

Hot, red, dry or moist skin

Rapid and strong pulse

Possible unconsciousness
What You Should Do:

Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.

Move the person to a cooler environment.

Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.

Do NOT give fluids.

While anyone can suffer from heat exhaustion or stroke, those at greatest risk include: the elderly, the very young, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness. Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned.

You can take these steps to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths during hot weather:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Do not leave children or pets in cars.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Stay out of direct sunlight.

Enjoy the heat this summer, just remember to stay safe!

For more info, visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/features/extremeheat/

http://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=9889

Making Healthy Changes

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about self-destructive tendencies. We all have them. For some of us, it may be laziness, whereas for others it may be the need to control everything in our lives. For some it may be substance abuse in the form of alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco, or maybe even more commonly- over or under eating. Some of us spend too much money, or have a terrible temper, or bully those around us. No matter our vice, what is universal is that each of us has at least one- to some degree. While that may be a depressing thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that there would be no victory if there were no challenge. If we didn’t have these tendencies, there would be no way to improve or overcome, thus robbing us of one of the most fulfilling things in life- overcoming obstacles.

For many of us, the overcoming of these self-destructive tendencies may happen over years or even over a lifetime, but the promising thought is that it is possible. We can each take a step today to become healthier, more productive, and happier individuals. That step may be as simple as getting of the couch and taking a walk, putting down the doughnut and grabbing the apple, or biting our tongue before we speak a harsh word. But what about when the step is so much more difficult- like overcoming an addition or eating disorder or poor health habits that we’ve been reinforcing for decades? I’m not sure the steps are any less simple in this situation, just a little scarier and more difficult. Perhaps the step we need to take involves getting professional help. No matter the size of our obstacle, mankind proves to one another each day that the impossible can be done. Many have quit smoking, drugs, and other harmful substances. Many have overcome eating disorders (including overeating). Many have reversed lifestyle induced chronic diseases through adopting healthier lifestyles.

So, the question is- why not me and why not you? There is no reason why you and I can’t make the changes we hope for in our lives with the proper help and steps. While I may not have the answers for everyone, below are some resources that may be helpful in our quest for change and improvement.

Substance Abuse:

Utah QuitNet

Guide to Quitting Smoking

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

LDS Addiction Recovery

 

Eating Disorders/ Overeating

Food Addicts Anonymous

National Eating Disorders Association

Treating Eating Disorders- Mayo Clinic

Overeaters Anonymous

 

Emergency Preparedness

About a week ago, my husband, daughter and I went to visit some cousins in Draper. That afternoon was very warm and pleasant; and the three of us were comfortable without jackets and excited about the prospect of a warm, coatless January afternoon. As we neared American Fork, it became very apparent that the good weather we were enjoying in Orem was not enjoyed by everyone. The highway was slick and there were cars sliding off the road.

Luckily, the worst thing that happened to us was a longer than normal commute a chilly run from the car to the house, but I couldn’t help but shudder at what could’ve happened to us had we slid off the road. There wasn’t a decent jacket between the 3 of us, and no food, water, or blankets in the car. I hadn’t put a first aid kit in the car or flares, and we didn’t even have jumper cables. It could have been a very long, cold night for us, because we were in no way prepared.

I realized the valuable lesson that because Utah weather can be fairly unpredictable, it is essential that we are equipped at home and in our vehicles should an accident or disaster happen.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends that we have the following in our vehicles in case of an emergency:

-Jumper cables

-Flashlights and extra batteries

-First aid kit and necessary medications (in case you are away from home for a prolonged time)

-Food items containing protein, such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener

-Sufficient bottled water for each person in the car

-AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages

-Cat litter or sand for better tire traction

-Shovel

-Ice scraper

-Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and extra change of clothes

-Sleeping bag or blankets

-Fully charged cell phone and charger

-Flares or reflective triangle

-If applicable- formula and diapers if you have a small child

FEMA also emphasizes that you should always keep your gas tank at least half full. If you do become stranded- be safe and stay in your car, put on your hazard lights, call for help and wait for it to arrive.

Because disasters can strike in many different forms and in many different places, I have put some links below to help us all in preparing our homes, vehicles, and families.

