Sherry Hottenstein is a Lactation Consultant in Banner Thunderbird Medical Center’s Women Infant Services department.
Question: It’s been written that "immediate initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for six months can save more than one million babies." (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action 2007). What evidence supports this statement?
Answer: Edmond (2006) did a study in Ghana that showed babies who breastfed in the first hour were more likely to survive the neonatal period. This concept is particularly important in these countries while in the US we may not worry about this we can take this information to better our breastfeeding rates. Nils Bergman’s research in skin to skin contact indicates numerous benefits for both mother and baby in this early contact and confirms the importance of the first hour.
Question: What are the biggest obstacles women face when it comes to breastfeeding?
Answer: There are many obstacles for women who are breastfeeding. Women are not often encouraged and supported with factual information about infant breast and formula feeding before becoming pregnant or during their prenatal visits. Because of this, may arrive at the hospital in labor and have many interventions that jeopardize the normal process of labor and birth. In turn, this can hinder the normal reflexes of feeding in the newborn. Furthermore, mothers may return home with their babies, not yet having mastered feedings so they revert to the free formula that has been given them. In addition, a high percentage of new moms who are successfully breastfeeding, have to return to work. The lack of support (providing places and times for new mothers to use breast pumps, etc.) in the workplace often forces women to stop breastfeeding.
Question: How does the Labor & Delivery department promote breastfeeding among new mothers?
Answer: The Banner Thunderbird Labor & Delivery staff continues to try and promote breastfeeding in that first important hour, encouraging skin to skin contact and even delaying the bath until after the transition time. We are working on establishing breastfeeding continued education for staff so they can offer even more knowledge and support to new mothers and their babies.