Breastfeeding Week: Educating New Moms

July 31, 2017

Danielle Jenkins held her day-old son close to her breast. He latched on as if he had been nursing for months. For Jenkins, 21, breastfeeding her first born was natural.

“I wouldn’t change it. It makes me feel close to him. There’s a bond,” said Jenkins.

During World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7, new moms like Jenkins are part of a celebration that encourages breastfeeding and the health benefits for newborns. At IU Health Methodist Hospital moms receive a card that reads: “In honor of World Breastfeeding Week the staff at IU Health congratulates you on the birth of your baby, and your decision to breastfeed.” The newborn receives a red and white t-shirt that reads: “I love breast milk.”

But the education begins before childbirth.

“We’re trying to reach out to all pregnant moms. That’s when they make their decision about how to feed their babies,” said Tina Babbitt, manager of the breastfeeding center that provides lactation support to new moms. “We want them to have all the information so they can make an informed choice.”

The goal is to reach out to clinics and OB providers – the first line of contact with expectant moms, said Babbitt. Local offices are provided with resources designed to help mom and baby get off to a good start. They include tips on: Skin-to-skin contact; keeping baby in mom’s room; feed baby on cue; and latch baby well. The print resources refer to a mobile app (Coffective) that offers information on such topics as the “Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative,” a global program that recognizes hospitals offering optimal care for breastfeeding moms.

“We were the first hospital in Indiana to become baby friendly in 2002, so we’ve always had that culture,” said Babbitt who oversees a number of certified lactation consultants who have completed special training and certification in lactation education.

“The goal is to expand those services to 24-7 so that patients will have an additional resource beyond their staff nurse to assist and support them with breastfeeding,” said Babbitt, who refers to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support of breastfeeding practices. Those practices include “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.” Among the ten steps is rooming-in and skin-to-skin care that facilitate breastfeeding within the first hour after of a newborn’s life.

“I look at this as a time to heighten awareness,” said Babbitt. “There are all sorts of evidence-based resources on the benefits of breastfeeding – not just for babies but also for mom. It can decrease incidents of some types of cancers and cardiovascular disease in mom. We want to highlight what we’ve been doing for years – educating moms.

“We have a wonderful program here. We’ve been leaders in breastfeeding. We know that what happens in the hospital after you have a baby sets the foundation in helping mom succeed.”

-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at
T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

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