Why it’s so important to breastfeed your newborn
Breastmilk is the best food for any newborn as it has all of the nutrients needed to help with growth and development and just the right amount. It also offers protection for the baby’s digestive and other body systems. August is known as National Breastfeeding Month, and if you are expecting a baby, or a new mom running into some issues, there is a lot of help for you. The West Jefferson Family Birth Place team is an excellent resource as it hosts monthly breastfeeding classes that will provide you all the information you need.
Breastfeeding helps both infant and mom
According to Dr. Ruth Petersen, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more needs to be done to support safe environments for moms who choose to breastfeed because of the importance of mother’s milk. As she notes, “Breastfeeding provides unmatched health benefits for babies and mothers. It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby.” What are those benefits? According to the CDC, infants who consume mother’s milk have a reduced risk of medical issues, such as:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Gastrointestinal infections
But the benefits don’t’ end there. Women who breastfeed also see benefits with lower risks of:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
Equally important, breastfeeding gives you and your baby quality skin-to-skin contact time, which is known to calm and comfort a baby.
Six of the most common difficulties for breastfeeding moms and babies
“Though breastfeeding is the best way to get nutrition into your baby, it can be a little difficult to learn for some moms,” says Lila Luster-Stipe, a lactation consultant at West Jefferson’s Family Birth Place. When difficulties do arise, it typically centers around six issues:
- Mastitis: which is an inflammation of the breast tissue and may or may not lead to an infection. Some symptoms include: Hot, swollen breasts, A red, painful, or hot lump in your breast, body aches, chills
- Sore nipples: which are common when first starting to breastfeed but should go away in the first week or two. Keeping your nipples hydrated by using coconut oil or your own milk and changing nursing pads often may help.
- Delayed milk production: in the first few days after your baby is born, you will only make small amounts of milk, which may delay your milk from leaving your body. A way to get the milk flowing is to feed often, especially when your baby is exhibiting hunger cues.
- Continued low milk production: certain factors can interfere with long-term milk production, such as having a C-section, premature birth, stress during birth, and certain medications. Talk with a lactate specialist if you are having ongoing issues.
- Flat or Inverted Nipples: this can make feeding difficult for the baby. Some moms find it helpful to wear hard plastic breast shells to bring out the nipple in the bra between feedings or just before they intend to nurse.
- Plugged Milk Ducts: A plugged duct feels like a sore lump in the breast, and they do occur in some women more than others. One way to try and prevent a plugged duct is to empty your breast so that you don’t go too long without doing so. Review your baby’s routine and see when you can express extra milk. Also, make sure your baby is latching on properly, as improper sucking can also lead to a plugged duct.
“Breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby and yourself,” says Lila. “If you have any apprehensions, talk to you doctor who can put you in touch with a lactation expert on our team to help you. We provide classes as well as one-on-one sessions for moms. It’s not only our job, but our passion to support you during your breastfeeding journey.”
About Lila Luster-Stipe:
Lila was born in New Orleans, La. She is a graduate of McDonogh #35 Senior High School and attended University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans. Upon completion of core classes with and interest in healthcare, she relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue a nursing degree at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing. While in nursing school, Lila worked as a nurse tech in the maternity area, igniting her interest in the field. Graduating from Georgia Baptist in 1994, she was hired by DeKalb Medical Center as a staff nurse on the Mother/Baby unit and was promoted as the maternity unit’s Nurse Educator shortly after. With the desire to relocate to her hometown, she secured a job in the Family Birth Place at West Jefferson Medical Center as a staff nurse in Labor & Delivery and Postpartum, but worked in the Nursery and NICU immediately, focusing on lactation assistance when needed. Six years into employment with West Jefferson, Lila was promoted as the unit’s Lactation Consultant after passing the International Board Certification for Lactation Consultants, and is currently Lead Consultant. In 2019, Lila was named one of the “Great 100 Nurses” of Louisiana.