Supporting moms who breastfeed, and those who don’t

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)-  Moms in Buffalo, and across the country, have spent time nursing their babies in public as part of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

The campaign is meant to encourage new mother’s to breastfeed, and encourage the public to accept seeing it, however it can also have the unintended consequence of making mom’s who use formula feel guilty.

Tina Harmon is the Lactation Coordinator for Sister’s Hospital in Buffalo.  She says only 50% of mothers breastfed when she started at the hospital in 2000.  Today, Harmon says almost 82% of the mothers start out breastfeeding.

“It can decrease the instance of respiratory infections, asthma, the newest research out now is obesity, diabetes, lukemia in children, ovarian and breast cancer for moms”, said Harmon about the benefits of breastfeeding.

The problem is, while nursing a child may seem like a natural, easy thing to do, it’s not like that for everyone.

Sandra Varela has a 9-month-old baby boy.  She says she struggled to breastfeed at first. Varela told me, “it was very painful. It was my first time, I didn’t really know what I was doing and when I would go to the pediatrician’s office, they’re focused on having the baby gain weight. So they believe breastfeeding is important but told me sometimes it’s important to supplement with a little formula because they’re worried about weight gain I really wanted to exclusively breastfeed”.

That’s why she started going to the Baby Café at Sisters Hospital. It’s a free, drop-in center that the hospital developed about a year ago for moms who need breastfeeding support from other moms, and lactation consultants.

Varela says she resolved her issues within a few days of coming to the Baby Café. She explained “I had no idea how much you need support to breastfeed, especially as a first time mom, because it doesn’t come natural and you really need the support from others to make it successful”.

Still, some women simply can’t breastfeed. Tina Harmon says there are medical conditions, medications, and certain types of surgeries that would keep a woman from being able to produce milk or nurse, and that these women shouldn’t feel guilty. For women who don’t have medical complications but want to use formula, Harmon recommends at least trying to breastfeed for a few weeks, because she says any breast milk is better than no breast milk at all.

Doctors also say that it’s important for the mom to be healthy, and if she’s depressed, stressed or anxious because of struggles with breastfeeding, that may not be good for her or the baby. These doctors say you have to do what’s best for both you and the baby, and for some moms, that means using formula.

If you are hoping to breastfeed or are struggling with breastfeeding, you can visit the Catholic Health System Baby Cafes to get free advice from lactation consultants, and talk to other moms going through the same thing.

The Baby Café groups meet every Tuesday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the following two locations.

The Piver Center
Seton Professional Building
2121 Main St. 1st Floor
Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 862-1939

Mercy OB/GYN Center
Marian Professional Building
515 Abbott Rd, Suite 302
Buffalo, NY 14220
(716) 828-3520

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