Moms are learning about the benefits of “latching on” as Cayman celebrates World Breastfeeding Week.
In an effort to promote and support breastfeeding, the Cayman Islands Breastfeeding Support Group met with a small group of moms at a luncheon held at the Children and Family Resource Centre on Monday.
“It’s better to breastfeed,” said pediatric nurse Layla Aitken. “It’s the best milk you can give your child, it’s free, it’s healthy, it’s individually made for your child, it’s natural, it prevents infections.”
Midwife Marian Slater said that breastfeeding is “not easy the first few weeks,” but “it is well worth it.”
Ms. Aitken said the positives of breastfeeding outweigh the negatives. “It’s amazing when you look into your child’s eyes and you have that connection with your baby when you’re breastfeeding. It’s just magical.”
Midwives and public health nurses were available to answer questions or concerns at the luncheon, and mothers were also given a private area to pump. Ms. Slater said the two most common concerns mothers raise are whether breastfeeding is painful, and how to tell if their baby is getting enough milk.
“Babies passing urine and stool is proof that they are getting enough,” Ms. Slater said. “With breastfeeding, the baby will demand, and the body will supply.”
Ms. Aitken said the support group also provide a more relaxed atmosphere for mothers to open up.
“We offer support and advice because sometimes you don’t want to go to a professional to ask for advice. So if you’ve got other mothers, it’s just a relaxed atmosphere rather than in a clinical environment,” said Ms. Aitken.
Benefits of breastfeeding
Cindy Blekaitis, mother of seven-month-old Athena, shared some of her experiences with breastfeeding.
“I had a hard time in the beginning, but once I got the hang of it, it was totally worth it. If you are having trouble, just stick with it and keep practicing,” she said.
“It was just an adjustment, but I love breastfeeding. I didn’t think I would breastfeed but, you know, once I became a mom I decided it was the best thing for her.”
Mrs. Blekaitis has plans to breastfeed her baby until the child is one year old.
Ms. Aitken said the first four to six months of breastfeeding are “the most important” in terms of the child’s development.
This year marks the 22nd annual World Breastfeeding Week, launched by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, and the theme this year is “A winning goal for life.”
According to the World Health Organization’s website, breastfeeding prevents infant deaths: “If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year.”
The luncheon was a joint effort of the Cayman Islands Breastfeeding Support Group, the Family Resource Centre, and the Health Services Authority.
The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority will also be observing World Breastfeeding Week with an information booth in the Atrium of the Cayman Islands Hospital on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
“We will have HSA midwives and public health nurses available at the booth to hand out information and to answer any questions about breastfeeding,” Simone Sheehan, HSA dietician, said.
Free antenatal classes are offered at the Women’s Health Centre at the Cayman Islands Hospital every Monday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.