SMART MOTHER'S BLOG
As the mother of two cross country athletes who won three high school state championships and made it to the Nike-sponsored national meet in 2015, I celebrate Allyson Felix's victory as a record-breaking Olympian. However, as a board-certified African American ob-gyn physician, I celebrate her victory over preeclampsia and motherhood even more.
On November 28, 2018, Felix developed preeclampsia at 32 weeks that necessitated an emergency cesarean, and her daughter spent approximately one month in the NICU recovering. Felix could have easily lost her life and baby as a black woman based on irrefutable statistics regarding black maternal health. Gratefully, Felix's physician had the skill set to recognize her risk factors and instructed Felix to go immediately to the hospital rather than an ESPN photo shoot.
I stared at the tweet in disbelief. Orlando Health? The one in my community? The one where retired Residency Director, Dr. Steve Carlan managed most of my high-risk pregnant patients with compassion, laser-beam focus and clinical excellence? THAT Orlando Health?
On April 21, 2021, 4-day old Cornell Gunter left this earth, although he should have remained. The chronology of events that his father, Gunter, documented are chilling:
04/17/2021 Gunter’s fiancé arrives at Orlando Health triage at 11:55 p.m. with complaints of decreased fetal movement x 10 hours at 40 weeks.
This is a reminder to us all that what we do is important to women who look like us! This mom was considering a home birth and then even wanted to go to a birthing center. I told her I was ok w a birthing center but I don’t recommend a home birth at all.
The patient visited the birth center, and her concern was no black health care worker there. Her concern with the hospital was that she could labor in the tub but not deliver in it, and that she didn’t want to push in the bed. I assured her she could push however she felt comfortable.
This week, as thousands of Black women commemorate Black Maternal Health, Becker’s Hospital Review reported that one of the leading U.S. health plans made an astounding $5 billion profit in the first quarter of 2021, in the middle of a pandemic no less.
Shareholders are happy. The CEO is happy. The company’s employees are happy because they will all receive big, fat bonus checks, but do you know who isn’t happy? The families of 700 mothers who die each year from preventable, pregnancy-related deaths.
The business of medicine is killing us. According to CDC, in 1990, our pre-managed care healthcare system had a maternal mortality rate of 8 deaths out of 100,000. Thirty years later, the rate has more than doubled to 17.4 per 100,000 in the setting of managed care.
While we all love that kick we get from coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate, it may actually cause harm to an unborn child.
A recent study from NIH (National Institute of Health) reports that ingesting 200 mg of caffeine (2 cups of coffee) during pregnancy may lead to small babies. Dr. Katherine L. Grantz and her team looked at over 2,000 records of pregnant women during their research and determined that even one-half a cup of coffee could lead to smaller babies compared to women who don’t drink coffee or ingest caffeine.
A recent NY Times article by Jessica Delfino made me smile. She describes her experience of singing during labor to help relieve labor pain. And for her, it seemed to have worked.
Music is a gift. It unifies, delights, and delivers. For centuries, women have been singing in churches, on plantations, Native American reservations, synagogues, African villages, and other public venues. Physicians play it in the operating room, and sometimes it is the last thing patients hear before receiving general anesthesia.
One of my most memorable deliveries occurred early in my career as an intern. A patient’s husband brought a dim lamp and a cassette player (yes, we’re talking old school) into his wife’s room. The mood was mellow.
A recent JAMA Pediatrics article revealed startling facts backed up with reliable statistics: pregnant women evicted from their homes have a higher incidence of low weight babies. Low-weight babies equal increased NICU admissions and higher health expenditures to the annual sum of $26.2 billion.
Dr. Michael Silverstein and colleagues compared records of over 10,000 pregnant who were evicted with nearly 79,000 pregnant women who did not face eviction and noted the disparity regarding birth outcomes. These findings should not be surprising because the expectant mother's food insecurity equals the food insecurity of her unborn child.
The importance of social determinants (SDH) related to health is established in previous studies. While there are ongoing efforts to improve health disparities related to pregnant women, there is much more to do.
The statistics from the January issue of The American Journal of Perinatology captured my undivided attention. Of 15.7 million deliveries from 2010 to 2014, 11,497 women (0.07%) were readmitted for a primary psychiatric diagnosis within 60 days postpartum, which accounts for 40% of postpartum admissions.
Although Black female physicians represent a paltry 2% of the physician workforce in the United States, that number would be a shameful zero if it had not been for Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler. Not only was she the first Black female physician accepted to a U.S. med school, but that school was my alma mater, Boston University School of Medicine.
When I entered BUSM in 1983, there were no busts or statutes of Dr. Crumpler on campus and I would only learn about our amazing connection 30 years later at an alumni reunion weekend. I honestly think my beloved alma mater did not understand how much Black women loved Dr. Crumpler and the meaning of her sacrifice. She and her husband, Arthur, lie in unmarked graves in Hyde Park, MA, for 125 years until local charities, all four Massachusetts medical schools and a fellow alum, Dr. Melody McCloud raised $5,000.00 to erect two headstones to commemorate both her life and death.
Mikkel and Kayla Kjelshus' daughter, Charlie, had a complication during delivery that caused her oxygen levels to drop and put her at risk for brain damage. Charlie needed seven days of neonatal intensive care, which resulted in a huge bill — $207,455 for the NICU alone — and confusion over which parent's insurer would cover the little girl's health costs.
"If these are the rules of engagement, you need to tell people upfront that these are the rules," says Dr. Linda Burke, OB-GYN and author of The Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy. "It's a communication problem."
Do you know that undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and improper management of gestational diabetes during pregnancy can put your unborn baby at risk for stillbirth, complicated vaginal deliveries
(shoulder dystocia) and birth defects?
Dr. Linda explains how pregnant women should be tested to see if they have gestational diabetes and what tests should be avoided.
