World Breastfeeding Week was celebrated last week at Gibson Area Hospital (GAH) with the theme "Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life!" to acknowledge that when mothers and babies succeed in their breastfeeding plans, they can enjoy a lifetime of benefits. The Moms, Babies, and Breastfeeding Support Group, facilitated by the OB Department’s lactation counselors, met Thursday, August 8, 2014 togive local moms an opportunity to share their success stories with each other as their babies demonstrated their own personal milestones with speed crawls, teething rings, and sippy cups.
Infant feeding is one of the most important decisions a family can make, and most women who choose to breastfeed have a specific goal in mind. Research shows that babies who receive only breast milk for the first six months of life are less likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, obesity, and respiratory illnesses. Among advantages of breastfeeding for mothers include decreased risks for breast and ovarian cancers.
To reach the goal of exclusive breastfeeding, mothers benefit from a team of helpers and healthcare professionals to support them. For mothers at Gibson Area Hospital, this breastfeeding team can include family, friends, physicians, nurses, employers, and childcare providers. Together, the breastfeeding team provides information to boost confidence, protects mothers against critics, gives reassurance, and lends a hand to help breastfeeding mothers succeed. Team members with special skills and knowledge about breastfeeding, such as a lactation counselor or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), are especially helpful. "An IBCLC is often the ‘head coach’ for the breastfeeding team, providing unique expertise and guidance for a mother," said Decalie Brown, President of the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA). Dawn Merkle, Director of OB at Gibson Area Hospital, says she is "proud to have knowledgeable team to help new moms with breastfeeding-not only during their time in the hospital after delivery, but throughout their journey with breastfeeding."
When mothers and babies are able to reach their breastfeeding goals, they also contribute to community prosperity, health, equity, and environmental sustainability. "Healthy mothers with healthy babies are better able to contribute to household wealth because illnesses do not limit their opportunity to generate income," said Brown. "Additionally, breastfeeding provides appropriate nutrition for infant growth, sets the stage for school-readiness, and contributes to a cleaner environment with less waste. Together, all of these small contributions add up for improved global health."
"Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for life!" also highlights the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an international framework for reducing poverty and providing people with lives of dignity in every nation by 2015. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), which coordinates World Breastfeeding Week, has identified how breastfeeding contributes to each of the MDGs. For further details, visit www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.
To speak to a lactation counselor or an IBCLC about local breastfeeding support, contact Gibson Area Hospital OB Department at (217) 784-2510.