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Ironwood Family Practice

OB Throughout Your Pregnancy

First Trimester

Second Trimester

Third Trimester

Labor and Delivery

Benefits of Breast Feeding

OB Throughout Your Pregnancy

Throughout Your Pregnancy

Throughout your pregnancy, friends, relatives—even complete strangers—may be compelled to offer their advice about what you should and should not do. Dozens of books and hundreds of magazine articles are written on the subject, and many of them are cautionary. Although you may start to feel like you have to avoid nearly everything while you are pregnant, good prenatal care is based in large part on common sense. The same things that promote good health when you are not pregnant, keep you and your infant healthy during pregnancy! These include eating right, exercising, adequate sleep, and avoiding harmful substances. For these nine months, everything you consume will also be “consumed” by your unborn child. If you are not yet taking prenatal vitamins, we encourage you to start now.

Eating right…

Healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do for your baby. Proper nutrition will nourish you and help your baby grow strong and healthy. Most pregnant women need to eat 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day. As a general rule, you should try to limit foods high in sugar and saturated fats, and make a point of having several daily servings of fruit and vegetables. In addition, pregnant women should include an extra helping of protein-rich food, as well as an extra serving of a calcium-rich food every day.

Although you may try hard to be “good” about your eating, it’s often difficult as your appetite frequently changes during pregnancy. We encourage you to be mindful or your nutrition and keep foods high in fat and/or sugar, such as ice cream, candy, desserts, pastries, potato chips, fried foods, etc. to a minimum. If your weight gain is in goal range, and you are eating a well-balanced diet as described above, an occasional “treat” will not harm you or your baby.

So how much weight should you gain? On average, the recommended total weight gain during pregnancy is from 25-35 pounds. However, not everyone is average, and you need to discuss with your provider what will be best for you.

Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely to get listeriosis (food poisoning) from food than women who aren't pregnant. This can be dangerous to the fetus. The following foods should be avoided by pregnant women in order to reduce risk of listeriosis: 

  • Hot dogs, lunch meat, deli meat, or other processed meats unless reheated until steaming
  • Soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert; blue-veined cheeses; and Mexican cheeses such as “queso blanco fresco”.
  • Smoked seafood unless it is re-cooked.
  • Pate (even refrigerated).
  • Raw milk or any other unpasteurized milk.  


For healthy women, moderate exercise several times a week throughout pregnancy helps promote good health. Exercise helps women keep their muscles toned, work off emotional stress, ease back pain, avoid constipation and hemorrhoids, and ease leg cramps.

How strenuous can I get? Will I hurt the baby? There is no evidence that women need to limit exercise while they are pregnant. However, because there is less oxygen available for aerobic exercise during pregnancy, you may not be able to work out at your pre-pregnant intensity level, as you will be more easily fatigued and winded (this is normal). Remember to pace yourself and not to exercise to over-exhaustion. Listen to your body. Hydrate pre and post exercise. Avoid becoming overheated, especially during the first trimester.


First Trimester (The first 14 weeks)

What is happening with your baby?

At about six weeks after conception, your baby was about an inch long, and brain, nervous system, heart, lungs, and tiny buds for arms and legs had begun to develop. By the end of this trimester, your baby will be about six inches long and weigh about 4 ounces. Your baby’s internal organs will be developing, and fingers and toes will be completely formed. Your baby is moving around, but is still too tiny for the movements to be felt.

What is happening to you?

As you know by now, the first few months of pregnancy are a time of adjustment as well as wonder. Whether your pregnancy was planned or unplanned, it still takes a little time to get used to the idea of a new life growing inside you. The newness of it all, combined with fluctuating hormone levels, may cause dramatic mood swings. While they might not seem normal to you (or your partner), these mood swings are quite normal, and should stabilize over the next few months. In the meantime, it may help to talk to your provider about them, as well as to other mothers who have “been there”.

