Many new moms benefit from advice and tips from their own mothers when caring for their newborn. Few have the opportunity to receive such support from their grandmothers and great grandmothers.
Twenty-year-old Matilynn Stevens was lucky enough to receive that “legacy” of maternal support after giving birth last month to baby Cleo at Sutter’s Maternity and Surgery Center in Santa Cruz, Calif. Matilynn’s mother, grandmother and great grandmother gathered around her to offer their experience and guidance on one aspect of infant care they find particularly important: breastfeeding.
“When I delivered Matilynn, I received incredible support and resources for breastfeeding at Sutter’s lactation center in Santa Cruz,” says Matilynn’s mom, Milynn. “That support helped baby Matilynn thrive and created a deeper bond between us in the first years of her life.”
Matilynn agrees wholeheartedly with her mom and says, “It’s already been a lot easier to provide my breast milk to Cleo by incorporating techniques I learned from Sutter’s care team in Santa Cruz.”
Mother’s milk: “just right” for babies
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding – defined as the practice of only giving an infant breast-milk (no other food or water) – for the first six months of life. The AAP also recommends continued breastfeeding, along with introducing appropriate complementary foods, until a child is 2 years old, since studies show breastfeeding not only helps moms bond with their babies but also provides health benefits for both.
“Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size, supports healthy weight loss after delivery and reduces risk of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis,” says Dr. Laurie Gregg, an obstetrician with Sutter Independent Physicians and at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. “For infants, a mother’s milk provides comfort and gives nutrients to foster brain development and reduce the risk of ear infections, obesity, diabetes, asthma and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).”
More breastfeeding resources for more people who need them
Cleo is the latest girl in the family of Stevens women and her maternal “line” all breastfed their daughters. Thankfully, over the generations, advances in breast pumps, milk storage and latching techniques have helped women breastfeed more easily and with greater convenience and comfort.
To provide even more support, Sutter Health proudly offers birthing and lactation centers across the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Sacramento Valley Area as well as five baby-friendly hospitals. Dr. Gregg also says that women who want to breastfeed can access free, online lactation classes and other breastfeeding resources.
Sutter Health has been working to identify and quantify disparities in maternal outcomes, as part of a multidisciplinary effort to mitigate and prevent maternal and infant health disparities within its system. To advance health equity, lactation support and breastfeeding programs have been designed to ensure all individuals can access these resources. Free, bilingual and culturally competent e-classes, support groups and consultations will be offered, for example, for Black, Asian and Latinx moms through a new program at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center.
In Santa Cruz, Matilynn continues to benefit from breastfeeding advice from her mom and Sutter and says she already sees the impact: “I’m so excited by Cleo’s growth and how much easier it’s becoming to breastfeed her.”
Find breastfeeding information and resources visit: https://www.sutterhealth.org/health/breastfeeding