Statewide, 45 percent of mothers exclusively breast-feed their newborns while in the hospital. At Lake Regional Family Birth Center, 60.7 percent of mothers exclusively breast-fed in 2016, and so far in 2017, that percentage has increased to 62 percent.

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and Lake Regional Family Birth Center has extra reason to celebrate: The center has achieved exceptional breast-feeding rates.

Statewide, 45 percent of mothers exclusively breast-feed their newborns while in the hospital. At Lake Regional Family Birth Center, 60.7 percent of mothers exclusively breast-fed in 2016, and so far in 2017, that percentage has increased to 62 percent. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months of an infant’s life and continued breast-feeding for at least one year.

“We’re thrilled that so many of our mothers and babies are benefiting from exclusive breast-feeding,” said Lake Regional Family Birth Center’s nurse manager, Mary Lou Gamm, RNC-OB. “Breast-feeding is a natural process, but it isn’t always easy. That’s why Lake Regional Family Birth Center has a lactation consultant on staff. Annie Havner is a registered nurse and board-certified lactation consultant, and she is here to help our moms and babies succeed.”

Lactation consultants help new moms — and even experienced ones — improve technique and gain confidence. Havner can evaluate breast-feeding, help with latching problems, determine if there are anatomical reasons for difficulties and provide advice for managing soreness. Havner gives this help to mothers at Lake Regional Family Birth Center while they are in the hospital and is also available by appointment.

Havner also helps mothers prepare for breast-feeding while they are still pregnant. She leads Lake Regional Family Birth Center’s Breast is Best, a free class for pregnant women that covers the benefits of breast-feeding and provides tips to help women succeed in their breast-feeding goals.

“It’s important to explain both the ‘why’ and the ‘how,’” Havner said. “Women need to know the benefits of breast-feeding so they are motivated to keep going if they face challenges.”

Breast-feeding’s benefits include numerous health benefits for the baby, including a lower risk of asthma, ear infections, upset stomach, diabetes and other sicknesses. There also are health benefits for the mother, including a lowered risk for diabetes, certain breast cancers and ovarian cancer.

In addition to providing mothers with Havner’s lactation consultant services, Lake Regional Family Birth Center also supports breast-feeding through participating in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ “Show Me 5” Hospital Initiative. This initiative recognizes hospitals that adopt five evidence-based maternity care practices that support breast-feeding:

•Help mothers initiate breast-feeding within the first hour of birth.

•Practice “rooming-in,” allowing infants to stay in the same room as their mothers.

•Ensure breast-feeding infants receive only breast milk (and no other liquids), unless medically indicated.

•Discourage the use of pacifiers and artificial nipples for breast-feeding infants.

•Foster the establishment of breast-feeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge.

Lake Regional Family Birth Center welcomes all breast-feeding mothers to Amazing MOMS Take Five. This free support group is led by Havner and meets the first Wednesday of each month at My Playhouse Indoor Play Café located in the Stone Crest Mall.

“Continued support is important to help mothers and babies keep up the good work started in the hospital,” Gamm said. “Our Amazing MOMS group connects breast-feeding mothers with each other for peer encouragement, plus Annie is there to address concerns and answer questions.”

Lake Regional Family Birth Center has an experienced team that includes obstetricians, nurses, a pediatric hospitalist and a lactation specialist, who provide prenatal, labor, delivery, nursery and postpartum care for more than 600 mothers and babies each year.

The Family Birth Center offers private suites that allow families to experience the entire birth process and hospital stay without changing rooms. To learn more, visit www.lakeregional.com/fbc.