During the early weeks of your pregnancy, you may not see many changes to your body, but you can certainly feel them. You may be tired much of the time now. During the day, even brief rest periods will help. At night, you will be ready for bed much earlier than usual. As you enter your second trimester, this constant fatigue should pass. In fact, most women report new bursts of energy starting at about 14 or 15 weeks.

In addition to mood swings and fatigue, hormonal changes can also cause breast tenderness, more frequent urination, and changes in appetite or food preferences. You may experience a slight increase in vaginal discharge, but should not have any itching or irritation. 

The most infamous symptom of early pregnancy is morning sickness, which can occur at ANY time of the day. Many women experience no nausea at all, while others suffer from frequent vomiting. To better cope with nausea, you may want to: 

  • Eat dry crackers in the morning before rising
  • Eat several small meals, instead of three large ones
  • Avoid rich, spicy, fatty and fried foods
  • Take daily walks in fresh air
  • Avoid offensive odors
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • If vomiting is severe, call your provider

Contact your physician if you experience any of the following symptoms of possible complications:

  • Vaginal bleeding or abnormal vaginal discharge
  • A temperature higher than 101 degrees
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • A burning sensation during urination
  • Diarrhea that lasts longer than 24 hours
  • Severe vomiting


Second Trimester (Weeks 14 through 26)

What is happening with your baby?

Things are really progressing with your baby by now! Your bay is growing eyebrows and eyelashes as well as hair on his/her head. Skin is still wrinkled and red, but your baby is slowly filling out. By the end of this trimester, your baby will be about 14 inches long and weigh about 2 pounds. Your baby will move around freely—you’ll know when your baby is wide awake and when you baby is resting. You may even feel your baby hiccup.

What is happening to you?

Your second trimester can be a particularly satisfying time. For many women, morning sickness disappears and energy is renewed. The emotional peaks and valleys tend to level out. And between approximately 20 and 22 weeks, you will feel movement for the first time—an experience like no other.

As your appetite increases, you will find yourself hungry more often, and you will gain about 1 pound a week. For several months, your “former” wardrobe will languish in the closet. Some women are alarmed by weight gain, but this is not the time to diet! Nor is this the time to use pregnancy as an excuse to consume massive quantities of junk food. Focus on eating quality food to nourish yourself and your little one.

In addition to a spreading waistline, you will also notice changes in your skin. A line down the middle of your abdomen may darken. Your nipples and the area around them may become much darker as well. It is important to wear sun protection to prevent a condition called melasma—brown spots that occur due to increased pigmentation due to circulating hormones. As you grow stretch marks may appear on your abdomen, hips, and breasts. Lotions can be used to massage the skin and help relieve any dryness or itching. Stretch marks cannot, unfortunately, be prevented, but they will fade somewhat after your baby is born.

Almost all pregnant women experience backaches during the last half of the pregnancy. A heating pad and/or an ice pack can help ease the discomfort. Because of the changes in your center of gravity as the baby grows, it is very important to practice good posture. Stretching and light exercising throughout your pregnancy also help to reduce the incidence and severity of back pain. Wearing low heels, sleeping on a firm mattress, taking frequent rest breaks during the day, and shifting positions when standing in one place are all things you can do to avoid backaches.

Be sure to let your provider know if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: unusual vaginal discharge; itching or sores; severe vomiting or continued morning sickness; a temperature higher than 101 degrees; pain or burning with urination; sudden weight gain and/or swelling of the hands, feet, face or ankles; a marked decrease in urination; severe or persistent headaches; dizziness; or blurred vision.

You should also be aware of these signs of premature labor, and contact your provider immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding (except spotting after pelvic exam)
  • A gush or uncontrolled leaking of fluid from the vagina
  • Sharp, constant abdominal pain
  • Cramps combined with a low, dull backache that lasts more than one hour


Third Trimester (Weeks 27 through 40)

What is happening with your baby?

