August 1st kicks off National Breastfeeding Week to promote and support breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for babies. Since 2010, the percentage of breastfed infants has increased every year, reflecting a cumulative effort to provide breastfeeding services to guide new mothers in the journey. Lactation consultations are free for any infant delivered at Blount Memorial Hospital, but consultations for infants not delivered at Blount Memorial also are offered for a fee. In addition, a little-known gem hides in the Family Birthing Center - a breast pump rental station with hospital-grade pumps is available, something not every hospital in the area offers.
“Our aim is to support families and their breastfeeding goals,” registered nurse and lactation specialist Lindsey Sexton with Blount Memorial’s Family Birthing Center said. A lactation specialist is available to see every new mom for a consultation either in the hospital or after discharge. “We ask our patients their preference and talk to them about what feeding looks like to them. The more prepared they are for what breastfeeding entails, the more successful they’ll be,” Sexton added. This support is extended in multiple ways, from lactation services to educational programs such as the Breastfeeding Class, Caring for Your Newborn class, and Infant and Child Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation classes.
Some benefits to mothers who choose to breastfeed are a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, cost efficiency, and the bond between mother and child that breastfeeding promotes. For infants, the varying composition of breast milk keeps pace with the infant’s changing nutritional needs, and breast milk provides an optimal mix of nutrients and antibodies, reducing risk of illnesses. “I think it’s important for the community to know that breast milk is literally the right food at the right time. We’re here if they’re having trouble, or facing a challenge such as mastitis, to help and support them for however long they want to breastfeed. Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial to the baby,” Sexton explained.
While it varies from state to state, around 80 percent of moms initially choose to breastfeed their newborns. By six months, however, that number drops to around 50 percent. Most families are beginning to introduce solids at that point and the baby usually has a few teeth, so mothers may be more reluctant. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding beyond the first year, even with the introduction of solid foods, as long as desired by both mother and infant.
It's also important to note that sometimes there are challenges that make breastfeeding difficult. If a mother wants to stop breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to talk to a lactation specialist first. “We can consult with them to determine the best way to wean. It’s up to the family to choose how to feed their baby and what is best for their family. We’re glad to help guide them and provide whatever help, support and information they need along the way,” Sexton said.
For more information about classes, programs, or to register, click here or call 865-977-5555.