As a community hospital, Lutheran Medical Center supports growing families in the Wheat Ridge area. The Lactation Department at Lutheran helps families thrive by following the 10 Steps for Successful Breastfeeding, as defined by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, launched by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
This includes supporting breastfeeding through education during pregnancy and in-person support during the hospital stay. When families go home, they have the option to return for one-on-one breastfeeding appointments, which is generally covered by insurance, and free breastfeeding support groups, both led by Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs).
With the recent formula shortage, breastfeeding support has been more crucial than ever. Lactation consultants strive to help each family meet their personal feeding goals. For some, this means exclusive breastfeeding or pumping their breast milk and feeding by bottle. Others choose to feed a combination of breast milk and formula. It is important to provide support for the choice that is best for each family.
While breastfeeding is natural, it is not always simple. Lactation consultants specialize in troubleshooting when barriers arise. This often means helping mothers establish a solid milk supply or helping a baby transfer milk more efficiently. Lactation consultants work with a multidisciplinary team to ensure that mom and baby both thrive.
With the approach of World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1 through 7, breastfeeding advocates in the U.S. celebrate as the American Academy of Pediatrics joins the World Health Organization in recommending two years or more of breastfeeding. To this point, breastfeeding beyond a year in the U.S. has largely been seen as countercultural. Around the world, many children breastfeed until they go to kindergarten.
While breastfeeding in the first year of life provides great benefit for both mom and baby, breastfeeding into the second year continues to provide toddlers with perfect nutrition, increased immune protection, and continuation of the nursing bond with their mothers. Those toddlers continue to have decreased risk for allergies, asthma, diabetes, leukemia and obesity. Also, the longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater protection she has against breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and more.
Consider how you can encourage breastfeeding mothers in your community. Cheer on the breastfeeding women in your life. Ensure mothers feel comfortable nursing in public. Help women carve out time during the work day to pump milk for their babies. Encourage family and friends to attend breastfeeding classes and seek help from an IBCLC as they grow their families. The lactation team at Lutheran will happily continue to support breastfeeding families in our community.
Laura Strebeck is an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant at Lutheran Medical Center.