Health Spotlight: It’s Natural, But It doesn’t Always Come Naturally

August is National Breastfeeding Month

Whether you’re a first-time mom or an experienced mom, breastfeeding can be a different experience for everyone. Research shows that breastfeeding provides many health benefits for mothers and their babies, but it’s not always an easy experience. Kyla Ferrell, registered nurse and internationally board certified lactation consultant at Indiana University Health North Hospital, offers breastfeeding support for new and experienced moms.

“As your baby learns how to nurse, and as you both get into a routine, remember that patience is key,” explains Ferrell. “Some babies latch right away and others struggle in the beginning. Have patience and perseverance when beginning to breastfeed.”

Ferrell and the lactation consultants at IU Health North Hospital meet with moms after a baby’s delivery and continue to support them during their hospital stay. Her tips for breastfeeding success include:

•  Try to breastfeed within the first hour of the baby’s life. After that, try breastfeeding whenever the baby shows signs of hunger, or at least every three hours.

•  Avoid using artificial nipples such as pacifiers, and avoid feeding with water or formula, unless it’s advised by the doctor.

•  Skin-to-skin contact, starting immediately after birth, can help with breastfeeding, and with stabilization of the baby’s heart rate, breathing and body temperature. Both mom and dad can hold the baby skin-to-skin, and doing so releases hormones that promote relaxation and bonding.

When asked how moms can prepare, Erin Harkess-Niemiec, childbirth educator and certified lactation counselor at IU Health North Hospital, says childbirth education classes help give you and your partner a better idea of what to expect. She also encourages moms to find a breastfeeding support group, which provides an opportunity for moms to meet and get support from other breastfeeding moms. Harkess-Niemiec leads a free breastfeeding support group every Thursday at the hospital for moms with newborns and babies up to age one.

Breastfeeding has many benefits, and provides excellent nutrition for babies. Breastmilk is a combination of everything babies need to grow, including proteins, vitamins and healthy fats. Babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from breastfeeding – moms do, too. Breastfeeding offers a routine that helps mothers bond with their baby, and it also burns extra calories.

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