Health Conditions / Sexual and Reproductive Health / Pregnancy

Pregnancy Fatigue Is So Real—Here Are Some Things That Can Help

Pregnancy Fatigue Is So Real—Here Are Some Things That Can Help

FYI, walking counts. It’s actually a great way to exercise when you’re pregnant. Don’t think you have to take a workout class or do something totally draining for it to “count.” Just moving in the ways you can will be extremely beneficial.Before I got pregnant, working out in some form was a must for me every day. It has always helped me keep my stress levels under control and sleep like a baby. During pregnancy, I’ve tried my best to keep up with movement in ways that feel doable for me. On the days when I am so tired I don’t want to get up off the couch, I promise myself to just take one slow lap around the block. I almost always end up doing an extra lap or two because once I get moving I feel more awake and energized. (And on the days I’m really not feeling up to it, I listen to my body and promptly go back home to sit or lie down again.)3. Find ways to de-stress and reduce anxiety.Even if you had relatively low levels of anxiety pre-pregnancy, I can assure you that you’ll experience it tenfold throughout these 40-ish weeks. There are so many changes happening in your body, so many things to think and worry about in regard to the fetus’s development, impending labor, and an enormous life change on the horizon, whether it’s your first kid or not.It’s totally understandable to have some sort of anxiety about all of that. (FWIW, I am a very low-stress person and have experienced my fair share of worry and anxiety throughout my own pregnancy.)“A lot of those stresses and anxieties can definitely interfere with sleep and can make you tired during the day as well,” Dr. Paik says.Finding a way to de-stress and calm your mind is essential. The best method is going to look different for everyone, but here are a few things to try: prenatal yoga, mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, getting regular prenatal massages, going for walks, and connecting with people you love. Walking and at-home Peloton classes have been an important outlet for me. Another one of my go-to stress relievers: baking and cooking.4. If you can, take naps. Lots of them.Let me first acknowledge that I know this is not possible for everyone. Depending on your job, and if you’re running after other kids all day long, napping may be an absolute impossibility. But for those who are privileged enough to work from home or otherwise have a flexible schedule, I highly recommend taking advantage during this time.Dr. Bianco suggests napping during the day if you can, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. When I feel too tired to keep working or get anything else done, I’ll lie down, set an alarm for 30 minutes (working in some time to actually fall asleep), put on an eye mask, and snooze away. On the weekends, I’ll nap for a lot longer if I feel like I need it.5. Try your best to eat well—and make sure to get enough iron.Food gives you energy, so you want to make sure you’re loading up on stuff that’s full of nutrients and giving your body what it needs to keep chugging along at its new, high level. “Sometimes it’s hard to do that early on, because you’re combating nausea and vomiting and can only tolerate what you can tolerate,” Dr. Bianco says. If you’re not getting enough of your essential nutrients (and maybe loading up on simple carbs that don’t exactly give you sustained energy, like I did all first trimester) this can also contribute to fatigue.

13 RSV Symptoms in Babies All Caregivers Should Be Aware of Right Now

13 RSV Symptoms in Babies All Caregivers Should Be Aware of Right Now

Thanks to the pandemic, you’re probably a lot more aware of infectious diseases than you ever thought you would be. We wouldn’t be surprised if you can recite the symptoms of COVID-19 in your sleep and know all about the importance of getting your annual flu shot (especially this year). But there’s another virus that’s making headlines right now that many people aren’t as well-versed in. It’s called respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, and cases are currently soaring in the US, particularly in babies and young children.According to surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV cases have been rising sharply since October. Public health experts are warning about the potential impact on kids, as the virus is overwhelming many hospitals and rapidly filling pediatric ICU beds. If you have kids—and an infant, in particular—here’s what you need to know about RSV symptoms in babies, plus when to seek medical care for a sick child.First, a little background on RSV.RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes coldlike symptoms, according to the CDC. In fact, doctors usually can’t tell just from your symptoms if you have RSV or another virus that causes the common cold, Danelle Fisher, MD, the chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF.Most people recover just fine (in about a week or two) when they’re sick with RSV. However, the symptoms can potentially become serious for infants and other young children, as well as older adults and those with severely weakened immune systems. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis, inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, in kids under the age of one in the US, per the CDC.“Because children less than two years of age have smaller lower airways, the inflammation, which results in mucus production, can occlude those small lower airways, leading to labored breathing and sometimes lower oxygen levels,” Rosemary Olivero, MD, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, tells SELF. Kids two and older have larger lower airways, though, and “tend to have less respiratory difficulty with RSV infections,” even if their lower airways do get inflamed, Dr. Olivero says.Back to topHow does RSV spread to babies?It’s important to get this out of the way: Almost all children get RSV at least once before they’re two years old, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Infants usually get RSV from parents, other caregivers, or close family members, although they can also pick it up when they’re out in public too, John C. Brancato, MD, division head of emergency medicine at Connecticut Children’s, tells SELF.The virus spreads in a few ways, according to the CDC:When an infected person coughs or sneezes, which can circulate virus-laden droplets that then make contact with a child’s eyes, nose, or mouthWhen a person touches a surface that has the virus on it (like a doorknob or toy) and then touches a child’s face before washing their handsWhen a child has direct contact with the virus, like getting a hug or kiss from someone who is infected with RSV

