|Vol. 25, No. 4||March 1, 2003|
New Clinic Promotes Breastfeeding
By OSJETTA GASCEY
Harris County Hospital District
After giving birth to her son, 33-year-old Magana Aurora was ready to breastfeed, but after several days of unsuccessfully trying, Aurora and her baby came back to Ben Taub General Hospital’s Newborn Followup Clinic. From there, Aurora was referred to the new Breastfeeding Clinic.
Breastfeeding counselor Ana Jaco showed Aurora how to correctly position the baby for feeding, how to use a nipple shield and how to finger-feed the baby during days of discomfort.
The Breastfeeding Clinic, funded by the Harris County Hospital District Foundation through a grant from the Mithoff Foundation, supports breastfeeding moms and encourages them to continue after they leave the hospital. The clinic is the first outpatient clinic of its type in the Texas Medical Center.
“We had more than 105 patient visits the first three weeks of operation,” said Connie Gaskamp, nurse manager in the Newborn Followup Clinic.
At Ben Taub, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed within the first few hours of birth.
“We are seeing a significant rise in the number of women initiating breastfeeding in the hospital after delivery,” said Margaret Konefal, M.D., director of the Harris County Breastfeeding Coalition. However, we found that exclusive breastfeeding and the duration of time moms continued breastfeeding was disappointing.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that breastfeeding protects the baby against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), reduces the risk of ear infections, allergies, diarrhea and meningitis, and enhances the bond between mother and child. The World Health Organization recommends that mothers breastfeed their infants for a year or longer.
Staff also uses the clinic for premature baby followup care and to encourage mothers of premature infants to breastfeed.
“This followup care is critically important for premature babies, who often have trouble breastfeeding because they’re away from their moms for extended periods of time,” said Joe Schneider, M.D., medical director of the clinic.
Breastfeeding may be difficult for mothers, Jaco added, due to lack of family encouragement and breastfeeding education.
“A lot of mothers are afraid of hurting the baby,” she said. “Mothers quit breastfeeding because they don’t have enough support.”
For Aurora, the decision to breastfeed her son for a year is the right choice.
“Anyone can give a baby a bottle,” she said. “Breast milk gives babies more nutrients and protects them from diseases. My breastfeeding Anthony brings us closer.”
The Breastfeeding Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more information, call Ana Jaco at (713) 873-3350.
©2006 Texas Medical Center