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Women’s Wellness Extras

Penny Sticklen of Brooksville is a client of exercise physiologist Lisa Capehart’s who came to her two years ago overweight and with what Sticklen calls intermittent “stress-related” blood pressure problems. She’s the mother of two girls; a special education teacher at Taylor Elementary in Brooksville, where she’s involved in a number of committees; and also involved in her church and several county-wide organizations.

She admits to having a problem saying “No” and “not knowing when to come home from work.” She found herself “running out of time at the end of the day…My brain just ran all night.”

When she went through an exercise of writing down her priorities, she says she realized that while she listed her family as her top priority, her actions didn’t reflect that—her husband and daughters were “going by the wayside.”

Since then, she’s tried to match her priorities and actions more closely. She’s found herself feeling better, more organized, and less stressed.



Prenatal checkup
Another important preconception step: Morehead OB-GYN Rebecca Todd says it’s important for a woman who’s taking multiple medications to meet with her OB-GYN before becoming pregnant “to make sure you’re in optimal condition for the pregnancy.”

She also says that some women make the mistake of stopping all their meds without checking, when a number of those prescriptions (she mentions as examples those for controlling asthma, high blood pressure, and depression) are often fine to continue. 

Pregnancy risks to the mom
It’s not only children who are at risk from poor prenatal care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that since 1987, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths to women has more than doubled in the United States in recent decades—from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 17.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2009.

Poor prenatal health is a risk factor for placental abruption—a condition in which the placenta peels away from the wall of the uterus, depriving the child of oxygen and causing hemorrhaging in the mother.

According to the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, domestic violence is “more common than any other health problem” for pregnant women.

Smoking and pregnancy
If you need more persuading that smoking is terrible during pregnancy, here you go:

Lisa Wallace, the director of Women’s and Children’s Services at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, says that according to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking tobacco limits the oxygen available for the development of the embryo, and later fetus, leading to lower birth weights and other developmental problems; it’s a risk factor for premature births, stillbirth, low birth weight, and SIDS.

Wallace says that in her experience as a labor and delivery nurse, a normal placenta—the delivery medium for all oxygen and nutrients the fetus receives—is colored a bright, healthy red. Smoking impairs oxygen delivery and damages the placenta, turning the placentas of mothers who smoke to black in areas where cigarette smoke has killed or damaged the tissue.

Breastfeeding struggles
When Julie Dawn Knipp of Olive Hill’s son Christopher was born prematurely in October 2013, he couldn’t latch on to the breast.

Professors in her child development classes at Morehead State had made such a strong case for breastfeeding that she didn’t resort to formula—for Christopher’s entire first month, she went through the laborious process of feeding him breast milk through a syringe. (And she spent a fair amount of time crying, wondering if the problem meant she wasn’t a good mother.) She spoke several times over the telephone with the lactation consultant she’d seen in the hospital.

Finally, at a month old—probably because he had grown and was hungry—baby Christopher latched on “and it was perfect,” Knipp says. “But that first month was horrible.”

Ten months old at the time I spoke to Knipp, Christopher was in the 75th percentile for height and at a “good weight,” starting to supplement his breastfeeding with some baby food.

Department of Public Health Prenatal Program
A number of resources exist to help pregnant Kentucky women without insurance or the ability to pay for prenatal care, and local health departments can help women locate a prenatal healthcare provider. For more information, go to the Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services Web site or call the Department of Public Health Prenatal Program at (502) 564-2154 ext. 4406.

For general information on pregnancy, prenatal care, and breastfeeding: 

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 

March of Dimes

La Leche League International


One of Kentucky’s best resources for guidelines and ideas about ways to lead a healthier life is the most ubiquitous—the Cooperative Extension Service run by the University of Kentucky School of Agriculture.

There are agents in every county running different programs, keyed to local interests, covering healthy eating, gardening, ways to increase your physical activity, and other topics in healthy living. Go to to locate your Extension office—every county has one.

One of the online Extension resources we especially like is the Kentucky Proud produce availability guide, a simple chart that tells you which fruits and vegetables are in season when—valuable information not only for when they taste best, but for when their price is cheapest. Download Kentucky Proud Produce.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has a variety of resources for healthy living through its Health Promotion Branch online or by calling (502) 564-9358, ext. 4015.

Kentucky Tobacco QuitLine
Free tobacco cessation assistance is available daily from 8 a.m.-1 a.m. (EDT) at (800) QUITNOW (800-784-8669). (Much of the same material is available online at


Higher education and income levels are keys to better health, according to the annual report on nation’s health. People with higher levels of education and higher income have lower rates of many chronic diseases compared to those with less education and lower income levels, according to Health, United States, 2011—the government’s annual comprehensive report on Americans’ health. Read the complete news release: CDC report on education and income.

Download the National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief December 2010 on the report titled: Obesity and Socioeconomic Status in Adults: United States, 2005-2008

Read Kentucky Living‘s November 2014 feature that goes along with this Web exclusive, Steps to Women’s Wellness.

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