How does your dual role as a pediatrician and lactation counselor help moms with breastfeeding?
One of the biggest stresses for new moms is breastfeeding. Even though it’s completely natural, it’s not always easy. I’ve seen many tearful moms in my office who were experiencing a painful latch, concerned about their milk supply or worried about a host of other breastfeeding problems. As a pediatrician who is certified in lactation counseling, I can provide some much-needed support for these moms, and it’s a great way to help my little patients get off to a healthy start.
What are some advantages for babies who breastfeed?
The advantages of breastfeeding for babies go far beyond filling up a hungry belly. Breast milk is the best food for babies during the first year of life (with the addition of baby foods after six months). In addition to the perfect balance of nutrients to help a baby grow, breast milk helps reduce illnesses like ear infections, pneumonia and diarrhea, as well as lowering the impact of respiratory illnesses.
Breastfeeding helps decrease the incidence of asthma and eczema. The rates of obesity and type 1 diabetes are much lower in breastfed infants as compared to formula fed infants, and breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and childhood leukemia.
How can mothers benefit from breastfeeding?
There are several maternal benefits of breastfeeding, and lactation plays an important role in a woman’s long-term health. Breastfeeding can help lower the lifetime risks of metabolic disease often associated with insulin resistance and high cholesterol brought on during pregnancy.
It can also reduce maternal obesity, lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease (including heart attacks). Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes after developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding also reduces a mother’s risk for endometrial, ovarian and breast cancers. Long-term studies have shown that the longer a woman breastfeeds the more she can reduce her breast cancer risk, particularly the most aggressive forms of the disease such as triple negative breast cancer.
What kind of support do you give breastfeeding moms?
I encourage my patients often, because they need to hear the effort they’re making for their own health and the long-term health of their baby is the first step for them to be successful in this endeavor.
I tell my patients that breastfeeding is a labor of love because it’s not always an easy, painless journey. Infants often need to be fed every 1-3 hours for the first few weeks of life. This can create mental and physical exhaustion for the mom on top of the fluctuating hormones that occur after delivery.
As a pediatrician and a lactation counselor, I can offer successful strategies for breastfeeding, address factors that have a negative impact on the mother-baby bond, and support them through difficult seasons which make lifelong impacts for both mom and baby.
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Laura Asbury MD CLC is a pediatrician with Beacon’s Children’s Diagnostic Center who has more than 15 years experience caring for children, and has recently become a certified lactation counselor to give new moms and babies added support in their breastfeeding journey. She earned her medical degree from the University of Tennessee School of Medicine in Memphis and completed her residency and chief residency at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga.
Dr. Laura Asbury is accepting new patients. Call and make an appointment with her at 894-3252.