Category Archives: Women’s Health

Facts About Lactation for New Moms

Facts About Lactation for New Moms

Breastfeeding is a special bond between mother and baby. It’s well known that nursing delivers optimum health benefits to the newborn. The perfect blend of vitamins, proteins, and fat are available through breast milk. Among the many benefits of lactation, breast milk is more easily digested than infant formula, has antibodies that fight off viruses and bacteria, and lowers a baby’s risks of having asthma and allergies.

For mothers, the benefit of breastfeeding includes burning more calories, which helps in returning to a healthy pre-pregnancy weight. It also helps the uterus get back to pre-pregnancy size due to the release of the hormone oxytocin. Furthermore, it lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

For a new mother, lactation can be challenging in the beginning until she and her baby get adjusted to the feeding routine. Some challenges that mothers may experience have to do with sore nipples, cracked nipples, worry that not enough breast milk is being produced, pumping and storing milk, inverted nipples, breast engorgement, blocked ducts, stress, and breast infection (mastitis).

Facts about lactation for new moms

In the beginning stages, colostrum (a thin watery fluid) is present until mature milk (a thicker, whitish consistency) is produced. The gradual process should lead to producing as much food as an infant will need.

Some other factors to consider:

The more a mother breastfeeds, the more milk her body will make.
Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.
Newborns nurse often, every 2 to 4 hours.
Feeding cues from the baby include signs like mouthing, lip smacking, turning toward the breast, and sucking on fists. These cues or on-demand nursing (every 3 to 4 hours, helps ensure sufficient milk supply since the baby’s nursing engages this milk-making process.
It’s okay if a baby doesn’t nurse on both breasts at one feeding. Start with the other breast at the next feeding.
Breast care doesn’t need to be more complicated than one bath or shower a day to keep nipples clean. Wash hands before feeding a baby. There’s no need to use extra lotions or soap products for nipples.

Challenges of lactation:

Difficulty in baby latching (process of baby putting mouth around mother’s nipple and beginning to nurse)
Breast pain
Cracked or irritated nipples
Clogged or plugged milk ducts (when a duct gets blocked, milk can back up and produce a tender lump.)
Mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, and redness in one or both breasts.)
Stress or anxiety about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding should be an enjoyable experience between mother and baby, but it is something that may take some time to settle into. Mothers shouldn’t be discouraged if breastfeeding doesn’t feel comfortable or natural at first. It takes practice.

If pain persists, it is possible improper positioning or latching is the reason.

If a mother experiences extreme pain breastfeeding or has any of the challenges listed, she should seek expert assistance. Pacific Women’s Center has lactation resources who help mothers with breastfeeding concerns. The center also offers free breastfeeding classes to expectant mothers.

Call us today for help with any lactation or breastfeeding issues. We want to ensure mothers have the best experience possible with their new baby.

What You Should Know About a Hysterectomy

What You Should Know About a Hysterectomy

 

A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus, the most common form of gynecologic surgery. There are a few facts you should know about a hysterectomy before undergoing the procedure.

Different types of hysterectomy procedures are available for patients, depending on their individual condition. Pacific Women’s Center performs four different types of hysterectomies:

  • Abdominal – The hysterectomy will be performed via an incision through the lower abdomen.
  • Vaginal – The uterus is removed through an incision in the vagina.
  • Laparoscopic/Robotic Assisted (DaVinci) – A laparoscope is used to remove the uterus through small incisions in the abdomen and will be delivered through the vagina.
  • Laparoscopically Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy (LAVH) – The uterus is removed through the vagina with the combination of the laparoscopic and vaginal technique.

Before the hysterectomy, a patient may undergo some procedures in preparation. Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam, blood and urine tests, and a pelvic ultrasound. General anesthesia will be given during surgery. Under general anesthesia, a patient will not be awake during the surgery.

After the hysterectomy, there are additional symptoms to consider. The procedure lasts 1 to 3 hours and is performed at the hospital. How long you stay in the hospital and the length of time it takes to recover depends in part on the type of hysterectomy you have. Your periods will completely stop after a hysterectomy. It’s common to occasionally feel bloated and have symptoms similar to when you were menstruating. It’s also common to experience light vaginal bleeding or a dark brown discharge for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

You may feel discomfort for about 4 weeks where the incision was made. Any redness, bruising, or swelling will improve within 4 to 6 weeks. A burning or itching sensation around the incision is normal. It’s possible you’ll experience a numb feeling around the incision but that generally resolves.

If the ovaries remain after the hysterectomy, minimum to no hormone-related effects should be present. If the ovaries were removed with the uterus before menopause, you may experience symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes. Your doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms.

Physicians at Pacific Women’s Center are here to help you understand what you should know about a hysterectomy before having the procedure. Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help you look at your options. 