This is the period of greatest growth for your baby, who is starting to gain about one-half pound every week. Your baby’s organs are continuing to mature. Your baby sucks his/her thumb, looks around his/her snug little world and has definite periods of activity and rest. By 36 weeks or so, your baby will start settling into his/her birth position, which is head-down for most births.

What is happening to you?

The third trimester of pregnancy is very taxing on your body. Toward the end of your pregnancy, your pelvic joints feel loose, your back aches and your movements are cumbersome. Even getting out of a chair takes a little time. It is one of nature’s great designs that by the end of nine months, most women are tired of being pregnant and looking forward to delivery.

In the meantime, whenever possible in these last few months, try to take a nap or at least a short rest period during the day. Many women find it helpful to cut back on work hours in the last few weeks. Eating well-balanced meals, taking iron supplements, and getting daily exercise can also help maintain your energy.

During this trimester, you will probably start to feel some mild contractions. Your abdomen will get hard and tight, then relax and soften. These irregular and mild contractions, called Braxton Hicks contractions, help prepare your body for labor. Changing positions, increasing fluids, and resting on your left side can help if these become bothersome. If you still have painful contractions after trying these measures, be sure to call your provider.

In the last weeks of pregnancy, most women have difficulty sleeping at night. It is hard to find a comfortable position, and just about the time you do, you have to get up to go to the bathroom again. Your baby may be on a different schedule than you are, merrily kicking when you are trying to sleep. Increased anxiety about the birth and your abilities to be a good mother may also be keeping you awake. Lying on your left side with a pillow between your knees and more pillows under your head, back, and abdomen can help you be more comfortable. Taking a warm bath or shower, drinking warm milk, and practicing relaxation techniques before you go to bed can also help.

Other annoyances of late pregnancy include heartburn, swollen feet and ankles, leg cramps, hemorrhoids, and constipation.

Heartburn is a burning sensation in your lower chest or upper abdomen. During pregnancy, it is caused by the pressure of the baby on your stomach and by hormonal changes. To minimize heartburn, eat frequent, small meals and try to avoid fatty, spicy foods. Avoid lying flat right after eating, and consider eating dinner earlier to allow digestion before going to bed at night.

A slight swelling of the lower legs, ankles and feet is common in late pregnancy. Hot weather and long periods of standing or sitting can make swelling worse. To help minimize swelling, get moderate exercise and wear loose clothing. Wearing support stockings and resting periodically with legs and hips elevated on a chair or sofa can also help. If swelling is sudden and severe, especially if you gain more than 2-3 pounds in a week, contact your provider immediately.

Leg cramps can be caused by the pressure of the growing baby on the nerves in your legs and by normal changes in the calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood stream. Massage, heat over the affected muscle and pointing your toes toward your knee can help relieve a leg cramp. Staying well hydrated is also very important! You may also want to talk to your provider about taking calcium supplements or other interventions if they become severe.

The normal hormonal changes of pregnancy, pressure from the growing baby in the intestines, and iron supplements all contribute to constipation. If you are suffering from constipation, try drinking more water and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, bran and whole grains. Moderate exercise such as walking can help improve regularity. Your provider may also suggest a fiber substitute or stool softeners. Hemorrhoids, which are varicose veins around the anus and rectum, are caused by pushing hard and bearing down for bowel movements. The best way to avoid hemorrhoids is to prevent constipation.

Be sure to let your provider know if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Itching or sores
  • Severe vomiting or continued morning sickness
  • A temperature higher than 101 degrees
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Sudden weight gain and/or swelling of the hands, feet, face or ankles
  • A marked decrease in urination
  • Severe or persistent headaches, dizziness or blurred vision

You should also be aware of signs of premature labor and contact your provider immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding (except spotting after a pelvic exam)
  • A gush or uncontrolled leaking of fluid from the vagina
  • Sharp, constant abdominal pain
  • Cramps combined with a low, dull backache that lasts more than one hour

At the care provider visit

Your prenatal visits will now occur more often. Starting in your 28th to 32nd week, you will probably see your provider every two weeks, and then once a week starting at about 36 weeks. In addition to what has been routinely checked, your provider may do a pelvic exam at about 37 weeks to check the position of your baby and the condition of your cervix.

