Pregnant Moms: Check Out this Great Smartphone App

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It’s amazing how much things have changed since the days of my residency training of over two decades ago. The grainy black and white ultrasound pictures from back-in-the-day have been replaced with 3 and 4-D videos and savvy pregnancy computer applications (aka “Apps.”)

As most of you know, I pass on helpful information to pregnant women in order to help them achieve their goal of delivering healthy babies. The WebMD Smartphone Pregnancy App is worthy of mention based on of the great things that it can do.

Are you concerned about fetal movement? Use their Kick Counter.

Want to show all of your friends that your “bump” has now become a “mountain?” Use their neat Baby Belly Slide Show that lets you take progressive pictures of your pregnant belly.

Should you go to the hospital because you’re having contractions? Use their Contraction Counter to help you keep track.

Want to know what questions to ask when you go to your next prenatal appointment? Aside from reading The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy, use WebMD’s check list that offers suggestions.

Did WebMD pay me to advertise their product? No, they did not. I have no affiliation with the company but as an obstetrician, I am very impressed with their app perhaps because of my recent training in health information systems (aka “clinical informatics”) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

We are living in an age where technology can be of enormous help by giving patients information that will empower them to become an active participant in their health care. These apps are not just entertaining; they can provide valuable real-time (meaning as things are actually occurring) information regarding both you and your baby’s health.

The WebMD Pregnancy Smartphone app is a great pregnancy toolbox and best of all – it’s free!






Can Your Cooking Pot Affect Your Unborn Baby?

Who would think that our common cooking utensils could affect our children and unborn children but according to a medical study in the American Journal of Epidemiology this seems to be the case. Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are man-made chemicals that are used by manufacturers for a variety of products including water, fire and grease resistant clothes, oil and nonstick pans.  In the late 1990’s, the Environmental Protection Agency received information indicating that PFCs) were widespread in the blood of the general population and presented concerns for potential toxic effects on humans. Most people have these compounds in their bodies that are slow to breakdown and may persist for years in our environment.

A recent study in Denmark found that girls exposed to PFCs in the womb were more likely to be overweight at age 20, said study researcher Michele Marcus, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. All of the mothers in the study had some PFCs in their blood. Girls born to mothers with the highest levels weighed about 5 ounces less on average at birth than girls born to mothers with the lowest levels. By age 20 months, girls born to mothers with the highest blood levels of PCFs weighed 1.3 pounds more, on average, than girls born to mothers with the lowest levels. “Cardboard food packaging is often coated with PFCs to prevent the food from sticking to the cardboard,” Marcus said. This type of packaging can be seen in microwave popcorn packaging.


In another medical study in animals, it is suggested PFCs may lower the body’s immune response that is its ability to fight infections.  In the study, children who had higher concentrations of PFCs had lower immune responses to diphtheria and tetanus vaccinations. An insufficient immune response to a vaccination can mean a child is actually vulnerable to catching a disease even though they’ve been vaccinated against it.

According to Marcus, here’s what pregnant moms (and all people for that matter) do:

  • Avoid using nonstick cookware (use stainless steel or iron pots instead)
  • Avoid using plastic to microwave foods
  • Avoid heating microwave food in its original packaging

Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.

What Will Prenatal Care Look Like in the Future?

In today’s tough U.S. economy, healthcare is in the forefront because of the three trillion dollars spent each year. Patients are not seeing their money’s worth and neither is the U.S. government who writes the check for a large percentage of it. The cost of women having babies too early or prematurely costs our society $26 billion dollars each year. Something has to give.

Women’s health is the topic of great political debate as you may well be aware if you listen to the news or watched both political parties’ national conventions during the past two weeks. Do women control their destinies? Do we and will we continue to have control over our bodies? These are the questions at hand. While there’s great chatter about this topic as the U.S. election nears, there’s also a quiet revolution occurring in our healthcare system that will directly affect pregnant women.

Prenatal care as we know it will begin to change, especially if you receive Medicaid or government sponsored insurance. The current trend is to visit your healthcare provider’s office individually and wait to be seen. In the future, you will be seen by your healthcare provider as a member of a group, not as an individual. This is called enhanced prenatal care with group appointments and will be the wave of the future.

Groups of 10 pregnant women will be seen at the same time for approximately 10 prenatal visits that will last approximately 90 minutes. It is anticipated that 2 healthcare providers will not only take your vital signs, listen to your baby’s heartbeat, but will also allow you to interact with the other patients in this group setting to discuss prenatal issues, receive health education information and any concerns that you may have. Believe it or not, this model of care is not new.  The concept was called Centering Pregnancy and was developed by nurse midwife Sharon Shindler-Rising in 1989.

In the future, doulas and social workers along with midwives will become more prominent in terms of prenatal care as things continue to evolve. Are you ready for group prenatal visits?