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Celebrating the Benefits of Breastfeeding


This week more than 176 nations around the world will participate in World Breastfeeding Week 2015, organized by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. The goal of this annual initiative is to increase awareness of and support for breastfeeding, particularly for working mothers who may face additional obstacles in their efforts to breastfeed their infants.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life. Research has shown that breastmilk provides babies with the ideal nutrition needed for healthy growth and brain development. Breastmilk also provides protection from respiratory infections, ear infections, allergies and other common ailments. In addition, breastfeeding has been shown to lower a child's risk for obesity, diabetes and asthma later in life. For mothers, breastfeeding your infant has been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding also burns a lot of calories and can help new mothers lose their pregnancy weight.

However, breastfeeding does not always come easily for new moms. It can be challenging to get into a rhythm with your baby and may be painful in the beginning. Working with a certified lactation consultant can be helpful. Consultants can offer moms lots of great advice - including hands-on help like helping to get a proper latch or demonstrating different holds - but can also be a wonderful source of support. A consultant can teach a mother different holds; offer tips on getting the baby to latch correctly; and help a mother feel confident that her baby is receiving enough milk.

Dignity Health was the first local health system to provide certified inpatient lactation consultants in each of their hospitals. These consultants are available to every mother after delivery. "Lactation consultants can offer a wealth of information," says Sherry Caruso, Lactation Coordinator at Mercy San Juan Medical Center's Family Birth Center. "We can help new moms understand what's normal and how to know if their baby is getting enough? We can help them figure out why they might be sore or why their baby is having trouble latching. We can also link moms to community support that's available for them after they leave the hospital."

A lactation consultant can also help prepare a breastfeeding mother who will be returning to her job. Working moms are encouraged to begin pumping and storing breastmilk a few weeks before returning to work. Once at work, a breastfeeding mom will need to find a comfortable, private and clean space where she can pump, typically 2-3 times a day. Pumping at roughly the same time every day can help maximize milk production. If you plan to continue breastfeeding while working fulltime, it is wise to invest in a high quality breast pump. A lactation consultant can make a recommendation.

Sherry reminds new moms that whether you breastfeed or not or go back to work or not, the most important thing is that you are a healthy and nurturing mother to your new baby. "We as lactation consultants - along with the other team members in the birth center - are here to support and help new moms. We want you and your baby to be happy and healthy!"

For more information on the Dignity Health Family Birth Centers, including our lactation services and tours of our Birth Centers, visit our website.

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Prepare Now for Back to School


For most kids in our area, the new school year begins sometime in the next couple weeks. Regardless of how old the kids are, going back to school can be a big transition after the fun of summer. And if your kids are apprehensive or nervous about school, that transition can be even tougher. Begin the process of easing your child into the school routine now to help calm any fears. Here are some tips to help your child and you, from the National Association of School Psychologists.

  • Good health: Be sure your child is in good physical and mental health. Discuss any concerns you have over your child's emotional or psychological development with your pediatrician. Your doctor can help determine if your concerns are normal, age-appropriate issues or require further assessment.
  • Read up: Review the material sent by the school as soon as it arrives. These packets include important information about your child's teacher, school supply requirements, sign-ups for after-school sports and activities, school calendar dates, etc.
  • Collect your forms: Make copies of all your child's health and emergency information for reference. Contact your doctor early if you need his/her signature.
  • Shop early: Try to get the supplies as early as possible and fill the backpacks a week or two before school starts. Older children can help do this, but make sure they use a checklist that you can review. Seeing the supplies will help your child start processing that school is almost here.
  • Get your routine: Plan to re-establish the bedtime and mealtime routines (especially breakfast) at least one week before school starts. Prepare your child for this change by talking with your child about the benefits of school routines in terms of not becoming over tired or overwhelmed by school work and activities.
  • Turn off the TV: Encourage your child to play quiet games, do puzzles, flash cards, color, or read as early morning activities instead of watching television. This will help ease your child into the learning process and school routine. If possible, maintain this practice throughout the school year.
  • Check out the school: If your child is young or in a new school, visit the school with your child. Meeting the teacher, locating their classroom, locker, lunchroom, etc., will help ease pre-school anxieties and also allow your child to ask questions about the new environment.
  • Plan for homework: Older children should have the option of studying in their room or a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room or kitchen to facilitate adult monitoring, supervision, and encouragement.
  • Save a spot: Designate a spot for your children to place their school belongings as well as a place to put important notices and information sent home for you to see. Explain that emptying their backpack each evening is part of their responsibility, even for young children.

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