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August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month

WIC_Breastfeeding Month 2022-1.jpg
Tim Jagielo
/
WNIN
Vanderburgh County WIC Director Mary Ellen Stonestreet said her organization advocates for breastfeeding. She said about 70 percent of WIC mothers try it, but some quit too early citing a lack of milk production. "The key is knowing that your milk doesn't come in until two to three days after delivery," she said. "So a baby is not born and ready to eat."

Vanderburgh County WIC says many of their mothers want to try breastfeeding; Indiana workplaces required to accommodate pumping during work

Mary Ellen Stonestreet is Vanderburgh County WIC Director. She is also a registered dietician and certified lactation specialist. WIC promotes breastfeeding all year round, but August is National Breastfeeding Month. Multimedia Journalist Tim Jagielo sat down with Stonestreet on Wednesday. 

Tim Jagielo
What are the goals for raising awareness during breastfeeding national breastfeeding month?

Mary Ellen Stonestreet
To help moms who are pregnant understand the benefits of breastfeeding and to consider breastfeeding their child. And here at WIC, we are breastfeeding advocates. We're a nutrition education program with a supplemental food package. …

But we want to educate the mom so that she makes a good educated decision on how she chooses to breastfeed her baby or how to feed her baby.

TJ
What are the benefits to mother and child for breastfeeding? What are some benefits that people may not know about or be surprised about?

MES
Well, in general, it's healthier for the mother. It regulates her hormones after pregnancy gets her body back in shape a lot quicker.

She is going to eat need to eat about 500 more calories than she did when she was pregnant. And those are all used for producing breast milk and just feeding her baby. She doesn't have to work out to get rid of those or anything like that.

And she will lose her pregnancy weight faster also. So there's a lot of health benefits for the mom.

And then for the baby. Their breast milk is loaded with antibodies and enzymes and natural things that the formula companies don't have access to put into the formula (but) they do the best they can. … So, the infant being breastfed has long term benefits and then together it creates a great source of bonding and comfort for the baby.

TJ

WIC_Breastfeeding Month 2022-2.jpg
Tim Jagielo
/
WNIN
The Vanderburgh County WIC celebrates mothers who pumped, or breastfed for an entire year.

Why might some mothers not be able to breastfeed? 

MES
Sometimes there are health reasons. There are a few medicines out there that the mother needs to take, and it might transfer to the breast milk. And the doctor would suggest they do not breastfeed. Their mom moms that have had surgeries, breast augmentation, and that messes with the glands where the milk is being produced.

And sometimes there are just physical reasons that a mom chooses not to, or cannot. A lot of moms say — new mothers say they ‘did not produce enough milk.’ Well, the key is knowing that your milk doesn't come in until two to three days after delivery. So a baby is not born and ready to eat. So moms give up too soon, is a huge reason that not enough people breastfeed.

TJ
And if somebody wants to be able to breastfeed, and they find that they can't — what would you suggest for them? Especially if they were looking for that bond? 

MES
There is something that all the hospitals do now, right after birth, it's called the ‘Miracle hour,’ and it's skin to skin (contact). And if a mom is not planning on breastfeeding, or finds out that she can't, she and the father still do skin to skin, and they take their shirts off and lay the baby on their chest and the baby can smell them feel, know their heartbeat, the mom's heartbeat that they have heard all through pregnancy.

So even three months into life, when a baby is colicky, and can't settle down, the best thing is the skin to skin. And that creates a great bonding source for parents and the baby.

TJ
Did the conversations change during this past season of reduced access to formula? And how did you talk about this with with families?

MES
Well, we start out early before moms have their baby, letting them know of the formula shortage, and that they should strongly consider breastfeeding not only for the benefits of the family, and the baby and the mom, but because formula is so hard to get a hold of.

And we have heard mothers say that they were slowly weaning their child, when they found out they couldn't get formula, they increased their supply again. And there's ways to increase and decrease her supply, if needed. But yes, we've heard a lot of mothers say, ‘I went back to breastfeeding, and I'm so glad I did.’

TJ
What drives those fluctuations, and people that decide to breastfeed?

MES
One thing I can think of is being able to pump in the workplace; that's always been an issue. There are places that allow it in places that don't. And there is an Indiana State law. It's printed on a card and we give it to our working moms and say, 'here if you do not have a clean place, in your at your work, show your supervisor this card and say 'I am allowed to pump breast milk because I am feeding my baby.''

And in the long run, we will have healthier babies less health care costs for everyone to to deal with. It's just there are so many benefits, I don't think we have time to even discuss all of them.