• Breastfeeding: Why it's good and why we promote it

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  • It’s spring. We’re watching new life unfold around us through a greening of the foliage, the presence of baby rabbits and birds building nests. On the human end, many expectant parents are beginning to prepare their own “nests” as well for a new arrival. For those, I thought it a good time to talk about the importance of breastfeeding and what we’re doing in the Birthing Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center to give new moms the best chance of success in a part of motherhood that benefits the mom as much as the child.
    The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends breastfeeding exclusively through the first six months of a child’s life, continuing through the first year in addition to solid foods. Why?
    According to the breastfeeding promotional organization, La Leche League, there are 10 good reasons to do so for the baby, and another 10 reasons it benefits mothers.
    For the baby:
    1. Breast milk has the right amounts of what your baby needs to grow healthy
    and strong.
    2. Breast milk changes to meet your growing baby’s needs.
    3. Breast milk is gentle to the stomach, so it is less likely to cause digestive problems, such as diarrhea.
    4. Breastfeeding protects against sudden infant death syndrome.
    5. Breastfeeding helps jaw and facial muscles develop.
    6. Breastfed babies often have fewer ear infections and fewer respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
    7. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop allergies.
    8. Breastfeeding may help prevent diseases such as diabetes and asthma.
    9. Breastfed babies may be less likely to become obese later in life.
    10. Breastfeeding is a special experience that your baby can share with you.
    For mom:
    1. Breastfeeding burns 500 calories a day and may help you return to your
    pre-pregnancy weight.
    2. Breastfeeding may reduce postpartum bleeding and helps your uterus return to
    pre-pregnancy size.
    3. Breastfeeding may delay the return of your menstrual cycle and protect you from anemia.
    4. Breastfeeding reduces your risk of postpartum depression.
    5. Breastfeeding reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes as well as ovarian and breast cancers.
    6. Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
    7. Breastfeeding helps foster a stronger bond with your baby.
    8. Breastfeeding is convenient: it doesn’t require mixing, measuring or heating; sterilization or refrigeration or cleanup. Nighttime feedings are quicker and easier.
    9. Breastfeeding saves you money! You need fewer supplies and your baby is often healthier which reduces medical expenses.
    10. Breastfeeding is a special gift that only you can give your baby.
    In the Birthing Center at St. Mary’s, we encourage breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and “on-demand” thereafter. Since our moms labor, deliver and recover postpartum in the same room, there is a support group of professionals standing by to help mothers succeed in nourishing their newborns through a variety of resources. Even following C-sections, we like to get moms and their babies together as soon as possible to promote bonding.
    Page 2 of 2 - For babies with additional health needs, we encourage moms to pump within four to six hours in order to provide their nourishment to those babies as they receive special care for newborn issues.
    Our moms have access to nurses who are well-qualified in the latest information and techniques for breastfeeding and our international board-certified lactation consultant visits with patients every day. She also continues to provide assistance to patients after discharge and leads a breastfeeding class for new mothers.
    Finally, we provide mother-to mother support through our group connected with La Leche. And, the Healthy Beginnings program at St. Mary’s provides breastfeeding classes and equipment to mothers who are socially at-risk.
    Whether you deliver your baby at in the Birthing Center at St. Mary’s or elsewhere, I hope you’ll seriously consider the many benefits of breastfeeding and know there is help when that benefit may not come easily.
    Mothers who have delivered in the Birthing Center at St. Mary’s may obtain lactation support by calling 816-655-5574, option 3.
    Cheryl Herr is a labor and delivery nurse in the Birthing Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

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