World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration which is held every year from Aug. 1 – 7 in more than 120 countries. Breast milk provides an infant with complete nutrition and supports growth and development, and has additional health benefits. Breastfeeding shares a mother’s antibodies with her baby, and breastfed babies have lower risk of asthma and type 1 diabetes. Additionally, breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Breastfeeding is natural, but it isn’t always easy at first. “That can be challenging, but the most important thing for a new mother is to give herself a little grace,” said Beth Jones, RN, Certified Lactation Consultant at Rapid City Hospital. “Struggling to breastfeed isn’t a failure of any kind. It’s normal, and that’s why we want new moms to take advantage of the resources that are available.”
One of the resources Monument Health provides is board-certified lactation consultants in Rapid City and Spearfish, who help guide new parents through the process of breastfeeding. Lactation consultants can help determine what will help parents and babies get better at breastfeeding, assess whether aides such as nipple shields will be helpful and how to best use a breast pump and bottle feeding techniques that can be used in conjunction with breastfeeding.
“Our current program is four years old, and our breastfeeding rates have greatly increased in this time,” said Terry Ann Scott, RN, Certified Lactation Consultant at Spearfish Hospital. “We have also restarted our in-person breastfeeding classes.” Breastfeeding classes help mothers and a support person explore prenatal preparation, different techniques and positions, nursing products and problem-solving.
At Rapid City Hospital, Lactation Services moved to a new space in March. The new space has created more opportunities for new mothers. “We now have three private rooms to see lactation outpatients, as well as an office to see birth planners,” said Beth. The new location provides additional privacy and allows the lactation consultants to see more outpatients at the same time. Additionally, the space has a conference room where they hold a weekly breastfeeding support group.
“Having access to other new mothers who are having a similar experience can be incredibly encouraging, and your fellow moms may know of a technique or trick that could work great for you,” said Beth.
With a little bit of patience and a little bit of help, most moms and babies get the hang of breastfeeding. “Some babies and moms may have to supplement with bottle feeding, and others may need to use formula instead of breast milk. This doesn’t reflect on the quality of parenting — there simply isn’t one right way to feed and nurture an infant,” said Beth. “While I encourage mothers to explore breastfeeding, if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay too. At the end of the day, the most important thing we can give to our babies is love.”
During World Breastfeeding Week, Monument Health is proud to help raise awareness about the advantages of breastfeeding, and to shine a spotlight on the people and initiatives that are supporting breastfeeding for our patients and our caregivers.
For more information about breastfeeding services at monument health, click here.