As your pregnancy progresses, you and your partner will begin to imagine your birth experience and consider your personal choices for the special hours leading up to and immediately after your baby’s birth.
One of the most important decisions is how you will feed your newborn. Breastfeeding is best! On this point, childbirth and pediatric experts are pretty much in total agreement. Breastfeeding provides health benefits for your baby and for you that infant formula cannot. Click here for a quick review of breastfeeding basics.
Yet in Alabama, almost one-third of infants are never breastfed and two-thirds are not breastfeeding at 6 months of age. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding—with no other supplements—for the baby’s first 6 months). Mothers decide not to breastfeed or give up breastfeeding early for a variety of reasons. They most often express concerns about their ability to breastfeed successfully, the feelings of a partner, family attitudes, and the need to return to work.
At Brookwood, our neonatologists and nurses are committed to the importance of breastfeeding. Support is available to help you resolve your concerns about choosing to breastfeed and prepare for a positive breastfeeding experience. Beginning even before your delivery, our Lactation Center offers a prenatal Breastfeeding Preparation class, especially for first-time parents and also for experienced parents wanting a review.
In the hospital, our lactation consultants—registered nurses specially trained and certified to counsel and assist with breastfeeding—will visit you to answer your questions, provide educational materials, and help you get off to a good start. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from our nurses. They’re very experienced and can offer lots of tips.
If for any reason you are unable to breastfeed after your delivery, your baby will receive donor human milk that has been processed through a milk bank until you are able to begin breastfeeding. The health benefits of breast milk are especially important to premature or sick babies in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and Brookwood provides this benefit to its healthy newborns as well. Our neonatologist Dr. Wahib Mena explains why he uses donor human milk in the NICU:
“There are plenty of pediatric studies looking at the benefits of mother’s breast milk. There are fewer studies that have looked at the benefits of donor human breast milk. But I take a practical approach and focus on the decreased risk for infection, the better feeding tolerance, the improved morbidities for premature babies, and the long-term benefits of decreasing the incidence of obesity and hence the long term morbidities associated with obesity.”
If you do not want your infant to receive donor human milk, notify the nursing staff of your preference.
An important word of caution: The Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against feeding your baby breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the Internet. Our neonatologists have stated that human milk available to hospitals comes from milk banks that screen donors, pasteurize the milk, store it properly, and maintain quality controls. The product is therefore expensive and not generally available directly to the public.
At your prenatal visits, we are glad to discuss any concerns you may have about your breastfeeding decision. We want you to find the support you need to enjoy this experience.