By Johanna El-gharbi, Certified Lactation Consultant and Nicole S. Mitton, Grant Writer/Communications Specialist
During National Breastfeeding Month, we celebrate moms’ and babies’ health and wellness by spreading awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. All mothers can breastfeed when they have good information as well as the support of their family, the health care system, and society.
Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants. It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect babies from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia—the two main causes of child mortality worldwide. Breastfeeding stimulates bonding and psycho-social development, and leads to improved nutrition and physical growth. Breastfed babies gain lasting health benefits throughout their lives, such as reduced risk of certain non-communicable diseases (World Health Organization).
Breastfeeding also benefits mothers. Exclusive breastfeeding can be as much as 98% effective as a birth control method in the first six months after birth. It also reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer later in life, helps women return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster, and lowers rates of obesity (WHO). The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age.
Support for Breastfeeding Moms at Whittier Street Health Center
Breastfeeding is natural and skills and techniques have been passed through generations of women. At Whittier Street Health Center, our OB/GYN Department will help you with your breastfeeding goals even before your baby is born. Pregnant patients meet with their case manager, who will explain the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of speaking with their primary care provider (PCP) if they believe there are issues that might interfere with the feeding process after delivery (e.g. medications, surgery).
Patients with babies six weeks old and up can make an appointment to see Whittier’s lactation consultant after their child’s pediatric appointment. The lactation consultant conducts assessments and teaches new mothers about ways to breastfeed and bond with their baby. The lactation consultant is also available to post-partum patients.
Whittier is proud to offer the CenteringPregnancy program, a multifaceted program for pregnant women of similar gestational ages. The program puts 8-12 moms-to-be in one group where they learn care skills, have provider-led discussions, and develop a support network with each other. At Whittier, the groups meet for 10 sessions until delivery. Breastfeeding issues can be addressed at any time, but there are two specific sessions devoted to breastfeeding:
- General information, taboos, and myths about breastfeeding
- Composition of breast milk
- Benefits of breast milk
- Importance of skin-to-skin right after the delivery
- Breastfeeding positions
- Weaning (stopping breastfeeding or introducing new foods)
- Breast milk storage
- Back to work and breastfeeding
- Using a breast pump
During the sessions, the group uses tools such as dolls, Boppy pillows, manual and electric breast pumps, videos, and cards. We have had great feedback from our moms who have completed the program!
After delivery, new moms can move on to the CenteringParenting program, which combines health assessments, education, and support in a group setting, just like CenteringPregnancy.
If you are a mom-to-be and have questions or concerns about feeding your baby after delivery, please call or use our website to schedule an appointment with Whittier’s lactation consultant. We also invite you to join our CenteringPregnancy program, which will give you a great foundation and support network before graduating into the CenteringParenting group.
We are happy to be your medical home as your and your child work towards good health and wellness!