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ABC’s of your Health: World Breastfeeding Week puts spotlight on local efforts to educate and improve lives

Michelle Cervantes, of Lindsay, was glad for the breastfeeding support she received when her daughter Scarlet was born.
Michelle Cervantes, of Lindsay, was glad for the breastfeeding support she received when her daughter Scarlet was born. Special to Vida en el Valle

For many mothers, breastfeeding their babies might not be an easy task that in many instances it might require breastfeeding support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Breastfeeding can contribute to the well-being of new moms and babies, said Debbie Seeger, a certified lactation counselor, who is one of four people who make up the Kaweah Delta’s lactation team in Visalia.

“We strongly encourage breastfeeding for every mom. It is beneficial for mom, baby, the family and actually the whole community,” Seeger said.

The Kaweah Delta’s lactation team, together, with registered nurses on the hospital’s Labor and Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and Mother-Baby departments, provides the breastfeeding support new moms need.

And World Breastfeeding Week, which took place Aug. 1-7, put the spotlight on local efforts in the Valley to educate and improve lives with several events such as ‘The Global Big Latch On’ taking place in cities like Fresno, Lemoore, and Porterville.

Global Big Latch On events take place at registered locations around the world, where people gather together to breastfeed and offer peer support to each other.

Volunteers from within the community host each location with the Global Big Latch On taking place annually over three days during World Breastfeeding Week with one of the goals to create a lasting support network for the community.

In Fresno the Big Latch On event two place at two location, one on Aug. 2 at Tiny Tots Playground and on Aug. 3 during the 14th annual Breastfeeding Walk and celebration at Woodward Park.

Sierra View Medical Center’s Breastfeeding Resource Center in Porterville also hosted the synchronized breastfeeding global event at the hospital inviting local breastfeeding mothers and their babies to join thousands of other moms alike across the world to take part in the free community event which featured support, education, a kid’s corner, snacks, giveaways and raffle prizes.

Their goal is to develop an initiative that raises awareness of breastfeeding and encourages the formation of support networks between breastfeeding people and aims to normalize breastfeeding as part of daily life.

Approximately 60,000 people worldwide participated in last year’s Global Big Latch On.

Michelle Cervantes, of Lindsay, was glad for the breastfeeding support she received when her daughter Scarlet was born.

“It was nice to have him there to support me,” said Cervantes of her husband Nick who also attended with her a free breastfeeding class at Kaweah Delta prior to the birth of their daughter.

“I don’t think I could have done it without him,” said Cervantes, whose baby Scarlet is now almost five months old. “It takes a team. All the nurses were amazing, my lactation consultant was sweet and reassuring, but Debbie Seeger is really the hero. She gave me so much encouragement and confidence.”

Kaweah Delta currently offers free breastfeeding classes in Visalia, and it will soon offer a class in Spanish and English at its Exeter Health Clinic. Also new this year, Kaweah Delta’s lactation team is visiting women while they are in labor to provide them with information about breastfeeding. During that time, they also explain to patients how they can support them as they feed their baby for the first time.

“That first hour after birth is the golden hour and it’s an important bonding time for mother and baby,” said Crystal Ctibor, a health educator at Kaweah Delta and an International board-certified lactation consultant, of importance of the first hour to the success of mom and baby’s breastfeeding journey. “The earlier they can nurse, the more successful they can be with breastfeeding in the long run and in a mother’s milk production,” she said.

Some of the benefits for moms, includes that it’s convenient and economical, helps shrink uterus to normal size, helps with weight loss, reduces risk of osteoporosis, and reduces risk of endometrial, uterine and breast cancer.

For babies, those benefits include that breastfeeding allows bonding, provides perfectly matched nutrition, reduces risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and type 2 diabetes, prevents ear infections and allergies and provides less gastrointestinal disturbance.

According to Seeger, after leaving the hospital, Kaweah Delta continues to serve as a resource for new moms who have questions, concerns or need help with breastfeeding.

They can call (559) 624-6012 for help. Additionally, new moms can drop-in for free baby weight checks or attend a monthly new mom support group.

Kaweah Delta Breastfeeding Basics Free Class is scheduled twice a month and takes place on a Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kaweah Delta Medical Center. It gives expectant mothers the information and support to achieve a fulfilling breastfeeding experience. Fathers are also encouraged to attend. To register, visit www.kaweahdelta.org/classes or call (559) 624-6012.

Kaweah Delta New Moms Support Group meets weekly on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. on the third floor of Kaweah Delta’s Acequia Wing, 305 W. Acequia Ave.

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud

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