Monthly Archives: November 2014

Women’s Healthy Weight week 2014 January 19th – 25th

When I was asked to create an article for our newsletter about Healthy Weight Week, I hesitated for just a moment. After all, my BMI puts me far outside the “normal weight” range! I agreed to write about Healthy Weight Week because I am both a healthcare provider and a woman who has struggled with her weight throughout her lifetime. While I know the health benefits of maintaining a normal weight, I know all too well the health effects of being outside of it.

My Struggle with Weight

Although I am in the “obese” category according to my BMI, I am at the healthiest weight I’ve been in 20 years. It is no exaggeration to say that my weight has been an issue for me almost my entire life. Manipulation of food and dieting is so widespread in my family that they have become a sort of pastime for many of us. What I have not learned to address until recently are the reasons that I manipulate food and consume it for uses other than the nourishment of my body. Food has been a comfort to me in hard times, and been a part of the celebration at joyous events. It has required vigilance and great effort on my part to find other ways to cope with difficult times and celebrate during the happy ones.

Motivation for Change

Change is difficult and, at times, even painful. One must have some sort of motivation to initiate and sustain change. New Year’s resolutions, graduations, and job interviews have been some motivators in the past. Those events have been strong enough to help me to lose as much as 30 pounds in the past, but when the occasion passed or “life got in the way”, I would go back to my old habits and re-gain every bit of weight I’d lost. A few years ago, I fell in love with my fiance and found my biggest and best motivator: becoming a mother. My desire to some day have a healthy pregnancy and be the best mom I can be led me to make drastic changes in the way I eat. It is also what drives me to get out of bed early in the morning to exercise!

Baby Steps

At my highest weight, I was more than 130 lbs away a “normal” BMI. Setting that as my goal would have been way too overwhelming. Evidence has shown that even small reductions in weight (5-10% of body weight) can cause improvement in blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and reduce the risks of other chronic diseases. Making several “mini-goals” along the way can help us eventually reach our ultimate, “big” goal. Other evidence-based tools to help with weight loss are: keeping a food diary and having a workout buddy. Keeping a food diary helps us to keep track of what we eat- even if we’re not counting calories. When we’re aware of what we eat, we can begin to make needed changes. It makes us accountable to ourselves. Having a workout buddy has been shown to increase the frequency with which people exercise. When we have someone waiting to meet us on the walking trail or gym, we’re more likely to show up!

Now You Go

Whether it’s welcoming the New Year or celebrating Healthy Weight Week, I invite you to think about what healthy changes you’d like to make in your life. What are your “mini-goals”? Don’t forget to let your nurse practitioner or midwife know about your health goals when you have your next visit. We’d love to cheer you on!

By |November 4th, 2014|Birth Stories, News|0 Comments

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month!

Did you know that cervical cancer used to be the leading terminal cancer among women in the United States? We have seen a 70% decrease in cervical cancer rates over the last 50 years, thanks to the introduction of the Pap test. According to the CDC, cervical cancer still accounts for a quarter of a million deaths annually. However, 85% occur in developing countries due to lack of screening and access to preventative care.

In the United States, we are fortunate enough to have access to cervical cancer screening with the Pap test and the capability to detect human papillomavirus (HPV). Almost all cases of cervical cancer are linked to persistent HPV infections. The Pap test has allowed us to detect an increased risk of developing cervical cancer in women of all ages.

The climate surrounding cervical cancer screening is shifting toward a “less is more” approach. Historically, many women associate their annual exam with getting a Pap test. We now know that cervical cancer screening isn’t necessary every year for the majority of healthy women. Due to its sensitivity and our increasing knowledge about the progression of cervical cancer, annual Pap tests may create false alarms that needlessly subject women to painful follow-up tests. Evidence based research is finding that we can actually detect precursors to cervical cancer too soon. Most cervical cancers progress slowly and some of these precancerous cells will go away without medical treatment. Cervical cancer’s slow progression has allowed us to now recommend less frequent screening without compromising health outcomes. The idea is to improve health by avoiding unnecessary procedures and painful biopsies that may be harmful.

