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Keeping Up with Dr. Draper: Featured Insights on Women’s Health, Nutrition, and Fitness


Keeping Up with Dr. Draper: Featured Insights on Women’s Health, Nutrition, and Fitness

From how hormones can guide female fueling to the do’s and don’ts of training while pregnant, check out excerpts from Dr. Jennie Draper’s advice in Trail Runner Magazine and Marathon Handbook and her feature story by VCU School of Medicine this fall.

Having run several marathons, completed an Ironman, and hiked to the base camp of Mount Everest in Nepal, you could say Dr. Jennie Draper is our resident women’s health and fitness expert. Some national running publications as well as her alma mater, VCU School of Medicine, would agree!

This fall, Dr. Draper has been quoted in multiple women’s health and fitness articles and was the feature of a story by VCU. We hope you’ll read on to pick up some great tips and learn more about one of our most active OB/GYNs!

From “Using Hormones To Guide Female Fueling And Perform At Your Best,” in Marathon Handbook, Oct. 30, 2023

A few (of many) excerpts featuring Dr. Draper:

“‘Almost 10% of all women of reproductive age are anemic or not getting enough iron,’ says Dr. Jennie Draper, an OB-GYN and endurance athlete. She explains this is extremely common with women who have especially heavy flows during their menstrual cycle or are currently pregnant.”

“Vitamin B6 is found in most grains and fruits, but some adults struggle to absorb the nutrients. Dr. Draper, when asked about B12, says, ‘Many athletes who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet will be deficient in B12, causing low energy and fatigue.’”

“‘If the period disappears for no clear reason, evaluation should be done,’ says Dr. Draper, ‘it is likely due to nutritional or hormonal imbalances.’”

“‘Sleep becomes more difficult during perimenopause and menopause, which impacts recovery and muscle growth,’ says Dr. Draper. ‘It is important to increase protein during this time.’”

Read more from “Using Hormones To Guide Female Fueling And Perform At Your Best” >

From “Pregnancy, Parenthood and Training For Ultras,” Trailrunner Magazine, Sept. 20, 2023

What trail running athletes can expect when they’re expecting; advice from athletes and experts on trail running while pregnant and parenting.

More (of many) excerpts featuring Dr. Draper:

“‘It is recommended that pregnant individuals stay active. Really, they can keep the same routine they have before pregnancy. In early pregnancy there does not need to be any adjustments as long as there is no additional complication. I wouldn’t start something new, but you can do the same things through the first trimester.’” – Dr. Jennie Draper

“Dr. Draper also notes that there is no proven correlation between having an active pregnancy and birthing a growth-restricted baby and that using pregnancy as a time to get in tune with the body can be a beneficial way to keep active and healthy. The only activities not recommended in a healthy pregnancy with no complications are contact sports or those where the athlete is at risk of falling.”

“Dr. Draper explains that strength training not only helps prepare the birthing parent for returning to exercise postpartum but also helps in pushing if they can have a vaginal birth. ‘Exercises like squats and lunges will not only make you a stronger runner but will also give more power when it is time to push the baby,’ she explains. She goes on to state that active labor is much like hitting mile twenty of a marathon; there is a ways to go, and it will feel better if the individual is physically prepared. Dr. Draper goes on to recommend strengthening the transverse abdominal muscles, hips, core, and calves during pregnancy to help with the added weight and to avoid injury.”

Read more from “Pregnancy, Parenthood and Training For Ultras” >

From “Merging Medicine and Mountains,” VCU School of Medicine, Oct. 24, 2023

The Class of 2007’s Jennie Draper, M.D., says getting off the grid and on the mountains helps her return to her OB-GYN practice energized and grateful.

Dr. Jennie Draper mountain trekking above the clouds in snow
Dr. Jennie Draper mountain trekking above the clouds in snowy Washington state

Excerpt from Dr. Draper’s feature story:

“For Draper, an OB-GYN at Virginia Physicians for Women in Richmond, the lessons she’s learned in the mountains go far beyond achieving those fourteeners [summiting a peak higher than 14,000 feet] and adventure. Instead, she says, they’re making her a better physician and leader – and an advocate for women’s sports, especially trekking and climbing.

‘As an OB-GYN, my whole goal is to empower women,’ Draper says. ‘Mountaineering really lacks a presence of women in that sport, particularly female guides.’

Though she’s no stranger to extreme sports – Draper has completed marathons, Ironman triathlons and 50k endurance races – mountaineering poses different challenges for women, she says. For starters, women have different hydration and nutritional needs than men, especially at altitude.

‘I learn something and I can help the next woman be successful on her hike or her backpacking,” Draper says. “I feel something powerful about that, that we’re recruiting more women to the sport. The skills you learn in mountain sports are similar to those from my residency days: you see one, you do one, you teach one.’”

Read more from “Merging medicine and mountains” >

Taking Charge of Your Health

We are so grateful to have such a skilled athlete who generously shares her knowledge on the intricacies of women’s health, fitness, nutrition, and performance on staff at VPFW. If you’d like to make an appointment with Dr. Jennie Draper or any of our providers to address your women’s health needs, give us a call at 804-897-2100 or set an appointment online.

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