As a Black ob-gyn physician with over three decades of clinical experience, I exhaled with relief after reading Tonya Russell’s article, Mortality for Black Babies is Cut in Half When Delivered by Black Doctors, et al. Finally, someone has told our truth. The evidence was always there; however, no one took the interest or time to publish it. Thank you, Dr. Rachel Hardeman.
Obstetrics is a specialty of the unexpected. A woman’s uneventful prenatal course can quickly transform into an emergency during labor or delivery. Babies have a unique way of announcing their time of arrival in the most harrowing and unforgettable manner. Their heart rate drops precipitously, as evidenced on their fetal monitor. Or mom’s blood pressure suddenly rises to alarming levels of panic. Do we treat the condition, or do we deliver? That is the ultimate decision faced by an obstetrician.
Dr. Linda Burke created this video after Dr. Chaniece Wallace's death and before Dr. Susan Moore's death. Both women were my sorority sisters, although I did not personally know neither one. They both died in Indiana hospital systems, which makes you wonder about patient safety in that state. Dr. Burke dedicates this video to the memory of both women who died too soon and left an irreplaceable void.
The 6 Deadly Mistakes That Contribute To Maternal Death Regarding Pre-eclampsia:
Black people's mistrust of the U.S. healthcare industry runs deep and requires little explanation. The Tuskegee experiments. Henrietta Lacks. Dr. J. Marion Sims are some examples and I do not think I have to further explain. Quite honestly, I, at times, have trust issues too, but taking the COVID-19 vaccine is not one of them.
Historically, I do not take the flu vaccine because a daily dose of Vit C provides me with immunity, and I never contracted the flu. However, I always honored my patients' requests to take it, including those who were pregnant. I did not even take the flu vaccine with the H1N1 virus, nor did my children, and no, I am not an anti-vaccine. My children duly received all their mandatory immunizations, as did I as a physician. However, COVID is different. When I saw China erect a multi-story hospital in 72-hours and pictures of Chinese authorities physically removing people from their homes, I knew COVID was serious.
One of the first things a first-year medical student learns is the importance of taking a patient’s history because if you listen carefully, you will figure out the diagnosis. Yet it is often the failure to listen that leads healthcare professionals down the rabbit-hole of misdiagnosis that frequently leads to preventable death.
Each year, 700 U.S. families lose a wife, mother, girlfriend, daughter, cousin, niece, neighbor, or friend to a pregnancy-related death, and one of the most common refrains repeated over and over again is “they wouldn’t listen to her.”
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has taken those words to heart and initiated a public service campaign to raise awareness regarding the importance of healthcare professionals listening to the complaints and concerns of pregnant women and postpartum patients.
Eight months of torture caused the death of 8-yr old Gabriel Fernandez. Kira Dixon Johnson bled to death shortly after giving birth because her husband’s pleas and concern were ignored. A busy clinic missed an important risk factor of first-time mother, Amber Rose Isaac who hemorrhaged to death a late diagnosed HELLP Syndrome immediately after her son was delivered. What do these tragedies have in common? They were all victims of system failures.
Are you tired of witnessing these disasters because I am. As an OBGYN physician for over 30 years and a former social worker, here are my proposals for change regarding missed diagnosis of child abuse and OB risk factors:
May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month, which brings both sadness and joy. It is the second most common cause of maternal death, but gratefully we are a lot closer to understanding what causes it, which means we will be closer to finding a cure.
A few months ago, I was on a social media platform of a support group for pregnant women who were sharing their feelings and concerns about their high-risk condition. While I was trying to remain unobtrusive, one woman’s story was compelling. With her permission, I have included our online conversation to demonstrate that small acts of kindness can result in huge dividends for all.
In this episode of "Ask An Expert", Dr. Linda Burke, Ob/Gyn and author of The Smart Mother's Guide to A Better Pregnancy, chats with CEO Eleni Tsigas about what expecting moms need to know to navigate pregnancy during COVID-19.
Sixteen year old Erica Byrom’s refusal to have a C-Section, despite having severe preeclampsia made history when a Baltimore jury awarded her the largest medical malpractice verdict in the U.S. however, there is no reason to celebrate. Her daughter has significant brain injuries and will need round-the-clock care for the rest of her life.
The question is: does a 16-year-old teenager have the maturity to make a life and death decision?
According to new research released in the American Heart Association’s Hypertension Journal Report, the answer is yes. A new study has highlighted the use of functionalized magnetic beads to reduce blood levels of a harmful molecule by 40%.
During pregnancy the placenta produces molecules that can damage the mother’s blood vessels. When blood vessels are damaged, the blood pressure increases. These harmful molecules are called SFIL-1.
In our continuing series regarding preeclampsia, some clues are warning signs of worse things to come. Pregnant women are often misdiagnosed because some healthcare providers focus on the patient’s blood pressure and either ignore or are not aware of these other vital signs. Please don’t ignore the symptoms listed below. They could potentially save your life.
1. Headaches that don’t go away with over-the-counter meds such as acetaminophen (or Tylenol®) could be an early warning sign of high blood pressure. Please do not ignore a headache, especially if you are in the late third trimester (36 to 40+ weeks). Untreated high blood pressure can lead to stroke.
You all know that I am passionate about the accurate diagnosis and treatment of preeclampsia so you can imagine how excited I am about “Congo Red.”
According to an article in USA Today, researchers have created a test called “The Congo Red Dot” (CRD) test that can potentially save lives by detecting preeclampsia earlier in pregnant women.der text
Jessica Simpson, who’s in the third trimester of her pregnancy, shared a shocking pic of her swollen foot asking for ‘remedies.’ HL spoke to two obstetricians who think the actress should contact
her doctor ASAP.
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway, board-certified OB-GYN and author, spoke to Hollywoodlife.com EXCLUSIVELY about why Jessica should seek immediate help.
