Most of us know there are many great reasons to breastfeed. As a Registered Dietitian, I’m a proponent of breastfeeding because of the superior nutrition it offers babies. This perfect first food protects babies years after nursing is over, reducing the risk of childhood chronic diseases including cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, and many more.
Breastfeeding has many benefits for mom too. Breastfeeding lowers a woman’s risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. Breastfeeding also reduces risk of rheumatoid arthritis and postpartum hemorrhage, helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnant size, and burns up to 500 calories a day! Furthermore, breastfeeding saves mom money (on formula, bottles and even medical expenses) and time (because it requires no preparation or clean-up).
Breastfeeding is a better choice for the environment, too. Since breast milk goes straight from the breast to the baby, there is no packaging waste produced, and no fuel is used or pollution created transporting it. Further, breastfeeding uses no chemicals in processing and consumes no natural resources.
Local Breastfeeding ResourcesAs a new mom, I also know that breastfeeding is a learned skill that requires some knowledge and practice. If you make the decision to breastfeed your baby, the best thing you can do to ensure success is surround yourself with lots of support—ask your partner and family members for encouragement, and your health care providers for information and education. If problems come up, get help as soon as possible. Sonoma County has a number of resources for breastfeeding support, education and problem solving.
Getting Off to the Right Start
Most experts agree that the first few hours and days after birth are a critical period for breastfeeding success. Actively seek out health care providers that support your decision to breastfeed. When choosing a hospital for the birth, ask if your baby will be taken to a nursery or given bottles, both practices which impede successful breastfeeding.
Santa Rosa is fortunate to have many birthing facilities that offer help with breastfeeding:
- The Women’s Health and Birth Center has earned UNICEF’s “Baby-Friendly” designation which is reserved for locations that exclusively engage in practices that promote breastfeeding. Clients receive breastfeeding advice and support throughout pregnancy, immediately postpartum, and in home-visits in the days following the birth. Lactation consultants offer help to the community through private consultations, group classes, and over the phone.
- Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital
- St. Joseph’s Home Care
- Kaiser Permanente
- Help-line/office visits: (707) 571-4033
- Class: (707) 571-4167
- Support Group: (707) 566-5270
- Sutter Medical Center Santa Rosa
Sutter also runs a store called The Source for Women which carries many unique and hard-to-find items for women, including lactation (breastfeeding) supplies, breast pump rentals, clothing, books and tapes, as well as a lending library. It is located at 625 Steele Lane in Santa Rosa, at the Women's Health Resource Center.
- La Leche League (LLL): Women can access mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education through Sonoma County’s local LLL chapter. Meetings are open to the community and free to attend. The group meets the first Friday of every month, 10 a.m in the Women’s Health Resource Center at 625 Steele Lane in Santa Rosa. Bring your questions to the meetings or call their local referral line:
- County of Sonoma Health Services, Public Health Division:
- Families First: All first-time parents in Sonoma County can receive three free home visits through the program, which offers breastfeeding education and support, as well information on infant development.
- Maternal, Child, Adolescent Health program For information on renting or buying a breast pump, or for contact information for certified Lactation Consultants recommended by the Sonoma County Breastfeeding Coalition, visit their resource page (pdf file).This coalition also provides information and breastfeeding support for working mothers.