Garron R Hale, MD

Diplomate, American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is more than a lifestyle choice — it’s an important health choice. Any amount of time that you can do it will help both you and your baby. There are many benefits of breast milk for mothers, babies, and others.

Benefits for Babies, Moms, and Families

  • Breastfeeding is normal and healthy for infants and moms.
  • Breast milk has disease-fighting cells called antibodies that help protect infants from germs, illness, and even SIDS. Infant formula cannot match the exact chemical makeup of human milk, especially the cells, hormones, and antibodies that fight disease.
Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of these health problems:
In Infants: In Moms:

Studies are still looking at the effects of breastfeeding on osteoporosis and weight loss after birth.

  • Breast milk is different from infant formula. Colostrum, the thick yellow first breast milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth, will give your baby the best start at life. It is known as “liquid gold.” It is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby as he or she first enters the world. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold. A newborn stomach is only the size of a large marble at first!
  • Your milk changes over time to meet your baby’s needs. Your breast milk that begins to be made by the third to fifth day after birth has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby’s growth. It will be a thinner type of milk, but just as full of all of the nutrients and antibodies for your baby.
  • For most babies, breast milk is easier to digest than formula. It takes time for their stomachs to adjust to digesting the proteins in formula because they are made from cow’s milk.
  • Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
  • When you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Unlike human milk straight from the breast, infant formula has a chance of being contaminated.
  • Breastfeeding makes your life easier. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula. There are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!
  • Breastfeeding can save you between $1,160 and $3,915 per year, depending on the brand of formula.
  • A mother can satisfy her baby’s hunger right away with breastfeeding.
  • Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby, helping them bond. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness and bonding with their infants.
  • Breastfeeding during an emergency can save lives.

Benefits for Society

  • Breastfeeding saves on health care costs. Total medical care costs for the nation are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants since breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.
  • Breastfeeding contributes to a more productive workforce. Breastfeeding mothers miss less work, as their infants are sick less often. Employer medical costs also are lower and employee productivity is higher.
  • Breastfeeding is better for our environment because there is less trash and plastic waste compared to that produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.

The U.S. Surgeon General Recommends Breastfeeding

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that babies be fed with breast milk only for the first six months of life. This means not giving your baby any other food or drink — not even water — during this time. Drops of liquid vitamins, minerals, and medicines are, of course, fine, as advised by your baby’s doctor. It is even better if you can breastfeed for your baby’s first year or longer, for as long as you both wish.

Solid iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified cereals and pureed vegetables and meats, can be started when your baby is around six months old. Before that time, a baby’s stomach cannot digest them properly. Solids do not replace breastfeeding. Breast milk stays the baby’s main source of nutrients during the first year. Beyond one year, breast milk can still be an important part of your child’s diet.

ABC’s

A Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals — such as cleaning solvents, lead and mercury, some insecticides, and paint.  Pregnant women should avoid exposure to paint fumes.

B Be sure to see Dr. Hale and get prenatal care as soon as you think you’re pregnant.  It’s important to see Dr. Hale regularly throughout pregnancy, so be sure to keep all your prenatal care appointments.

and…

Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for both you and your baby.  Talk to Dr. Hale, your family and friends, and your employer about how you choose to feed your baby and how they can support you in your decision.

C Cigarette smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of premature birth, certain birth defects, and infant death. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than other women to have a miscarriage and to have a baby born with a cleft lip or cleft palate–types of birth defects.  Smoking is one of the causes of problems with the placenta and can cause a baby to be born too early and have low birth weight.  Smoking is also one of the causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

D Drink extra fluids (water is best) throughout pregnancy to help your body keep up with the increases in your blood volume.  Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water, fruit juice, or milk each day.  A good way to know you’re drinking enough fluid is when your urine looks like almost-clear water or is very light yellow.

E Eat healthy to get the nutrients you and your unborn baby need.  Your meals should include the five basic food groups.  Each day you should get the following: 6-11 servings of grain products, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruits,
4-6 servings of milk and milk products, 3-4 servings of meat and protein foods.  Foods low in fat and high in fiber are important to a healthy diet.

F Take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily both before pregnancy and during the first few months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine.  All women who could possibly become pregnant should take a vitamin with folic acid, every day.  It is also important to eat a healthy diet with fortified foods (enriched grain products, including cereals, rice, breads, and pastas) and foods with natural sources of folate (orange juice, green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, broccoli, asparagus, peas, and lentils).

G Genetic testing should be done appropriately.  It’s important to know your family history.  If there have been problems with pregnancies or birth defects in your family, report these to Dr. Hale.  Also, genetic counselors can talk with you about the information you might need in making decisions about having a family.  You can call a major medical center in your area for help in finding a board-certified genetic counselor.

H Hand-washing is important throughout the day, especially after handling raw meat or using the bathroom.  This can help prevent the spread of many bacteria and viruses that cause infection.

I
Take 30 milligrams of iron during your pregnancy as prescribed by Dr. Hale to reduce the risk of anemia later in pregnancy.  All women of childbearing age should eat a diet rich in iron.