“Preeclampsia is a disease of the placenta, so the strict cure is to deliver the baby and get rid of the placenta,” she explained. “Something in the placenta causes constriction of blood vessels and makes blood pressure go up. If left untreated, preeclampsia and progress and women can have a stroke, a seizure, or a pulmonary edema, which is too much fluid in the lungs.”.
Meghan Markle, 37, has broken royal tradition plenty of times before, so what’s to stop her from doing it again? The mom-to-be may decide to do a home birth, sources tell Vanity Fair. Either that or she
might opt for a hospital in Windsor, which is where she and her husband Prince Harry, 34, will reportedly be living by her spring due date.
Not only has she never given birth before, but “her age and being a woman of color would be risk factors, as well” Dr. Burke-Galloway said. Women of color have a higher chance of suffering
from preeclampsia, the same pregnancy complication that led Kenya Moore, 47, into an early labor last month.
Can camera phones help diagnose preeclampsia? The answer is a resounding, YES!!
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway empowers pregnant woman by sharing vital information so that they begin to think like a doctor, not a patient. Her book and blog with the same title, ‘The Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy’ teaches expectant parents how to avoid preventable medical errors and have a successful childbirth experience.
The ABC News segment, Dying to Deliver was well appreciated by yours truly and a woman named Anne Garrett,
who has been sounding the alarm about this devastating problem for over two decades.
Garrett, is a mom who had not one, but two near-death experiences due to preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome shortly after giving birth to her sons. The experience of nearly dying – twice compelled her to start the Garrett Singh Family Foundation which ultimately was converted from a private family foundation to a public charity known as the Preeclampsia Foundation to help increase awareness of the potentially devastating effects of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.
Long before the acclaimed article, The Last Person You Would Expect to Die by NPR and Nina Martin came to light (for which I am eternally grateful), an article written by Amnesty International, entitled Deadly Delivery, addressed this same issue. Garrett and I both read that article back in 2011 although we didn’t know each other at the time. She ultimately reached out to me based on my prenatal book, The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy, and my description of the maternal death of one of my sorority sisters, Dawn Fleming from preeclampsia. In addition, she reached out to me because I am an African American OB-GYN physician and she knew that women who look like me die from preeclampsia at a disproportionate rate in compared to others. Her honesty and transparency are commendable.
It is said that art imitates life and the episode “Personal Jesus” in Season 14 of Grey’s Anatomy revealed some hard-core facts: patients die unnecessarily because of missed diagnosis.
Three patients entered the fictitious Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital and none of them left alive, including a woman who had just given birth to a healthy baby at 37 weeks. She was in labor at 37 weeks with a “normal” blood pressure but died of something called the “HELLP” Syndrome that is associated with pre-eclampsia.
“HELLP” is an acronym for hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and low platelets which help the blood clot thereby avoiding hemorrhage.
Women in one of the poorest communities in the District of Columbia will no longer be able to deliver babies at their community hospital, United Medical Center. Why? Please keep reading.
I will not address the absence of clinical standards performed by the staff that led to a newborn baby being infected with HIV and an obese preeclamptic patient with a severe breathing disorder being harmed. Go deeper into the root cause analysis and you will find politics and money as the culprits.
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway, author of the Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy discusses the interview she had with Hollywoodlife.com about the hit series, Downton Abbey and the eclamsia episode where Sybil Crawley dies in childbirth.
The month of May has always been special; it is the month that I officially became a physician exactly 30 years ago; it is the month that we celebrate Mother’s Day but unfortunately it is also a month that makes us aware that some mothers are no longer with us because of a pregnancy related condition called pre-eclampsia.
When a woman becomes pregnant, we immediately think happy thoughts: a new addition to the family, a new grandchild, the baby shower, what colors to paint the nursery and of course, the
challenging role of becoming a parent. We make the assumption that everything will be okay during the pregnancy but sometimes it’s not. Complications can occur during the pregnancy, during labor
and even after the baby is born.
The human body is a fascinating creation and it speaks to us if we have the wisdom to listen. The ability to recognize the “language” of the body can save our lives, especially during pregnancy. What are the symptoms that pregnant women need to recognize?
May is Pre-eclampsia Month, a time to empower all women about the dangers of this very deadly disease. It has claimed the lives of many women, including the grandmother of Vanessa Williams.
Although it has been described as far back as the days of Hippocrates, we still don’t have a cure in the 21st century.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that involves high blood pressure, swollen feet or ankles and protein in a pregnant woman. It can occur anytime after 20 weeks but usually develops in the third trimester and affects up to 7.5% of pregnant women worldwide. Why is it so dangerous? Because the blood pressure can reach such high levels that a woman can have a seizure or a stroke and die. It can also reoccur for up to 6 weeks after the baby is born, is frequently and regretfully often misdiagnosed. How is it treated? By delivering the baby and therein lies the dilemma. Sometimes it occurs so early that some healthcare providers will either miss the diagnosis or are hesitant to deliver the baby because of its prematurity. The baby has to be delivered because the placenta is abnormal and must be removed.
Congratulations! You’ve reached a defining moment in your life. You’ve decided to have a baby. Although not yet pregnant, there’s a lot of work that has to be done in order to achieve your goal of having a healthy baby. Unlike the 2 million women who have unplanned pregnancies in the United States each year, yours will be different because it involves strategic planning, so let’s get busy.
The old saying “fail to plan means plan to fail” holds true, especially if you have decided to have a baby. The decisions you make will not just involve what color to paint your baby’s nursery or who to invite to a baby shower. You will have to decide whether to see a midwife, a family practice doctor or an obstetrician for prenatal care. Each one of those providers has a different level of training and education.
One of the most important decisions you will make as a pregnant woman is where to have your baby. Most women will select a hospital although other options for birth include delivering at a birth center or for others, to deliver at home. Should you decide to give birth at a hospital, it is important for you to select the right one because they are not all made equal. Some look very pretty on the outside but have some patient safety concerns on the inside. Others might not look attractive externally, but you’ll receive the best care possible.