Now is the time to review plans for the birth with your provider. A written birth plan is a tool that lets your health-care team know what options are most important to you.

Depending on your specific needs and your provider’s style of practice, a variety of tests and screenings may be done during this last trimester.

A Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) is usually done at about 28 weeks to screen for a condition known as gestational diabetes. This simple test involves drinking a bottle of sugar solution over a five-minute period, followed by a blood test one hour later. If the results are abnormal, more testing will be done.

Changes in our baby’s movements may reflect changes in his/her well-being. Some providers recommend doing Fetal Movement Counts, which involves keeping a record of the number of times your baby moves during the latter part of your pregnancy. Because each baby has an individual pattern of activity, the normal range can vary widely—from 20 to 200 movements per day.

If you are beyond your due date, have complications, or have low Fetal Movement Counts, your provider may order a Non-Stress Test (NST) to measure your baby’s heart rate in response to his/her own movements. An NST usually takes 20-30 minutes, but can take longer if your baby is asleep during the test. In addition, an ultrasound screening may be ordered to check your baby’s size and activity level, the amount of amniotic fluid and the placenta.


Labor and Delivery

What is happening with your baby?

During labor, your body prepares for the birth of your child through a series of muscle contractions aimed at dilating your cervix and into the birth canal. You have probably seen a chart showing the various stages of dilation, and have shaken your head in disbelief at the 10 cm circle. It may not seem possible that your body can actually accomplish that, but it can. It is not an easy process—it’s appropriately named “labor”—but you can do it. And the dedicated, professional staff at Kootenai Health will be there to help you.

There are three phases of labor; early labor, during which the cervix dilates to about 3 to 4 centimeters; active labor, which stretches the cervix to about 7 or 8 centimeters; and transitional labor, at the end of which the cervix is fully dilated. Transition is followed by a process of “pushing,” which lasts until your baby is born.

Early labor

The question pregnant women probably ask most often is: How will I know when I’m in labor?

When the bag of fluid that has been cushioning your baby “breaks” with either a gush or a small trickle, you have a definite sign that labor is about to begin. For many women, however, this happens much later in the labor process.

The beginning of regular contractions is usually the first sign of labor. The Braxton-Hicks contractions you may have noticed during your third trimester were characterized by irregular and painless contractions that felt like a firmness or tightness through the abdominal wall. In contrast, early labor contractions feel more like menstrual cramps, and often involve a backache or feeling of pressure low in the back or pelvis. In true labor, if you increase your activity, these symptoms continue to increase. If you are not really in labor, increasing your activity usually causes symptoms to decrease or disappear altogether. If you are not sure your contractions are “the real thing,” try taking a walk and see whether or not they disappear. If you are less than 37 or 38 weeks pregnant and think you may be in labor, contact your provider immediately.

Contractions are timed from the start of one to the start of the next. During early labor, they come anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes apart and last from 30 to 45 seconds. As your labor progresses, they will come more regularly and closer together.

If you think you are in labor, call your provider. Depending on the symptoms you describe and your experience with previous pregnancies, your provider may tell you to stay home until a certain time. Your provider may also wish to examine you either at the clinic or at the hospital.

In most cases, you will be advised to stay home while you are in early labor because you will be more comfortable there. Early labor is the longest and least intense phase and can last anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. Use this time at home to rest, sleep, take a warm shower or bath, and walk. Your partner can help by providing encouragement and companionship, timing contractions and staying calm.

