Highlighting the importance of breastfeeding support, the Cypress Health Region invited area women to participate in a World Breastfeeding Week celebration event at the Swift Current Mall on Saturday.
While there are numerous health benefits for both infant and mother, breastfeeding is often ended by young mothers because of a lack of support.
"Most moms seem to start, and then they end up stopping in the next couple of weeks. And it's just that lack of support. We really need to be more supportive to them when they go home, to have somebody to talk to, to come help them when stuff has changed and going differently and they don't know what to do," explained Julie Fry, Public Health Nurse.
Fry said that new parents are under a large amount of stress when they return home with a newborn, and when complicated by changing feeding patterns and other care challenges, they often abandon breastfeeding. However, with the proper supports, both mothers and infants can continue to achieve the important medical benefits of breastfeeding.
"I think we're finding that a lot of new moms start breastfeeding, but the struggle is the continuance of the breastfeeding. So that's what we're really trying to promote is to continue to exclusively breastfeed until at least six months. We're just finding that a lot of moms for whatever reasons, maybe not having the support that they need and things like that, are quitting breastfeeding early and switching to other forms of feeding," explained RN Alysha Falk, Lactation Consultant for the Cypress Health Region.
The Cypress Health Region is highlighting that research shows that infants who are not exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life are more likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases and conditions including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and respiratory illnesses. In addition, mothers who do not breastfeed are at an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
"Our goal is to just really promote breast feeding and show everyone in the community the importance of breast feeding," Falk said. She added that Saturday's event was designed to have mothers visit in a group setting and have other moms to relate to in regards to their breastfeeding challenges. A total of 14 moms turned out on Saturday, and with two sets of twins there were 16 babies participating.
In drawing attention to the issue of breastfeeding, hosting the challenge event in a mall setting was an ideal opportunity.
"We want to normalize it. This is a normal way of feeding a baby - it's natural, it's proper, it shouldn't be a hidden secret thing. This is the proper thing," Fry noted.