Breastfeeding Works

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The first week of August is World Breast-feeding Week. Did you know that there are many advantages to breastfeeding?

• Breast milk has been called “the superior infant food” due to the antibodies that protect the baby from illness. It has a low allergy potential, is easily digested and contains an optimal mix of fats and easily absorbed forms of vitamin D and iron. Breastfed babies have a decreased incidence of tooth decay and benefit from proper jaw, teeth and speech development.
• Breastfeeding has many benefits for mothers. Nursing women have reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancers. It also saves time, as there are fewer or no bottles to wash and less formula to buy and prepare.
• Breastfed babies are healthier; so mom misses fewer workdays. According to La Leche League, one large company saved $60,000 annually due to decreased absenteeism among breastfeeding mothers and $240,000 annually due to decreased healthcare expenses for mothers and their children.

Some businesses have set up a Lactation Room to assist mothers. This room should have at least two electrical outlets for plugging in electric breast pumps, sink, comfortable chair, small table, foot stool, small refrigerator, markers to label bottles, clock, paper towels, dish soap, hand soap, waste basket, dish drying rack and reading materials. It should also have functioning locks.

Many women might need to pump milk during work for later use. A double pump allows the mother to pump both breasts at once. This helps mothers keep their prolactin (breastfeeding hormone) level up, and also saves time, as they are able to finish faster. Many mothers find that double pumping, ideally three times a day during the first few months, gives them enough milk to feed their baby for an entire day.

The antibacterial substances naturally occurring in human milk keep it safe after pumping. These antibacterial properties are why expressed milk can be left at room temperature (66-72ºF, 19-22ºC) for up to 10 hours and be safe to use. However good sanitation is key. Mothers should always wash their hands before pumping, use containers that have been washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed. Always use the oldest milk first.

It is recommended that expressed breastmilk be stored in 2-4 ounce amounts to reduce waste. Refrigerated milk has more anti-infective properties than frozen milk. Human milk can be stored in a refrigerator (32-39ºF, 0-4ºC) for up to 8 days.

If breastmilk needs to be stored longer, just-pumped milk should first be cooled in the refrigerator before adding to frozen milk. Expressed breast milk can be stored in the freezer for up to four months, or in a deep freeze (0ºF, -19ºC) for six months or longer.

To warm the milk, thaw and/or heat under warm, running water. Do not bring temperature of milk to boiling point and do not use a microwave. Shake before testing the temperature. Shaking will also redistribute the cream into the milk, as it is common for stored milk to separate into a cream and milk layer. Milk that has been thawed can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours for later use. It should not be refrozen.

With most women of young infants in the workforce and all women leading busy lives it is nice to know that health professionals and businesses can help women continue to nurse their babies and assist in the health of both the mother and baby.
By Carol Meerschaert, RD.

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