Active labor

The second phase of labor is called active labor. During active labor, contractions are about 3 to 5 minutes apart and last from 30 to 40 seconds. As they become stronger, you may feel them in your back, upper thighs and/or above your pubic bone, as well as in your abdomen. Most providers advise leaving for the hospital when “active labor” begins. Your provider or someone from your provider’s staff will call the hospital to prepare them for your arrival.

Many couples are anxious about getting to the hospital in time to have their baby safely. In reality, very few babies are born on the way to the hospital or unexpectedly at home. Having your bag packed well in advance, planning your route to the hospital and knowing where to park will all help the trip go smoothly.

What to expect

When you arrive on the first floor, a nurse will greet you, have you change into a patient gown, and assess your condition. After your triage nurse receives the plan of care from your provider, you will be admitted, if appropriate. It is possible that if you arrive prior to active labor, you will not be admitted until you are further along.

Your nurse will call your provider to let him/her know that you have arrived and to discuss the plan for your care. The nurse will have you sign consent forms and will briefly ask about your medical history, your pregnancy history and what has happened so far with this labor. She will check your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure, observe your contractions, and listen to your baby’s heart rate. The nurse may get blood and urine samples and start an IV for intravenous fluids.

Our professional nurses are committed to helping meet your needs during this important time. Be sure to share your birth plan and specific wishes with your labor nurse, and let your nurse know if there is anything you or your partner need.

As labor progresses

As your labor progresses and your contractions grow more intense, you may feel anxious about what is happening and what is to come. If you can remain calm and in control, your contractions will be more manageable. The words “calm” and “control” may not seem to fit with the words of “labor” and “pain,” but various relaxation, focusing and breathing techniques really do help. These techniques are taught in childbirth-preparation classes, and practicing these helps you to be more prepared when the time comes.

Relaxation is one of the most important skills you can learn to reduce the pain and discomfort of labor. When under stress, most people are unaware of how tense their neck, shoulders, arms, etc. really are. The less your body has to “work” in these areas, the more progress it can make during each contraction. Although you won’t have a lot of time between contractions, you should try to rest and relax as much as possible between each one.

Focusing on something other than contractions helps many women cope with labor. Some women prefer an internal focus. They visualize their bodies working for them, or mentally “remove” themselves to a pleasant and peaceful place. Others prefer an external focus. Concentrating on an object or a face, listening to music or soothing sounds, swaying, dancing or massage help many women cope.

Breathing techniques help by calming and relaxing you as labor contractions intensify. The Lamaze and Bradley methods are often taught in childbirth-preparation classes and are described in a number of books on childbirth. Each method uses a set of patterned breathing techniques that change as labor progresses.

Pain medications are available to ease the stress of labor if you want or need them. Depending on your wishes and how quickly your labor is progressing, your provider may suggest natural techniques or an analgesic, which works by reducing pain and promoting relaxation between contractions. You may request, if necessary, anesthesia called an epidural block. This involves an injection near the spinal cord and works by blocking sensations in the abdomen, back, buttocks, perineum, and legs. Epidural blocks must be given by an anesthesiologist.

Because various pain-relief options have their own unique benefits, side effects, and risks, we recommend thoroughly discussing the topic of pain relief during labor with your provider prior to coming to the hospital. It is also important to note that there is an additional fee charged for the specialized services of an anesthesiologist.

A labor support partner can provide tremendous support during all phases of labor and childbirth. Your support partner can encourage you, help you with breathing and relaxation techniques, and keep you up to date on our progress. Your support partner can rub your back or apply hot packs, give you ice chips, and apply a cold washcloth to your forehead. Your support partner can also help you change positions, shower, or walk around the room. Talking about this in advance and attending childbirth-preparation classes can be helpful. It is helpful for both of you to understand, for example, that even though you may have practiced massage techniques, you may find that you don’t want to be touched at all during labor. Your support partner’s job is to be there for you, comforting you and encouraging you. In turn, your nurse is there for both of you and will provide expert guidance and support.


