We met with Porter Regional Hospital’s Lactation Consultant, Aleda Waggoner, and Lactation Consultant and Labor and Delivery Nurse, Kelly Foster who gave us an inside look on the importance and benefits of breastfeeding. Both believe breastfeeding is the most convenient option for new mothers, and offer advice on how to combat myths and difficulties during the journey.
Here’s Porter Regional Hospital’s breastfeeding guide to help.
Many mothers believe that breastfeeding will be uncomfortable. This isn’t entirely true. Just like anything that is new-- it takes time to adjust and learn.
“Many patients think it will hurt. After a few times, it becomes a bit tender. The discomfort lasts no more than 2-3 days. The experience is new to the baby, and the mom. They are both learning together--like learning to ride a bicycle,” Waggoner said.
Foster encourages mothers to visit the hospital if they aren’t confident or feeling comfortable breastfeeding.
“It’s an adjustment for your body that you, nor your baby have done before. You are learning this new role, and it's never done this task before, so it takes time,” Foster said. “We can usually help to get it right. If a mom is having pain, they can come in and learn to have a better latch.”
Both Foster and Waggoner said that women’s bodies were made to breastfeed. So don’t feel frustrated if your baby is not latching on perfectly--it will take time and patience.
Health Benefits of Breastfeeding
“Every time you nurse you release oxytocin, the hormone that helps the uterus go back down to the size it was before, decreases postpartum bleeding, and helps the body overall recover from delivery,” Foster said.
Oxytocin is also referred to as the love hormone, or the bonding hormone. Babies sense this and form connections through this bond, before they can even speak.
Breastfeeding helps the body get back into shape faster. It also decreases a mother's risk for multiple forms of cancer, such as breast and ovarian cancer. The longer a mom breastfeeds, the more those risks are decreased.
When you breastfeed you are on the path to having a healthier baby, as well.
“When the baby is born, their immune system isn’t fully developed. The first thing you can do to develop that is to breastfeed, which is full of live cultures, white blood cells, and good bacteria that is going to jump your babies immune system. Less risk for diabetes, ear infections, asthma, and infections,” Foster said.
Timeline of Breast Milk
The first type of milk that is produced is called Colostrum, otherwise known as liquid gold-- its consistency is like honey and is very thick. The milk is produced in the first four days and is jam-packed full of calories and sugar.
For preemie babies-- the mother's milk is full of different nutrients than a full term babies milk.
“The antibodies that the mother protects the baby with is specifically for the baby at that time. As the baby grows, the milk changes in consistency and color,” Foster said. “It’s amazing how your body knows how to adapt. If your baby gets sick, your body will increase the antibodies in the milk because the skin to skin contact is sending signals.”
Outside mother bonding
As mentioned above, skin to skin contact is important. The first four weeks the baby should be at breast building up the mother’s milk supply. After a solid four weeks or until nursing is well established, perhaps it’s time to let the baby be bottle fed by a partner to create a skin to skin bond.
Breastfeeding outside the home
“When I was younger I had no help when I was breastfeeding. Now, I find that the pendulum is going the other way,” Waggoner said. “ Thankfully, the negative stigma of breastfeeding outside the home is dwindling away.”
If a mother is feeling uncomfortable, she can purchase a nursing cover. There are also public rooms dedicated in airports and various other places for breastfeeding mothers.
Over the last decade, our world has been adapting to breastfeeding moms. How you feed your baby is a personal choice, and Porter Regional respect that.
Not Enough Milk/ Too Much
If you carry an oversupply, there are options to pump and save milk. It can be refrigerated for a few days or kept frozen for up to a year. Porter Regional Hospital offers a Milk Bank for mothers to donate if they have an oversupply, and for mothers to take if they don’t have enough. The milk depot accepts approved milk drop offs by appointment. Call Julie White 219-983-8698 or Elaine Johnson-Merkel 219-983-8541, to schedule an appointment, or for more information.
Mothers and families can attend support clinics that occur twice a month. Those who have delivered with Porter Regional Hospital can utilize free private outpatient services. Support clinics act as reassurance for mothers who may have self-doubt.
“With your first baby, you have so many questions. Newborn behavior tends to make you feel like you are doing something wrong. You always want to make sure your baby has enough,” Foster said.
For more information about breastfeeding, schedule an appointment, or learn more visit https://www.porterhealth.com/maternity-care-services.