CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Members of the Chambersburg Hospital Family Birthing Unit offer year-round breastfeeding support and education for new mothers. They also strive to educate community members on the benefits of breastfeeding, and work to spread that awareness during World Breastfeeding Week.
“The support of the community can make a huge difference for mothers during their breastfeeding journey. A mother's family, friends, co-workers can have a large impact on her success,” explained Lactation Consultant Suzy Wilkinson.
That support, she explained, can be vital to a woman’s success in continuing to breastfeed her child exclusively for the first six months of her child’s life.
Exclusive breastfeeding has known medical benefits, including preventing illness and fostering a baby’s growth and development; and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Studies show that breastfeeding can decrease the risk for diabetes, cancers and obesity later in life. Evidence has shown that a baby exclusively breastfed for the first six months has double the brain growth of a formula fed baby. Breastfeeding has also been attributed to reduced risk of breast, ovarian & uterine cancer in the mother. Breastfeeding helps mothers lose their pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding also has financial benefits for families, since it is free.
However, it can come with practical and logistical challenges. It is crucial that working mothers feel supported at their place of employment, and can take breaks to pump.
To kick-off awareness efforts, Wilkinson and other members of the Family Birthing Unit hosted a picnic at Norlo Park, where community partners, including Women Infant and Child (WIC), La Leche League, and Pediatric Therapy Specialists of Central Pa spoke to families about their services and shared information about breastfeeding.
“Information is the basis for any successful support network,” Wilkinson said.
Chambersburg Hospital offers a prenatal breastfeeding class the First Tuesday of each month. They also offer a free breastfeeding support group held the fourth Tuesday of the month. For more information or to register for the class, please call 717-267-6370.