Can Adults Get RSV From Children? What to Know as Cases Spike

Can Adults Get RSV From Children? What to Know as Cases Spike

Chances are, if you take care of young children—or have just been a bit on edge about this year’s cold and flu season—you’ve heard a lot about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) lately. RSV isn’t exactly new: It’s a common virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. That said, very young children and older adults face a higher risk of getting really, really sick from it.This year, RSV is surging beyond expected case counts; in fact, it’s starting to overwhelm many hospitals, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In October, RSV caused a spike in pediatric hospitalizations that pushed some children’s medical centers to capacity. This is becoming a bigger concern everywhere, but the situation is especially bad in certain parts of the country. For instance, Orange County, California, recently declared a health emergency, and every single pediatric hospital bed in the state of Rhode Island was full this week, according to reporting from NBC News.As infections continue to spread, you may be wondering: Can adults get RSV from children? Rest assured that most of us have been exposed to the virus before—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be super aware of its impact right now, especially if you have vulnerable loved ones around. Below, what you should know about RSV in adults, including common symptoms and how you can reduce your risk of catching—and transmitting—this virus.Can adults get RSV from kids?First, some important context: You’ve likely already been infected with RSV. “Almost everyone sees RSV by the time they’re two and develops antibodies,” Thomas Russo, MD, an infectious disease expert at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, tells SELF.But, as is the case with most respiratory viruses, your immunity to RSV wanes over time, meaning you’ll likely get infected again and again over the course of your life. This is especially true for parents or other caregivers of young kids. “Since children get RSV in their first two years of life, they’re at a dependent stage of their lives, and parents are going to be in close contact,” Dr. Russo says.So, yes, adults can get RSV from children who have the virus, and vice versa; it can be transmitted back and forth from anyone who is infected with it. RSV is typically spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes around others, per the CDC. You can also contract the virus by touching or kissing the face of a child (or anyone else) who has it. RSV can also live on surfaces, like doorknobs, so you can also become infected with it by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands.Again, most generally healthy adults won’t get severely ill from RSV—but they can still spread the virus to other people who may face a higher risk. “Whether it’s flu, RSV, or COVID, the high-risk groups are quite the same,” William Schaffner, MD, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells SELF. In addition to infants and young children, adults who are 65 or older, have chronic heart or lung disease, or have a weakened immune system are more likely to develop severe RSV symptoms or complications.Are RSV symptoms different in adults compared to kids?The most common RSV symptoms—which include fever, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, fatigue, and decreased appetite—tend to overlap in children and adults, Dr. Schaffner says. Symptoms usually show up four to six days after the initial infection, per the CDC. (Infants can experience a unique set of symptoms, though, including fussiness, irritability, loss of interest in activities, and changes in breathing patterns, per the Cleveland Clinic.)