Many of these resources are very comprehensive, and while many of us may not have the money, space, or time to follow these recommendations to the letter, all of us can do something small today to be more prepared.

http://72hours.org/ – An interactive website by the City of San Francisco that gives detailed recommendations for emergency preparedness

http://www-suares.stanford.edu/72hour-kit.html – Comprehensive information about 72 kits from University of California, Berkley

http://www.ready.gov/ – FEMA website

http://beready.utah.gov/beready/index.html – Utah’s emergency preparedness website with great recommendations for families, schools, businesses, and communities.

http://commuterlink.utah.gov/RoadWeatherForecast.aspx – This is the website for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). It’s a good idea to check here before traveling, especially if you suspect the weather may be an issue.

Patient Centered Medical Home

 We are transitioning to a patient centered medical home. The patient centered medical home provides primary health care that is relationship-based. By establishing patients into a care team, provider and patient relationships can form in an effort for a higher primary care experience.

A patient centered medical home includes attributes that include:

Patient-centered: A partnering of a care team and a respect of each patient’s unique needs, culture, values, and health preferences.  Medical home insures patients are informed partners in developing their healthcare plans.

Comprehensive care: Meeting the patient’s physical and mental health care needs.  This includes prevention health and wellness, as well as acute and chronic care.

Coordinated care: Coordinate care across the healthcare system.  This can include specialty care, hospitals, home health care, and community supports.  This coordination can include help in transitioning between these different aspects of health care.

Superb access to care:  delivers accessible service which includes in-office hours as well as around the clock telephone access.

A systems-based approach to quality and safety:  demonstrates a commitment to quality improvement which includes ongoing improvement activities.

Mountainlands Community Health Center Care Teams:

Red Team: Dr Bench, MD and Cristhian; Karmin Bell, FNP and Javier

Blue Team: Dr White, MD and Jessica, Stacy Garnica, FNP and Marilyn

Green Team: Dr Greenwood, MD and Vanessa, Dr Fernandez, MD and Iris & Yesenia

Purple Team: Dr Delaney, MD and Andrea; Clarissa Peterson, PA and Selene

Yellow Team: Dr Grover, MD and Raquel; Martin Memmott, PA and Maritza

 

 

Beating the “Post Holiday Blues”

With all of the excitement and anticipation of the holidays, it’s very easy to find oneself a little “blue” once the festivities are over. It is estimated that at least 25% of us experience feelings of sadness, depression, and/or despondency at the close of the holiday season. While these feelings can be completely normal, the important thing is to determine whether these feelings are just temporary, which we then can classify as “post holiday blues”, or if they are signaling a more serious condition, like seasonal affective disorder.

Post holiday blues are really just that- all the excitement of the holidays is over and we’re left feeling a little empty and down. Luckily, if we are just experiencing the post holiday blues, these feelings will be temporary. Within a week or two, we’ll be back on track and moving on.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), on the other hand, is a different story.  According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that occurs the same time every year. Fall and Winter SAD symptoms include: depression, hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, social withdrawal, oversleeping, loss of interest, appetite changes, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating. (For more information on SAD, click here)

For most of us, what we are experiencing is likely the post holiday blues. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to dispel the gloom and put a brighter spin on the year ahead of us. (I’ve listed some suggestions below!) However, if you feel that seasonal affective disorder symptoms more accurately match what you are experiencing; visit with our mental health professionals at Mountainlands Family Health Center for counseling and help.

Tips for Beating the Blues!

Structure:  After all the madness of the holidays, the organized life you once had might be a distant memory. Go back to your normal schedule. Make your to-do lists. I am always amazed at how good I feel after making my plans and to-do lists. It will make life seem a bit more manageable. Kids especially rely on structure- so even if you don’t do it for you, do it for them.

Stop eating junk: We all do it. We all eat way more than we should during the holidays, and most of what we eat is not healthy. While it may not be the healthiest of traditions, it’s a tradition. So, let’s leave that holiday tradition for the holidays and move on. You’ll find that eating whole grains, fruits and veggies, and drinking plenty of water will make a huge difference in your physical and emotional health.

Make a “BAG”: One website I visited suggested making a “BAG”- a Big Audacious Goal. I love that. At the beginning of January, it may seem like we really don’t have much to look forward to for the next few months besides a whole lot of cold weather. So- what is your BAG? It could be learning a language, furthering your education or career, taking up a new hobby, mastering an instrument, FINALLY losing that weight you keep promising yourself you’ll lose, volunteering, learning a new skill, etc, etc.  Make sure it’s exciting and motivating to you and you are more likely to achieve it!

