August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, and this year’s theme is “Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support.”
Regional One Health’s lactation team follows that motto every day by teaching expectant and new moms about breastfeeding and giving them the support and resources they need.
Members of our lactation team are available to help with proper latch and positioning, encouragement, obtaining breastfeeding and pumping supplies, and more.
For breastfeeding moms, having support from family, friends and health care providers can be the biggest key to success.
During World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7, Regional One Health is raising awareness about how new and expecting parents can get knowledge, resources and encouragement. The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support.”
“Support means everything. It can be the difference between a mom continuing to breastfeed or deciding to stop,” said Christy Brooks, RN, BSN, IBCLC, nurse coordinator for lactation. “We support moms when they’re in the hospital and after they go home, and we educate their partners and families about the importance of breastfeeding and how they can support the mom.”
Brooks is encouraging moms and families to “Step Up for Breastfeeding” by debunking common myths.
I won’t make enough milk.
This is probably the most common concern Brooks hears from moms. She understands where it comes from: unlike with bottle feeding, you can’t see how much milk your baby drinks, so it is hard to know if they’re getting enough.
Brooks teaches moms to track how often their baby breastfeeds, how many wet and dirty diapers they have each day, etc. Your pediatrician also tracks your baby’s growth closely and will help if any issues come up.
“The amount a baby needs at first is very small,” she said. “After that, it’s supply and demand: as your baby needs more milk, your body produces more. Breastmilk also provides nutrients and antibodies. It has everything a baby needs, and it changes to meet the baby’s needs.”
Other responsibilities will keep me from breastfeeding.
Brooks encourages women who face barriers to breastfeeding to seek resources.
Your OB/GYN, pediatrician, nurses, etc. can provide breastfeeding education and resources to help with barriers like having to return to work quickly, having other children to take care of, not having access to a breast pump and other supplies, etc.
Regional One Health offers free childbirth classes that cover breastfeeding and other topics, and can direct patients to help with lactation supplies, housing, food, utility bills and other needs.
If it doesn’t come naturally, it isn’t going to happen.
It’s normal to find breastfeeding hard, especially at first. Regional One Health’s lactation nurses educate and support patients while they are still in the hospital and after they go home.
During labor and delivery, they encourage moms to breastfeed and have skin-to-skin contact with their infant immediately after birth, as long as both mom and baby are healthy. Postpartum moms can get hands-on help with positioning, latch, discomfort, etc.
After moms go home, they can consult with Regional One Health’s lactation team if they run into problems. “We give them a phone number to call us, and also a 24-hour breastfeeding hotline that is available in English and Spanish,” Brooks said. “Moms can explain what’s going on and what they’re struggling with, and we help them get through it.”
I can’t breastfeed if my baby is in the NICU.
Brooks works with a lot of moms who have babies in Regional One Health’s NICU.
She encourages them to start pumping breastmilk as early as possible, and provides resources to obtain a pump and information about how to pump, how often, milk storage, etc.
“It’s important for babies in the NICU to receive breastmilk – it’s the best medicine!” she said.
There’s nothing loved ones can do to help.
While a new mom may be the only one breastfeeding, that doesn’t mean her partner, extended family and friends can’t help. “A lot of partners ask us, ‘What role can I play in this?’” Brooks said. “We tell them, ‘She’ll be successful if you support her.’”
Partners, family members and friends can help the mom relax, watch for signs of stress or postpartum depression, and be patient and encouraging. They can offer to bring water or snacks, burp the baby or change diapers, take care of other kids, do chores, etc.
Regional One Health offers a free “Dynamic Dads” class to help partners learn how to care for mom and baby, support breastfeeding, and more.
“Giving a mom support and resources can be the factor that helps her continue to breastfeed,” Brooks said. “We encourage moms and families, answer their questions and address what they’re worried about. We’re here to help them get past barriers, and we do anything we can to support them. If we can help one mom be successful, that’s a win!”