Breastfeeding reduces a babies odds of becoming overweight by more than 30 percent. That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But one in three moms who want to breast feed stops early without hospital support.
Despite that the CDC reports most U.S. hospitals don't provide the support that mothers need to breastfeed. Only about 5 percent of U.S. babies are born in hospitals that are designated baby friendly, according to the CDC.
At Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, new mom Kara Caldwell found the support she needed through the hospitals lactation center. Caldwell said she always knew she'd breastfeed her baby. "You know I knew it was the healthiest thing for her," Caldwell said. But Kara's not afraid to admit breastfeeding daughter Amelia hasn't been easy.
"You want to give up." said Caldwell.There were times especially in the middle of the night you want to give up grab a bottle." Caldwell said. It was a long road especially. " A lot of tears. She's finally there and we're going to do it as long as we possibly can," Caldwell said.
Caldwell's struggles with breastfeeding are not unusual. Tracey Zadell knows that first hand. She's a lactation consultant at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. "I always tell my moms that the only thing natural about breastfeeding is that usually our bodies make milk." Zadell said. Everything else is learned."
That's why Carilion's Lactation Center is so helpful to new mothers, not only for the first days while they're in the hospital, but in the months that follow. "I think I probably would have given up had I not had the support here," Caldwell said. "Anytime that we could fit it in we could come even if it was just for a weight check to make sure she was growing or if I had any questions. They were really here for everything."
Nurses will point out the many health benefits to both mother and baby from breastfeeding. "Breast milk or breastfeeding will prevent some infections. It provides natural immunities. Breastfed babies tend to be leaner in life and have less obesity later in life," said Jackie Martin, a clinical nurse specialist at the Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospitals neonatal intensive care unit.
Kara Caldwell will tell you it also helps forms a bond like no other. "It's incredible. You're bodies kind of become in synch with each other. I think that you learn each other so much more because you have time with each other.
She's very special."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention any amount of breastfeeding provides health benefits to a baby, but experts say it's best to breastfeed for at least the first year of life.