60 Percent of Mothers Do Not Breastfeed as Long as Intended Due to Issues
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – For Alexa Leitz, 32, and Christina Hitchcock, 35, breastfeeding had become a laborious task, causing physical pain and concerns over their babies’ nutrition. Almost three months later, their babies are fed breast milk exclusively, thanks to the support provided by Broward Health lactation specialists.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although breastfeeding rates continue to rise in the United States, 60 percent of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend due in part to issues with latching and concerns about infant nutrition.
Broward Health offers free lactation classes and support groups for new moms, regardless of where they give birth, to help overcome common causes of lactation cessation and apply proper breastfeeding techniques.
“Patient education is an important part of Broward Health’s commitment to provide quality care to the communities we serve,” said Broward Health President/CEO Beverly Capasso. “These classes and support groups provide mothers with proper techniques in a caring, welcoming environment.”
For Hitchcock, a recent mom of twins, a welcoming environment was exactly what she needed to avoid criticism. Having taken a lactation class while still in the hospital, she started experiencing pain and laceration about a week after arriving home. She chose to go to lactation classes knowing that the specialist would make her feel at ease.
“I knew there had to be a better way of breastfeeding,” Hitchcock said. “I went back to the Broward Health’s Lactation Center because I knew it would be a judgment-free zone. Sometimes, I was afraid to ask friends and relatives, because everyone has their own opinion about breastfeeding. But I had made a good connection with the specialist during my first class and I knew I would not be criticized for the trouble I was having.”
Leitz understands exactly the trouble Hitchcock described. Her baby, Noah, was also struggling with feeding and, after a week of trying by herself at home, she was not making much progress.
“He would get fussy, distracted, and would appear to be choking,” Leitz said. “Going back to class, I got more than I expected. The lactation specialist identified my problem as over-production of milk and helped me find the best positions to feed Noah and to reduce stimulus to regulate milk production.”
Both moms have been able to fully breastfeed their little ones, and continue to attend the support groups to practice techniques and to enjoy the camaraderie they share with the group. Hitchcock is also getting support in preparing her milk bank to maintain her twins’ diet when she returns to work soon.
Rushael Caddy, RN, IBCLC, and Kelly Tucker, RN, BSN, IBCLC, Broward Health Medical Center lactation consultants, said it is not uncommon to meet women like Leitz and Hitchcock. As nurses and mothers, they strive to help moms overcome the overload of misinformation that can hinder breastfeeding success.
“The best a new mom can do is arm herself with as much correct information as she can,” Tucker said. “That is our passion: educating moms, to make to make their stories a success.”
Another helpful tool provided by Broward Health lactation specialists helps determine how much milk babies consume during a feeding.
“One major concern for moms is whether her baby is getting enough milk,” Caddy explained. “We weigh the baby here before and after the feeding to have an idea of how much milk was consumed and we also keep a watchful eye on weight fluctuation. When the baby is gaining weight, we know feeding techniques are successful.”
Broward Health offers child birthing classes, lactation classes and support groups at different locations across the Broward County. Lactation classes and lactation support groups are free and welcome all moms regardless of where they gave birth. For class and support group schedules, call 954-759-7400 (option 5) or visit www.browardhealth.org/events.