This week is World Breastfeeding Week.
This year’s theme focuses on breastfeeding as a universal solution to improve the health and well-being of women and children.
Stephanie Bunkers’ newest addition to her family is 8-week-old Beckett.
She says her plan to breastfeed him was a no-brainer.
“It’s healthy for the baby you know, with my first one he was hardly ever sick. It is a lot of the connection too, just the bonding and I just… I love it,” Bunkers said.
While she enjoys breastfeeding, she says it comes with challenges.
“I’m their resource person to help them stay connected in terms of nursing. I’m usually one of the first people that is in their rooms after they deliver to answer basic questions,” Barb Giles said.
Giles, a lactation consultant with Avera, says the goal is to have babies breastfeed for as long as both mom and baby are physically able.
“Exclusively breastfed until the first 6 months when table foods are introduced, and then moms milk are still something that’s given in addition to table food,” Giles said.
According to the 2016 CDC Breastfeeding report card, 83.6 percent of SD mothers start breastfeeding, but the rate of those who continue after six months remains low at 53.4.
“There’s actual studies that link it to being a lifelong health choices. There’s a lot of different positives to nursing an infant that they will have lifelong health benefits as adults,” Giles said.
Giles says she knows the act isn’t easy, which is why she urges moms to visit, call, or video chat with a lactation consultant.
“Whether they’re a mom that lives a distance away from Sioux Falls and can’t come back to my office, then we do now offer breastfeeding assistance through the AveraNow platform so moms can call in and I can watch them nurse and answer their questions that way as well,” Giles said.
Giles says it’s important to remember all situations are different, and what may be easy for some may be difficult for others.
Bunkers has overcome most of the challenges with breastfeeding and hopes to continue until Beckett reaches age 2.
“It can be discouraging, but it’s totally worth it in the end if you can just make it past those first couple of weeks. It’s totally worth it,” Bunkers said.
For information on how to get connected with an Avera lacation consultant, click here.