EAST LOS ANGELES — New moms at White Memorial Medical Center will get the encouragement and support they need to choose breastfeeding as the healthiest option for their newborns, thanks to a nearly $500,000 grant the hospital received from First 5 LA as part of its Best Start LA-Baby-Friendly Hospitals project.
Study after study shows the benefits of breastfeeding. It helps fight infection, reduces the risk of asthma, childhood obesity, even Leukemia. And yet, a majority of mothers right here in Los Angeles choose not to breastfeed.
Taking care of sick babies is Dr. Robert Tefft’s life’s passion. But as head of the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit at White Memorial Medical Center he knows breastfeeding doesn’t just benefit premature babies, but all babies.
Which is why it frightens him that although 48% of mothers exclusively breastfeed statewide, here in East LA, the number is only 14%. Dr. Tefft says it is a critical health issue for babies in the area.
But the $473,000 grant from First Five LA will help them change that. First educating the nursing staff to encourage breastfeeding, rather than give out free formula. And to help dispel a common myth in the community that bottle feeding is better and easier than breastfeeding.
New mom Mayra Maciel knows the benefits of nursing which is why she says she won’t listen to people who encourage her to give her new baby formula.
She says although her family encourages her to breastfeed many of her friends say it’s better to bottle feed because you can just leave the baby with a bottle, you can make it fast, instead of having to hold the baby for so long and have him on you all the time.
She says she tells them no, that breastfeeding is best. And she says it makes her feel closer to her newborn. Doctor Tefft says that bonding helps both mother and baby immeasurably. He says in the NICU, just the contact with mothers skin makes babies calm down and improves their oxygen levels.
If you want to find out more information, go to www.whitememorial.com