Transition is the third, most intense phase of labor. During transition, your cervix will become completely dilated to about 10 centimeters. Intense contractions will come 2 to 3 minutes apart and last from 45 to 90 seconds.

During this intense phase, you may be very sensitive or irritable, frustrated or fearful. You may have generalized discomfort or pain, a severe backache, drowsiness between contractions, nausea and/or vomiting, cramps or trembling in your legs, and pressure in your rectum. If your bag of water has not yet broken, it probably will rupture during this time. You may feel very warm or very cold, be restless and unable to relax. You may feel like you want to give up and cannot go on. It is during this time that many women temporarily forget why they ever wanted to have a baby, and just want the whole experience to be over.

During transition, a labor coach needs to accept any behavior you exhibit. Your labor coach needs to remain calm and confident and provide unwavering support. Eye contact, assistance with breathing and relaxation, and ongoing encouragement all help.

Fortunately, transition is the shortest phase of labor, and it is a clear indication that the actual birth is near.


After your cervix is completely dilated, you begin the process called “pushing.” By bearing down during your contractions, you will help move your baby through the birth canal.

During this process, your contractions will actually be a little further apart than they were during transition. Use this time between contractions to rest and gather your strength.

For many women, the pushing process comes as a relief after the previous stages of labor. Instead of just concentrating on getting through a contraction, you now have a job to do. As each contraction begins, you will take a big breath and bear down as hard as you can. Your knees will be apart and your head forward. It is common to push like this from two to four times during each contraction. Pushing uses many of the same muscles you use during a bowel movement and feels similar.

Different childbirth-preparation classes teach different techniques for taking breaths as you push through each contraction. Your partner and your nurses will coach you in your breathing, help hold your body in the correct position, and let you know the progress you are making. Between contractions they can give you ice chips, wipe your brow with a cold washcloth, and offer encouragement. You will probably feel exhausted, but many women also feel a sense of relief and optimism during this time. The pushing process typically takes about an hour, though time will vary greatly from woman to woman.

As the baby’s head starts to push through the opening of the birth canal, you may feel stretching or burning. You may touch the baby’s head if you wish, or see it in a mirror. Your provider may direct you to push, to pant, or to blow.

The Big Event

The moment of birth can be an exciting experience. You may feel relieved, exhausted, joyful and proud. All your hard work pays off when your baby is born. Your provider will clamp the baby’s cord, and your partner may cut it if he/she wishes! Depending on the factors surrounding the birth, your baby may be put on your chest or placed inside a warmer for a few minutes. Or, your baby may be dried off and given a quick examination first.

As you cuddle your newborn, the final stages of childbirth begin. It may take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes for the placenta to be delivered. If you had any tears, your provider will stitch you up during this time.

After your placenta is delivered, your initial recovery period usually lasts a few hours, depending on the circumstances of the birth. You may have some cramping, often called after-pains, which compress blood vessels to prevent excessive loss of blood and help shrink the uterus. Your pulse and blood pressure will be monitored, as will the vaginal discharge made up of blood and discarded cells. You may feel some trembling in your legs, which can be helped by warm blankets. Ice packs applied to your perineum will greatly help the soreness there. You will probably also be hungry and thirsty—you will have done a lot of work and used a lot of energy!

This recovery period is an ideal time to breastfeed your baby for the first time. Don’t be discouraged, however, if your baby doesn’t “take” to the nipple right away. You have plenty of time in the hour ahead to get to know each other.

Very soon after birth, an identification band will be placed on each of your baby’s ankles, where they will remain until you are ready to go home. An identical band will be placed on your wrist and one other will be given to your designated partner. Your baby’s temperature, heart rate, and respirations will all be monitored, and your baby will be weighed and measured.