So, you’re having a baby and need to select a healthcare professional to take care of you. Selecting the proper healthcare provider for your
pregnancy is an epic event, not a minor detail.
Sadly, some women invest more time in selecting a dress than choosing a physician. Everything worthwhile in life depends upon the choices we make; the challenge is to make the right ones. One of the most important choices you will make during your pregnancy is which health care provider will attend to you. If you live in an urban community, you might have lots of providers to select from. But if you’re in a rural area, your choices might be limited.
The last few weeks of a pregnancy is both a time of excitement and caution as you approach the sacred date of your baby’s birth. In the last four weeks of the pregnancy, it is important to make certain that both the mother and baby are free from infections and the baby’s in the correct position before delivery. It is also important to make certain that you will be diagnosed properly when you go to the labor room for potential problems, including labor pain.
If you're pregnant and scheduled to have a baby soon, please do not assume your primary OB physician or midwife will be available to deliver your baby. Quite often, holiday schedules are made in advance, which everyone knows except you, the patient.
What should happen and what does happen are not always the same. Ideally, someone from your provider’s office should alert you of their holiday schedule, especially during a pandemic. If he or she is not available, you should be provided an on-call schedule in advance in the event of unexpected emergencies.
If your provider is not available and has not offered on-call coverage, activate a Plan B, which means:
On December 11, 2020, the FDA approved the use of a vaccine to combat the Coronavirus; however, the drug companies that developed the vaccines did not include pregnant women in their clinical trial studies.
The short answer: Yes, if she is part of the 330,000 pregnant healthcare workforce that includes RNs, MDs, Nursing, psychiatric, and personal and home health aides. The vaccine will have a roll-out, and Phase 1a includes frontline healthcare professionals (HCP). Phase 1b includes healthcare workers as listed above and persons over age 65.
Each one of us has a calling to do something extraordinary if we have the courage to try. I am the great-great-great granddaughter of a slave midwife who passed down her incredible gift of birthing to me for which I am grateful. Do not ignore that quiet voice that whispers in your ear inspiring you to do something you think you cannot do. You CAN do it. Trust, believe and then move your feet down the path that lies in front of you. The journey might be challenging but oh is the successful arrival, ever so sweet.
Dora Yoder nursed her infant son at 2:00 a.m. however, later that morning, she could not wake him up. The infant's death, initially thought to be caused by SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), later aroused suspicion from homicide detectives. Dr. Carmen Puliafito, a former Medical School Dean, contacted the authorities to report the baby's non-responsiveness as opposed to the baby's parents.
It took almost three years for authorities to determine that Baby Yoder died from drinking the amphetamine-infested breastmilk of his mother. Dora Yoder allegedly received money to purchase drugs from Dr. Carmen Puliafito.
The full moon brought a downpour of babies that we could not catch fast enough in labor and delivery that hot summer night. I was sweaty, hungry, and tired. The air conditioner appeared not to be working yet again, which only added to my mounting frustration and foul mood.
Almost three decades ago, there were no computers where a resident physician could casually monitor patients remotely as they do now. Back in the day, you had to get up off your butt and physically examine a patient. Insert an IV. Write orders and be able to make a diagnosis correctly.
It affects approximately 7% of pregnant women
2. It usually has no symptoms
3. You could potentially have a big baby greater than 9 lbs that poses risks regarding the delivery
4. Untreated DM causes the baby’s blood sugar to be low when it’s born
5. Increase risk of shoulder dystocia meaning the baby has broad shoulders and the head is delivered. But the shoulders get stuck
6. If your sugar was very high before you became pregnant, there’s an increased risk of having a baby with deformities, especially in the baby’s brain
Many women who have GDM develop DM later in in life
“I SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE FOR MY WIFE.”
These are the painful words of Anthony Wallace lamenting the death of his beautiful wife of five years, Dr. Chaniece Wallace.
Like Amber Rose, Kia Dixon Johnson, and Sha-Asia Washington, Dr. Wallace died on October 20, 2020, due to complications from pregnancy. Also, like Washington and Rose, she specifically died from preeclampsia-related issues.
The story of Monica Ramirez is nothing short of a miracle. According to the LA Times, “she was 30 weeks pregnant, became short of breath, drover herself to the hospital, woke up three weeks later in a different hospital, a different city with a baby nearby.” Monica had spent the past three weeks of her life on a ventilator.
I know based on personal experience what happened during her admission.
✅ A code is called The OB team are called. They frantically look for the baby’s heartbeat with a doppler as the OR team is called stat. The NICU team is called stat. Infectious Disease is called stat.
Responsive to a legal demand letter from Babyscripts’ lawyers, I have, under protest, removed this post that I believe is legitimate personal opinion, in order to avoid a lawsuit by Babyscripts against me.
The FDA put out a black box warning advising pregnant women that NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) should not be used after 20 weeks gestation because it causes fetal kidney problems.
What is a Black Box Warning?
"A black box warning means that medical studies indicate that the drug carries a significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects. It is the strongest alert the FDA can require.
What are Examples of NSAIDS?
NSAIDS are medications that reduce inflammation. Although they have “trade” names, their generic names are as follows: ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, celecoxib, mefenamic acid, etoricoxib, and indomethacin.
Your Guide to Breastfeeding
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is raising awareness of the importance of breastfeeding to help mothers give their babies the best start possible in life. In addition to this guide, OWH offers online content at www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding and www.womenshealth.gov/itsonlynatural.
Through its Supporting Nursing Moms at Work site, OWH helps businesses support nursing mothers with cost-effective tips and time and space solutions, listed by industry. Learn more at https://www.womenshealth.gov/supporting-nursing-momswork. OWH also partners with the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau to educate employers about the needs of breastfeeding mothers via The Business Case for Breastfeeding.