Do some (almost) Spring Cleaning: Not only will this keep you busy and get you off the couch, but the less cluttered your home, the less stressed, down, and irritated you are likely to be. You can start small or tackle the whole house at once- whatever fits your schedule and personality- but you are sure to feel better by the time you’re done!

Pay it forward: The surest way to stop dwelling on your own feelings and problems is to focus on those of another person. So, find something kind to do for someone around you. It could be shoveling the neighbor’s walk, calling a friend to tell them you’re thinking of them, reading a story to a child, making cookies for a friend, etc. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost any money- just the act of thinking of another person will help you to take your focus away from being down and in a more positive direction. And chances are, whoever you help is feeling a little down too, so your kindness with come at the perfect time.

Get moving: Not only does exercise help prevent numerous health problems, but research has shown that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also reduce anxiety and improve your mood. Whether you exercise at the gym, walk around the block, or wash the car, getting out and moving can improve your mood. Doing 30 minutes or more 3-5 times a week can significantly reduce depressive symptoms, but any amount of exercise is beneficial.

What about the kids?: It’s important to remember that if we are dealing with the blues, our children may be also. If they seem especially fussy, down, or sad- the post holiday blues may be the culprit. So, instead of brushing aside their feelings, sit down and discuss these feelings with them. Sharing your own feelings about the passing of the holidays may bring them comfort as well.  Then move forward- plan something fun to do as a family, start new traditions, spend some quality time together. All of these things can help your child to feel reassured that they don’t have to wait until the next holiday season to have good experiences and make new memories.

Get help if you need it: If you’ve given yourself a reasonable amount of time to “mourn” the passing of the holidays, have tried several of these suggestions, and still don’t feel any better- seeking professional help might be something to consider. Call Mountainlands Family Health Center at 801-429-2000 to make an appointment.

 

Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

The holidays are all about giving and enjoying time with family and friends. Between managing our daily lives, the added stress of parties, and running all over town to find the perfect gift for loved ones, it’s very easy to forget to take care of the person who should be first on your list- YOU. The best gift you can give to yourself, and your loved ones, is to safeguard your own health and well-being. Because that may be the last thing on your mind, I’ve made a list- with help from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of ways to stay healthy this holiday season (To visit the CDC’s holiday page, click here).

Wash your hands- We are right on the cusp of flu season- and while all the family get-togethers are wonderful- they are the perfect opportunities for sicknesses to spread. In particular, make sure you are washing your hands after using the restroom and before handling food.

Manage stress- This is so important this time of year. There often seem to be endless demands on our time (and funds!) during the holiday season. Remember, the holidays are about spending time together, so anything else is extra. And it’s okay to say “no” to extra projects and responsibilities. Just do what works for your family and let go of the rest. You’ll find that you will have less stress and you will enjoy the season much more.

Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let others do it either- Whenever anyone drives drunk, EVERYONE is in danger. Plan ahead and find a different way to get home if you know you will be drinking at a party or event.

Get your vaccinations- I know this doesn’t seem like a holiday topic, but wait until the whole family is sick with the flu on Christmas Eve, and I think you’ll see it differently. Not only should we be current on our vaccinations, it’s important to get a flu shot. And it is not too late to get it! One simple shot may save your holiday, and it’s a lot easier than getting sick.

Keep the kids safe- Make sure that the gifts you give your children are age appropriate and safe. If you have questions about recalled or potentially dangerous toys, you can visit the Trouble in Toyland Report, which is produced by the U.S Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and details safety guidelines for purchasing toys, along with toys they feel are unsafe because of the presence of lead, harmful magnets, and phthalates (a potentially hazardous substance used in plastics). They also identify toys that present a choking hazard, or even some that are too noisy. Click here to check out the full report.

Prepare food safely- This is especially important during the holidays. Remember: wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures, and refrigerate promptly. You’ll be glad you did! (For more details on food safety, click here.)

Eat healthy- Try to implement healthy foods into your holiday routine. Eating healthy is another great way to lower stress- you’ll have more energy and at least your body will be running well. Limit portion sizes and foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt.

