Healthy Beginnings: Before Pregnancy

You know that you need to see a doctor and make lifestyle changes if you are pregnant. But did you know there are things you can do to prepare your body for pregnancy even before you get pregnant? Taking a little time to learn about pre-pregnancy care can give you a better chance of having a healthy baby. Here’s a checklist of things to do if you are thinking about getting pregnant.

See Your Doctor

You may need to get caught up on blood tests or immunizations before you get pregnant. You can also talk to your doctor about your health and family history, and any medicines you take. He or she can help you decide if you need to make any changes before getting pregnant.

Stop Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs. Limit Caffeine.

If you smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs, you should stop before you get pregnant. They can make it harder for you to get pregnant and increase the chance of miscarriage. If you need help quitting smoking, alcohol or drugs, talk to your doctor.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is always good for you. You should follow a healthy diet before you get pregnant. A few simple guidelines are:

  • Reduce empty calories, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine.
  • Eat foods that are high in protein.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products will make you healthier before you get pregnant.

Take Prenatal Vitamins

Pregnant women need more folic acid, iron and calcium than the average woman. Exercise. Staying active can give you the strength you need to carry the extra weight of pregnancy – and the endurance to handle labor and delivery. Talk with your provider before you start any exercise program.

+ Learn More: During & After Pregnancy


Sources: March of Dimes; MayoClinic; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health

Healthy Beginnings: During & After Pregnancy

During Pregnancy

Health tips for pregnant women

Getting the right health care and making smart diet and exercise choices while you’re pregnant will help keep you – and your baby – healthy.

Start taking care of your baby early with prenatal care

One of the most important things you can do for your baby is to start getting prenatal care within the first three months – or first trimester – of your pregnancy. This early part of pregnancy is a critical time for development – and it’s a time when your baby is most vulnerable. If you know you’re pregnant – or think you might be – call and make an appointment to see your health care provider.

During your pregnancy, you’ll see your doctor often. In fact, you’ll see him or her more frequently the closer you get to your due date. You might be nervous before your very first prenatal visit, but know that this visit is a time to talk with your provider and get answers to your pregnancy questions.

After Pregnancy

Health tips for new moms

After your baby is born, your excitement and to-do list will grow. Don’t forget that you’ll need to schedule your new mom checkup with your doctor.
As a new mom, this follow-up visit is very important. During the visit, your doctor will check to make sure you are OK. This checkup is also a good time to ask your doctor any questions you may have about your health since your delivery. The visit should occur between four and six weeks after you have your baby.

Effects of pregnancy

Pregnancy can take a tremendous toll on a woman’s body. You may go through many physical and emotional changes after you have your baby. Most of the major complications of labor and birth take place within the first few hours after delivery, but some may not surface until days or weeks later. As you learn to deal with any changes and problems you may have, you should stay in close contact with your doctor.

If you are trying to lose weight, make sure you do so in a healthy way. Talk to your doctor before you start a diet or working out.

You may also feel sad or depressed. Seventy to 80 percent of all new mothers feel sadness commonly called, “the baby blues.”  This can be a very normal phase that will go away on its own. If it doesn’t, it may be a sign of a serious illness called postpartum depression. In some cases, you may need medicine and therapy to help you feel better.  Here are some facts you need to know about postpartum depression:

  • Unlike “the baby blues,” it does not go away on its own.
  • Babies are less likely to get proper care when postpartum depression is left untreated.
  • It can be treated safely and effectively.
  • Depression is not a sign of weakness, and it’s nobody’s fault.
  • It affects 10 to 15 percent of all new mothers.

So, be aware of your feelings, and talk with your doctor about any prolonged feelings of sadness or depression you may have.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Five Travel Tips for People With Allergies

You don’t have to let a runny nose and stuffy head keep you from seeing the world. To prevent a flare-up during your vacation, consider these five travel tips for people with allergies:

1. Plan Ahead

Before booking your trip, research seasonal pollen counts and other local allergens. Knowing what to expect can help you decide if the destination is a good option and how to ward off your symptoms once you get there. If your allergies are severe, ask your doctor about medications and additional precautions you should take during the trip. And talk to your health insurance provider about where to seek emergency treatment should you need it.

