Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Breastfeeding may be natural. But that doesn't mean it's always easy. In today's complicated world, support and planning are essential for long-term success, and the conversation about how a woman plans to nourish her child ideally starts during pregnancy.
"Everybody has to make the best choice for them, but I do tell women early about the benefits," says Trident Health Ob-Gyn Dr. Cyndi T. Lawton.
During her residency, Dr. Lawton created an educational video and other materials used to teach expectant women about breastfeeding and the advantages it offers both moms and babies.
In her own practice with Carolina Women's Care in Summerville, she talks about breastfeeding at several points during a woman's schedule of prenatal visits. Dr. Lawton wants moms to know the basics, such as effective ways to hold a baby while nursing, and to consider long-term questions, for example, how a woman can continue to provide her baby with breast milk after returning to the workplace. "I like for women to have a lot of those things thought out beforehand."
It helps if women take advantage of Trident Health's breastfeeding education classes as well as other support services, which include lactation consultants at both Summerville Medical Center and Trident Medical Center. A lactation consultant coaches breastfeeding moms in the hospital, helping to resolve any roadblocks, and can assist women who need extra help after getting home on an out-patient basis.
To facilitate early bonding and breastfeeding success, Trident Health encourages skin-to-skin contact between mother and child immediately after delivery at its hospitals. That can happen even before the umbilical cord is cut.
Dr. Lawton says she personally benefited from the support offered at Summerville Medical Center when her second child was born two months early due to preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. In spite of the challenges she faced, she was able to feed him exclusively with breast milk until it was time to introduce solid foods, just as she did with her first child, who was also born premature when they lived in North Carolina. She believes breast milk is especially beneficial for preemies because it provides important antibodies to help them stay healthy.
"In the end, the goal is healthy babies and healthy moms," she says.
The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other health organizations all advocate breast milk exclusively for a baby's best start in life, Dr. Lawton says. "There's no controversy or doubt there."
Breast milk is thought to be better for baby's digestion while also helping to prevent ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia and other infections. Research also suggests that breast milk may protect against obesity, diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, eczema, colitis and some cancers.
Breastfeeding also promotes good health for moms by facilitating the release of hormones that promote mothering behavior, delaying menstruation, burning calories to help with weight loss, reducing risks of ovarian and breast cancer and keeping a woman's bones stronger for the long haul.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lawton at Carolina Women's Care, call 843-851-3800.
Callout: "In the end, the goal is healthy babies and healthy moms." Dr. Cyndi T. Lawton, Carolina Women's Care