Breastfeeding Week Launched by Bermuda Hospitals Board and La Leche League

Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) and La Leche League of Bermuda (LLL) today launched Breastfeeding Week, with the goal of promoting the importance of breastfeeding for the health of babies and their mothers.

Research is clear that breastfeeding is optimal nutrition and the perfect, life-sustaining food for babies. Breastfeeding provides nutritional and health advantages that last far beyond infancy and offers health benefits for mothers, as well. Breastfeeding in the first hour or so after birth has also been linked to positive health outcomes, including immediate protection from bacteria and viruses the baby is exposed to, less risk of jaundice and improved milk production and less blood loss in the mother.

According to Dinah Northcott, KEMH Midwife and Certified Lactation Consultant, infants are born with heightened senses that seem to programme them to quickly get to know their mothers and find the breast, often attaching themselves when left undisturbed on their mothers’ chest.

“In the early moments after birth, babies are in a quiet, alert state and ready to learn,” says Ms Northcott. “Research shows that babies come into this world seeking close contact with their mothers’ body and this is the perfect environment to start breastfeeding.”

Kerry Bennett, Clinical Educator in KEMH’s Maternity Ward agrees that the first hour is an important step towards successful breastfeeding: “When mothers hold their babies skin-to-skin immediately after birth, their babies are kept warm, they regulate their heart, respiratory and oxygen saturation rates and they do not feel pain as acutely. All this means they are calmer, happier and cry less. It also allows them to find the breast naturally using all five senses and start breastfeeding. While we can support mothers while they are in the hospital, we are very pleased to be working with La Leche League, who provide support for breastfeeding mothers in the community. ”

Jill Virgil, Accredited LLL Leader, adds: “The World Health Organization recommends all babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and that breastfeeding continue for two years. The benefits of breastfeeding for the baby continue into childhood and adulthood by lowering the rates of diabetes, allergies, obesity and cardiac disease. Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of ovarian and breast cancer and osteoporosis. There is still a great deal of work to do if we want to improve breastfeeding rates in Bermuda. Increasing these rates will mean healthier babies, healthier families and lower healthcare costs. Partnering with the maternity ward to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week is an excellent step toward encouraging women to nurse their babies and educating the public about the many benefits of mother’s milk.”

KEMH Midwives offer pre-natal classes that discuss breastfeeding and mothers’ options for birthing. Call 239-2055 ext. or email kerry.bennett@bermudahospitals.bm for more information or to book onto the course. La Leche League offers trained counseling for mothers who need help, advice and support in breastfeeding. Call 337-3030 for more information.

About La Leche League
La Leche League of Bermuda (LLL), a registered charity, has assisted thousands of women and their families in Bermuda since 1987 by offering information, encouragement and support for breastfeeding. Affiliated with La Leche League International (LLLI), the local Group is fully funded by donations from within Bermuda and offers services without charge, provided by accredited Leaders. LLL promotes and protects breastfeeding through monthly support meetings, information sharing with healthcare professionals and a telephone help line. Breastfeeding assistance is available by calling 236-1120.

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