Does it seem like breastfeeding is in the news a lot recently? The First Lady, Michelle Obama, has spoken out about the need for our community to support and all new mothers to breastfeed, the U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a "Call to Action", and the news is peppered with commentary on whether such encouragement is necessary for a natural act.
There are a multitude of studies that provide evidence that babies that are breastfed receive health benefits that extend in to adulthood, from reduction of ear infection, childhood obesity, to rates of adult diabetes and high blood pressure. The projected benefit to our community is also dramatic in both public health and healthcare costs (1). Despite the evidence, the number of women who continue to breastfeed to at least the six month mark is low. Our TMC lactation consultants state that the vast majority of women giving birth at TMC start breastfeeding, but those rates are not maintained to six months or a year. The IBCLC Lactation Consultants at TMC work with women not only to support initial breastfeeding, but also provide support and tips as women transition back to the workplace and want to continue to breastfeed.
In 2010, The Lactation Department ( Breastfeeding Support Program) has:
-provided 8,456 bedside patient consults
-served 413 mothers in our weekly Breastfeeding Support Group
-answered the questions of 1,726 Mothers through our Warm Line
-and reached out to 4,574 mothers by phone following their hospitalization to see how they were doing with breastfeeding.
At TMC we're focused on providing an environment that encourages and supports families in breastfeeding as we strive to earn the Baby Friendly Hospital designation that reflects an environment that optimally supports breastfeeding. The International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) recently awarded TMC the IBCLC Care Award. We're the only hospital in Southern Arizona who currently has earned the CARE award. During World Breastfeeding Week we're focusing on continuing to enrich and education staff understanding of breastfeeding so that TMC offers the optimal environment for women to learn and continue to breastfeed for their babies and for our community. We encourage all to be supportive of women, families and environments that make this dedication to a baby's health and to our community's health.