Breastfeeding Benefits Babies, New Moms

Waupaca Class, Hospital Staff Can Help Mothers be Successful    

Moms-to-be have many decisions to make, from deciding on names to picking out all of the furniture and accessories that new babies need. Another decision moms need to consider before their baby is born: whether or not to breastfeed.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the number of new moms breastfeeding their children has risen in recent years with 4 out of 5 women deciding to nurse after childbirth. Kalli Suhs, a registered nurse and certified lactation counselor at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca, said those numbers are good news since breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for babies and their mothers.

“Breastfed babies are generally healthier than formula fed babies because of the wonderful antibodies they receive through breast milk,” she said. “When an infant nurses directly from the breast, the saliva communicates with mom’s body telling her what antibodies are needed and how to adjust the milk.”

Overall, breastfed babies have lower rates of ear infections, colds constipation and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Suhs said benefits can be seen later in life with breastfed babies having lower rates of childhood cancers, type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, obesity, asthma, and even heart disease. 

Mothers who breastfeed experience lower rates of postpartum hemorrhage, postpartum depression and breast, cervical and uterine cancers, Suhs said. “Breastfeeding mothers also experience a heightened bond with their baby due to the cocktail of hormones that is released when nursing,” she said.

While breastfeeding is natural, it is not always easy to get started or maintain. ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca offers a two-hour breastfeeding class every other month to help moms-to-be. Taught by a certified lactation counselor, the class looks at what can be expected during the first weeks of breastfeeding and how to plan ahead if moms want to pump their milk after returning to work. The class is recommended for women in either their seventh or eighth month of pregnancy.

“The hospital has three certified lactation counselors, including two who are OB nurses. They are here to help new moms get off to a good start and answer any questions while they are still in the hospital,” Suhs said.

New moms continue to receive support after leaving the hospital. After breastfed babies are discharged, their mothers can meet with lactation counselors to discuss any problems they are having or to get additional advice. The lactation staff also follows up with all breastfeeding mothers by telephone and breastfeeding mothers are also invited to attend a twice-monthly support group to discuss concerns, have their questions answered and get their baby weighed to make sure he or she is growing properly.

Many moms start out with the intention of breastfeeding, but may stop after a few weeks or a couple of months because they do not feel their decision is supported, Suhs said. Some may feel pressure to switch to formula from family, friends or an employer, she added.

“When women feel unsupported in their choices, they struggle much more. The best way for this to be overcome is by educating people about the benefits of breastfeeding and making it our ‘norm,’” Suhs said. “When mothers feel supported, they feel much more comfortable asking questions, asking for help, or even just talking about their experiences with other parents or their providers.”

For women going back to work, Suhs said the breastfeeding class as well as the support group can provide moms with advice on how to keep nursing once they are at work. Federal rules require employers to provide a clean, private area for new moms to pump.

You can find breastfeeding classes in other communities or local classes planned later this year by going to www.ThedaCare.org and clicking on Events/Classes. Patients can register for the program online at at www.thedacare.org or call ThedaCare On Call™ at 920.830.6877 or 800.236.2236 weekdays, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February 2016. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.