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Health Team

New moms face choices about breastfeeding

Posted September 1, 2010 1:42 p.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2010 7:59 p.m. EDT

— Breastfeeding is healthy for babies and mothers but presents challenges for every mother and their newborns.

Rex Hospital lactation specialist Sheri Taylor said that nursing a baby naturally is a growing trend.

"Here at Rex, about 80 percent of our mothers come to the hospital with the intent to feed," Taylor said. "We're very fortunate that so many woman are so motivated."

Kelly Topoll said she intends to breastfeed the new addition to her family, son Gavin.

"We have three children, and I breastfed all of them," Topoll said. "I just knew I wanted to do it because of the health benefits."

Breastfeeding helps babies develop their immune system, and breastfed babies generally have fewer problems with colds and urinary tract infections.

It also helps mothers lose their pregnancy weight more quickly. Research has shown that they also experience fewer incidences of breast and uterine cancers later in life.

However, breastfeeding can become difficult for a variety of reasons. It can be painful at first, or a new mother might lack family support. Returning to the workforce also presents challenges, especially in a down economy.

"Those women feel a lot of pressure to go back to their work lives," Taylor said.

As another option, many women turn to baby formula.

Topoll said she considered using formula with her second child when she started a teaching job but found ways to work around it.

"I just established some routines, and then it just became part of my everyday life," she said.

But Topoll's second child was a big boy, and at one point, he wasn't getting enough breast milk to satisfy his needs.

"So I did have to supplement some, about four months in, to give him some extra calories," she said.

Taylor said that she always recommends breastfeeding over baby formula but is glad that other option is available.

"Our formula is a safe alternative for the mother who just can't breastfeed," she said.