Actor Ali Stroker on What It’s Like to Be Pregnant in a Wheelchair

Actor Ali Stroker on What It’s Like to Be Pregnant in a Wheelchair

My partner is not disabled, so he has different needs than I do. A lot of my needs are physical, but my physical needs affect him physically. When you bring a baby into the equation, the baby also needs physical help, so what does that look like? What is the dance now? I don’t know yet because the baby’s not here yet. But that’s going to be something that we’re going to have to learn how to do.I’m in this space of getting creative and playing out those scenarios in my head: I’d like to try this, and I need this new equipment. But at the same time, it’s exciting to me. I love this. Because this is my life.“There’s something comforting in saying, ‘Yeah, this is going to be a lot, that is what it is.’”Having a career in the entertainment industry is interesting, because you feel like, If I stop and do something else, will my work still be there when I come back?I’ve been doing this professionally for 18 years, and I know that this kind of work takes a lot of focus and a lot of time. So how do you juggle being a mom with all of that? Then again, my life has always felt like a lot. So there’s something comforting in saying, “Yeah, this is going to be a lot, that is what it is.” I have no idea what it will be like, nor can I even pretend like I do. I’ll find out in real time—but I feel confident in my ability to figure it out.Richard III with Shakespeare in the Park was the first production contract where I was in rehearsals six days a week and then doing a run of a show every night while pregnant. It was a challenge, but it was also really important because every night I had something I had to go do, and every night there was the satisfaction of doing the show. My mind needs to be engaged. I knew I needed to work. I shared with the costume department and the team early on that I was pregnant and was going to be growing. They were amazing—they made adjustments to my costumes, they made them stretchy and adjustable.“My baby will always have a mom in a wheelchair, and I don’t see that represented in many places.”I was really nervous to share this news. It’s the most personal thing that’s maybe ever happened to me. But at the same time, it’s something that I’m so proud of. There’s a huge gap in representation of parents with disabilities. My baby will always have a mom in a wheelchair, and I don’t see that represented in many places. So there are parts of my personal life that are cool to share because there are going to be many more women with all different kinds of disabilities who want to become moms.Another thing that is interesting to me is there isn’t a lot of adaptive equipment for parents. There’s a lot of adaptive equipment for children with disabilities, but not really for parents. There are billions of dollars being made every day in the baby industry, and I wish that there was a little bit more awareness that not every parent is able-bodied.“Part of my body doesn’t work and another part of it does. And I can do this.”When you have a disability, you’re so aware of your limitations. So when you can have a baby and that experience is not being limited, it feels like such a gift. So many people throughout my life have asked, “Can you have kids?” And I’m like, Yeah. The body is amazing. Part of my body doesn’t work and another part of it does. And I can do this.I have felt very calm through this. And I feel lucky that this has been going so well. That’s not the case for everybody with disabilities, or without disabilities—having a baby can be hard and traumatic and painful for a lot of people. I wish more people knew that pregnancy is not the same for every person in a wheelchair or with a certain disability. It’s different for everyone. But I can’t help but share this journey, which has been so smooth. It feels like a miracle. It really does.This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.Related: 

5 Things I Learned From Dealing With Unrelenting Acid Reflux During Pregnancy

5 Things I Learned From Dealing With Unrelenting Acid Reflux During Pregnancy

While your stomach is built for handling acid, your esophagus is not—that’s why you feel that uncomfortable burning sensation or the feeling like something is sitting in your throat.As your pregnancy continues, another contributor to acid reflux is your growing uterus and the fetus pressing up on your stomach, says Clara Paik, M, ob-gyn, vice-chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and chief of the division of gynecologic specialties at the University of California, Davis. “The acid is [closer] to the esophagus, plus the [muscle’s strength] is not so good, so stomach acids will go back up,” she says.2. The foods you crave are probably the biggest culprits.Some foods and drinks just straight up make acid reflux worse. Two categories of common triggers: foods that worsen esophageal sphincter relaxation and foods that increase the acidity of the gastric juices, Dr. Elborno says. According to the National Institutes of Health, those can include chocolate, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, alcohol, spicy foods, tomato-based foods, citrus foods, mint, and greasy, fatty foods.You might notice that some of the foods on this list are the only foods you really want to eat during pregnancy. I know that for a brief period of time, I only wanted to drink seltzer water with lemon in it (like, a whole half of a lemon), and I craved grapefruits, tomato sauce and juice, hot sauce, and literally anything greasy and fried.“Sometimes those really sour or spicy foods can help with nausea and sound good when you’re not craving anything else,” Dr. Elborno notes. “It can be complicated because it becomes a cycle.” You crave certain foods, they trigger acid reflux, your nausea and food aversions seem worse, and you indulge further on the V8 juice and spicy-sour pickle cravings. All that’s to say that it’s hard to follow dietary advice when you’re pregnant and only have an appetite for certain things. So do your best and forgive yourself when you just have to eat the thing that you know is going to make your throat burn.Also, it turns out it’s not my imagination that even water gives me acid reflux. Dr. Paik says that anything that fills up your stomach—even water—can get the acid moving up and out.3. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help…On top of avoiding irritating foods, Dr. Paik also recommends eating smaller amounts at each meal. “Don’t eat to capacity or to the point where you’re so full, because then the stomach is going to be bloated, the esophageal sphincter will be more open, and your stomach acids will more easily go into the esophagus,” she explains. Eating upright, not lying down immediately after a meal, and finishing dinner at least three hours before bed can also help.These modifications have helped me immensely—especially because acid reflux was keeping me up at night. I’ve cut back on some of the foods that were triggering for me, though I still drink coffee each morning, eat tomato-based foods almost everyday (I deeply crave them), and occasionally indulge in greasy, fried foods and citrus fruit.4. …and so can sleeping upright.When I do eat foods that I know will make my throat burn, I make sure to do it earlier in the day so that I can suffer the consequences well before bedtime. There was also a period of a few weeks where I used a pregnancy pillow to prop myself up so that I could sleep at an incline instead of completely flat. That seemed to really help reduce my acid reflux. (I still do it on an as-needed basis on nights when it strikes hard.)

