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Grand opening of the Baby Café and the benefits of Breast Feeding

Thursday, August 27, 2015

On August 13th, women and their infants celebrated the grand opening of the Baby Café at the Genesee Community College campus on Clara Barton Street in Dansville.  The café, now open every Thursday from 1 pm – 3 pm, is a social place for anyone interested in knowing more about breastfeeding support and education.  The effort coordinated by the Livingston County Department of Health and Noyes Health is designed to help women breastfeed and understand the benefits to both mom and child. Two certified lactation consultants, experts in breastfeeding, are present at the Baby Café each week to assist moms and answer their questions.  All of this is part of a New York State initiative to promote exclusive and sustained breastfeeding. 
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding as other foods are introduced until at least 12 months.  Breastfeeding or feeding expressed human milk provides optimal growth.  It is the perfect mix for brain and body development and increases the bond between mom and child. In addition, it is scientifically well-established that breastfeeding has several other health benefits.  Babies who breastfeed are at lower risk of:
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Allergies (e.g. asthma, lactose intolerance) 
 
Moms also benefit from breastfeeding.  In a study of almost 140,000 postmenopausal women in the U.S., those who breastfed for less than 12 months during their reproductive years had a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure than women who had lactated for more than a year in total.  Additional studies show that women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast or cervical cancer. And finally, breastfeeding moms typically lose their pregnancy weight with greater ease.  
Breastfeeding also provides economic benefits.  It is the most economical way to feed an infant.  Except for the cost of added nutritional food for the mother and perhaps a breast pump, the cost is $0. Infant formulas range in price and also require bottles and sterilized water.  Depending on the chosen formula, costs can range anywhere from approximately, $1500 to $3000 per year.  The added health benefits also lower health care costs as much as $475 per infant during the first year of life.  The budget, however, can get tricky when a woman returns to work.
 
More than half of all women return to work or school with the first year of their infant’s life.  Many return at 12 weeks, when the Family Medical Leave benefit ends.  For those who return to work, continued feeding of breastmilk requires the use of a breast pump.  The breast milk can then be fed to the child in a bottle by another caregiver while the mom is at work or school.  Understanding the health benefits to mom and child as well as the economic benefits, New York State labor laws now include the “Right of Nursing Mothers to Express Breast Milk” provision.
If you would like more information about New York State breastfeeding initiatives, laws, and resources, log onto:  www.breastfeedingpartners.org.  Livingston County resources include: Noyes Health OB nurses, the Baby Café, and breastfeeding classes.  For more information, call either Noyes Health at 585-335-4249 or the Livingston County Department of Health at 585-243-7299.  
 
Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327.  

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