2. Pack Wisely

Bring decongestants, antihistamines, nose sprays, cortisone cream and any other medications you typically use — even if you think you won’t need them. If you have a life-threatening allergy to a major food or insect, don’t forget to bring an epinephrine injector for emergencies. When visiting a particularly pollen-heavy area, consider packing a wide-brimmed hat or head scarf to keep pollen out of your eyes and hair, and a nasal saline bottle to remove it from your nose.

3. Watch What You Eat

Most food allergies or sensitivities can make a new restaurant with an unfamiliar menu intimidating, especially if you’re traveling in a country where you don’t speak the native language. Make it easier on yourself (and the restaurant staff) by printing a card that explains the seriousness of your allergy and which foods you must avoid, as well as cross-contamination risks and any other information that could help the chef prepare a safe meal for you.

Want more travel tips for people with allergies? Get answers to your specific questions by using BlueCross BlueShield’s 24/7 Nurseline.*

4. Have a Safe Flight

Airlines now use advanced air filters to purify cabin air, notes Airlines for America, but when you’re sharing a tight space with dozens of strangers – and possibly a few pets; you never know what airborne allergens might be on board. Most companies have specific policies that protect passengers with allergies, so call your airline in advance to discuss your options. If you have food allergies, request a special meal or bring your own. Be sure to pack medications in carry-on luggage for easy access during the flight, and whenever possible, keep them in their original packaging or prescription bottle to avoid a delay at security.

5. Choose an Allergy-Friendly Hotel

For people with indoor allergies, booking the right hotel might be the most important travel decision you make. From dust mites in old carpets to pet dander and lingering tobacco smoke, the allergens hiding in some hotel rooms can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. Many hotels now offer hypoallergenic rooms, but what that means varies by company. To be safe, call before booking your room. Ask about their cleaning protocol, use of air filters, pet and smoking policies or any practice that may aggravate your allergy. If you’re still worried, consider packing your own hypoallergenic pillow and air purifier.

Taylor Mallory Holland is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in healthcare, technology, and business leadership. She regularly contributes content to some of the world’s top brands, including BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and Samsung USA. As founder of Taylored Editorial, LLC, Holland also edits books, blogs, and Web content for dozens of bestselling authors. Find her on Twitter @TaylorMHoll.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.
Not all health plans include access to all BlueHealth Solutions resources.

Professional Athletes With Diabetes

You’d never know from watching them that these men reached their professional status with a chronic disease like diabetes. Find out how these four athletes with diabetes manage their illness along with their careers:

Jay Cutler, Football

Jay Cutler’s only indication he had diabetes was his inability to maintain his weight while playing for the Denver Broncos in 2007. Doctors initially thought it was stress that made Cutler drop from 235 pounds to 202, despite protests that he felt fine. However, when he was finally diagnosed in 2008, Cutler said he knew he had to make some drastic changes to his diet.

He started by cutting out refined carbohydrates and sweets and focusing on proteins and natural foods such as fruit. Cutler, who now plays quarterback for the Chicago Bears and has his own show on ESPN, said it takes daily commitment to manage diabetes.

“It’s not something that you can just be like ‘Hey, I’m going to take a day off here and I’ll catch back up with it tomorrow.'”

Gary Hall Jr., Swimming

Gary Hall, Jr. learned he had Type 1 diabetes while he was training for the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia. He quickly educated himself about the disease to defy his doctors’ prognosis that his swimming career was over.

“I can run from diabetes, but I’ll never get very far,” he told Diabetes Health. “It’s gonna catch up to me, and I need to deal with it and move on.”

Hall proved his initial prognosis wrong when he took gold medals not only in Sydney, but in Athens in 2004. Hall now speaks about diabetes and how it shouldn’t deprive people of their goals and dreams.

Need help managing diabetes for yourself or a loved one? Find more tools and resources for managing health conditions.*

Nick Boynton, Hockey

Nick Boynton was told incorrectly that he had Type 2 diabetes when he was 19 years old before his doctors finally made the correct Type 1 diagnosis. Despite being diagnosed at such a young age in his hockey career, Boynton played 11 seasons in the National Hockey League, logging more than 600 games and helping the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup win in 2010.

