Learn About the Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and baby.

From the first moment you find out you’re going to become a parent, to the nine short months to birth, you do a lot of planning. You can have fun picking names, deciding how to decorate the nursery, planning a baby shower, and much more. One important choice a parent-to-be has is what to feed your baby. Breast milk is the perfect food to nourish all of your little one’s nutritional needs. Not only is breast milk beneficial for baby’s diet, it helps build their brand new immune system.

Mother’s milk contains living cells that help prevent your newborn from getting sick. According to the Center for Disease Control, breastfed babies have a stronger immune system to fight off illness, a healthier weight, lower risk of cancers, diabetes, obesity, and unexplained sudden infant deaths, and improved verbal and motor development. Breastfeeding provides benefits to more than just your bundle of joy. La Leche League International states that breastfeeding assists mothers with weight loss, lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, and depression. Breastfeeding is great for the mother’s health, and easy on the wallet. The average cost of formula for one year is about $1600. That does not include the associated costs with formula such as bottles, nipples, cleaning brushes, and more. Breast milk is a healthy, convenient, and free food option for your baby.

Heather Anderson, a lactation and infant feeding specialist at the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center, has some advice for expectant mothers: “Become informed in making the best decision on how to feed your baby. Talk to your health care team about your breastfeeding concerns or questions prior to your baby’s birth. Set goals —even short term goals. Utilize the lactation consultants available at ANMC to help support your breastfeeding experience.”

There are many resources available to learn more about feeding options. Southcentral Foundation and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium are working together to obtain the baby friendly designation from the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative. The initiative is a global program to encourage and recognize birthing facilities that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother-baby bonding. Obtaining this designation demonstrates that a hospital has the policies and care practices in place that meet the gold standard for mother/baby care related to breastfeeding.

Classes are available at SCF, such as Breastfeeding Basics at Health Education. Topics include how breastfeeding works, latching on and positioning, when to feed your baby, how much is enough, breast care, and breastfeeding lifestyle. Snuggle Time is also offered through Health Education. Parents and caretakers can explore discussions about breastfeeding and what to feed their baby. Customer-owners can also receive a consultation with lactation specialists for more breastfeeding support.

For more information about SCF Health Education classes, contact (907) 729-2689. To speak with a lactation consultant, please call (907) 729-5420.

by Esther Robertson

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