August Is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month

August 13, 2014

Newport Hospital offers education, tips about breastfeeding

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and it’s a great time to remind families about the numerous health benefits for mother and baby when it comes to breastfeeding, says Mary Lovegreen, BSN, RNC, IBCLC, a clinical nurse in the Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center at Newport Hospital.

According to The Office of Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, infants who are breastfed are given a healthy start that will last a lifetime. “They are at lower risk for asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes and SIDS,” Lovegreen says, “and babies who are breastfed have fewer sick visits and are hospitalized less often.”

Mothers who breastfeed show fewer incidences of type 2 diabetes and breast and ovarian cancer, as well as postpartum depression, Lovegreen adds. Breastfeeding not only supports healthy outcomes, but also plays a key role in mother-baby bonding – and physical contact is important to newborns because it can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted. All of these advantages to breastfeeding cost little or nothing to the family, but patient education must begin prior to birth.

“Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned by both mother and baby,” says Lovegreen. “It can be challenging, particularly early on, but it will get easier with practice and patience.”

Pediatricians, obstetricians, and certified nurse midwives can help mothers with breastfeeding, as well as board-certified lactation consultants, breastfeeding counselors, doulas, and even other breastfeeding moms, Lovegreen adds, and support should continue after going home to ensure moms successfully continue breastfeeding. Many new mothers will face increasing challenges combining breastfeeding with their work, families, and daily pressures of motherhood.

Lovegreen offers these breastfeeding tips:

  • Planning – Prepare ahead of time, including talking with your employer about available work options to help ease the back-to-work transition.
  • Bonding – Mother and baby should be in the same room and engage in skin-to-skin contact.
  • Prepare – Take the time to relax before each feeding – babies can sense when their mothers are tense.
  • Positioning – Position the baby properly – it’s the most important step to helping make breastfeeding more successful.
  • Hunger signs – Moms should look for subtle breastfeeding queues to breastfeed babies on demand. Babies may smack their lips, open their mouth, or suck their hand to indicate it’s time to be fed. (Once a baby is crying, he or she is already at an advanced stage of hunger.)
  • Feeding time – Newborns should be encouraged to breastfeed every two to three hours on demand. Breast milk is more easily digested than formula – that’s why newborns breastfeeds more often. This stimulates the breasts to produce an adequate milk supply.

Newport Hospital holds prenatal breastfeeding classes for expecting couples on the second Tuesday of each month to educate participants about the art of breastfeeding. On Thursdays, the hospital conducts a weekly breastfeeding support group for moms to talk to and learn from other moms. In cases where a mother can’t breastfeed, hospital staff collaborates across disciplines to provide the best care possible and help her understand her options.