World Breastfeeding Week teaches moms why breast is best

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Healthy behaviors for new moms and babies take the spotlight Aug. 1-7 during World Breastfeeding Week, an opportunity for health-related groups across the world to focus their efforts on the benefits of breastfeeding.

Launched in 1991 by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, WBW aims to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding.” This year, the organization is placing particular emphasis on working together for the common good.

At Wilson Medical Center, we are proud to join the action and participate in #WBW17 and provide support to the breastfeeding moms in our area — those at work and at home, first-time moms to fourth-time moms and beyond, single moms and married moms. We want every mom to have the support she needs to give her baby a healthy start to life, and a big part of that support is understanding the benefits of breastfeeding, both for the mom and the baby.

Benefits for babies

There are many benefits babies will reap from breast milk. The nutrients, hormones and antibodies provided by the mother will help keep the baby healthy and strong. Plus, breast milk tends to be easier for babies to digest. Add in the sense of comfort and security that breastfeeding offers a baby, and you have three compelling reasons to take nature’s approach to feeding your child.

In addition to the three reasons mentioned above, breastfed babies tend to have lower risk of allergies, ear infections, diarrhea, asthma, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and lower respiratory infections. And if you still have reservations, the physical contact of breastfeeding is a great way for a new mom and baby to bond.

Benefits for moms

While people often talk about the benefits of breastfeeding for babies, it can be equally beneficial for mothers. The most obvious benefit to breastfeeding for new moms is that it is a perfect opportunity to really connect and bond with your new baby. You can give your baby something that no one else can — nutritious milk and a strong sense of security.

On top of the bonding and security breastfeeding provides, it also is free and can save significant amounts of time and money. Estimates indicate that formula and feeding supplies can cost more than $1,500 per year. Breastfeeding also saves time in that moms do not have to deal with measuring and mixing formula and sterilizing bottles. Additionally, the physical contact between mother and baby increases levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps milk flow and can create a calming effect for the mother. Studies have shown that breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk of Type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer and postpartum depression. It also requires calorie expenditure, which can help new moms shed any extra weight gained during pregnancy.

Advice, support available

But breastfeeding can be intimidating for first-time moms. How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk? What if I’m feeding her too much? Are the foods I’m eating upsetting my baby’s stomach? How can I breastfeed when I return to work? All of these questions, and so many more, often dissuade new moms from breastfeeding, but they shouldn’t.

At Wilson Medical Center, we offer a number of services to answer these questions, calm new mothers’ fears and provide support to moms who want to breastfeed their babies. These services include monthly breastfeeding classes for mother and support person, which are held on the third Thursday of the month from 6-8 p.m. in the Wilson Medical Center auditorium. We also have a lactation support line (252-399-8887), an email address where you can ask questions (lactation@wilmed.org) and a lactation support team and breastfeeding-friendly nurses to assist you in your breastfeeding journey.

To celebrate National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August, Wilson Medical Center and the Wilson County Health Department are teaming up to offer a Maternity and Breastfeeding Fair on Saturday, Aug. 26 for moms and moms-to-be. This free event will be held from noon to 3 p.m. at the Wilson Agricultural Center and will include a character meet and greet by Party & Event Creations at 1 p.m., car seat checks by the Safe Kids Coalition, breastfeeding education and resources and local shops and vendors such as LulaRoe, Baby Bump, Scentsy, Coastal Posh Boutique and more!

For more information about the event or to learn more about the services we offer, visit Women’s & Children’s Services at www.wilsonmedical.com or call 252.399.8887.

Abigail Holder, a registered nurse certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, is a lactation consultant at Wilson Medical Center.