This week is World Breastfeeding Week. An annual global event designed to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. Avera McKennan is taking part by marking the event by "capturing a moment" with employees who provided the best start possible for their babies.
Michelle Steen brought her second child, 4 month old Evie to the shoot. Michelle is a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and feels strongly about breastfeeding. She says, "I knew I was going to breast feed the moment I found out I was pregnant. I actually knew before I got pregnant. For me, I just think breastfed babies are healthier in general. I mean less sickness, less ear infections, it lowers the risk of SIDS. It was hard at first with my first child, but it just takes practice. Evie took to it much faster."
Lynn Josten, a Registered Nurse and Lactation Specialist at Avera McKennan says, "There are so many benefits not just for the child but for women. We know long term it really helps boost their immune system, it's not just a nutrition choice for that baby. It actually a health choice. It helps with allergies, immune benefits and to the child's health. We often say it's a gift a mother will give her child that will last their entire life.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, 77% of new mothers breastfeed their babies at least briefly. That's the highest rate seen in the U.S. in more than a decade. Lactation consultants at Avera McKennan appreciate the commitment it takes to nurse. They hope as a society we all understand the importance.
Josten says, "We have an employee pump room. It's a private space for new moms that mimics a break room. There's a phone, TV, fridge, and microwave. We want to make it as convenient as possible for them."
For mom Michelle,she says she plans to breastfeed for as long as Evie will go for it. She says, "I just can't tell you how wonderful the bonding is for us. When I'm breastfeeding her, it's just mommy and baby time."
A picture of health that started naturally with benefits lasting a lifetime.
Avera McKennan lactation consultants recommend breast feeding exclusively for 6 months but continue for a minimum of a year.