Breastfeeding 101 and Resources

Breastfeeding is the most convenient way to provide your baby with a meal—lunch is always ready, it’s cheap, and there are no bottles to sterilize or formula to mix. But aside from convenience, breastfeeding is healthy and beneficial for baby and mom in a number of ways.

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breastfeeding challenges and
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“Breastfeeding offers the best health for the baby and helps build their immune system,” says Cassandra Shark, the Beaufort County Breastfeeding Coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “There are many health benefits for the mom as well.”

Benefits for Baby

Remember the home-cooked meals mom used to make? They were always tastier than the ones you can buy pre-made and packaged at the store. Breast milk, made by mom just for baby, is like that—just a little better. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics considers breast milk the perfect first food for babies. It has an ideal nutritional mix of fat, sugar, protein, and vitamins so baby grows healthy and strong, plus fatty acids and amino acids for brain development. Breast milk also contains antibodies that help prevent baby from getting sick, even when mom isn’t feeling well. Breastfed babies are less likely to get allergies, ear infections, diarrhea, meningitis, pneumonia, and bronchitis. And studies have shown that breastfed babies tend to score higher on IQ tests. Although formula meets baby’s nutritional needs, it lacks that little something extra that breast milk provides.

Benefits for Mom

Let’s face it, mom, breast milk is probably the easiest home-cooked meal you’ll ever make. Plus it helps your body recover from pregnancy and childbirth. The hormones your body produces when nursing makes the uterus contract and shrink back to normal size. Breastfeeding is good for breast health and may reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. And producing milk for your baby every day burns serious calories, which makes it easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy size and shape.

How to Make Breastfeeding Work for You

Patience and perseverance are keys to successful breastfeeding. But getting that baby latched and nursing before you leave the hospital after delivery definitely helps. And all hospitals will have lactation consultants and breastfeeding support available for new moms.

Hilton Head Hospital has a full-time International Board Certified Lactation Consultant on staff and an on-site breastfeeding store where moms can rent or buy pumps and purchase other supplies. Hilton Head Hospital also holds breastfeeding support group meetings every week. Moms can take baby to the meetings and get answers to their questions and ideas for dealing with their challenges. Private consultations with the lactation consultant are also available. For more information contact Jean Magarelli at (843) 689-8110.

Other resources include Ebone Edwards, the DHEC breastfeeding counselor for Beaufort County who can be reached at (843) 525-7615 ext. 124. Le Leche League International of South Carolina also provides support for nursing moms on their web site.

Breastfeeding Your Baby

In the beginning, it takes patience and support to get breastfeeding established. But once you get that baby nursing successfully, you’ll never look back. Plus, the health benefits for mom and baby will last a lifetime. Like any meal, mom always makes it better!