How to Prepare for the Emotional, Physical, and Social Realities of Life Postpartum

How to Prepare for the Emotional, Physical, and Social Realities of Life Postpartum

“You might experience some crying, but it is mild and will start to go away around the two-week mark, if not sooner,” says Dr. Kaeni.But if your symptoms are more severe, such as lack of interest in your baby, having feelings of hopelessness or shame, and having thoughts of harming your baby or yourself, those are red flags of a more serious postpartum mood disorder (PPMD), like postpartum depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).With postpartum depression, your symptoms are more intense and last longer. For example, you may feel hopeless, have low energy, and cry a lot, Dr. Kaeni says. And if you have postpartum anxiety, you might have generalized worry or have specific worries that are hard to manage. You may also have intrusive thoughts that come out of nowhere.“For example, some people may have a worry that they’re going to drop the baby. And if you continue to think about it, it can take on an obsessive compulsive quality,” Dr. Kaeni explains. “They might stop carrying the baby because they’re so worried that they’re going to do something that harms the child, and it’s not because they actually want to harm the child. It’s the fear that’s debilitating.”Postpartum depression can also crop up later in the postpartum year when people go back to work or wean from breastfeeding, Dr. Vernon says.If you need mental health support, whether you think you have a perinatal mood disorder or not, check out Postpartum Support International, which offers help for mothers, fathers, partners and families, queer and trans parents, and military families. There’s also a 24/7 national maternal mental health hotline: 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS and a 24/7 national mental health and substance abuse hotline: 1-800-662-HELP. It’s worth adding these numbers to your phone now, before you need them, so they’re already there if and when you need to reach out.8. Surround yourself with a like-minded community.It’s common to feel the pressures of being the “perfect parent” because we are constantly surrounded by heartwarming images of parents and newborns on social media. But in reality, it is one of the most mentally challenging periods, and many parents—if not all—struggle at some point. You can help ease some of this pressure by filtering your social media feed to only include accounts that resonate with your experience, Dr. Kaeni says.You can also seek out local mom or parent support groups, where you can meet other parents who are dealing with the same issues. Sometimes all it takes is someone else saying that they can relate.For instance, Dr. Vernon, who is an advisor for Hey Jane, a digital community for postpartum families, runs a support group for pregnant and postpartum parents. She also recommends Peanut, an app that helps connect people who are navigating fertility, pregnancy, motherhood, and menopause. Love also hosts the support groups, Mother Connection and Toddler Time, at Indiana University Health, which are done via Zoom and are open to anyone, regardless of where they live. Dear Sunday Motherhood is another organization that offers virtual mom groups, where people all over the country can connect and gain advice from perinatal experts.Queer and LGBTQIA+ parents and families can also find resources and support through Gay Parents to Be, Men Having Babies, and Rainbow Families.Finally, Dr. Vernon reminds parents to be their own best advocate. “No matter what your birth experience is or how your recovery is postpartum, you’re still a great parent,” Dr. Vernon says. “You’re never alone.”Related:

