August is breast-feeding awareness month, and Nancy Embry wants moms to know about all the health benefits for themselves and their babies.
"We want moms to continue (breast feeding) as long as possible," said Embry, a lactation specialist at Conway Regional Medical Center. She said she recommends at least six months, and the World Health Organization and American Pediatric Association both recommend two years or more.
Health benefits to the mother include reduced risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer as well as increased bonding with the baby and reducing postpartum depression, she said.
A wide range of health benefits are extended to the baby, which are still being discovered, and include a lowered risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, fewer ear and respiratory infections, less occurrences of asthma, obesity, diabetes and childhood cancers, she said.
Embry said it can be difficult for mothers today, as the previous generation largely did not breast feed. To provide support, the Great Start Lactation Club meets at the hospital the fourth Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. The club hosts various speakers who discuss topics such as cloth diapering and making your own baby food.
Terri Greer, a member of the club, said she appreciates the opportunity to interact with people who understand the ups and downs of breast feeding.
"It’s a good way to meet with other moms," she said.
Greer said when her son, Charlie, 13 months, was born, she visited the lactation specialist because she was having trouble with discomfort.
"Breast feeding is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally," she said. "It’s kind of a learning process on both ends."
Eventually, she and the lactation specialist discovered that Charlie was tongue-tied. A visit to the pediatrician fixed the problem. Greer was glad she had a lactation specialist to help her identify the issue.
Greer truly discovered how grateful she was for her decision to breast feed when the April 27 tornado destroyed her home in Mayflower. It was late and Charlie was hungry, so she fed him.
"If I’d been formula feeding I wouldn’t have had any bottles, I wouldn’t have had any formula, I wouldn’t have had any sterile water," she said.
Embry said she offers her services to all moms, whether they deliver at Conway Regional or not. There are also classes offered for a small charge. For more information, go to www.conwayregional.org.
(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)