J
Join a support group for moms to be, or join a class on parenting or childbirth.

K
Know your limits.  Let your physician know if you experience any of the following:  pain of any kind, strong cramps, uterine contractions at 20-minute intervals, vaginal bleeding, leaking of amniotic fluid, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, palpitations, tachycardia (rapid beating of the heart), constant nausea and vomiting, trouble walking, edema (swelling of joints), or if your baby has decreased activity.

L Legal drugs such as alcohol and caffeine are important issues for pregnant women.  There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant.  Fetal alcohol syndrome , a disorder characterized by growth retardation, facial abnormalities, and central nervous system dysfunction, is caused by a woman’s use of alcohol during pregnancy.  Caffeine, found in tea, coffee, soft drinks and chocolate, should also be limited.  Be sure to read labels when trying to cut down on caffeine during pregnancy.  More than 200 foods, beverages, and over-the-counter medications contain caffeine!

M
Medical conditions/complications such as diabetes, epilepsy, and high blood pressure should be treated and kept under control.  Ask Dr. Hale about any medications that may need to be changed or adjusted during pregnancy.  If you are currently taking any medications ask Dr. Hale if it is safe to take them while you’re pregnant.  Also, be sure to discuss any herbs or vitamins you are taking.  They are medicines, too!  Discuss with Dr. Hale all medications, prescribed and over-the-counter, that you are taking.

N
Now is the time to baby-proof your home. These are important tips for making your home a safer environment for your baby.

O
Over-the-counter cough and cold remedies may contain alcohol or other ingredients that should be avoided during pregnancy.  Ask your health care provider about prescription or over-the-counter drugs that you are taking or may consider taking while pregnant.  

P Physical activity during pregnancy can benefit both you and your baby by lessening discomfort and fatigue, providing a sense of well-being, and increasing the likelihood of early recovery after delivery.  Light to moderate exercise during pregnancy strengthens the abdominal and back muscles, which help to improve posture.  Practicing yoga, walking, swimming, and cycling on a stationary bicycle are usually safe exercises for pregnant women.  But always check with Dr. Hale before beginning any kind of exercise, especially during pregnancy.

Q
Queasiness, stomach upset and morning sickness are common during pregnancy.  Foods that you normally love may make you feel sick to your stomach.  You may need to substitute other nutritious foods.  Eating five or six small meals a day instead of three large ones may make you feel better. 

R
Rodents may carry lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). If a pregnant woman is infected with LCMV, it can pass to the unborn baby and cause severe abnormalities or loss of the pregnancy. Avoid all contact with rodents, including pet hamsters and guinea pigs, and with their urine, droppings and nesting materials throughout pregnancy. Mice in the home should be removed promptly by a professional pest control company or another member of the household. Pet rodents should be housed in a separate part of the house where other household members or friends can care for the pet and clean its cage. For more information, see http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/lcmv/qa.htm

S
Saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms should be avoided while you are pregnant.  Excessive high heat may be harmful during your pregnancy.

T
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite that can seriously harm an unborn baby.  Avoid eating undercooked meat and handling cat litter, and be sure to wear gloves when gardening. 

U
Uterus size increases during the first trimester, which, along with more efficient functioning of your kidneys, may cause you to feel the need to urinate more often.  You may also leak urine when sneezing, coughing or laughing.  This is due to the growing uterus pressing against your bladder, which lies directly in front of and slightly under the uterus during the first few months of pregnancy.  If you experience burning along with frequency of urination, be sure to tell Dr. Hale.

V Vaccinations are an important concern for pregnant women.  Get needed vaccines before pregnancy.  CDC has clear guidelines for the use of vaccines during pregnancy.   Review the list and be sure to discuss with Dr. Hale.

W
Being overweight or underweight during pregnancy may cause problems.  Try to get within 15 pounds of your ideal weight before pregnancy.  Remember, pregnancy is not a time to be dieting!  Don’t stop eating or start skipping meals as your weight increases.  Both you and your baby need the calories and nutrition you receive from a healthy diet.  Be sure to consult with Dr. Hale about your diet.

X
Avoid X rays.  If you must have dental work or diagnostic tests, tell your dentist or physician that you are pregnant so that extra care can be taken.

Y
Your baby loves you, and you should show your baby that you love her, too.  Give your baby a healthy environment to live in while you are pregnant.  Infants and children require constant care and guidance.  Their health and safety should be carefully watched at all times.  Refer to the link above for tips on safe and healthy child care.

Z
Get your ZZZZZZZZZ’s…Be sure to get plenty of rest… Resting on your side as often as possible, especially on your left side is advised, as it provides the best circulation to your baby and helps reduce swelling.

Source: CDC

What is Paragard?

The ParaGard® T 380A intrauterine copper contraceptive is a T-shaped device (IUD), measuring
32 mm horizontally and 36 mm vertically with a 3 mm diameter bulb at the tip of the vertical stem.
A monofilament polyethylene thread is tied through the tip, resulting in two white threads, each at least 10.5 cm in length, to aid in detection and removal of the device. The T-frame is made of polyethylene, with barium sulfate to aid in detecting the device under x-ray. ParaGard® contains approximately 176 mg of copper wire coiled along the vertical stem and a 68.7-mg copper collar on each side of the horizontal arm. The total exposed copper surface area is 380 ± 23 mm. No component of ParaGard® or its packaging contains latex.