6 Things New Parents Should Know About RSV in Young Children

6 Things New Parents Should Know About RSV in Young Children

One possible reason for that? Because so many people were wearing face masks, avoiding crowded gatherings, and generally being conscious of preventing the spread of COVID, it may have had the additional benefit of protecting younger kids from getting RSV too.3. RSV is the leading cause of pneumonia in babies.While many babies and children who get RSV will recover and be just fine, the virus can lead to severe infections like bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, per the CDC. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in kids under the age of one.Here’s why: “RSV affects the cells lining the respiratory tract,” Dr. Reschak says. “This causes inflammation,” which increases mucus secretions that can block healthy airflow. “Young infants have smaller lungs and airways than older children or adults,” he explains. “This makes them extra susceptible to these blockages.”In severe RSV infections, which can also affect older adults, a person may need to be hospitalized. This may include receiving fluids for dehydration or receiving additional oxygen or being intubated to assist with breathing.4. RSV usually isn’t serious in older children and younger adults.RSV can become serious for very young children, older people, or for people with underlying lung conditions, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In general, though, the virus is not typically dangerous for children above the age of six months and adults under the age of 65, but this can really depend on an individual’s health history.“Usually by the time people are older, their bronchioles (very small branches of air tubes) and lungs are bigger and stronger,” Daniel Ganjian, MD, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. By then, “they also usually have some antibodies to RSV,” he adds, which offer some protection against future infection.5. There’s no specific treatment or vaccine for RSV yet.Because the illness is caused by a virus, it can’t be treated with antibiotics, Dr. Ganjian points out. Currently, there are no specific medications that target RSV, although some antiviral drugs may help in severe cases. There are also no approved vaccines to prevent it, per the CDC, but researchers are closer than ever to getting one approved for adults.Again, most RSV infections tend to clear on their own in a week or two. While your child rides out the illness, make sure they are getting enough fluids and continuing to eat as regularly as they can. You can also periodically suction mucus out of their nose—say, with a bulb syringe—to help them breathe a bit better. “Those are the most important things a family can do at home,” Dr. Bracanto says. Any time your child is sick, it’s always a good idea to have them stay home, keep them as comfortable as possible, let them get lots of sleep—and give them lots of extra cuddles, while you’re at it.

PSA: Don’t Sleep on the Campus Health Center When You’re in College

PSA: Don’t Sleep on the Campus Health Center When You’re in College

There’s a lot to love about college: sudden independence, late nights with new people who turn into lifelong friends, and endless opportunities to learn and grow. It can also keep you super busy—a packed schedule probably means that checking out various campus services is the last thing on your mind. But if there’s one service you use, make it your student health center.Not only will it put your health into your own hands (which may be a new thing for you), but it will help you stay on your A-game all throughout college. And if this is the first time you’ve had access to a one-stop shop for all your health needs, you may not even know everything that is available to you. In fact, when the SELF team discussed their biggest health-related college regrets, an overwhelming number of people said they wish they’d taken advantage of their campus health center.So here’s a rundown of the most important services that your student health center has to offer and why you should definitely check them out.1. You’re already paying for these health services.Here’s the thing: The cost of college includes tuition, room and board, and various student fees. Those fees generally include student health services, which means you might already be paying to access those resources. So why not make the most of it?For example, the health fee is mandatory for all students at UNC-Chapel Hill, whether or not they actually visit the health center, Ken Pittman, MHA, FACHE, executive director of campus health services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tells SELF. (Though 78% of students do utilize the university’s health services at least once a year, he notes). Basic services such as primary care visits, gynecology checkups, urgent care, and mental health counseling are covered under that fee, he says—so they won’t be billed to health insurance at all.As for services not covered by the student health fee? These vary at each school, but can include lab tests, like rapid flu testing, X-rays, and some procedures (for example, some campus health centers do IUD insertions and others don’t), says Pittman. These services are billed to the student’s personal health insurance, which may be required at some institutions.Remember, you can stay on your parents’ health insurance plan until you turn 26 years old, per Healthcare.gov, so you might have coverage that way. Many colleges and universities even offer students medical insurance plans, which may be another option for you. To learn more about your school’s specific health care requirements, chat with the folks at your campus health center.2. It makes it easy to schedule regular checkups.When you’ve got papers to write and classes to attend, getting annual checkups can feel like a drag. Besides, if you feel fine (save for the occasional sleepless night), do you really need routine checkups?TBH, yes. Regular checkups are a form of preventive care, which can help you identify or avoid health issues before they become bigger problems that require treatment. This involves services like routine blood tests, mental health screenings, and physical examinations, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Yes, your childhood primary care doctor, if you have one, can perform these services—but thanks to your student health center, you won’t need to wait until you’re back home to book an appointment.

