House Calls

WIN 2019

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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It's a health boon for mamas too, spurring recovery after childbirth and lowering the rates of postpartum depression and certain types of cancer. Breast milk is the original super food (sorry kale!). It's no surprise, then, that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life, then breastfeeding in combination with other foods through at least the first year. Yet despite nursing's far-reaching health benefits, latching issues, engorgement, and clogged ducts can crop up early and deter even the best-laid breastfeeding plans. Societal and environmental factors—like the challenges of pumping after returning to work—can also contribute to a mother's decision to stop nursing. Among developed countries, the U.S. has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding, but those numbers are on the rise. Today, the CDC reports that four out of five infants born in the U.S. start to breastfeed, and more than half are still nursing at six months. (Compare that to 71 percent of babies who began at the breast in 2000, with just 35 percent still nursing at six months.) The spike can be attributed in part to the World Health Organization's B reast milk is incredible stuff: Not only does it provide the perfect blend of proteins, vitamins, fats, and carbohydrates needed to nourish a baby, it also serves up antibodies that boost an infant's immunity, which means fewer illnesses and infections during a child's earliest months of life. There are long-term health benefits, as well. Breastfeeding is linked to lower rates of childhood and adult obesity, and breastfed babies are less likely to develop certain health problems, including food allergies, asthma, and diabetes. P H O T O G R A P H ( A N I T A F O R T ) B Y L I L I A M O N T E R O Anita Fort, RN 32 { winter 2019 } h o u s e c a l l s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Over the last decade, the number of Baby-Friendly designated hospitals—facilities that are third-party certified to provide the best policies and practices for breastfeeding—has skyrocketed. In 2007, less than three percent of births in the U.S. occurred in one of these facilities; today, more than a quarter of babies are born in Baby-Friendly hospitals. A supportive environment can make all the difference to a new mom on her breastfeeding journey, which is where experts like Anita Fort, a Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated lactation consultant, come in. Fort spends her days at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital (and occasionally Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital)—both Baby-Friendly designated facilities—where she educates parents-to-be on the benefits of breastfeeding, coaches new moms through the tender first days of nursing, and helps troubleshoot when problems arise. "It's helpful for expecting moms to be aware of potential roadblocks so they aren't caught off guard or think they're alone in it," says Fort, who adds, "If problems do crop up, there are nearly always solutions." Here, she shares more on the science behind breastfeeding, as well as the most common hurdles new moms face—along with their fixes. Breastfeeding 101 To a new mom suddenly producing breast milk, the whole thing can seem like magic, but there are actually complex anatomical and physiological factors at play. Almost as soon as a woman becomes pregnant, her breasts begin the process of preparing to make milk. During the first trimester, changing hormones trigger the growth and development of milk ducts and glands. Throughout pregnancy, the transformation continues: Breasts and areolas continue to swell and become larger, making way for the production of colostrum, the easily digestible protein-rich pre-milk that's the ideal first food for babies. "Colostrum is often called liquid gold because it's more yellow or golden in color, though it can also be clear," Fort says. "It's packed with antibodies that are passed from mother to baby to help reduce baby's risk for infection." Once the baby and placenta are delivered, hormone levels change again, and the mother's body gears up for full-scale milk production. Over the next few days, colostrum transforms into mature milk. "As the baby is touching and sucking at the mother's breast, the mother's Last January, mom Katie gave birth to baby Stella at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital. While there, she met with lactation consultant Anita Fort twice, which, she says, was "a huge help" in starting their breastfeeding journey off on the right foot.

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