August is National Breastfeeding Month

Kayla Simard, CPNP

The choice to breastfeed is very personal

Many mothers consider this choice before birth; however, some make a decision shortly after their child is born.  There are many benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and babies.  It is common to encounter some difficulties initially when breastfeeding.  During this time, it can be very helpful to have the support of your family and your child’s health care provider.

There are numerous benefits to breast milk for infants.  First, breast milk naturally contains the correct nutrients needed for growth and development.  Breast milk has the unique ability to change as your baby grows and to tailor to their specific nutritional needs.  Furthermore, breast milk is easier to digest than formula.  One of the greatest benefits of breast milk is that it contains antibodies to help protect babies from certain illnesses.  This is particularly important when they are a newborn given that they are unable to receive vaccinations until two months of age.  Illnesses during this time can be extremely serious and dangerous.  Additionally, breastfeeding lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Breastfeeding is known to benefit not only the infant, but the mother as well.  Oxytocin is a hormone that is released when a mother breastfeeds.  This hormone helps the uterus to return to its normal size and decrease bleeding after birth.  Additionally, breastfeeding helps with postpartum weight loss and decreasing the risk of certain cancers (breast and ovarian).  Lastly, breastfeeding helps with bonding for both mom and baby.

Many new parents do not realize that breastfeeding can frequently be a challenging road to navigate in the beginning of your child’s life.  A mother’s milk supply commonly takes several days to come in and during this time your child may lose weight.  Your child’s health care provider will work with you to determine if this weight loss is within a normal range or whether further intervention is needed.  It is also common for mothers to experience nipple breakdown and pain initially.  Other common issues when breastfeeding include supply concerns (over or under supply), trouble latching, and/or pain with nursing.

Pediatrics West is happy to offer Lactation Counseling services in our offices.  During these specialized visits, a Lactation Counselor is able to observe a mother nursing her infant.  Based on these observations, recommendations can be made to help both the new mom and baby with breastfeeding.  Our Lactation Counselor will work with you to make the best feeding plan for both you and your baby.  If you are interested in scheduling a Lactation Counseling visit, please contact our office at (978) 577-0437.

Kayla Simard

Kayla Simard is a board certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She received her BSN from the University of Massachusetts and completed her Masters degrees at Regis College. She is a member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau. Kayla also works as a staff nurse at Lowell General Hospital on Pediatrics. Her clinical interests include providing care to well and ill children, infancy through adolescence.

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