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Mills: Breastfeeding has benefits for mother, baby

It’s a decision all new moms must make — to breastfeed or not; however, the decision to breastfeed has a multitude of benefits, Andalusia Regional Hospital lactation counselor Joan Mills said.

“There are health benefits – bonding; it’s convenient; there’s no prep time; you can feed and go,” she said. “The mother’s milk is a perfect blend of the right amount of sugars, fats, proteins and water needed for growth development.”

As an added benefit, Mills said it helps moms get back in shape and back their pre-pregnancy weights.

Mills said the number of new mothers choosing to breastfeed declined in the 1990s, but the trend is reversing.

“We’re starting to see moms breastfeed more,” she said. “It’s something I highly recommend. That’s why I’m trying to bring awareness, with education comes increased social acceptance.

“We’ve lost the concept that breastfeeding is normal and human,” she said. “But through education and support, we can regain what has been lost.”

Mills said it’s vital that friends, family and health care workers provided support to the mother.

“The more support, the more likely a mother is to breastfeed longer,” she said. “The longer they breastfeed the more benefits.”

Mills said she recommends mothers try to breastfeed exclusively for six months.

Another goal Mills has is to initiate “a golden hour,” or a “time for mom, dad and baby to have a special bonding time.”

“Skin-to-skin contact post delivery helps increase the chances for success,” she said.

One of the biggest misconceptions mothers have is thinking they are not producing enough milk, Mills said.

“When babies are born, their stomachs are only the size of a marble,” she said. “After three days, it grows to the size of a ping pong ball.”

Mills said another factor mothers should consider is the cost effectiveness of breastfeeding.

Purchasing formula for the baby’s first year can cost upward of $1,200, and couple that with the expense of childcare and diapers, and families are looking to spend more than $6,200 on those expenses alone.

Expectant mothers interested in learning more about breastfeeding can attend one of Mills’ classes at ARH, which she holds every other month.

The next set of prenatal classes are set to begin Sept. 8.

For more information, call 222-6915.