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Atrium Health Navicent Offers Support for Breastfeeding Mothers

Studies have demonstrated considerable health benefits for mothers who breastfeed their babies for 12 months, and for their babies. As part of Atrium Health Navicent’s continuing commitment to improve community health for all, including mothers and their babies, physicians urge the community to support breastfeeding mothers and join in raising awareness during National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and Black Breastfeeding Week which is observed Aug. 25-31.

While more than 80 percent of non-Hispanic white mothers and Hispanic mothers breastfeed their babies, just 64 percent of Black mothers choose to nurse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black mothers are disproportionately more likely to suffer from chronic illness, stress, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, which are known risks associated with lower breastfeeding rates. Low-income mothers also have been shown to have less social support from family and friends, and less flexibility at work to support breastfeeding, according to the CDC.

“It’s critical that expectant mothers receive breastfeeding education, and if they choose to nurse their infant that they’re supported,” said Dr. Felisha Kitchen, an Atrium Health Navicent OB-GYN and Atrium Health Navicent’s OB-GYN Residency Program director. “In addition to the substantial benefits for babies, mothers who breastfeed experience lower risk for hypertension and breast, ovarian and thyroid cancers. Breastfeeding also creates a strong bond between a mother and her baby.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new breastfeeding recommendations last year, which extended the prior guidance for breastfeeding duration from one year to two years and beyond. These recommendations align with guidelines provided by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“Human breast milk is the preferred nutrition for all infants -- especially those born premature – and provides babies with a lower risk for ear infections and respiratory illnesses, and less of a chance of developing illnesses later in life such as childhood obesity, high cholesterol, allergies diabetes and childhood cancers,” said Dr. Mitch Rodriguez, a neonatologist and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital.

In Georgia, 82 percent of mothers initiate breastfeeding, but only 33 percent continue to breastfeed for 12 months, according to the CDC.

Atrium Health Navicent provides the following support services for expectant and new mothers:

• Atrium Health Navicent offers a Breastfeeding Basics class for expectant mothers. In this live virtual class, a registered nurse teaches tips and techniques to help mothers have a positive, successful breastfeeding journey. Class topics include how breastfeeding works, how to establish a good milk supply, how to help your baby latch, how to position your baby for breastfeeding and how to determine if your baby is getting enough milk. Resources for additional support will also be discussed.

• Breastfeeding mothers at the Atrium Health Navicent Family Birth Centers both in Macon and Milledgeville will receive a visit from our lactation specialists. They will provide mothers with basic breastfeeding information, answering questions and assistance in getting baby to the breast if needed. Nurses and lactation consultants are well versed in breastfeeding to help new moms through support, education and enrichment.

• Atrium Health Navicent offers a "warmline" to take calls or concerns about breastfeeding such as the use of medications while breastfeeding, pumping for return to work, milk supply issues and infant feeding problems. Call the warmline from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week at 478-633-2771 or 800-228-2055.

For more information about breastfeeding services, call 478-633-2771 (Macon) or 478-776-4341 (Milledgeville). To find a doctor, visit www.NavicentHealth.org and click “Find A Doctor.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.

About Advocate Health

Advocate Health is the third-largest nonprofit integrated health system in the United States – created from the combination of Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health. Providing care under the names Advocate Health Care in Illinois, Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, and Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Advocate Health is a national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, with Wake Forest University School of Medicine serving as the academic core of the enterprise. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Advocate Health serves nearly 6 million patients and is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies. It is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology, pediatrics and rehabilitation, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. Advocate Health employs nearly 150,000 team members across 67 hospitals and over 1,000 care locations and offers one of the nation’s largest graduate medical education programs with over 2,000 residents and fellows across more than 200 programs. Committed to equitable care for all,Advocate Health provides nearly $5 billion in annual community benefits.