Get moving- The CDC recommends that adults get 2 ½ hours of exercise a week, and children at least an hour a day. I know that sounds scary when the whole family is cooped up in the house for the holiday break, but find a way to make physical activity a holiday tradition. Click here, here, here, or here for some ideas you can use with your kids.

I hope these tips will help you and your family have a happy, healthy holiday! From everyone here at Mountainlands Family Health Center, we wish you a wonderful holiday season!  Stay healthy!

 

Uninsured in Utah

Recently, the Utah Department of Health provided information about the rates of uninsured individuals in the state of Utah. According to a survey given among Utahans, 13.4% of the total Utah population was without insurance during the year 2011. The data also indicated that young adults ages 19-26 and 27-34 were the more likely to lack insurance than any other group. Furthermore, among self-employed Utahans, 29.1 percent reported being uninsured in 2011. This survey also identified that some 56,500 children from ages 0-18 were uninsured and living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, which would allow them to qualify for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) in Utah.

Mountainlands Family Health Center is proud to provide a safety net to these hardworking men and women in our community, as well as assisting patients in applying for Medicaid and CHIP. Rather than depending on expensive care in emergency rooms, everyone in our community can gain access to quality and affordable primary health care, mental health services, and dental services at Mountainlands before a health issue becomes a health crisis.

For more information on these stats, visit the Utah County Health Department’s blog.

There’s an App for that…

Seriously, there is.  Just about anything you can think of, there’s an app for it- including exercise and weight loss.  After welcoming our baby into our home, my husband and I quickly realized that if we were going to lose the “baby weight” we’d both gained, we would need some help.  We’ve really benefited from using technology to help make better, healthier decisions.  Some of the apps we’ve used have helped us to track our eating and progress, some have been to help make better food choices, some have helped us plan and cook healthier meals, and some have been motivators to get us exercising.  The best part is that many are absolutely free.  But if you don’t have access to a smart phone, don’t worry! Most apps are available for free online.  All you need is a computer and internet access.  Here are some apps and websites that we have found helpful, all of which are free-

Nike+  -Allows you to track runs and make exercise goals.

Fooducate  -A great resource that gives foods a “grade”.  If one of your favorite snacks rates poorly, Fooducate will suggest a better food.

Allrecipies  – This website has great recipes- including many that are low-fat, low-sodium, and gluten-free

My Fitness Pal- Free app and website to track calories, exercise, and progress.  My Fitness Pal also has a social component to it- so if you are trying to eat healthier and exercise more with your spouse, friend, neighbor, or whoever else, you can become “friends” and support each other.

Spark People - Another great website and app to track calories, exercise and progress.  This one also will suggest healthy meal plans.

GymPact  – This is a fun app for those who would like to make money and get fit.  I have to admit, I haven’t worked up enough courage to use this one myself, but the basic idea is that for every week that you meet your workout goals by attending the gym you earn money.  If you were to go 3 times a week, your payout would only be around $2, but if you don’t make your goal, you would be paying at least $5.  This money would go to those who did make their workout goal.  I’m not sure this app is for everyone, but if you are someone who could be incentivized by earning $2-$5 dollars a week (or scared enough of losing $5-10 a week) this one might be for you.

While these are all great tools, they are only that- tools.  They are mechanisms to keep us accountable and to help us make healthy decisions.  Maintaining a healthy weight takes self control, patience, determination, and lasting lifestyle changes.  So, look into one or more of these websites- because while they won’t do all the work for you- they may just give you the extra push that you need to reach your goals and make better, healthier decisions.

Affordable Care Act

Last week I was sitting at dinner with a group of co-workers, including a nurse practitioner, a medical doctor, and our financial director.  We were discussing numerous topics when the Affordable care Act came up.  I was surprised with how little each of us knew about the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care.  While, I am not endorsing or criticizing the plan, I do believe we each have the right to the truthful facts.  So, I am recommending www.healthcare.gov as a place to begin the quest to truly understand the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

I visited healthcare.gov today and discovered that since August 1st eight more women’s preventive services are covered on all health plans without any out-of-pocket fee for plan members.  I also discovered that Utah has an insurance program for adults who have been without insurance for six months and have a pre-existing condition.  I plan on visiting this site more often to get correct facts about Obama Care.  I hope you will visit it as well.