Lifelong Health for Women

In honor of National Women’s Health Week (May 12 – 18), we talked to OB-GYN physicians Caroline Gibbons, M.D., (above, right) and Desiree Ashong Simon, M.D., MPH, (above, left) about how women can stay healthy throughout their lives.

Women are known for burning the candle at both ends. What are your top tips for practicing self care?
CG: Enjoy a once-a-week “me time,” like a manicure/pedicure, facial, reading a book, or retail therapy. Exercise daily if you can, but with the reality of a busy schedule, three times a week is still good.  Exercise releases the happy endorphins that get you moving. Choose healthier foods such as salad with a protein more times during the week, but give yourself a day to cheat on sweets. Choose water over soft drinks. Be sure to get routine medical screenings and don’t miss regular medical visits, especially with conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.

If you’re considering becoming pregnant, what steps should you take to optimize your health?
DAS: Try to optimize your health across the board. If overweight or obese, losing as little as 5 – 10% of your weight may help avoid some of the most common medical issues in pregnancy and make it easier to manage post-pregnancy weight. Establish good dietary habits before you begin having odd cravings, and work on establishing an exercise routine—pregnancy is not the time to start new diets or try new exercise routines. If dealing with any chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension or autoimmune disorders, work with your primary care physician to better control them, and review medication safety for pregnancy and lactation. Begin taking a prenatal vitamin even before you conceive.

North Fulton Hospital’s recently updated Labor & Delivery, postpartum and baby areas feature comfortable, restful décor.

Does North Fulton Hospital allow midwives and doulas?
CG: Yes! I have worked with midwives my entire career. They are advocates of pregnancy health and promote “healthy mom and healthy baby” for a safe and desirable birth. Midwives help with physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and after childbirth, as well as postpartum. They ensure the family is well engaged to participate in this joyous occasion. Doulas are always welcome; they provide personal assistance and support to the mom.

Why do some women choose water birth at North Fulton Hospital?
DAS: Some women choose water birth as a low-intervention means of pain relief and delivery. For low-risk women, this is a great option for delivery. Water birth and other alternative methods for pain management can allow for quicker post-delivery recovery.

What’s the most common question you hear from patients?
CG: Are pap smears necessary? Yes, pap smears are necessary for the screening of cervical cancer. Screening begins at age 21 regardless of sexual activity. Many gynecologists and primary care providers will inform you when your next pap smear is needed. Routine pap smears can vary in the schedule from 1 – 5 years depending on sexual activity, history of abnormal pap smears and number of lifetime sexual partners. I believe pap smears should be tailored to your personal history and current health condition.       

What advice do you have for optimum health during menopause?
DAS: Maintaining optimum health during menopause can be very similar to maintaining health in other stages of life—healthy eating, regular exercise, taking care of one’s mental and emotional health and regular medical checkups.

Discuss with your provider how your healthcare needs (i.e., screening and testing, medications, safety issues) change with this new stage in your life. Continue to be your own advocate.

WellStar North Fulton Hospital provides services for women during all stages of life. Services include labor and delivery, award-winning lactation consulting, postpartum, nursery, neonatal intensive care, diagnostics, cancer care and breast health services. For more information, call 770-751-2660.

Dr. Ashong Simon practices at Providence Women’s Healthcare, 1300 Upper Hembree Rd., Building 100, Suite D, Roswell

Dr. Gibbons practices at WellStar Medical Group –  Northwest Women’s Care, 2500 Hospital Blvd., Suite 340, Roswell (470-956-4590), and 3747 Roswell Rd. NE, Suite 206, Marietta (770-980-1818).