Why does the Women & Infant services unit consistently garner high patient satisfaction scores in quarterly Gallup polls? Some say it's the teamwork and compassion of cross-trained nurses who are skilled in labor/delivery, nursery and maternity unit care. Or, perks such as room service, an online nursery and a recent makeover in decor.
For many, though, one saving grace is the nurturing wisdom of our experienced lactation consultants.Although breastfeeding is a natural process, ironically it doesn't always come naturally. Many women find this initiation into motherhood difficult and fear that they won't produce enough milk to feed their babies.
Our consultants teach new moms how to properly "latch" their babies to avoid soreness and ensure a rhythmic flow of milk. Breastfeeding should begin as early as possible (ideally within an hour of birth), and feedings should be frequent - as many as 8 to 12 times per day.
While many new mothers feel compelled to supplement breastfeeding with formula, we discourage this practice unless bottle-feeding is deemed medically necessary due to problems like low blood sugar, dehydration or excessive weight loss. The use of formula early on can condition babies to breastfeed less and to suck differently, which can cause sore nipples when breastfeeding resumes. To alleviate fears about underfeeding, new parents can track their babies' urination/stooling patterns and weight to ensure healthy growth. Breastfeeding is a "learning process in which practice makes perfect."
Choosing how and what to feed your baby is a personal decision that deserves careful and thorough consideration of the facts, your opinions, and options. Feeding your baby breast-milk or bottled formula are both healthy and responsible decisions, each with advantages and disadvantages. How and what to feed your baby is a decision that should "fit" you, your baby, and your family.
Breastfeeding is the natural nutritional source for infants less than one year of age. Most healthcare professionals recommend breastfeeding for your baby's first year (including the American Academy of Pediatricians and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners). Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for the first six months of life. It contains appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, and provides digestive enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and hormones that infants require. Breast milk also contains antibodies from the mother that can help the baby resist infections. Experts agree that breastfeeding your baby for any length of time, regardless of how short, is of benefit to you and your baby.
Moms who deliver at Virginia Hospital Center may also call our Breastfeeding Line after they return home: 703.558.5444. All calls are returned within 24 hours.