ParaGard® is packaged with an insertion tube and a solid white rod in a pouch that is then sterilized. A movable flange on the insertion tube aids in gauging the depth of insertion through the cervical canal and into the uterine cavity.

How Does it work?

ParaGard® is believed to work primarily by preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg.
It may also prevent the egg from attaching to the uterus. The contraceptive effectiveness of ParaGard® is enhanced by the continuous release of copper into the uterine cavity. ParaGard® is indicated for intrauterine contraception for 1, 5, even up to 10 years, but patients may have it removed anytime before then, depending on their needs and family circumstances.

How long has ParaGard been used in the United States?
ParaGard® was approved by the FDA in 1984 and has been sold and used in the
United States since 1988.

ParaGard® may be appropriate for a variety of women seeking contraception, including those who:

  • Want an option that offers rapid return to fertility
  • Should not use hormones due to medical conditions that may include hypertension,
    breast cancer, or uncontrolled diabetes
  • Want an option without associated hormonal side effects such as weight gain
  • Want an option without daily or weekly routines (just a simple monthly self-check)
  • Want an option that is long term and reversible
  • Have not had children, but want to keep their options open

Whatever their needs, these women range from nulliparous to parous to perimenopausal. Click here to read more about these women and see how the unique label of ParaGard® supports broad use.

ParaGard® does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections. ParaGard® must not be used by women who are or may be pregnant; have acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or current behavior suggesting a high risk for PID; have had a postpregnancy or postabortion uterine infection in the past 3 months; have cancer of the uterus or cervix; have an infection in the cervix; have an allergy to any component; or have Wilson’s disease. The most common side effects of ParaGard® are heavier and longer periods and spotting between periods; for most women, these typically subside after 2 to 3 months. If a woman misses her period, she must be promptly evaluated for pregnancy. Some possible serious complications that have been associated with intrauterine contraceptives, including ParaGard®, are PID, perforation of the uterus, and expulsion.

Spotlight on Exercise

It used to be that pregnancy offered a good reason to sit down and put your feet up. But times have changed for pregnant women in good health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy pregnant women get at least 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise every week. This means that most pregnant women should try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days. Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, swimming and dancing.

Why Exercise Is Good for You
In the short term, exercise helps all of us feel better physically and emotionally, and the calories burned help prevent excessive weight gain. People who exercise regularly develop stronger muscles, bones and joints. And over time, the benefits of regular exercise are even more impressive: lower risk of premature death, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

For pregnant women, exercise has added benefits. It can help prevent gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that sometimes develops during pregnancy. For women who already have gestational diabetes, regular exercise and changes in diet can help control the disease.

Exercise can relieve stress and build the stamina needed for labor and delivery. It can also help women cope during the postpartum period. Exercise can help new mothers keep “baby blues” at bay, regain their energy and lose the weight they gained during pregnancy.

Before You Start
Before you go out and run a marathon, talk with your health care provider. Not all pregnant women should exercise, especially if they are at risk of preterm labor or suffer from a serious ailment, such as heart or lung disease. So check with your health care provider before you start an exercise program.

Next, decide what type of exercise you will do. Pick things you think you will enjoy. You may want to try several things. For example, brisk walking for 30 minutes or more is an excellent way to get the aerobic benefits of exercise, and you don’t need to join a health club or buy any special equipment. You could also run, hike or dance, if you like. Swimming is another sport that is especially good for pregnant women. The water supports the weight of your growing body and provides resistance that helps bring your heart rate up. You can also look around for aerobics and yoga classes designed for pregnant women. You may find that a variety of activities helps keep you motivated to continue exercising throughout your pregnancy—and beyond.

Be careful when choosing a sport. Avoid any activities that put you at high risk for injury, such as horseback riding or downhill skiing. Stay away from sports in which you could get hit in the belly, such as ice hockey, kickboxing or soccer. Especially after the third month, avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. Lying on your back can restrict the flow of blood to the uterus and endanger your baby. Finally, never scuba dive. This sport may lead to dangerous gas bubbles in the baby’s circulatory system.

When you exercise, pay attention to your body and how you feel. Don’t overdo it—try to build up your level of fitness gradually. If you have any serious problems, such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, decreased fetal movement or contractions, stop exercising and contact your health care provider immediately.

With a little bit of caution, you can achieve or maintain a level of fitness that would shock your grandmother. You’ll feel and look better. And yes, you can still put your feet up—after you’ve come back from your walk.

Source: March of Dimes, 2008

About Us

Dr. Hale started practice in Scottsdale, AZ in July of 1971 with specialty of women\'s health. He is currently board certified in OB & GYN and a member of the American College of OB-GYN. His training was at a university hospital at the Oregon Center of Health Science in Portland, Oregon (rated in top 5 in the world for training of OB-GYN).