Breastfeeding in a virtual way
COVID-19 made this year’s celebration of World Breastfeeding Week at Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) a virtual event, kicked off by local families participating in The Global Big Latch On, when mothers around the world breastfed babies at the same time at registered sites.
The July 31 event at CCHC included presentations on meditation and relaxation, baby yoga, maternal nutrition, postpartum depression and baby-led weaning – a way of introducing solid – not pureed – foods to babies at 6 months of age, said Heather Lakatos, an internationally board-certified lactation consultant and registered nurse at Cape Cod Hospital (CCH) in Hyannis. About 30 families participated in the annual breastfeeding event, including about 20 breastfeeding mothers who participated in the Global Big Latch On, she said. The postpartum section was done by Aimee Smith, a CCH social worker and a PowerPoint slideshow put together by Erin Soderstrom, who runs a local peer support group called Heal Like a Mother, Lakatos said.
“The virtual was new for us, but we felt it was very successful,” she said.
World Breastfeeding Week is sponsored by WABA, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, an association that works closely with other organizations, including La Leche League International, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The event is held annually, usually August 1-7. This year’s theme was “support breastfeeding for a healthier planet.”
According to WHO, breastfeeding improves the physical and mental health of both babies and mothers, and provides the best nutrition for infants in a natural, sustainable way. Increasing use of breastfeeding worldwide could prevent the deaths of 20,000 mothers and 823,000 children annually and eliminate $302 billion in economic losses annually, according to WABA.
Cape Cod Healthcare offers breastfeeding education and help to parents through childbirth classes and support groups and takes questions via a lactation “warmline” (508-862-7266). It’s not called a hotline, because it’s not staffed 24/7, Lakatos explained.
“We used to field about 40 calls a month,” she said. “Now it’s 70 and above.”
Lactation experts follow all breastfeeding families born at Cape Cod Hospital.
The program also follows families who had their babies off-Cape, but seek local assistance afterward, she said.
One-on-one visits with new moms are now done via FaceTime or Zoom. A Zoom support group has 10-15 members, Lakatos said. The coronavirus pandemic has isolated new parents from much family support, increasing interest in support through virtual meetings, she said.
“Moms are being very cautious,” Lakatos said. “They look forward to the Zoom group.”
“We try to be a resource and support them to meet their breastfeeding goals,” she said.
Click the following link for more information about the lactation experts and services at The Family Birthplace at Cape Cod Hospital.
To join a breastfeeding support group or make an outpatient appointment, call the Lactation Warm Line at 508-862-7266.