Dr. Patten, Family Medicine at Willow Valley Medical Clinic recently joined us for a facebook livestream to answer your common questions during pregnancy. This article highlights some of the questions and answers. You can view the full livestream on the FCMC Facebook page.
As a family physician for almost seven years at Willow Valley, Dr. Patten has always wanted to provide high-quality medical care in a rural community, particularly for families that need obstetrical care. Obstetrical care is medical care of an individual’s pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. In order to provide outstanding service, Dr. Patten received training in family medicine and spent an extra year in a high-risk obstetric fellowship. It was during this time he received specialized training for a high array of obstetrical problems, pregnancies, and surgical management.
QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH DR. PATTEN
Q: In your words, how would you define obstetrics?
A: Obstetrics is the care of an expecting mother, the unborn baby, labor and delivery, and the immediate period following childbirth. Obstetricians look for problems, prevent them, and if they do arise, they treat them.
Q: What are the common questions you get in providing obstetric care?
A: There is a lot to expect when you’re expecting and I try to focus on education during pregnancy. Every time a mother-to-be enters into the clinic I provide a handout pertaining to the baby’s gestational age. There will be a lot of questions, so I do my best to inform and prepare mom and dad. The topic of discussion might be about dieting and exercise, preeclampsia, or even genetic screening. Whatever it may be, ask questions. We are here to help you in any way possible.
Q: Willow Valley Medical Clinic is part of the Franklin County Medical Center campus. Can you talk about the coordination of care between you and the hospital staff during labor and delivery?
A: It is amazing that the hospital is located right across the street from the Willow Valley Clinic. The FCMC campus allows our providers to be available at any time for anyone. Our providers are literally located minutes away, which is convenient when a patient goes into labor on one of our clinic days. We are able to deliver the baby safely, care for both the mother and child, as well as attend to patients at the clinic without much interruption.
Q: What happens if there is a complication during pregnancy or during delivery?
A: Most complications are handled right here in our facility. However, Primary Children’s in Salt Lake takes care of issues such as serious defects of the heart, brain, and internal organs. Every problem that arises has a “best place” for delivery. For example, if your baby has a heart defect and needs surgery our providers arrange that to be done at Primary Children’s. Whereas, simple prematurity can be taken care of at our facility, Pocatello, or Logan. Any provider’s job is to identify the problem and find the best solution for the baby and mother.
Q: How much can I exercise while pregnant?
A: The question you should be asking, is how often did I exercise before I was pregnant? That really determines your ability during pregnancy. I know marathon runners that were running half-marathons at the end of their pregnancy. That being said, there are some people who did not exercise regularly before pregnancy. In that instance, bowling could be dangerous in the ninth month. I encourage pregnant women to walk because it’s a safe and simple way to stay active.
Physical activity has its benefits, but our providers advise you to avoid jerking, jarring, and bouncing movements and any activity with sudden stops and starts. Especially since your joints are less stable and it is easier to dislocate, sprain, or strain your muscles. It is important to know that the stronger your body is during pregnancy, can make it easier during the labor and delivery process. Overall, exercise is safe during pregnancy as long as you exercise with caution.
Q: Are there any limits on travel during pregnancy?
A: Traveling during pregnancy is generally safe within the country. However, if you plan an international trip you need to understand the various viruses and infections in that area. For example, if you are planning a trip to Brazil you need to be aware of the Zika virus. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. In general, consider travel destinations and avoid high-risk areas to ensure the safety of the baby and mom. If you have any questions give us a call or ask during one of your check-ups to discuss safety precautions.
Q: Will having sexual intercourse while pregnant hurt my baby?
A: Sexual intercourse is considered safe during all stages of a normal pregnancy. What’s a normal pregnancy? It is one that is considered a low risk for complications. If you are uncertain about whether you fall into this category, talk to your provider.
During intercourse, your baby is protected by the amniotic sac and the strong muscles of the uterus. There is also a thick mucus plug that seals the cervix that guards against infection. However, there are a few conditions such as placenta previa that can cause bleeding during pregnancy. If this occurs during intercourse, stop and let your doctor know right away. If you are unsure at any point whether intercourse is safe for you, call one of the providers at Willow Valley.
Q: I have a cat. Are there any concerns about being near my cat while pregnant?
A: Cats carry a bacterium called toxoplasmosis. They get it from eating contaminated raw meat, birds, mice, and soil. Cats that are outside and hunt are more likely to be exposed. However, indoor cats can still contract the parasite, it just reduces their chance. Unfortunately, cats that are infected shed the infection in their feces. Pregnant women should take precautions to avoid exposure to potential toxoplasmosis in cat litter. If possible, they should not change the litter box and should avoid contact with cat feces. If you do not have any other choice but to change the litter box, be sure to wear gloves and afterward wash your hands thoroughly.
Q: Can I still color and highlight my hair while pregnant? What about chemical straightening?
A: We advise mothers-to-be to wait until the beginning of the second trimester. Especially since the first twelve weeks are a time of major development for the baby. The chemicals in hair dyes are not highly toxic and only small amounts of hair dye may be absorbed by the skin. This would only leave a small amount that could reach the fetus. Most research, although limited, shows it is safe to color your hair while pregnant.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Patten or any of the Willow Valley Medical Clinic providers, call 208.852.2900 or to learn more about the services and providers, visit the the website or facebook page.