Dignity Health Merced | helloHealthy | Spring 2019

6 DignityHealth.org/Merced | Spring 2019 EXPERTS AGREE: Breast milk is the perfect first food for babies. It gives them a healthy start in life, and the benefits can last a lifetime. Still, many moms struggle to breastfeed their babies and may stop nursing as a result. “While it may seem entirely natural, breastfeeding is actually a skill that takes know-how and encouragement,” says Dawn Arnsberg, RN, BSN, IBCLC, a lactation consultant and clinical manager at Dignity Health – Mercy Medical Center. Especially in the early weeks after having a baby—and later when work or other responsibilities resume—nursing moms often face challenges, from sore nipples to concerns about their milk supply. This helps explain why only about 1 in 4 babies is still exclusively breastfed at 6 months old as recommended. To encourage women to continue with breastfeeding, Mercy Medical Center launched the Breastfeeding Café last fall. “It’s a welcoming place designed to give moms in our area the support they need to succeed at breastfeeding,” Arnsberg says. You’re invited Every Wednesday morning—from 10 a.m. to noon at the Breastfeeding Education Center, which is located in the Mercy Outpatient Center—moms who’ve successfully nursed are available to help other nursing moms who are just getting started. These peer counselors have all received training in breastfeeding issues from Merced County’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program. If you’re a nursing mom, they can give you how-to suggestions on these and other topics: ●  ● How to help your baby latch correctly. ●  ● How to be sure your baby is getting plenty of milk. ●  ● How to pump milk exclusively. ●  ● How to feel comfortable nursing, even in public. Arnsberg and fellow Dignity Health lactation consultant Pat Sawyers, RN, CLC, are also available to provide one-on-one nursing guidance. Good things happen outside the café too. Many of the moms—counselors included—get together for walks and talks in their neighborhoods. “It wasn’t our original intent, but this has evolved into a mothers group,” Arnsberg says. “Moms are supporting each other in all aspects of mothering, not just nursing, which is wonderful.” Good for babies, good for moms Breastfeeding helps protect babies from many health problems, including ear infections, asthma, diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome. At the same time, it reduces a mom’s risk of high blood pressure and breast and ovarian cancers. Come join us! There’s no charge for the Breastfeeding Café, and you are welcome to bring your other children. Just show up! For more information, call 209.564.5285 . Special support for nursing moms