With a national formula shortage raging on, some expecting parents may be considering breastfeeding as an alternative to formula. But for many it can seem like a mystery shrouded in pumps, equipment and literature.
However, it is the simplest method of feeding around – and the most nutritious.
August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, designed to raise awareness of not only the benefits of breastfeeding but also the resources available to families who are considering breastfeeding – and maybe those who have not.
The first thing to know is that breastfeeding is natural and instinctive. A breast pump is not needed to aid lactation, said Teresa McCullen, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at Augusta University Health.
“Understand that milk is immediately there for your baby,” she said. “Babies have a lot of skills that they come into this world with to help them breastfeed.”
Breastfeeding offers many benefits to both baby and mom. It encourages bonding between mother and child, and breast milk provides essential nutrition for the baby. It may also offer some protection against infections. Because breast milk is always available and does not require special equipment, it is economical and convenient.
Lactation is the completion of the reproductive cycle and is a natural part of the breastfeeding process, as are the baby’s instincts to suckle. While it is natural, at times mother and baby can use a little help learning to work together to ensure the baby’s needs are met.
That’s where lactation consultants come in. They are among the many resources available to support families who choose to breastfeed, or who are considering breastfeeding.
AU Health offers International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who can meet with families at the bedside and follow up on an outpatient basis through phone calls or virtual consultations. The team can also provide information session virtually.
Parents, or those who wish to become parents, are encouraged to talk with their health care provider about their decision. For more information and resources, call 706-721-8283 or email Lactation Services at email@example.com.