ANDERSON – Breastfeeding your baby — it’s natural, it’s healthy and it strengthens bonds. Sure, it takes a little practice, but who wouldn’t want to give their baby the best possible start in life?
“There’s every reason to do it,” said Elizabeth Arnett, RN, international board certified lactation consultant, and lactation services coordinator at Community Hospital Anderson. “It’s the optimum choice of nutrition for infants.” She points out, after all, “A baby’s body is made for the mom’s milk.”
Arnett said that babies who are breastfed enjoy nutrition that’s easy for them to digest and that imparts numerous health benefits. Those include lower rates of disease like ear infections, respiratory infections, asthma, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes and SIDS. At the same time, breastfeeding gives baby that all important skin-to-skin contact that not only enhances healthy emotional bonding, it helps to regulate heart and respiratory rates, brings up glucose levels and helps to keep baby warm.
“You put them skin-to-skin, that baby just chills out,” said Arnett.
Babies aren’t the only ones to benefit. Moms enjoy many health advantages, too. They experience decreased risk of breast cancer, post-partum hemorrhage, ovarian and cervical cancers, and more.
Breastfeeding also has real financial advantages since formula is very expensive. There are also environmental advantages since there are no containers to toss, and there’s no risk of contamination.
“Breastfeeding is pretty amazing,” said Arnett. “There’s so many reasons why you should do it.”
The 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the percentage of infants nationwide who begin breastfeeding is 77 percent. Indiana’s figure stands at 63.6. At Community Hospital Anderson, in a region that’s faced its share of socio-economic challenges, they’re proud to say that their initiation rate is 71 percent.