Download the guide here, or click the slides below to read page by page.
This week begins National Midwifery Week, and both national and global midwives deserve this recognition for their incredible work.
Although obstetricians and midwives deliver babies, there are differences in our respective training, which I previously discussed in my book, The Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy. There is also a rift between both professions that I hope will heal. I thought long and hard about this division and realize that the difference stems from priorities. Midwives focus on the experience of birth, while obstetricians concentrate on the outcomes related to childbirth. Both groups also want the ensure the well-being of an expectant mother.
Has Mother Earth invoked a “scorched earth policy” in retaliation for environment abuse? It gives one a reason to pause.
At present, there are seventy-seven raging fires across
the U.S. that have destroyed 3.7 million acres of land.
If you live in Arizona (2), California (21), Colorado (3), Idaho (14), Montana (10), Nevada (2), Oregon (12), South Dakota (1), Utah (3), Washington (7), Wyoming (3), you are directly affected. The numbers behind each state represent the number of active fires occurring at the time of this writing.
As parents, we strive to protect our children from harm even before they are born. At present, we are victims of misinformation and disinformation regarding COVID19 stemming from the executive branch of the U.S. government. As parents, we must fend for ourselves regarding safeguarding our children as they attempt to settle into “regular” school and college life.
They told us that our children’s health was not in jeopardy because of the coronavirus, but they were dead wrong. The most recent report from CDC MMWR reveals the following:
A Teachable Moment | The untimely death of Chadwick Boseman inspired me to give this talk about risk factors for colon cancer including inflammation and the foods that contribute to inflammation. Science has proven that chronic Inflammation is a precursor for cancer and sugar is one of the biggest contributors of inflammation. Science has also proven that vegetables and fruits can reduce our risk factors for developing cancer. Drs. Dean Ornish, Terry Wahsl (I mistakenly said her last name was Hahl) and Dr. Michael Greger have demonstrated the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Sha-Asia was a 26-year-old African American woman who entered Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, New York on July 1, 2020 and regretfully expired on July 3, 2020. Did the month of July play a role in her death? Yes, it did because July is the month when new interns begin their training.
Rest in peace Sha-Asia and may your tragic death teach us strategies that will save future lives.
In this video Dr. Linda discusses a sad case involving a medical error and third trimester bleeding.
She also offers advice regarding the best online resources for pregnant women. Listen and then share to prevent future tragedies.
Every storm has moments of calm, so let that calm begin with you and your unborn child. Although you are witnessing unprecedented moments of history and civil discontent, please pause before engaging in active protest. “Peaceful” protests sometimes turn violent and you could inevitably sustain physical harm.
If you want to invoke your constitutional right to express dissent, please do so but without placing yourself or baby in harm’s way.
Listed below are some suggestions to achieve that goal:
The good news: One person can be with you in labor and delivery but he or she will have their temperature taken prior to approval. Each hospital has their own policy regarding the temperature cutoff.
Not so good news: The 4/30/2020 JAMA article reports evidence of SARS COV-2 was found on the placenta of a 22 week stillbirth infant. The mother was described as having COVID-19. Although it was initially reported the COVID-19 does not affect the unborn, now we are unsure if this is still correct.
This is even more reason to stay inside and continue to wear masks outside.
A preventable tragedy in childbirth always breaks my heart. Do you think you have a “low risk” pregnancy and, therefore, home-free from potential complications? Please listen to this video. What you don’t know could hurt you.
#HighRiskPregnancy #LowRiskPregnancy #homebirth #birthcomplications #childbirthinjury #neonataldeath #shoulderdystocia #KaraBosworth #KaraKeoughBosworth #KaraKeough #DrSkeeteHenry
So, you are determined to have a homebirth for fear of getting COVID, but what about the baby?
Both the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) do not approve homebirths because of increased neonatal infection and death however AAP has listed some guidelines if you still want to proceed:
1. There should be TWO healthcare providers present at birth, not just the midwife. The second person should be present to exclusively take care of the baby and be well trained in performing a full resuscitation of the infant in accordance with the principles of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program. Emergency equipment should be tested to ensure that it is working as well as communication devices such as the telephone. The weather should also be monitored.
When you call your healthcare provider and are informed that you can no longer come to their office, please do not be alarmed. As a result of the quarantine and social distance policies related to the coronavirus pandemic, more healthcare providers are shifting to telemedicine office visits.
What is telemedicine or telehealth? It is a way of taking care of patients when the physician or healthcare professional is in one location and the patient is in another. I have been advocating for the development and use of telemedicine to manage pregnant women since 2001 and am happy that it is finally being integrated into mainstream healthcare. The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists (ACOG), has given their stamp of approval so this is here to stay.
Those of you who know me well know that I have been advocating for the use of OB Telemedicine since 2001. I’d like to share some inexpensive but innovative ways of conducting prenatal visits in your office or institution. You do not have to contract with “virtual” companies that have overinflated prices and are trying to make profits for their shareholders rather than administer quality care to your patients. Your hard-earned money would be better spent taking care of your families and office staff, so please read on:
Is Telemedicine approved by ACOG?
What is the best way to conduct a Telemedicine visit?
If your patient is greater than 12 weeks, a virtual exam is preferable over a telephone “visit” because you are able to document more objective evidence in real time, i.e., visual inspection of pt’s extremities and face to r/o edema, size of abdomen, etc.
I have waited for you for twenty years, and now that you have been approved and adopted into mainstream obstetrical care, I’m practically in tears.
I knew you were coming when software developed back in the late nineties that allowed remote viewing from a computer. Having been an ob-gyn physician for almost ten years at that time, I visualized how helpful you would be in reducing preventable medical errors, which, as you know, remains my passion.
Along my journey to bring you to life, I met a kindred spirit named Dr. Curtis Lowery, Chairman of the OB-GYN Department at the University of Arkansas Medical School. Dr. Lowery developed the telemedicine ANGELS program, which provided virtual services to high-risk pregnant women in the entire state of Arkansas, which was unprecedented. It was also paid for by his state Medicaid program.
