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November 30, 2010 > Breastfeeding: Give Your Baby a Healthy Start

Breastfeeding: Give Your Baby a Healthy Start

Saturday Lactation Clinic Expands Breastfeeding Support

There are so many benefits to breastfeeding, both physical and emotional, for moms and babies. Breastfeeding provides vital bonding time with your baby. Breast milk is also considered "perfect nutrition" for your baby, according to the National Women's Health Information Center, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Women's Health. Additionally, breast milk is free, so you save money, and there are important health benefits for mom and baby.

But breastfeeding is not always as simple as maternal instinct. Sometimes a little instruction and support can go a long way to making sure both mom and baby are getting the most out of the experience with minimal frustration and anxiety.

Expanded lactation clinic hours

To help improve access to services for breastfeeding moms, Washington Hospital's Lactation Clinic-located at 2299 Mowry Avenue, Suite 2C, in Fremont-has expanded its hours to include a Saturday breastfeeding clinic from 1 to 5 p.m. The first hour of the clinic is open for drop-in clients with a baby of any age.

Group support for positioning and latch is still available on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. with Wednesdays at 11 a.m. for the Beyond Newborn Clinic focusing on babies one month and older.

"There are different adjustments that need to be done as your baby gets older and often the criteria change," says Karen Smith, R.N., coordinator of the Maternal/Child Education Program at Washington Hospital.

Smith points out that while the Wednesday clinic focuses on babies a month and older, moms who come in for support during any of the clinic times are never turned away because their baby isn't in the right age group.

Private visits also may be scheduled during the expanded Saturday clinic hours, with the last appointment of the day available at 4 p.m.

Mastering the juggling act: back-to-work breastfeeding

For moms looking to go back to work, Smith highly recommends the Back to Work Breastfeeding class.

"Back to Work Breastfeeding is a comprehensive class about all the things you need to do when you go back to work," Smith says. "Oftentimes new moms will call and say, 'I'm going back to work in a week. Help!' There are so many things you have to take into consideration and it's more involved than just a phone call. It's nearly impossible to explain everything just over the phone, so waiting until the last second is not optimal. We encourage moms to prepare ahead of time-at least a month in advance-so that we can help them get off to a good start going back to work."

Smith finds that women many times try to go it alone and end up finding themselves in a bind once they've returned to work.

"Sometimes new moms get their pump, but they don't call for help," she says. "Then they start pumping and their milk supply begins to dwindle. This is often when we get panicked phone calls. There are so many factors to consider, and taking the Back to Work Breastfeeding class can really decrease the amount of stress they feel because they're prepared.

"It's really important that you look ahead so that we can help you early on. The good news is that lactation support is available at an affordable cost to those who need it."

Notably, this time of year is particularly important for breastfeeding, according to Smith.

"Flu season is coming and it is really the most important time to breast feed, especially if you have a premature baby," she says. "These infants in particular need an extra boost of antibodies from mom's milk. When someone sneezes or coughs, you breathe that air and your body immediately starts making antibodies. Your baby gets that instant 'vaccination' through your breast milk."

This is particularly important if there is an older child or other relative in the home who gets ill, because breast milk will provided some degree of protection, potentially lessening the degree of illness if your infant does come down with the illness.

"Breastfeeding is really one of the best things you can do for you and your baby," Smith says. "Make sure to keep the clinic's number on hand and ask for help when you need it."

Lactation support when you need it

Washington Hospital's Breastfeeding Support program has a skilled staff of lactation educators and consultants who offer support to breast-feeding and back-to-work moms with low-cost private visits by appointment, classes, clinics and a free advice line.

For a private visit with the clinic's internationally board certified lactation consultants or to access the free advice line, call (510) 494-7013 (Monday through Friday).

For more information about Childbirth & Parenting class schedules, call (510) 791-3423.

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