“My advice to other young athletes would be to find a level that works for you, especially for training,” Boynton told Diabetes Health. “Make sure your blood glucose is at the level you want it by testing often. I make sure I test a lot. That’s one thing I do that’s very important, because if I’m low, then bad things are going to happen out on the ice. I find out what works for me with food and test my glucose as often as I can.”

Jay Leeuwenburg, Football

When Jay Leeuwenburg was diagnosed with diabetes at age 12, he hadn’t even considered becoming a football player. He simply used exercise and sports to manage his condition, playing football and basketball and joining the wrestling team. It wasn’t until he played collegiate football that he realized he had the chance to go pro and was drafted by the Chicago Bears.

After a stint with Indianapolis, he went on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals and write a book titled, “Yes I Can! Yes You Can! Tackle Diabetes and Win!” Leeuwenburg said he had developed a training regimen to maximize his performance and said he tested his blood sugar levels as often as 40 times on game days.

“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best with diabetes and life,” he said.

Take inspiration from these athletes with diabetes who made the best of their diagnoses to achieve athletic success.

Seven Tips for Traveling With Diabetes

Traveling can be stressful for the 10 percent of Tennesseans with diabetes.

You worry about misplacing or running out of medicine while you’re away; plus, the changes in routine and eating habits can make it hard to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

However, traveling with diabetes doesn’t have to be a hassle. Consider the following tips as you pack up and board your plane, train or automobile:

1. Pack Extra Medications and Supplies

While you’re eating meals away from home, you might need to use more insulin or blood glucose strips than normal. Keep a copy of your prescription and contact information for your pharmacy on hand in case your luggage gets lost or stolen or you need to have your prescription refilled while you’re out of town.

2. Identify Yourself

Be sure to carry or wear medical identification that identifies you as a diabetic, and keep contact information for your physician on your person at all times.

3. Pack Accordingly

Whether you’re driving or flying, the options for diabetic-friendly foods will likely be slim during your trip. Pack nuts, dried fruit and other snacks that you can eat on the go. And be sure to keep glucose tablets or drops, hard candy or juice on hand in case your blood sugar drops too low and you need a quick boost.

Need help managing diabetes for yourself or a loved one? Find more tools and resources for managing health conditions.*

4. Plan Ahead

If you’re flying, arrive at the airport two to three hours before your flight in case you run into delays at security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) makes special allowances for diabetics. These include the amount of liquid you can place into carry-on luggage and the types of screenings you undergo if you have insulin pumps and continuous blood glucose monitors. Visit the American Diabetes Association website for a list of your rights and TSA-approved exceptions for those with medical disabilities.

5. Follow TSA Regulations

Put all your diabetic supplies in one clear, sealable bag in your carry-on luggage. Even though most liquids and gels cannot pass through security, you may take insulin, other liquid medications, juice and cake gel through TSA checkpoints, even if their containers hold more than 3.4 ounces. Oversize containers have to be removed from your luggage and declared. Do not put them into the quart-sized zip-top bag used for non-medical liquids, since they will receive additional screening. Whenever possible, bring prescription labels with you. Though they aren’t required, they might help speed up the inspection process.

6. Keep an Eye on Your Insulin

Don’t put insulin into your checked luggage, since it could be affected by severe pressure and temperature changes. While on the flight and afterwards, look over your insulin closely before you inject each dose. If it looks abnormal or does not seem to be working properly, call your doctor.

7. Keep Moving

When traveling, you can reduce your risk of blood clots by moving around every hour or two.
Though traveling with diabetes may seem like a huge undertaking, following these tips and planning ahead can help lead to stress-free travel and a safe, healthy trip.

Taylor Mallory Holland is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in healthcare, technology, and business leadership. She regularly contributes content to some of the world’s top brands, including BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and Samsung USA. As founder of Taylored Editorial, LLC, Holland also edits books, blogs, and Web content for dozens of bestselling authors. Find her on Twitter @TaylorMHoll.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.