Before everyone stampedes to their local or wholesale pharmacy to purchase Hydrochloroquine in hopes of preventing COVID-19, please hit pause. A scientific journal states that the SAFETY and EFFECTIVENESS of this drug have yet to be proven safe, and further clinical trials are needed.
Are there studies that demonstrate the safety of Hydrochloroquine for unborn babies? – No, however, there is at least one incident where a COVID-19+ pregnant woman who was less than term, was given this medication as treatment.
The picture represents how things are rapidly changing in healthcare because of the Coronavirus pandemic. It was recently designed through 3-D printing to protect both patient and anesthesia physician in the event a patient needs intubation.
How else has things changed, particularly for pregnant women?
a. Blood pressure
b. Weight gain, especially if it’s greater than 3-5 lbs. in one week
c. Decreased movement of the baby
What is accomplished by Social Distancing? Let's do a little microbiology here:
Viruses are Obligate Intracellular Parasites. That means they are OBLIGATED, they ABSOLUTELY MUST, reside in a living cell to survive and increase their numbers.
Covid-19 has decided that the cells that they MUST live in are respiratory droplets.
Every time you speak, sing, cough, sneeze, sniff, yawn, laugh you release little tiny drops of saliva from your mouth or secretions from your nose into the air.
Out of concern and respect for pregnant mothers, this author is sharing the ACOG protocol which outlines EXACTLY how your OB care provider should manage your pregnancy in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to refer to this algorithm when speaking to your physician, midwife or nurse practitioner.
Wishing everyone a safe pregnancy journey.
Pregnancy can be a daunting experience, especially if there are risks or complications. While efforts to enhance awareness regarding maternal mortality are appreciated, they should not create an atmosphere of fear. Fear creates confusion, worry, doubt and on occasion, inaction. The key to a healthy pregnancy is risk recognition, proper treatment, heightened fetal and maternal surveillance and maternal confidence and compliance.
As a mother of two cross country runners and basketball players, I prayed neither one of my sons would have a severe accident and fracture a limb. So far, the Universe has been kind.
Here are the fast facts about the article:
· Pregnant women between 24 weeks and one week postpartum who took high doses of Vit D had children with stronger bones from infancy up to age 6 yrs of life
As a former infertility patient, I know first-hand how bumpy that roller-coaster infertility ride can be. For me, infertility represented shame (I was less than a woman), anger (my body betrayed me) and depression (I was unworthy). I never once considered conceiving through IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) because as an OBGYN physician, I was fully aware of the inherent risks. I eventually became a mother through the gift of adoption, and I couldn’t imagine life without my sons.
Unlike me, many women opt to have IVF but even in medical school and during residency training, no one ever mentioned the sticker price. The New York Times recently published several vignettes about what families paid for IVF or surrogates which I found both fascinating and sad.
February is a time not only to celebrate the romantic heart but the human heart as well. In celebration of National Heart Month, let’s raise awareness regarding cardiac risk, especially as it relates to pregnancy.
Historically, pregnancy and heart disease are part of my family's medical and social history. My grandmother died at age 39, nine months after giving birth to my aunt from post-partum cardiomyopathy, a form of congestive heart failure that affects pregnant women. Neither my youngest aunt nor her grandchildren got an opportunity to know her because of this tragedy.
We have entered a new decade and yet have made limited progress regarding eliminating calamities that occur in our “OB Space.” Einstein stated the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” A paradigm shift has begun regarding childbirth and obstetrics. Pregnant women are more proactive regarding their healthcare. They seek answers and demand respect.
Pregnant moms, please be assured that there are OB healthcare professionals who hear you. See you. Respect you and are ready to empower you with tools you need to bring your unborn babies into the world safely. Rest assured, change is coming. Please, stay tuned.
At present, the coronavirus has claimed 80 deaths in China (where the virus originated) and 63 persons are being examined in 22 states in the U.S. according to CDC.
Are pregnant women at risk?
The short answer is yes. During pregnancy, the mother’s immune system is altered so that it does not attack the unborn fetus (which is a foreign object) but it still maintains the ability to protect the mother against infection.
Here are five things that a pregnant woman should know about the Coronavirus:
As a young girl growing up in a small Long Island town called Amityville, Memorial Day was a huge holiday filled with parades and barbecues. I would inevitably end up at my friend Diane’s backyard eating a hotdog along with the rest of the kids on our block. It was also a day when we made our annual trip to the cemetery to place American flags on the graves of veterans and flowers on the graves of the deceased.
In honor of both Memorial Day and Preeclampsia Awareness Week, I’d like to take time to remember all mothers and their babies who died during childbirth, especially from preeclampsia.
What is preeclampsia and why is it so deadly? Preeclampsia is a condition of pregnancy in which there is high blood pressure; swelling of the ankles, feet, or face; protein in the urine; and abnormal kidney function. This condition requires the delivery of the baby in order to preserve the mother’s life and prevent seizures and strokes. The old fashioned term for preeclampsia was toxemia and it affects 1 out of 12 pregnancies each year. Approximately 76,000 women die annually from this disease and most people know of at least someone that it has affected during pregnancy.
Happy Holidays from Dr. Linda and The Smart Mother’s Guide team. While we want you to have a joyous holiday season, here are a few tips to keep in mind to avoid unwanted disappointments or unexpected surprises regarding your pregnancy:
Have a beautiful holiday and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Please like and share if you found this information helpful.
This week, The Smart Mother’s Guide would like to introduce you to our guest blogger, Dr. Amanda Tavoularis:
Dr. Amanda Tavoularis has been committed to excellent dentistry for over 20 years. She studied at the University of Washington School of Dentistry and the prestigious Kois Center located in Seattle. She belongs to numerous dentistry networks include the American Dental Association and the Wellness Dentistry Network. Dr. Amanda can provide her expertise for dental care for women as well as expecting mothers. She has a son of her own and is committed to providing the most accurate information possible for patients.
