ALBANY — Jennifer Heleski gave birth twelve weeks ago. Her child,Allee Clare, weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and has since grown to more than 12 pounds. Heleski attributes that growth to breastfeeding.
She says breastfeeding came natural to both of them.
"She took to it right away thankfully, but we would've worked at it if we needed to. The benefits for her are so much greater," said Heleski.
Lactation consultants at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, like Debra Knight, help new mothers get adjusted to breast feeding their newborns through skin to skin contact and bonding in the same room. They say breast feeding reduces the risk for breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer in women.
"When women don't breastfeed we have increased risk of diabetes- type 1 and type 2," explained Knight.
Breastfeeding also reduces childhood obesity and decreases the likelihood of babies getting infections.
"They have less ear infections, they have less G.I. infections, they have less diarrhea problems and respiratory infections," said Knight.
Breastfeeding rates at the hospital are increasing. Knight says they have gone from around a 50 percent rate to about a 64 percent rate.
The hospital provides a lactation center for new moms and room for visitors and employees. Heleski encourages other moms to breastfeed.
" If you stick with it, I mean once you get past that first week it's so rewarding," said Heleski. "You can't beat the bonding experience that you have with them because you're the only one that can feed them."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed for at least a year. Get more information about breastfeeding from the Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition and ZipMilk.org.
By Shannon Wiggins, WALB News 10
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