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County clinics offer resources to assist breast-feeding moms

Oct 8, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Women, Infants, and Children and Fremont County Public Health nursing programs strive to support and share resources that emphasize the importance of breast-feeding as the ideal infant feeding method.

World Breast-feeding Week was celebrated worldwide Aug. 1 to Aug. 7.

WIC is a government program that provides proper nutrition for low-income women and children, and both health programs want to remind residents that there are specialists and resources to help mothers and that it takes a community to help mothers breast-feed successfully. Fremont County Public Health can offer at-home visits to mothers, and WIC can provide more guidance at their office locations.

Prepare and plan

Breast-feeding can be a challenge for some mothers: infants may have difficulty latching on, a mother may not produce enough milk or an employer may not facilitate the mother's need to pump milk while at work.

"Learning how to breast-feed takes time and patience for new mothers and infants," said Karan Kunz, Fremont County WIC clinic supervisor and certified lactation counselor.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding for the first six months of life and encourages it to continue thereafter.

"Breast is best. It's the best food for babies," said Jan Hubenka, a registered nurse and lactation consultant with Fremont County Public Health. "There's help in the community, there's lactation consultants."

Mothers can prepare before the baby arrives. Doctors recommend mothers read books and other information on breast-feeding, take a breast-feeding class, encourage the partner to learn about it and tell friends and family about the plan to breast-feed. Mothers also can make plans with caregivers or employers to schedule breast-feeding or breast milk delivery. Hubenka said most mothers quit breast-feeding when they return to their jobs.

"It is essential that breast-feeding families be supported by their community," Kunz said. "The support can be given by health care providers adopting policies and practices that assume breast-feeding as the normal feeding method for infants and by employers providing a private place and flexible work options to express breast milk during the work day."

Breast-feeding support groups also are common.

"To breast-feed, you need a little bit of knowledge but a lot of support," Hubenka said.

AAP recommends breast-feeding within the first hour after delivery and said that premature or seriously ill babies eventually can be breast-fed.

Over the years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pushed for mothers to try breast-feeding and has pushed to have the infant and mother in the same room immediately after birth.

A recent report by the CDC showed that in 2000, only 71 percent of infants were breast-feeding while in 2010 that percentage increased to 77 percent. CDC reported that 49 percent of babies were being breast fed at 6 months of age in 2010 as opposed to 35 percent in 2000. They've also reported that more medical facilities are letting mothers and infants have skin-to-skin contact after the mother gives birth.

What has been proven are the benefits that are obtained if a mother breast-feeds.

Infants are more likely to develop chronic or acute diseases in the absence of breast-feeding, Kunz said, which can include ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, obesity and respiratory illnesses. Research also shows that mothers also can decrease their risk for breast and ovarian cancers.

Breast-feeding mothers are encouraged to visit their local Riverton or Lander WIC office or Fremont County Public Health nursing office for assistance.

In the past, Soroptimist International of Riverton has made more than 300 nursing pillows for WIC and Fremont County Public Health. Tess Piercy of the Riverton group said the group took an interest in the event from the beginning, especially for the working and professional women who breast-feed.

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