Although marijuana is legal in many states, it might not be a good idea for pregnant women to use it.
Here are 7 facts pregnant women should know about marijuana:
Should Pregnant Women Smoke Marijuana?
I'm happy to be back and I want you to know that my first priority is and has always been keeping pregnant women and their babies safe from harm's way. With this in mind, I'm excited to announce that I will begin mentoring pregnant mothers, pre-med and med students, ob-gyn residents, colleagues in need of support, and in this video I forgot to mention doulas and midwives. More information will become available in the next few weeks, and feel free to comment below or through my website if you are interested in learning more.
A University of Central FL research study proves preservatives damage brain cells which may be the reason why autism has increased. Pregnant moms, you are eating for two.
Please read labels before you eat that bread or cheese. It could affect your unborn baby.
Celebrating holidays with friends and family can be fun, and the Fourth of July is no exception. Here are seven tips pregnant women should remember as they celebrate:
Drink plenty of fluids and come in from the hot sun if you feel dizzy or short of breath
4. Make certain all grilled food is well cooked before eating.
5. Avoid inhaling smoke from a grill
6. Avoid direct exposure to loud fireworks. Sound travels through your body and reach your baby. According to CDC, exposure to loud noises could potentially damage your unborn baby’s hearing.
7. Enjoy your day with friends and family. When your happy, your unborn baby is happy too!
In the state of Alabama, a pregnant goes to jail for being shot in the abdomen which resulted in the death of her unborn baby.
Has Alabama gone too far? I'd love to hear your perspective.
reference article: nytimes.com
Update to previous blog post
I’m humbled and happy to share my interview with the esteemed John L. Hanson Jr., the host and producer of “In Black America" a nationally syndicated NPR program that is dedicated to looking at all aspects of the African American experience.
Now, more than ever it’s important to share this perspective and the challenges of health equity for all, as well as maintaining women’s health benefits presently in the Affordable Care Act. During this interview I shared my insight regarding the alarming rise in maternal mortality rates as well as how patients can be the best health advocates regarding their healthcare.
I hope you will listen to this podcast and share your perspective.
This is what life looks like when people have mothers. Can you imagine what it's like to grow up without one? An immense thank you to the Rockefeller Foundation for producing this amazing video. Mothers are precious and we can't afford to lose one.
Mothers fight for us their whole lives. Now is the time to fight for moms. We hope you will join us, so that we never have to imagine a world #WithoutMom.
Each year almost eight hundred pregnant women die in the U.S. and frequently from undiagnosed preeclampsia. May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month and the Smart Mother’s Guide will be presenting strategies and tools to reduce maternal mortality as it relates to preeclampsia, so let’s begin.
Preeclampsia is a clinical condition that occurs during pregnancy and involves high blood pressure, protein in the urine and swollen areas of the body that can include the legs, ankles, feet and sometimes face. However, one does not need to have all these symptoms at the same time in order to be diagnosed with preeclampsia. Unfortunately, preeclampsia is sometimes misdiagnosed during pregnancy which, if left untreated, could cause a stroke, very low platelets, seizures and death. Although preeclampsia usually occurs in the late 2nd or early 3rd trimester, it can occur any time after twenty weeks and yes, it IS possible to be diagnosed with preeclampsia as early as twenty-two or twenty -three weeks.
Although most women will spontaneously develop labor by their due date, there are exceptions to the rule. Some women may have to be delivered earlier because of complications such as high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, diabetes, poor fetal growth or low amniotic fluid. Other women may have to be induced at 39 weeks which is the new standard of care.
Why are inductions of labor necessary? When the conditions within the uterus or a medical condition pose a threat to either the baby or the mother, the baby must be delivered. While most labor inductions are successful, there are some questions that pregnant moms need to ask in order increase their chances of having favorable outcomes.
My colleague Dr. Donna Adams-Pickett is giving excellent advice on how the "TEAM" approach can help reduce maternal mortality. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are "team" activities. Do you have a good prenatal team for your pregnancy?
I’m humbled and looking forward to my interview this week with the esteemed John L. Hanson Jr., the host and producer of “In Black America" a nationally syndicated NPR program that is dedicated to looking at all aspects of the African American experience.
Now, more than ever it’s important to share this perspective and the challenges of health equity for all, as well as maintaining women’s health benefits presently in the Affordable Care Act. I will be sharing my insight regarding the alarming rise in maternal mortality rates as well as how patients can be the best health advocates regarding their healthcare.
I hope you will listen to this podcast and share your perspective.
According to a recent research study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), induced labor after 39 weeks in healthy women may reduce the need for a C-section and might offer additional health safety benefits to the mother and newborn. In fact, the recent study results suggest inducing labor early in healthy women may also reduce the risk of preeclampsia, and the need for infant respiratory support.
In my near three-decade- career as a practicing ob-gyn, I can attest that in the past doctors did not recommend inducing labor for convenience and inductions were typically were only done for medical reasons and only at 41 weeks of pregnancy and beyond.
Too often we hear about maternal mortality and the disproportionate number of African-American women who die from preventable deaths while pregnant.
Today though, I want to acknowledge and celebrate the gifted obstetricians and midwives who perform miracles, manage complicated pregnancies and save lives. In the coming weeks and months, I will be sharing some of these incredible stories.
On March 12, 2019, I was among 700 OBGYN physicians from across the country who descended onto Capitol Hill with the American College of Obstetrician-Gynecologists (ACOG) to preserve the lives of pregnant mothers, to protect women’s healthcare benefits under the Affordable Care Act and advocate extending Medicaid postpartum benefits for twelve months rather than the traditional 6-week period.
