Having a baby is one of life’s most joyous experiences. But it can also be overwhelming— especially when it comes to learning the art of breastfeeding. While about 83 percent of infants are breastfed at some point, only 58 percent are nursed at six months and just 36 percent are breastfed at one year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life and that breastfeeding continues, along with the introduction of complementary foods, for one year or longer.
“This is the natural way to feed a tiny human,” says Janet Feazell, a lactation consultant and perinatal educator at TriHealth’s McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital (MHMH).
To help new moms succeed at nursing, the Breastfeeding Care Center at TriHealth’s maternity hospitals has International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants providing resources and services. MHMH itself has four International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants along with lactation counselors, registered nurses and physicians on staff. The hospital also offers “Baby Bound,” a childbirth education program that provides, among other things, breastfeeding education.
A nurse meets with expectant parents to provide information and instruction. “At McCullough-Hyde, we want a woman to be successful in all of her goals, from her birth plan to her feeding plan,” says Feazell. “So we teach moms about breastfeeding. This gives expectant moms a good idea of what to expect and how to tackle any issues that may come up.” In addition, two days after a mom and baby are discharged from the hospital, they return for a well visit. “We provide a checklist to see how things are going and help new moms with breastfeeding-related issues like engorgement and trouble latching,” says Feazell.
Nicole White, MD, an Emergency Department physician at MHMH and the mother of a 4-year-old and 3-month-old twins, took advantage of the hospital’s support. “In the beginning, it was challenging to trust that my body would know to make enough milk for not just one baby this time around, but two,” she says. “But the lactation consultants were helpful whenever I had questions and supported me in my desire to breastfeed twins.”
Dr. White recommends that new moms ask for support when they need it. “Whether it’s through the hospital lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, La Leche League or friends and family, it really helps,” she says. “Breastfeeding may not be for everyone, but if a woman has the desire, it’s doable. You can be successful.”