By Doris Vallejo-Aguilar, UT-Austin Spring Intern
There is no doubt that breastfeeding is a healthy practice for mothers and babies. The problem is not all mothers know the benefits of breastfeeding. Mothers may also have questions about breastfeeding. Some of these questions may include, are there foods I should avoid eating while pregnant? How often should I breast feed? How will I know whether my baby is getting enough milk? When should I introduce the bottle if I decide to stop breastfeeding or alternate between breast milk and formula milk? Doctors tell mothers that babies should be fed only breast milk for the first 6 months. It is recommend that babies should be fed breast milk up to their first year too.
One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it might help mothers lose weight. The woman’s uterus returns to the size it was before birth too. Breastfeeding also lowers the chances of breast and ovarian cancer.
The benefit breastfeeding brings to babies is the lowered risks of ear infections, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome. Breastfeeding give mothers and babies bonding time too. Breast milk is a great resource for limited resource mothers. As long as breastfeeding is done regularly, breast milk will always be available to the baby. Babies are also able to digest breast milk more easily.
There are programs in Austin that are looking out for mothers. Some programs educate women about their nutritional needs and other programs focus on breastfeeding.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) educate people with limited resources about nutrition. EFNEP added a class this year for pregnant women and teens. In the Today’s Mom class, mothers take part in fun activities with other mothers and the adult educators of EFNEP. Mothers also learn how to practice a healthy diet while being pregnant. This builds a sense of support and community.
There are some requirements women have to meet to attend the class. Women or teens must be pregnant. Expecting mothers must be participants in federal food assistance programs or be at or below 185% poverty level. This helps limited resource mothers get help for their special needs.
Image source: http://texasmotherfriendly.org/everyone-benefits
Other resources in Austin for mothers include:
Mom’s Place has peer counselors that help mothers in the process of breastfeeding. At Mom’s Place there are also free weight checks for babies. Visit www.momsplace.org for more information.
Texas Lactation Support Hotline (1-855-550-6667) answers to questions and concerns about breastfeeding. Visit https://www.hhs.texas.gov/providers/wic-providers/wic-breastfeeding for more information and locations with WIC partners.
La Leche League holds meetings for breastfeeding mothers. Visit http://www.texaslll.org/central-texas for meeting details, times and locations.
Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin provides donor breast milk to very sick babies. Visit http://www.texasmilkbank.org/ to learn how you can help.
To help mothers feel good about breastfeeding let’s support them in doing so!