What's Important About An Annual Exam

What’s Important About an Annual Exam

An annual exam when you’re not feeling unwell may seem like something you don’t need to do. What’s important about an annual exam and why should you get them? An annual exam is an essential part of your long-term health and overall well-being.

Annual exams go far in preventing health conditions that might otherwise go undetected. These appointments are an excellent time to discuss your medical history and concerns with your physician. Any questions you have will be addressed as well.

An annual exam is typically a full exam, including a pelvic and breast exam that also involves a pap smear. Your doctor gathers important information during this office visit.

A pap smear is performed during your annual gynecological visit, which allows your physician to screen for cancer of the cervix. The doctor is also on the lookout for other abnormalities of the reproductive organs.

Tests for HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, may also need to be done during the annual exam. HPV is a very common sexually transmitted virus that can predispose a woman to cervical cancer. An opportune time to ask your physician about vaccinations to protect yourself from HPV is during this visit — in addition to getting tested for sexually transmitted infection.

The doctor will also perform a brief breast examination as part of the annual exam, which may help you to catch any signs of abnormalities early on. By examining the breasts, they’re able to feel for lumps or any other irregularities, which may be a serious medical condition.

Call Pacific Women’s Center to schedule your annual exam. We will do everything we can to make you as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

 

women's health in college

5 Women’s Health Risks You Must Know in College and How to Avoid Them

College can be a challenging time in many respects and women should know some valuable information to stay healthy.

Here are some important health issues and how you can best prevent falling victim to them.

1. Risks of STI increases in college
In college, many women become more sexually active. According to the Center for Disease Control, out of the 19 million cases of STDs each year, half of them are in people ages 15-24.

Solutions

  • Always practicing safe sex.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or using other drugs to the point that you engage in risky behavior.
  • Get tested if you think you might be at risk. Most tests can be done without a pelvic exam.

2. College can influence poor eating choices.
Body image is amplified in college as you near the end of your teens and enter your twenties. It’s common in college for some young women to focus on calories and their weight in an effort to avoid other problems.

Solutions
If you think that you’ve fallen into the trap of anorexia, bulimia, or any other eating disorder, get counseling. Most college and university campuses have a health center, which can get a student connected to the appropriate health professionals. Eating disorders sometimes require some form of counseling in most cases and should be taken seriously.

3. Increasing stress in college can cause health problems. 
Being a college student comes with lots of responsibility. Stress invariably takes hold and you feel out of control.

Solutions
Try sorting through your schedule and organize a plan that will help reduce stress. Sometimes just categorizing everything and allotting a certain amount of time to accomplish your goals will help. If you’re feeling especially anxious and uncertain about anything, reach out to a campus counseling center.

4. Restful sleep can sometimes be tough to find.

Sleep deprivation can increase irritability, anxiety, and even weight gain.

Solutions

  • Devise an exercise program in which you get some physical activity at least three hours before bedtime a good three-to-five times a week.
  • Eat healthy and don’t turn to junk food.
  • Make an effort to have “make up” sleep time a few times a week to rejuvenate your system if you’re unable to get a regular schedule of sleep.

5. Why you should watch out for Low Self-Esteem/Depression
Depression among college-aged women can be a health risk factor. College women can be at high risk for depression.

Solutions
Seek help through your campus counseling office or confide in someone you trust so that you don’t feel so alone. Remember, a lot of other students are probably battling the very same emotions you are. These feelings can be overwhelming and sometimes require a little help.

Pacific Women’s Center is here to help you with your health concerns during your college years. Call one of their doctors who can help you decrease these health risks.

women's health questions

5 Questions Women are Too Embarrassed to Ask a Doctor, but Really Should

In spite of the awkwardness you’ll feel about some health concerns, you need to consult with your gynecologist or other health care provider. They understand your anxieties and have experience answering all types of questions.

1. Why are my periods irregular?
Experiencing an early or delayed menstrual cycle is actually quite normal. Irregular periods can be related to a condition called “anovulation.” This simply means that ovulation hasn’t occurred yet due to severe hormonal imbalances.

Sometimes an irregular period may be due to subtler hormone imbalances. You may be ovulating, but the timing of your ovulation can switch around greatly month-to-month. Lifestyle and medical conditions contribute to these variables, such as extreme exercising or dieting, the pill, age, stress, or symptoms of other physical problems.

2. What is douching and should I do it?
The term “douche” refers to a cleansing solution used to freshen the vagina. Douches are known to come in a prepackaged bottle that allows women to squirt the solution through a nozzle.

The practice of douching has long been debated. Douching potentially causes yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Perceiving douching as a sanitary practice is a misnomer when it comes to hygiene. It’s far better to keep the area clean through showering and keeping adequate “airflow” to your nether region.

