Making Breastfeeding the Norm
From diapers to names, the decisions new parents face are often life changing.
While some of these decisions are within your control, more often than
not, the lifestyle that comes post baby are out of the hands of their
parents, due to social and economic reasons. Here in Gaston County, there
are a number of opportunities that make breastfeeding more accessible
for mothers returning to work.
There are a number of benefits to breastfeeding for both mother and baby.
From providing nutrition to babies at the correct temperature to decreasing
the rate of breast and ovarian cancer later in life for mothers, the pros
of breastfeeding outweigh the cons. It’s important to create an
environment where breastfeeding is accepted and to provide support for
women who choose to breastfeed.
According to CaroMont Health Lactation Consultants, Karen Ingle, RN, IBCLC
and Lynda Desmarais, RN, IBCLC, 75 percent of women in Gaston County breastfeed.
One of the main concerns that mothers have is the transition back to work.
Many women choose to return to work after having a child and the fear
of the unknown scares them into supplementing with formula earlier than
expected. But recently, four organizations in Gaston County have made
it so that mothers can return to work and continue breastfeeding without
skipping a beat.
Unfortunately, in the world we live in, it’s easy to understand that
certain circumstances may allow some women to breastfeed at work while
others have to resort to formula. But for many, understanding the employee rights can encourage a breastfeeding
friendly workplace. In fact, federal law states that employers with more
than 50 employees are required to provide a reasonable break time for
an employee who needs to nurse or pump in a place other than a bathroom.
Along with this, breast pumps are covered by some insurance companies,
the CaroMont Regional Medical Center gift shop rents out breast pumps
for $25 a week to moms before they receive their insurance provided pump
and the NICU provides breast pumps for moms in the Birthplace rooms.
With classes such as the free breastfeeding class at CaroMont Health, usually
held on the 4th Thursday of every month, there are opportunities to ask questions prior
to the birth. But once the baby comes, it’s a whole different ball
game. The Gaston Area Lactation Support, or GALS, is a support group for
women who are currently breastfeeding or have breastfed in the past. Ingle
and Desmarais stated that the group was more of a club because women come
to catch up, whether they are currently breastfeeding or have yet to begin.
The group helps to fix misconceptions, such as the perception that a mother
may not have enough milk.
“There are women who haven’t had their babies yet and there
are women who have babies who are over a year old,” Desmarais said.
“It’s a great chance for the women to see what the next step
is, especially when they think that they’re in a difficult stage
that may not end.”
Along with this support is the warm line that is available. Desmarais and
Ingle stressed the importance of the making educated decisions, rather
than drastic ones in the time of stress. Because of this, there is a warm
line where breastfeeding assistance is available.
The next GALS meeting is Monday, August 8. For more information, call 704.834.BABY.
To contact the warm line, call 704.834.3512.