HOUSTON - Many moms have heard about the benefits of breastfeeding, yet there is an incredible drop off in the number of mothers who continue to do so once baby goes home from the hospital.
That's why one Houston hospital is devoting support and education to mothers and their newborns.
Doctors say some of the benefits of breastfeeding include fewer ear infections, protection against eczema and allergies and even a high IQ.
Pearland mom Patricia Walker is more at ease with the birth of her second daughter, Elizabeth.
"I'm excited because I feel like things are going a little more smooth this time and I know what to expect," said Patricia.
With her older daughter, Ella, Patricia was dedicated to breastfeeding, but said it didn't come without some hiccups.
"I would say a good month, at least, there were some nights we were all up crying because we weren't sure why she was crying," Patricia said.
While nearly 80 percent of moms do some breastfeeding, less than 14 percent of moms stick with it exclusively for the recommended first six months after birth. That's why Memorial Hermann Hospital wants families to know that the support continues even after mom and baby leave the hospital.
"It's the baby's first time even if mother knows what she's doing, so having great support with all of our staff, having some basic training in breastfeeding is really useful, and then having wonderful lactation consultants for the tougher cases where things don't go perfectly," said Dr. Pamela Berens, OBGYN and breastfeeding specialist at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.
Dr. Berens says Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital is implementing new programs to improve breastfeeding success across all ethnic and economic lines.
The new initiatives include immediate skin-to-skin contact, keeping baby with mom as much as possible and no formula unless absolutely necessary.
"So if there's a medical reason, that's fine, but if not we'd really like to avoid that because that can decrease mother's supply," Dr. Berens said.
Consultants are available even when mom and baby go home, which can be especially helpful for working moms like Patricia.
"Your baby comes first your body comes first and work can come second," she said.
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