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LETTER: Breastfeeding support group starting soon

To the Editor:

 World Breastfeeding Week will be celebrated worldwide Aug. 1-7. The 2013 World Breastfeeding Week theme, “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers,” highlights the importance of providing support to breastfeeding families.


 Infant feeding is one of the most important decisions that new families make. Evidence is clear that breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed an infant. Research shows 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, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, obesity and respiratory illnesses. Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding with a decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers.


 Despite most mothers wanting to breastfeed, many have challenges that keep them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. Support and encouragement can be paramount to success. Learning how to breastfeed takes time and patience for new mothers and infants.


 Appropriate breastfeeding support can build a mother’s confidence with breastfeeding. This support can be expressed by health care providers adopting practices that assume breastfeeding as the normal feeding method for infants, and by employers providing flexible options to express breastmilk during the work day. Breastfeeding peer counselors, mother-to-mother support groups, and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants can provide a wealth of knowledge and support to breastfeeding families.


 A new breastfeeding support group, “Milk and Cookies,” will meet monthly at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday evening in the Maternal Care Waiting Area, on the third floor at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. The inaugural meeting will be on Aug. 15. The goal of the meeting is peer support for new or expectant mothers who are choosing to breastfeed their infants. We welcome experienced breastfeeding mothers to participate.


 If a weekend support group fits better with your schedule, the Mitchell La Leche League meets from 9 to 11 a.m. on the second Saturday of every month, September through May, at Cornerstone Coffeehouse. Each meeting has an educational topic related to breastfeeding and support for new mothers. Facilitator Anne Kelly says breastfeeding mothers and expectant moms are encouraged to participate.