What You Need to Know About Getting Abortion Pills via Telehealth Right Now

What You Need to Know About Getting Abortion Pills via Telehealth Right Now

Moore suspects that some anti-abortion lawmakers will eventually try to enact laws that prohibit sending abortion pills through the mail. First-class packages mailed through the US Postal Service are protected by the Fourth Amendment and can only be opened with a search warrant if a postal inspector suspects the contents violate federal law—and abortion pills remain legal under federal law, at least for now.People are accessing telehealth abortion services regardless of where they live.Ultimately, accessing any type of abortion will come down to weighing individual risk as the legal landscape fluctuates state by state. “The biggest issue is going to be the fear these laws instill in people,” Elisa Wells, MPH, cofounder and codirector of Plan C, an advocacy group that researches how people are accessing abortion pills in the US, tells SELF.If you live in a state without restrictions on medication abortion, you can get abortion pills in person from a health care provider who prescribes them. (You can find a list of providers near you at Plan C.) In those states, you can also get abortion pills mailed to you following a consultation with a health care provider through one of many US-based telehealth services, including Carafem, Hey Jane, Choix, and Just the Pill. These providers are almost entirely asynchronous. For instance, with Hey Jane, you don’t have to schedule a phone call but, instead, fill out a medical form and consult with a practitioner using encrypted messaging. The medication usually arrives within three to four days in an unmarked envelope, but you should always confirm these details with your provider as timing may vary slightly with each service.In states where abortion is banned or restricted, some have found possible work-arounds when it comes to telehealth. For example, certain people rent a “virtual mailbox” from a mail forwarding service (such as PostScan Mail) in a state where telehealth abortions are allowed. They then use this address on forms to get pills shipped to their homes without costly travel, Wells says. This way, you’re, at the very least still in touch with a health care provider. (Plan C offers a clear guide for this process.) “When we talk to lawyers, they say everyone appears to be complying with the regulations that pertain to them,” Wells says, adding that authorities may still find other ways to penalize people who use this strategy.AidAccess is another telemedicine option that’s becoming popular, The New York Times reports. The Austria-based nonprofit, run by Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, ships abortion pills to you no matter where you live in the US (In fact, research shows the organization received more than 57,000 requests from people in all 50 states between March 2018 and March 2020.) Depending on the state you live in, consultations are done with either a doctor based in the US or a doctor based in Europe. For people who live in states that require a European doctor, the medications are shipped from a pharmacy in India. These pills typically take two to three weeks to arrive, which may be a drawback, depending on how far along you are. Under the Trump Administration, the FDA sent Aid Access a warning letter to cease operations, but the organization refused and sued the federal agency to halt further legal action; it’s unclear whether state or federal prosecutors have plans to place another cease-operations request in the future. (Again, it’s important to research your state’s abortion laws before making any decision.)Will telehealth abortion access be enough in a post-Roe world?While preserving access to abortion pills via telehealth is incredibly important, these pills aren’t a panacea for abortion care in a post-Roe world. Some people prefer to come into a health center or prefer an abortion procedure, which is colloquially known as a surgical abortion, Melissa Grant, the chief operating officer at the telehealth abortion provider Carafem, tells SELF. “Those options should be available,” she says.

