Renewing our focus on women’s health

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By Dr. Kevin U. Stephens Sr.
Chief Medical Officer, UnitedHealthcare of the MidSouth

Springtime is a season of renewal, with this year’s transition bringing added significance given Tennessee’s gradual reopening amid the COVID-19 emergency.
While people continue to practice social distancing, it is an ideal time to think about ways to help improve the health of women in Tennessee and honor the important role they play in their families’ well-being. Promoting the health of women should continue to be a priority for our country, especially because some mothers may now be coping with more stress while managing additional work and family responsibilities.
Here are three tips to consider to help support the health of women, including expectant and new mothers:
Take Advantage of Technology: With some in-person medical appointments being postponed due to exposure risks to COVID-19, it is important women stay connected to their health care providers, especially for recommended pre-natal and well-baby appointments, routine care and to help manage chronic conditions. If possible, check for available telehealth resources to connect with local health care providers virtually, while some health plans enable for 24/7 access to medical advice via a smartphone, tablet or computer. Plus, mobile apps may help moms-to-be to monitor developments during pregnancy, including tracking weight, setting reminders to take vitamins and using a “kick counter” to monitor the baby’s movements.
Take Charge of Your Health: This means eating well, staying active, getting enough sleep, continuing to take prescribed medications and limiting stress as much as possible – something that is especially important during the COVID-19 situation. Walking at home or solo outside remains a generally safe option to encourage physical and emotional well-being, so consider giving a loved one a smartwatch or fitness tracker to help encourage daily movement. For expectant mothers, the U.S. Surgeon General advises that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, while the World Health Organization reports these beverages reduce everyone’s ability to combat infectious diseases. Smoking, including e-cigarettes, other tobacco products containing nicotine and marijuana, are linked to health concerns and should be avoided. For support, your employer or health plan may have telephonic programs and online resources that may help you adopt a healthier lifestyle, more effectively handle stress or, if needed, help with the management of chronic conditions.
Stay Social: With big gatherings likely still on hold, it is important to look for ways to stay socially connected with friends and family. Some families are participating in “virtual dinner parties,” play dates or group exercise or educational classes enabled by videoconferencing technology, while others may consider using social media to organize fundraising efforts for local or national nonprofits. For expectant or new mothers, consider joining an online “mom’s group,” as this may help foster camaraderie and enable for the sharing of advice about delivery and parenting.
By considering this information, we can continue supporting the health of women and honor them for their important contributions to our communities, especially during these challenging times.

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