Sabrina Holliman, Chief Compliance Officer at Swope Health, is getting ready for a new challenge – she will become a first-time mom within a few months.
When she started wondering about breastfeeding, she didn’t have to look far for information. She turned to her colleagues for answers. Treva Smith, a Community Education Specialist in the dental department, has dedicated nearly 20 years to studying, educating and advocating breastfeeding. Treva also serves as member of the Board of Directors of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition.
Swope Health Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week, sponsored by the World Health Organization and other groups, is the first week of August each year. The theme this year is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding.”
Swope Health’s WIC clinic held a Breastfeeding Resource Fair for moms and moms-to-be. The community-wide baby shower promoted breastfeeding and offered food, games and gifts for moms and kids, plus a raffle for special prizes.
Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Jennifer Jones and Swope Health’s WIC Department are also great resources for new moms and moms-to be. The WIC Program, provides supplemental nutrition for low-income Women, Infants and Children and offers extra incentives like breast pumps for breastfeeding moms. The program supports breastfeeding moms with a wealth of education, resources and referrals, plus a personal connection.
“We offer breastfeeding counseling for prenatal and new moms, and education for the whole family,” said Jennifer Jones, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for WIC at Swope Health. “We educate the entire support system – moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, cousins or friends.”
Sabrina’s top questions were ones Swope Health’s breastfeeding support team has heard from other moms-to-be:
- Where do I start in making a choice between breastfeeding and formula feeding?
WIC is a good place to start, Jennifer notes. The federal program provides facts about infant nutrition as well as benefits of breastfeeding.
- Should I expect breastfeeding to hurt in the beginning? Or does that mean I’m doing something wrong?
Sometimes women hear about pain in breastfeeding, but that is overcome with learning correct latching methods, Jennifer said. Initial soreness and tenderness is completely normal, and peer counselors can help with assuring a good latch and help check for issues like a plugged milk duct, infection or engorgement.
- I understand it takes 2-5 days to change from producing colostrum to milk. Do I need to supplement with formula during that time?
Colostrum is the first milk produced, right after birth. It is typically thick and yellowish, and is full of the nutrients the baby needs in those first hours and days. You would use a supplement only if the baby isn’t nursing, she said.
- How will I know if the baby is getting enough milk?
At birth, a baby’s tummy is about the size of a marble, and after 10 days, it’s about the size of a ping-pong ball. So it doesn’t take much to fill up a baby, Jennifer said. The best signs are if the baby seems happy after feedings, and if the baby is growing and gaining weight. There is also a series of indicators in the baby’s diapers, based on the number, type and colors of the baby’s poop – and this is the kind of info you’ll learn in more detail in classes or discussions with a peer counselor, she added.
- When I go back to work, should I maintain the pump schedule?
Jennifer recommends continuing on a schedule, or at least every three hours. She notes it is important to maintain production for your baby.
The Swope Health WIC team welcomed Sabrina’s questions – and those from any moms or moms-to-be in the community.
“We’re passionate about empowering and educating moms on breastfeeding, which can improve health outcomes for babies and moms,” Jennifer said.
Research has shown that babies fed breast milk have less sickness, asthma and allergies. Babies get antibodies for immune system support and gut health as well as brain stimulation during breastfeeding. For moms, breastfeeding is linked to less osteoporosis and reduced risk of cancer. It can improve mental health by stimulating the hormones that help women through postpartum. Bonding between mom and baby helps with calmness and a better mental state for both, Jennifer noted.
The WIC program offers two breastfeeding classes, scheduled every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, which cover all aspects of breastfeeding. Classes start with details about what to expect, during and after pregnancy, including changes in anatomy. Moms learn how to help the baby latch correctly and how to hold the baby in the way that is best for both. There is also discussion of community resources, like Medicaid support for pumps, meal planning and all the other aspects of life that can affect breastfeeding.
The WIC team also works to challenge stigmas around breastfeeding, emphasizing the benefits of supporting women. In recent years, employers have evolved to provide time and comfortable rooms for moms to pump milk. Employers have learned that if the baby is healthy, Mom will be less likely to need to take unscheduled time off for sickness or doctor’s visits, Jennifer said. Swope Health employees use the lactation room in WIC, a private and comfortable space to express milk during work hours.
“We prepare moms as best we can,” Jennifer said. “We know it’s one thing to learn and it’s another to experience it firsthand! We’re here to help with questions anytime. We work with moms in the clinic and provide referrals if the mom needs additional help, like with a healthcare provider or a lactation consultant.”
Sabrina said she was happy to learn answers to her questions, with resources so readily available right where she works.
“It’s wonderful to feel so supported by Swope Health,” she said. “I’m so glad to have such wonderful resources right here for all moms.”