Welcome to Risky Baby Business here at More Cowbell. We talk about moms and babies every Saturday over here, particularly those of the high-risk variety. If you want to catch up on the previous posts in this series, click here.
My husband is awesomesauce with chocolate, I swear. He reminds me of my doctors appointments, finds my keys, and never judges me for my creative mentality (read: Blonde Moments).
The other day, he sent me a link to a post with this title: 9 Health Tests Every Mom Should Have, and a note that said, “Good thing you just went to the dentist, huh? Are you going to schedule the others?” (Click here to see how I feel about the dentist.)
I made hissing noises at my computer while I read his message and sent him back an email that said, “Nag, nag, nag.”
And HE replied, “I love you and want to keep you around. Would you ever delay any of these tests if they were for Baby Girl?”
[DANG DUDE! Talk about ripping off the covers…I swear, I think he was a Jewish grandmother in another life. He’s aces with the subtle guilt, which is good because guilt works on me.]
Of course I’d never delay these things for my child…So why do I delay them for myself?
Because I’m a mom! We’re so busy thinking about our kids that our own stuff gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. I need to get three of these tests myself. And you know what, I’ll bet several of you who are NOT moms need these tests too. Hmmmm….
I will if you will. *big toothy smile*
What are the 9 tests?
I definitely recommend that you click the link above, whether you’re a mom or not, but I’ll summarize them here for those who are in a hurry.
1. Periodontal Exam – This is where they clean and examine your gums. It measures the connection between teeth and gums and inflammation around your gums. (Yeah, I’m looking at you Myndi Shafer!)
Why you need it: Women who have gum disease have up to a sevenfold higher risk of premature birth. There’s also a chance you could simply be more prone to gum disease if you’re pregnant or on the Pill.
How often should you have it? Twice a year, but some pregnant women may need to see their doctors every three to four months, especially if your gums are bleeding.
2. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test – This blood test screens for an underactive (hypothyroid) or overactive (hyperthyroid) thyroid. As someone who didn’t discover for A YEAR that the baby knocked out my thyroid, this was big.
Why you need it: Mild forms of thyroid disease may affect from 5 to 10 percent of all women and more than half of them remain undiagnosed. My situation postpartum is very common. Here’s what I found out could have helped me.
Symptoms: Feeling tired, being forgetful, and gaining weight — classic symptoms of being a new mom — are all signs of hypothyroidism. If you’re trying to have another baby, this is a crucial test, since a thyroid disorder can stop you from ovulating and increase your risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.
How often should you have it? Once a year.
3. Complete Blood Count (CBC) – This blood test that evaluates how your bone marrow and immune system are working – white blood cells, hemoglobin and platelets.
Why you need it: You’re more likely to have heavy periods after having children, which can make you susceptible to anemia. Some of the symptoms are being tired and short of breath.
How often should you have it? Every year.
4. Blood Pressure and
5. Cholesterol Tests – Assesses how healthy your heart is and your risk of heart disease – your BP is taken with the cuff, cholesterol gets measured via blood.
Why you need them: Studies show you can have dangerous plaque buildup as early as your twenties unless you have a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet, exercise, and no smoking. Blood pressure less than 120/80 is ideal – if you’re a bit higher, a lifestyle change can often bring it down.
How often should you have them? Blood pressure – annually. Cholesterol – start at 20 and be repeated every five years. Screen more often if it’s elevated.
6. Pap Smear – We ALL know what this is, but many women don’t know what it’s for. This test detects precancerous and cancerous changes in your cervix. Your doctor may also ask the lab to check for the human papillomavirus (HPV). Certain strains of HPV, when left unchecked, can lead to cervical cancer over time.
Why you need it: Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you don’t have or couldn’t get HPV — or cervical cancer. People who contract the virus often don’t show symptoms for years.
How often should you have it? If you have a normal Pap smear three years in a row and you’re in a monogamous relationship, you need this test only every three years. If you’ve recently had an abnormal Pap smear, you’ll need to get one every 3-6 months.
7. Skin Examination – a visual exam by your doctor or dermatologist to check for signs of skin cancer. One of my dearest friends just got diagnosed with melanoma at 40. Don’t ignore this one, ladies!
How often should you have it? Each year at your physical.
8. Fasting Blood-Sugar Test – This test that screens for diabetes by checking the sugar in your blood after an eight-hour fast.
Who should get it: Women with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or who are overweight (yes, even if it was baby weight) are at an increased risk. If you had gestational diabetes, your risk for Type 2 is even higher. Get checked!
How often? Most women should be tested at age 40, and then every year or two afterward. But if you’ve got any risk factors, most doctors recommend starting screening around age 30.
9. Bone Mineral Density Test – This checks for osteoporosis, which occurs when the bones become thin and weak.
Who should get it: Normally, this test isn’t recommended until a woman hits menopause. But you should ask your doctor about a baseline bone scan at age 35 if you have a family history of osteoporosis, are on thyroid medication, or are taking steroids to treat asthma or even eczema.
Note: You should be supplementing your calcium while you breastfeed. If you’re not taking in enough calcium, your body takes it from your own bones to give it to your baby.
How often should you get it? It depends on your test results. If you don’t have early signs of osteoporosis, you may not need to be screened again until you hit menopause.
I still need tests #6, 7 and 9. How about you? Are you taking care of your health or shuffling it to the back burner? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!