By Frank Lewis
August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and Malissa Sarver MS, RD, a registered dietician at King’s Daughter’s Ohio, says King’s Daughters is looking for support from the entire community for women who breastfeed.
“It’s mothers breastfeeding. It’s other mothers supporting each other. It’s community programs such as WIC. It’s Le Leche (Society). It’s breastfeeding support groups. It’s your workplace being a breastfeeding-friendly workplace and breastfeeding-friendly to customers and clients. The community and population in general supporting that, having a positive attitude towards these mothers and not trying to shame them or ask them to move or to cover up, or worse - going to a restroom, because certainly no one would ever be asked to go and eat their lunch in a restroom, which is essentially the same thing.”
She said some of the ways the community can be supportive is restaurants being receptive and accommodating to the breastfeeding mother.
“When breastfeeding mothers go out to eat they are discreet and they should not be asked to move nor have negative comments made to them or to be asked to go to a restroom to breastfeed,” Sarver said. “That is supporting. That is the community helping that mother feel more confident in her choice and to feel at ease with what she is doing.”
In addition, Sarver says WIC offers a support group locally and mothers can contact them for help.
Sarver and her sister-in-law, Leah Blevins, a high school math teacher at Minford, were scheduled to make an appearance on the Barb Pratt radio program to discuss the topic.
“What is unique about that is that she has two children and with her first child she did not breastfeed,” Sarver said. “With her second child she did. So she is in a unique situation because she has a great perspective on both methods of feeding. She’ll tell everyone breastfeeding is so much easier because a lot of times people will think it’s going to be so much more difficult and, yes, there’s a learning curve in the beginning but once you have that down it’s so much easier. I can just throw in my bag a diaper and that’s about it. I don’t have to worry about bottles, formula, keeping things refrigerated.”
Sarver said one of the lessons people learned came from a recent chemical spill in West Virginia where she and her husband and children lived. The water was not available from the tap and stores were out of bottled water. She said people who were using formula had no water to mix the formula, but she was able to breastfeed her nine-month-old.
“Breastfeeding is always available. It’s always a safe source,” Sarver said. “You don’t have to worry about storing, refrigerating.”
Sarver said there are many advantages to breastfeeding including colostrum (breastmilk), and the ability of the mother to pass on antibodies to her baby. Sarver said breastfeeding is environmentally-friendly because there are not stacks of formula cans in landfills, or the need for resources to ship and pack what you feed your baby.
Sarver said the Ohio Board of Health has figures that show if 90 percent of infants were breastfed exclusively for the recommended six months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent in excess of 911 deaths because of the decrease in the amount of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). She said it also decreases medical expenses because numbers show breastfed babies need less medical attention.
Sarver said formula costs per year range from $1,400 to over $2,800.
“Since August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, KDMC will be at the Scioto County Fair, and we’re going to be having some information to educate people - educate the public, and to help out new mothers or maybe people who are pregnant or know someone who is planning on breastfeeding,” Sarver said. “We’re going to be offering information.”
Sarver said King’s Daughters has a breastfeeding-friendly atmosphere. In fact, she says people can contact King’s Daughters Ohio and ask for her and she will be happy to answer anybody’s questions about breastfeeding.
“At King’s Daughters we actually have a nurse who is a lactation consultant and a wonderful resource,” Sarver said. “The public can call the hospital. If you have any questions, please, please contact me.”
Sarver said she can be reached at 740-991-1430, or they can call KDMC lactation consultant Cindy Derifield at 606-408-2244.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.