According to the American Cancer Society, Pap tests should begin at age 21 and be offered every three years for low risk, healthy women. At ages 30 to 65, we recommend a Pap test every three years or every five years if women are HPV negative. A shift in the frequency of testing is a significant and promising change in the health care environment that opposes the “more is better” mind-set. By understanding your risk and current recommendations, WBWC hopes to empower you to navigate your own health care. Our Birth Center offers cervical cancer screening and the time to discuss your individual screening needs during wellness appointments.

Always love your body, especially your cervix. But, maybe not every year.

By |November 4th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Compare / Contrast: Hygeia vs. Medela double electric breast pumps


I’m a PhD student at UNC Chapel Hill, I’m exclusively pumping and do five sessions a day, two at work and three at home. I was lucky that my mom paid for one pump and insurance paid for the other. Rosalind at Women’s Birth & Wellness Boutique helped us decide that the Hygeia EnJoye was the best fit for my needs. However, the durable medical equipment supplier that my insurance used didn’t offer Hygeia, so I chose a Medela Pump in Style Advanced. I keep the Hygeia at home and stash the Medela at Mercury Studio Durham, NC in a locker.

Overall Experience

I like my Hygeia better than my Medela based on how they work. The Hygeia has two separate dials, one which controls strength and one which controls speed. The Medela has one dial that controls strength and a button that changes speeds to either fast (for let-down) or slow. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I feel like it’s easier to respond well to the pump when I can have more control over it. Both pumps are around the same size and weight. The Hygeia at full speed, full suction is louder than the Medela.

The Hygeia comes with a set of buttons to record and play back sounds that can encourage letdown, but I never got in the habit of using them. I just occasionally accidentally play the sound of myself accidentally hitting the record button. It would be nice if there was a way to cover these so they don’t get bumped.


The Medela does one thing better – it’s really good about not getting milk or moisture in the tubes, and the Hygeia tends to have a problem with that. However, it’s easier to clean out the Hygeia tubes because they’re softer and bigger. I clean the Hygeia tubes this way:

  1. Soak them in warm soapy water
  2. Run tap water through them
  3. Blow gently into one end with your mouth about an inch away to clear out most of the water.
  4. Pour some rubbing alcohol through the tube and squeeze it through the tube from the outside.
  5. Hang from the middle and squeeze out any additional liquid.

There are other methods but this is the one that I’ve found to work best. So far I haven’t needed to clean out the Medela tubes, I just let the pump run for a few minutes without the flanges if the tubes collect a bit of moisture. Both the pumps are about the same in terms of the ease of cleaning out the flanges and bottles.


With either pump, I would recommend keeping some spare parts around for convenience. Extra bits are easy to come by for the Hygeia if you plan in advance – the Boutique has them, or you can order them through their website. If you friend them on Facebook, you can watch for sales, which they seem to offer every month or two. They sell spare parts kits with extra filters, tubes, flanges, etc. Medela parts are more widely available, at stores like Target and Walgreen’s, but you can use Medela parts with your Hygeia pump!

The components of both seem equally sturdy so far, after four months of regular use for the Hygeia and two months of regular use for the Medela. There are two differences I would note:

  1. Hygeia containers have the oz marks printed onto the side and they wear off very quickly, whereas Medela is molded into the plastic.
  2. Medela valves involve a fiddly little flap (membranes) that can fall off and go down the drain, while the Hygeia valves are sturdy rubber duckbills.


I 100% feel good about getting my Hygeia first, and if I could have only one, it would be the Hygeia. I also feel good about the fact that it’s a closed system, so I can pass it along safely after I’m done – or send it to Hygeia for their recycling program. However, I’m not disappointed with the Medela at all, and it definitely earns its spot at the office (where I don’t feel like taking the time or space to clean even more parts) by not getting milk in the tubes. Both have slight advantages and disadvantages in different areas, and finding which one works better for you will depend on what you prioritize.

By |November 4th, 2014|News|0 Comments