Here’s Why It Might Feel Like Your Heart Is Racing Super Fast

Here’s Why It Might Feel Like Your Heart Is Racing Super Fast

Sprinting through the final minutes of your run, the stressful seconds leading up to a big presentation, or watching Stranger Things alone in the dark: These are all times when you might feel like your heart rate won’t go down. But just going about your daily life shouldn’t lead to a racing heartbeat. Typically, your heart is part of a fine-tuned system that keeps the essential organ beating at a certain rhythm. So when the beats unexpectedly speed up, it’s understandable to feel concerned that something more serious might be happening to you.Your heart performs an incredible daily balancing act that’s crucial to keeping you alive and healthy. “The heart beats because of electricity,” Shephal Doshi, MD, director of cardiac electrophysiology at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. No, not the type that keeps your lights on, although that would be interesting. Instead, these are electrical impulses from a group of cells in your heart’s right atrium (chamber) that act like your own internal pacemaker. These cells, known as your sinoatrial (SA) node, tell your heart when and how to beat in order to send oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.Sometimes, your body can signal your heart to beat faster, and the SA node responds. Other times, signals start coming from other parts of the heart, causing it to speed up. Whatever the reason, a racing heart rate, or heart palpitations, can make you feel anxious, among other unpleasant symptoms.A racing heart rate has many potential causes, very few of which signal something life-threatening like a heart attack or heart failure. What is important, however, is how your racing heart makes you feel and how often this switch in pace happens. Here are the most common reasons it feels like your heart rate won’t go down—and when you should consider seeing a doctor.What is a “healthy” resting heart rate? | Common causes of a fast heart rate | When to see a doctorFirst, how do experts typically define a “healthy” heart rate?A “normal” or healthy resting heart rate for most adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Between these rates, your heart can pump the oxygen-rich blood it needs to your vital organs. If you’re very physically active—say, you’re an avid runner—you may find your resting heart rate is much lower (sometimes as low as 40 beats per minute). This is because exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, helps your heart work more efficiently, meaning it can squeeze out more blood at a slower rate, per the Mayo Clinic.A resting heart rate that’s consistently higher than 100 beats per minute or lower than 60 beats per minute (if you’re not an athlete) can signal an underlying health issue, according to the Mayo Clinic.Back to topWhat are the most common causes of a fast heart rate?Normally, your body’s systems run on autopilot, thanks to your autonomic nervous system, which regulates all the vital functions you don’t really need to think about. “This includes things like your heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, urination, and various gastrointestinal functions,” Brent Goodman, MD, a board-certified neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, tells SELF.Sometimes, though, certain lifestyle habits, situations, or even health conditions can cause your heart to start beating very rapidly or irregularly. Here are a few common culprits to keep on your radar.1. You’re feeling very stressed.Let’s be real: With everything going on in the world, there’s an extremely good chance you’re stressed right now. When you encounter something stressful, your body releases a surge of norepinephrine, also known as adrenaline, Camille Frazier-Mills, MD, a cardiologist at Duke Electrophysiology Clinic, tells SELF. Receptors in your heart respond to this trigger and can make your heart rate pick up.1If you can’t immediately solve whatever’s making you stressed (which is hard to do on a good day, let alone in the chaotic reality we live in), try deep breathing exercises to at least help you feel better in the moment. The Mayo Clinic suggests taking deep breaths through your nose so that you feel your stomach rise instead of your chest, and exhaling through your nose as well. Focus on your breath and the rise and fall of your abdomen throughout. (If you’re looking for a more detailed exercise to try, check out these relaxing deep breathing videos.)2. You’ve had a lot of caffeine.While most people can handle a certain level of caffeine just fine, overdoing it can make your heart rate speed up. “A bunch of patients come to see me with an elevated heart rate, then they tell me they drink multiple highly caffeinated beverages daily,” Dr. Mills-Frazier says. “They’re revving themselves up.” This is most likely to happen if you’ve had too much caffeine, but it could also happen in response to small amounts if you’re just sensitive to this stimulant.According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s technically safe for adults to have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, or around the amount in four or five cups of coffee. If that sounds like a lot to you, it may be, since there is a wide range in how sensitive certain people are to the effects of caffeine and in how fast it gets broken down in the body. Certain medications and health conditions may also make you more sensitive to caffeine, including being pregnant. Try cutting back on caffeine gradually to see if it reduces your racing heart (just don’t try to cut it out cold turkey if you rather not deal with the unpleasant side effects of caffeine withdrawal). If that doesn’t help, get in touch with your doctor.3. You smoke.Smokers (tobacco, cannabis, marijuana, you name it) tend to have higher resting heart rates than those who don’t smoke, according to a 2015 study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics. Although doctors don’t exactly know why this happens, an increase in heart rate from smoking could come with other cardiovascular complications, including a heart attack.24. You have cold- or flu-like symptoms, like a fever.If your pounding heart is accompanied by typical cold- or flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, coughing, and sneezing, a viral illness might be the likely culprit. Battling any type of infection requires your body to work harder than usual, and that includes making your heart beat faster in order to fight for homeostasis (its usual stable condition) and kick the infection to the curb, Dr. Mills-Frazier says.

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