August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month: What expectant mom’s should know
August 19, 2016
Thomas R. Throssell
Gila River Indian News
For many new mothers, their first experience with breastfeeding often comes after giving birth when the hospital’s lactation nurse arrives and handily guides the newborn’s first feeding.
The journey into the world of breastfeeding and infant nutrition can be an intimidating and frustrating experience, especially since everyone, from family members to the helpful stranger next to you in line at the grocery store, seemingly knows what’s best for your child’s health.
Which is why groups like Gila River Indian Community’s Women, Infant, and Children program (WIC) and the Tribal Health Department’s Genesis program are spearheading the effort in the Community to instruct mothers on how to properly breastfeed and promote infant and mother nutrition education.
Because of the large amount of information on breastfeeding, Deborah Morago, WIC Community Nutrition Worker and Breastfeeding Lead, suggests that women who qualify for WIC should schedule an appointment with the program as soon as they find out they are pregnant.
Morago said that it is important to begin learning about breastfeeding early on before the child is born, because there is a lot of information that cannot be absorbed in just one training session.
An example of this information is the types of milk that a mother produces. Colostrum is the first type of milk that a mother will produce just after giving birth. This milk is thick, yellow in color, and is produced in small amounts.
Many first-time mothers think that their milk is just going to gush out after giving birth, but that is not so, said Morago. Colostrum is a different color than regular milk and it will come out in teaspoon-sized amounts during feeding.
“That will be enough to fill the baby for the first three days because the babies tummy is maybe the size of a walnut,” she said.
Morago emphasized that even if a mother does not want to breastfeed, it is recommended that they do so during the first three days, when they are producing colostrum.
“The best thing you can do for your baby is to give them colostrum,” Morago said. “Because it is the golden milk that will help (the) baby with all the benefits.“
The other type of milk a mother produces, which is her regular milk supply, can be split into two varieties. Foremilk is the thinner milk produced at the beginning of a breastfeeding session and has a lower fat content. Hindmilk, which is produced at the end of a feeding session, contains more fat.
Mary Dixon, WIC Program Manager, said, “The hindmilk is going to be the part of the milk that is going to allow the baby to gain the weight (because) it has more calories and more fat content.”
Which is why it is important to keep the baby on one breast for as long as possible, 15 to 20 minutes, she said. If the baby falls asleep at the breast after ten minutes, many moms will be too quick to switch over to the other side. It is important to nurse the baby on one breast long enough to receive the hindmilk, said Dixon.
But why is breastfeeding important?
Morago said that breastfeeding has a myriad of benefits that can immediately affect the newborn and last a lifetime.
Benefits of breastfeeding include lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes, childhood obesity, childhood leukemia, eczema, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, lower respiratory infections, and more.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the benefits of breastfeeding also spillover to the mother, which can aid the mother’s health and healing following childbirth and include lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and may help with weight loss.
While the WIC and Genesis programs do teach about the benefits of breastfeeding and nutrition, they also provide guidance in how to properly breastfeed.
Many new mothers think that just putting the baby’s mouth to the nipple is all that is needed, said Morago. “But they need to know [how] to make sure that the [baby’s] mouth gets wide open and takes a lot more of the [mother’s] areola.”
This technique is called latching. It is the process of getting a baby attached to the breast so they can efficiently remove the mother’s milk. Learning how to latch is important in building a healthy milk supply, preventing engorgement, plugged ducts, and sore nipples.
When it comes to breastfeeding and baby nutrition, the vast amount of information available can be mindboggling, from how spicy food affects breast milk to treating sore nipples, and properly burping a baby, the WIC and Genesis programs will help provide Community mothers with the knowledge and know-how to keep their babies healthy and happy.
To learn more about breastfeeding, infant and mother nutrition, and to see if you qualify for a breast pump, call the Genesis program at (520) 562-1237, or if you qualify for the WIC program call (520) 562-9698.