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Shining a light on breastfeeding benefits

August is National Breastfeeding Month

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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Breastfeeding provides all the nutrition a baby needs, and breast milk significantly improves health, survival and well-being for both infants and mothers, while creating a special bond between mother and baby. 

Specifically, babies who are breastfed have lower risks of obesity and many illnesses and diseases like ear infections, asthma, type 2 diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Additionally, breastfeeding mothers have decreased postpartum blood loss, lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and burn as many as 500 calories each day. Breastfeeding also can be done anytime and anywhere and can save families money as formula costs can be high. 

Because of its importance to the health of babies and mothers, Bothwell Regional Health Center supports breastfeeding through the availability of a certified lactation consultant and Baby Café, an on-site breastfeeding support group, as well as by providing worksite accommodations for breastfeeding employees and participating in community breastfeeding initiatives.

Janice Johnson is Bothwell’s certified lactation consultant and she and the rest of the Women’s Health team are available for information and support for mothers who want to breastfeed. Johnson said lactation services are free and available to the public, not just moms who deliver in the hospital. 

“From our physicians, nurse practitioners, midwife, nurses and myself, we are all here to provide moms the assistance they need to start and continue breastfeeding,” Johnson said. “Many members of the team can speak from both clinical and personal experiences.”

Bothwell is the meeting spot for the local Baby Café. It is a free breastfeeding support service for area women and open to anyone who is breastfeeding or interested in breastfeeding. Baby Café is a national program that is registered and licensed with local chapters throughout the country. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend. While 80% of mothers may start out breastfeeding, the number drops to 50% within six months and 35% at a year of breastfeeding. Johnson said support for women who breastfeed is key whether that’s from partners, families, employers or community resources. 

“Baby Café is a great place for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to find answers to questions and get help with latching, pumping and increasing or maintaining breast milk supply,” Johnson said. “It’s also mother-to-mother support in a drop-in environment that is fun and relaxed, and we serve refreshments.”

Baby Cafe is open from 4 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday in the lobby of the Women’s Health and Newborn unit on the first floor of the hospital. No appointment is necessary.

Johnson is a member of the Pettis County Breastfeeding Coalition developed by the Pettis County Health Center. The coalition started Baby Café at Bothwell and also provides breastfeeding education, support and resources for anyone who is breastfeeding or interested in breastfeeding. The group also works to recruit breastfeeding-friendly workplaces. She said it takes a supportive community for a mother to be successful and that there are plenty of resources in Pettis County. 

“We know breastfeeding can be challenging and is not an option for all moms; however, there are a number of breastfeeding resources available in the community,” Johnson said. “All of us, whether it’s at Bothwell or the Pettis County Health Center, want to see moms try and succeed with their breastfeeding efforts. It’s all about healthy children, which make for a healthy community.” 

To learn more about Bothwell’s lactation services and Baby Café, contact Johnson at jjohnson@brhc.org or call 660-827-9474.

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