Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Loyola patient helps spread awareness about advantages of breast-feeding

'It was the healthiest choice for my babies'

Lisa, a former Labor & Delivery patient, now helps the Baby Friendly Team at Loyola.

A former Loyola Labor & Delivery patient talks about her experience with breast-feeding and the how Loyola’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative helps educate new mothers about the benefits of breast-feeding.

My name is Lisa, and I am a proud mother of two healthy, beautiful daughters. I am also the Mom Representative for the dedicated and passionate Baby Friendly Team at Loyola. We are working together to provide new mothers and babies with the best care possible and the key component is breast-feeding! My breast-feeding journey began when I discovered my first pregnancy and the experience has changed my understanding and appreciation of my body.

The moment I found out I was pregnant was both exciting and terrifying. I was thrilled to begin a new chapter of my life, yet nervous to take on the responsibility of being a parent. As time went on I began to develop my own ideas of what kind of parent I wanted to be. My No. 1 priority was to keep my baby healthy. And I knew what that meant – breast-feeding! I was open to the idea of nursing but not completely sold on it, so my husband and I took an “Intro to breast-feeding” class to learn more. I did not expect to leave the class having made a decision, but I did.

The lactation consultant opened my eyes to so many things I was unaware of, such as the health benefits of nursing for both mother and baby, the wonders of skin-to-skin contact, a brief introduction on breast anatomy and milk production, and the natural instinct to nurse. During class we watched a video that showed newborn babies, only minutes old, instinctively searching for their mother’s breast. It was truly an amazing sight. I was astounded to see how someone so tiny and brand-new had the ability to search and find food with very little guidance.

Who am I to deny what nature has intended? My decision was made: My child would be breast-fed.

Though choosing to breast-feed was easy, remaining committed to it for an entire year was challenging. It was, physically and mentally, the hardest thing I have ever done. So why did I continue? Why not give into the temptation and convenience of formula? It was not about me. It was the healthiest choice for my babies. I could not allow myself to feed my girls formula when I was capable of producing and providing them with naturally made breast milk that has far more benefits. Also, I feel proud and rewarded knowing that after every successful feeding that "I did that, I fed my baby!" Nursing my girls has been a long road, and many sacrifices have been made, but I will never regret my decision to breast-feed my children. 

As a former teacher, I firmly believe in the power of education. After my second daughter was born, I became more and more passionate about breast-feeding. When I was approached about becoming a member of the Baby Friendly Initiative, I was eager to accept the opportunity to share my passion for mothers, babies and good health with others. Creating awareness among mothers on the wonders of breast-feeding is both exhilarating and fulfilling. This initiative is only the beginning of something great and I am humbled to be a part of it.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.