3. I have tiny bumps “down there” that can be painful. What are they and how do I know if it’s something more serious?
Anything spotted in the way of bumps or red spots might have you alarmed, but it might not be what you’re thinking. In many instances, these bumps could just be pimples or an ingrown hair on your pubic region. Also,if you shave your pubic hair, bumps might appear out of skin irritation.

If the bumps are painful, seem to be growing or spreading or secrete a colored liquid discharge, this could be more serious and you should see your gynecologist. Sometimes these bumps can result from the herpes virus or other infections.

4. I have a foul-smelling discharge coming from my vagina and I’m itching terribly. What is it?
Yeast infections are one type of irritation women may get from time to time. It’s a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva. Put another way, it’s a type of vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina.

Vaginal yeast infections isn’t considered a sexually transmitted infection, you can spread the fungus through mouth to genital contact. There are several over-the-counter medications in the way of anti-fungal vaginal creams or suppositories that can effectively treat these infections.

5.  Can I get pregnant one week after my period ends?
Fertility levels change as your body moves through the monthly cycle. There are times you’re more fertile than others during the month, but there’s never a true “safe” time that your fertility levels drop low enough to completely eliminate the chance of becoming pregnant. The time after your period can be a very fertile time, so be consistent with birth control if you use it.

The doctors at Pacific Women’s Center deal with these sensitive issues and many others every day. They welcome your concerns and want to answer your most embarrassing questions. Call the center today for help and reassurance that you have the same concerns as everyone else!

menopause symptoms

8 Common Symptoms of Perimenopause Every Woman Should Know

Some very common menopausal symptoms arise for a length of time before you have your last period. This is a stage known as “perimenopause,” which means “around menopause.” The stage can begin anywhere from your mid-30s and 40s.

Menopause is not a quick physiological change and there are misconceptions about the signs and symptoms associated with the condition. Here are common signs that you may be experiencing Perimenopause.

1. Menstrual Irregularity

Ovulation becomes more unpredictable, and so does the length of time between periods; they may be longer or shorter. Blood flow varies from heavy to light, and you may even skip periods.

2. Hot Flashes

Many women experience hot flashes during perimenopause. Intensity, length, and how often they occur vary. Sleep problems aren’t uncommon with hot flashes due to night sweats.

3. Changes in Mood

During this perimenopause, some women are prone to mood swings, irritability, or increased risk of depression. An erratic sleep schedule could be the cause of these changes, but talk with a doctor about the influence your hormones have as well.

4. Vaginal and Bladder Problems

Your vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity due to losing estrogen in your system. This can result in painful intercourse and make you predisposed to urinary or vaginal infections. Loss of tissue tone may contribute to urinary incontinence.

5. Decreased Fertility

When ovulation becomes irregular, your ability to conceive decreases. If you’re still having periods, however, you can still get pregnant.

 6. Changes in Sexual Desire

While going through perimenopause, sexual desire may change. Hormonal changes may impact sexual arousal, but it doesn’t hold true for every woman.

7. Bone Loss

Shrinking estrogen levels escalate the pace of bone loss more quickly than you replace it. The risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes fragile bones, is raised during perimenopause. You may need to consider supplements or changes in your nutrition as a result.

8. Changing cholesterol levels

Decreasing estrogen levels can mean changes in your blood cholesterol levels. LDL (bad cholesterol) levels may increase due to this, while HDL (good cholesterol) lowers as you age. It is important to monitor your blood pressure levels regularly during this time.

When should you see a doctor?

If you’re concerned about the changes happening in your body during perimenopause, health providers as Pacific Women’s Center are here to make the transition easier for you. Many of the symptoms listed are very normal to experience during the perimenopausal years.

A Simple Strategy for Staying Fit and Healthy Through the Holidays

Sticking with your fitness and diet goals through the holidays can be tricky. The delicious treats and fun times at social gatherings make them almost too much to resist.

Everyone needs a little support through these times, so here’s one simple strategy to keep you motivated.

Continue reading A Simple Strategy for Staying Fit and Healthy Through the Holidays

doctor diagnosis

What You Should Know About Thyroid Disease

The thyroid is a small gland that produces important hormones. It may be tiny, but it plays a vital role in your overall health. Sometimes, the thyroid can produce too much or too little of the hormone, causing health concerns for many women.

Here are a few essential things to know about how your thyroid affects your health and what you should talk about with your doctor.

Continue reading What You Should Know About Thyroid Disease

concerned woman

How to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections

They aren’t always easy to talk about, but they are one of the biggest concerns across the globe. Sexually Transmitted Infections occur more frequently than most people think, and there are plenty of misconceptions out there. Here is the essential information about STIs, plus some information on how they can affect pregnancy.

Continue reading How to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections