August is National Breastfeeding Month: A time to raise awareness and understanding around breastfeeding

There can be a lot to learn for parents during the first few months with a new baby, and for some young mothers, there are various barriers that can arise for those who choose to breastfeed. August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time to raise awareness and understanding around breastfeeding as well as highlight support and resources that may be available for parents in need. Roxanne Mooney, nurse and lactation consultant from The Birthplace at Northern Light Mercy Hospital recently shared some advice in this interview.

Q:  Can you share a bit about the benefits of breastfeeding?
Roxanne: There are many benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mother. Breast milk provides baby with ideal nutrition and supports the baby’s growth and development. In addition, the antibodies in a mother’s milk can help protect a baby against illness. Finally, breastfeeding can help reduce a mother’s risk of ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Q: What you do in your specialty as a lactation consultant?
Roxanne: Every parent’s journey is different. As a lactation consultant, I am certified in helping mothers navigate a variety of breastfeeding issues. I offer support for both the mother and the baby by providing services such as prenatal assessments/consultations at the suggestion of her prenatal provider, in-hospital consultations after delivery, outpatient consultations, follow up phone calls after discharge, and facilitating a weekly breastfeeding support group. In the end, our goal is to find a successful solution that works both for the baby and a mom. (To help families meet their breastfeeding goals)

Q: What are some of the top challenges that new mothers may experience when it comes to breastfeeding?
Roxanne: Each mom’s experience with breastfeeding is unique and so are the issues that might arise. Some issues we may help mom and baby navigate might be:

  • Maternal history or pregnancy conditions including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, breast surgery, PCOS, etc which may affect her breastfeeding experience.
  • Low milk supply
  • Trouble hitting weight milestones and slow weight gain
  • Struggles with finding the right nursing position, especially after a C-section
  • Baby falling asleep at the breast
  • Baby refusing to breastfeed or difficulty latching
  • Emotional and physical barriers to breastfeeding, including postpartum depression
  • Pain while breastfeeding

No matter the issue, we are here to help find a healthy and successful outcome for both mom and baby.

Q: When might parents who feel they are having trouble with this new skill seek out help and what resources may be available? 
Roxanne: Really any time during your breastfeeding journey is an okay time to reach out if you have questions or are having trouble navigating a breastfeeding issue. This could be in the first week or a few years.  However, if you are experiencing any of the issues we just discussed, you are in pain, or baby is not latching on, reach out for help. You are absolutely not alone.

Q: Of course, there may be families who decide for various reasons that bottle feeding is best for their baby. What advice do you have for them?
Roxanne: While we certainly promote the benefits of breastfeeding, there may be reasons why caretakers need to feed a baby using a bottle, and really the end goal is to ensure all involved are healthy and happy. Some families choose to exclusively pump and bottlefeed breastmilk, others may choose to combo feed breastmilk and formula and some choose to bottle feed formula.  We are here to educate and support our families to create a feeding plan that works for them. When families are bottle feeding, we discuss breastmilk collection and storage, formula preparation and feeding techniques in addition to breast care for the formula feeding mothers.

For more information please visit Pregnancy and Birthing - Northern Light Health