Dr. Maria Nolte brings a Passion for OB and Prenatal Care to Madison Healthcare Team
The Madison region will soon gain a new asset to their healthcare resources, when, on September 1, Dr. Maria Nolte, general practitioner and a native of Bellingham will join the healthcare team at Madison Healthcare Services.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth/Twin Cities, Nolte recently completed her residency at the Sioux Falls Family Medicine Residency Program. Inspired to seek a career in medicine after undergoing open heart surgery as a teen, Nolte originally hoped to be pediatric cardiologist, but changed specialties once it became clear she would be forced to live in a large city to work. As a general practitioner with Madison Healthcare Services, she’ll have the opportunity to work with patients of all ages, from babies and pregnant women, to the elderly. For Nolte though, prenatal care will always be special.
“I think a big part of what we do during that prenatal and OB care is kind of becoming part of that family,” says Nolte. “And it’s a pretty big privilege we have to be there throughout that whole process and then particularly the delivery, because it’s such a life changing and emotional event.”
What comes after, Nolte adds, is another part of what made her want to practice medicine in a small town.
“We get to see these kids later as part of their well-child checkups and that’s one of my favorite parts – seeing these ‘babies’ one or two years later and they’re walking and talking.”
For Nolte, the key to good prenatal care is communication.
“Ask as many questions as you have,” says Nolte. “Don’t be afraid to ask anything. And write questions down and bring them in to appointments. We’re more than happy to answer them. This can be an overwhelming time with everything that’s going on.”
Educating mothers-to-be on what to expect is another big component of what Nolte believes makes for good prenatal care.
“I’m a big proponent of patient education,” says Nolte, who goes on to explain that she writes out instructions for her patients during their checkups.
“I also have a prenatal guide that I put together. It’s a guide of what to expect as the weeks go by,” Nolte explains. “And there’s also a space to write things down, like when they got their flu shot, so that they have that written down later for reference.”
Knowing ahead of time what is and isn’t normal during pregnancy can go a long way towards easing a mother’s mind and knowing what steps to take during pregnancy helps ensure that babies are born healthy.
With changing hormones and a changing body, nausea (morning sickness), mild fatigue, breast tenderness, increased urination and dizziness can and do commonly occur in the early months of pregnancy, but if any of these symptoms become severe or if you experience severe abdominal pain, significant bleeding or severe dizziness or fatigue, contact your doctor immediately.
Mild symptoms, including fatigue, are most often caused by a lack of nutrients as the body channels it resources to help the growing fetus and they can be lessened or eliminated with good eating habits and a prescribed prenatal vitamin.
“It’s also a matter of eating smart,” says Nolte. The old adage of ‘eating for two’ isn’t true – in the first trimester, you only need an extra 150 calories a day – it’s eating right that’s important.
“Lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins,” advises Nolte. “And you should be taking a prenatal vitamin – even if you’re only at the ‘trying’ stage of getting pregnant.”
As for morning sickness, while it’s unpleasant, it’s rarely a cause for concern and must simply be waited out; for the majority of mothers it’s over by week 14 of the pregnancy.
In the meantime, doctors recommend keeping crackers, dry toast or dry cereal by your bedside and eating something before getting out of bed in the morning, as these bland, carbohydrate rich foods will help lessen nausea.
And when it comes to what to avoid, smoking and drinking are the two biggest and most obvious “do not’s”, but there are other dietary and lifestyle concern to consider.
Give those soft, unpasteurized cheeses like blue cheese and feta a pass, as well as undercooked meat, seafood, and fish in any form if it contains mercury. Anything with raw eggs is also a no-go and that includes raw cookie dough, many forms of homemade dressing and desserts with mousse or meringue, like tiramisu – which all call for raw eggs.
Also of concern – particularly for expecting mothers in our lake prolific region – is locally caught fish. Unless you can guarantee that the waters your fish came from are clean and unpolluted, say no to eating fish you’ve caught, as the water they come from could be contaminated with industrial chemicals that are very harmful to pregnant women.
Exercise too, can help pregnant women stay healthy. Another old adage is that women should stay inactive and off their feet for the duration of their pregnancies. Recent studies, however, have found the opposite to be true, with women who stay active tolerating labor better and requiring less medical intervention during pregnancy.
While expecting mother’s should always consult their doctor first to determine what level of activity is appropriate for them, most can continue exercising during pregnancy.
“Especially if you’re someone who already has an exercise routine, you can usually stay active during pregnancy,” says Nolte. No contact sports, of course, Nolte points out – this might be Minnesota, but if you’re expecting, leave that hockey stick in the closet.