August is National Breastfeeding Month, and Lake Regional Family Birth Center is sharing the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby.
“Breastfeeding might be natural, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging,” said Mary Lou Gamm, R.N., BSN, RNC-OB, women and children’s service line director at Lake Regional. “To make the breastfeeding process a little easier, Lake Regional offers a breastfeeding class. We also have a lactation consultant on staff who provides tips to help women succeed in their breastfeeding goals. This resource is available to women during their pregnancy, while they are in the hospital and after they are discharged.”
The early education and ongoing support Lake Regional provides has boosted breastfeeding success. In fiscal year 2021, 60.6% of mothers who delivered at Lake Regional exclusively breastfed their newborns while in the hospital, whereas the statewide rate was only 46%.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Babies who are breastfed have reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, severe lower respiratory disease, ear infections, gastrointestinal infections and sudden infant death syndrome.
“Breastmilk has antibodies and the right amount of protein, fat and sugar for your baby,” Gamm said. “To make sure your baby has the nutrients they need, fill your plate with a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for babies for the first 6 months and continuing to breastfeed as long as mutually desired by mother and child. The AAP states the longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater the benefits will be for her and the baby.
Breastfeeding has not only been associated with improved mother-child bonding, but it also has health benefits for mothers. Breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
“Breastfeeding also saves time and money,” Gamm said. “Educating yourself on the benefits of breastfeeding will help motivate you to keep going even if you face challenges. The benefits make it worthwhile.”
Show Me Five
Lake Regional Family Birth Center also supports breastfeeding through participating in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ “Show Me 5” Hospital Initiative. This initiative recognizes hospitals that adopt five evidence-based maternity care practices that support breastfeeding:
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth.
- Practice “rooming-in,” allowing infants to stay in the same room as their mothers.
- Ensure breastfeeding infants receive only breast milk (and no other liquids), unless medically indicated.
- Do not use pacifiers or artificial nipples for breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge.
“To help sustain their breastfeeding journey, moms need continued support,” Gamm said. “Our Amazing MOMS Facebook support group connects breastfeeding mothers with each other for peer encouragement, and our lactation consultant is there to address concerns and answer questions.”
Lake Regional Family Birth Center has an experienced team that includes obstetricians, nurses, a pediatric hospitalist and a lactation specialist, who provide prenatal, labor, delivery, nursery and postpartum care for more than 600 mothers and babies each year. To learn more, visit lakeregional.com/FBC.