ACOG invited five Congresswomen to speak at the conference including the Honorable Lauren Underwood, the youngest African American woman elected to Congress and the first nurse; the Honorable Ayanna Pressley and the co-sponsor of the postpartum Medicaid expansion bill, Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Ph.D.
March 10-12, 2019 - 37th Annual Congressional Leadership Conference, the President’s Conference in Washington, DC
OB-GYN physicians from across the nation learn how to better lobby their U.S. Senators and Representatives on behalf of ACOG and their individual communities. Dr. Burke will use this opportunity to discuss strategies for reducing maternal mortality – especially as it relates to African-American women whose death rate is 3X greater than non-black women in the United States, according to the CDC.
What are your pregnancy concerns? I want to hear from you: https://www.smartmothersguide.com/survey
As Black History Month comes to an end, I would be remiss if I didn’t honor the memory of my maternal ancestors, Emerline and her daughter Mariah Jones, who was my great-great grandmother and passed their gift of “birthing” onto myself and cousin, Dr. Sheryanne Wade.
Through ancestry research, I discovered that Emeline was born in 1820 and her ancestors originated from the same South African community as Nelson Mandela. You can't imagine the pride I experienced knowing that I am a descendant of Nelson Mandela. It explained why the women in my family were advocates who were fierce and feisty.
Can Extreme Heat Exposure Harm Your Pregnancy?
The short answer is yes.
The earth is getting warmer, and everybody should be concerned, including pregnant women. According to a published study by The Journal of American Heart Association (JAHA), climate change does affect reproductive health and specifically, pregnant women.
Here are the facts:
I have been invited to attend a Congressional Leadership Conference in Washington by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
I'll be with ACOG, U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives on Capitol Hill working on behalf of pregnant women, and I want to hear from you. What are your concerns as an expecting mother? What information and can I share with them and what can I bring back to you?
I'm passionate about preventing maternal deaths and the health of pregnant women. Your voice is vital, and I am honored to represent your unique point of view.
Click this link to complete the 2-question survey. As a thank you, you will receive 'The Smart Mothers Guide Pregnancy Organizer' for free.
With gratitude and enthusiasm about this opportunity,
According to the Washington Post, there have been 19 suicides on VA campuses, and seven of them have occurred in parking lots.
Justin Miller, a 33-year-old Iraqi vet and trumpet player, entered a Minnesota veteran's hospital for treatment of PTSD. He was discharged home on his fourth hospital stay, got into his truck and committed suicide with a firearm. A VA Inspector General's report found several preventable le mistakes that were committed at Miller's discharge. The operative word is "preventable."
In celebration of , let’s talk about the heart as it relates to pregnancy.
The heart is one of the hardest working organs in the body. It functions like a pump to deliver oxygen to all the organs and cells in the body as well as nutrients. However, when the heart is diseased, it becomes the number one killer for both women and men in the U.S.
While 800,000 federal workers were kept hostage for over 30 days missing two pay checks because of a wall intended to keep brown people from entering the United States, pregnant women from the world’s third largest country crossed the Pacific, paid travel agents $100,000 for a travel visa and were instructed to tell Immigration officers they were staying at a Trump Hotel to improve their chances of successful entry into the U.S.
It’s a multimillion-dollar industry called “birth tourism” run by Chinese travel agents who boast a “success” record of 8,000 babies born in the US who are now U.S. citizens. According to the LA times, the owner of one of these lucrative tourist companies was able to purchase a 2.1 million-dollar home in cash in addition to purchasing a $118,000 Mercedes Benz. A conservative think tank group estimates that over 30,000 of these births have occurred.
I cannot remain silent about this - I have to speak my truth about Jessica Simpson's pregnancy. Someone needs to advocate on behalf of her unborn child.
No, it is not cool.
As legalization of marijuana hits the mainstream and marijuana shops start to increase in numbers, pregnant moms, beware. it is not OK to expose newborn or unborn babies to the harm associated with cannabis use, even if it falls under the heading of “legal” and “medical use.”
Christmas represents special meaning for me because it is the story about a miraculous birth. A first-time pregnant woman name Mary was carrying a special gift to the world and pregnant moms, so are you.
The journey and adversity that a sperm experiences to get to an egg, is humbling.
Scientific literature says that fifty percent of pregnancies are “unintended” or an “accident”, but I beg to differ. There are no “accidents” in the mind of God. Each one of us possesses a gift and a purpose that will potentially serve humanity. Some of our greatest gifts came from humble wombs like Mary of Nazareth, whose birth produced The Messiah.
On Thanksgiving Day, Ms. Vernita Lee took her last breath and then flew home to be with the Lord, but she left behind her legacy, Oprah Winfrey.
Women like Ms. Lee, remind me of my mother, whose humble wombs produced some of God’s greatest gifts, in the form of women and men who do extraordinary things that no one could ever imagine.
As I watched the People Magazine Interview of Oprah describing her mother’s final days, I kept nodding my head in recognition because one “good daughter” recognizes another and I too, had played Mahalia Jackson’s music at my mother’s transition.
Approximately 10% percent of all women living in the United States have infertility. While the news can initially be devastating, did you know it might just save your life?
Women over age 30 typically have infertility problems but they also have high risk pregnancy complications that sometimes lead to death. In this video, Dr. Linda Burke shares her insight. Listen and be inspired.
Many years ago, one of my best friends had a baby and it was a life-altering moment, not just for her but for me as well. At the time, we had been friends for approximately 15 years and had witnessed the milestones in each other’s lives. Marriage, divorce, acceptance and graduation from business and med schools, caring for aging parents and even their burials – we had been through it all. However, now, things were different. She had given birth to a beautiful baby girl and had joined a club called “Mothers.” I would join that club much, much later through the gift of adoption but I remember her trials well: the baby throwing her pacifier out of the crib a zillion times. Her leaking breasts. Her insecurities about whether she was doing the right thing as a mother.