Especially if this is your first child, your baby may not look quite the way you expected. A newborn’s head is very large compared to the rest of the body, and it may be somewhat molded or elongated following its journey through the birth canal. The skin of many babies is blue at birth. It may have bruises or reddened areas, be streaked with blood, or be covered with tiny hairs and/or vernix, a white, “cheesy” protective substance. All of these circumstances are temporary. Within a few days, your baby’s head will be rounded and “normal” and your baby will look much more like the sweet baby you had imagined.  


Benefits of Breast Feeding

  • Recommended as a complete nutrient source for feeding the first 4-6 months and continued supplementing with solids through one year of life and after.
  • Vitamin D 400 IU drop daily is recommended for all breastfed infants.
  • We encourage women to continue taking a daily prenatal vitamin for the duration while breast feeding.
  • If you are not able to exclusively breast feed, studies have shown similar advantages with mothers who need to supplement their breast feeding with formula. Benefits are not all or none, and every woman is different on the milk supply they are able to share with their infant.

Short term benefits for your infant include:

  • Nutrition—easily digestible healthy protein, carbohydrates, and DHA fats in proportions that provide exclusive and ideal nutrition for a growing infant.
  • GI function—improved growth, motility, colonization with healthy microbes, and protective gut immunity. Less vomiting and diarrheal illnesses.
  • Host defense—maternal antibodies and immune cells are passed through the milk to the infant. Breast milk itself has antimicrobial components to help protect from infection.
  • Stress reduction—through analgesic affect and mother/baby bonding.

Long term benefits for your infant even after breast feeding for 6-12 mo discontinued:

  • Decreased obesity, diabetes, & coronary artery disease later in life.
  • Decreased illness including, ear infections, pneumonia, and respiratory illness.
  • Decreased allergic conditions such as seasonal allergies and asthma.
  • Decreased childhood cancers, as well as lymphoma and leukemia.
  • Possible neurodevelopmental benefits and increased IQ.

Breast feeding benefits for you:

  • Reduced blood loss after childbirth as a result of a hormone, oxytocin.
  • Reduced levels of stress as a result of several hormones released during breastfeeding.
  • Increased weight loss after pregnancy (if breastfeeding continues for at least 6 months).
  • Decreased risk of breast cancer.
  • Reduced infant feeding costs and reduced costs related to infant healthcare.

Tips on increasing breast milk supply

  • Rest: Lack of sleep can reduce milk production.
  • Tame stress: While stress may not decrease milk production, it can reduce milk let-down.
  • Support: If feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed, or frustrated with breast feeding, reach out for breast-feeding support in your community. Ask your provider for recommendations!
  • Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can reduce both milk production as well as milk let-down.
  • Drink plenty of water: Dehydration will drastically reduce milk production.
  • Good nutrition: Your nutrition reflects what you can produce for your baby. You need to get ~300-500 calories more each day. Aim for nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats such as fish, olive oil, avocado, and nuts.
  • Frequent breast feeding: Babies empty your breasts much more effectively than a pump, so early when establishing your milk, try to nurse frequently every 2-3 hours to help establish supply.
  • Fenugreek: Avoid fenugreek during pregnancy, but afterwards this may help boost milk production.
  • When pumping: Think of your infant, look at a picture, listen to a recording of your infant cooing, or inhale your infant’s scent—all these things can help improve your milk let-down and production when pumping away from your infant.
  • Check your medications/supplements: Certain medications, supplements, and even over-the-counter medications can reduce milk production (antihistamines, decongestants, certain birth control, etc.).


Ironwood Family Practice
920 Ironwood Drive
Suite 101
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
PH: (208) 667-4557
FAX: (208) 765-2887

The clinical and administrative staff at Ironwood Family Practice are the best of my experience. I recommend them to any family of friends who will listen.

- Ben P.
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

The doctors and staff at Ironwood Family Practice are friendly and professional. I always leave feeling that my doctor truly listened to my concerns and spent ample time in finding a solution.

- Ben M.
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho



PH: (208) 667-4557
FAX: (208) 765-2887
920 Ironwood Drive
Suite 101
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814


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