Lactation education

Lactation Specialists Help New Moms Overcome Breastfeeding Barriers

The WHO has stated that universal breastfeeding can save 820,000 lives each year.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country, according to the CDC.

This is why the work done by lactation specialists is important as they try to encourage and educate new moms about the importance of breastfeeding.

“Breastfeeding is so important and it provides so many values ​​and nutrition for baby and also benefits for mom,” said Christy Brooks, lactation specialist and coordinator at Regional One.

Brooks said lactation specialists meet with every new mom.

“We teach them about breastfeeding, help them put the baby to the breast, talk about support and education,” she said.

Brooks said breastfeeding is so important. She said that not only does it reduce infant deaths/SIDS, but it also has health benefits like vaccinating babies and can reduce health problems like type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The World Health Organization has stated that universal breastfeeding can save the lives of 820,000 infants each year.

According to a CDC breastfeeding bulletin conducted on infants born in 2017, the south-central states have the lowest breastfeeding rates in the nation.

In Mississippi and Arkansas, 70% had never breastfed. In Tennessee, it was almost 76%. Compare that to a state like Colorado that had a 92% rate.

Brooks said one of the biggest hurdles women face in breastfeeding is whether or not they have a strong support system at home.

“When moms are breastfeeding, they start breastfeeding well, but when they go home, they may not have the support they have in the hospital,” she said. “You can have someone who is not very positive with breastfeeding. So a lot of our mums will start here and then when they come home they don’t continue, so the breastfeeding rate is lower. here.

Breastfeeding specialists need to go beyond just reaching out to the new mom for support and education, Brooks said, it’s now also about connecting with their families and support network. support.

“We try to involve the family members and the support person because sometimes they don’t have the education or the knowledge about breastfeeding and the impacts of breastfeeding,” she said. “We try to attract them and include them.”

Brooks said the process of educating new moms often dispels myths associated with breastfeeding.

“A lot of myths we need to dispel are that I don’t have enough milk, it’s going to hurt, I can’t eat spicy food, maybe my baby will be too attached,” she said. . “When a mom says it can hurt, most of the time it’s a position and latch problem and we can help the mom with that.”

It is recommended that mothers try to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. About 18-19% of mothers in Mississippi and Arkansas achieved this. In Tennessee, the number was higher at 27%.