By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin recently announced the launch of a new breastfeeding education initiative called It’s Only Natural.
As part of the initiative, the Department of Health and Human Services aims to raise awareness among women of the importance of and benefits associated with breastfeeding and provide helpful tips, the department said in a news release.
Coinciding with, but separate from the government’s announcement, Catholic Health launched in April weekly BabyCafe events to educate mothers about why breastfeeding babies until at least the recommended age of 1 year old is important.
“It’s the healthiest thing we can give to our child,” said Tina Harmon, coordinator for the BabyCafes.
She said breastfeeding reduces a baby’s susceptibility to diarrhea, ear infections, common viruses, asthma, allergies and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Studies have shown breast milk is more easy to digest for babies and can lead to an improved IQ score, she added.
“For the mom it also reduces their risk of breast cancer the longer they breast feed and they lose weight faster because they burn (an extra) 500 calories a day,” Harmon said.
“One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself is to breastfeed,” Benjamin said in the HHS release. “By raising awareness, the success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, their friends and the community.”
As part of BabyCafe, Catholic Health is holding twice weekly sessions in which international board certified lactation consultants will be made available to anyone interested in learning more about breastfeeding, from moms, expectant mothers, fathers and other family members. The cafes are free and held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — visitors can come and go as they like — on Tuesdays at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo and on Thursdays at Our Lady of Victory senior housing in Lackawanna.
From asking questions and sharing experiences, Sarah Sorrentino, administrative assistant for Catholic Health for WomenCare said the BabyCafes can be “whatever moms want it to be.
“We would love them to come back and develop relationships with consultants and other moms,” she said, but “if they just come once and get their questions answered, that’s good too.”
The BabyCafe series was funded through a grant from the New York state Department of Health, though Sorrentino said Catholic Health hopes to continue the program even after grant money runs out.
“It’s really thanks to the state that we were able to get this going,” she said. “We plan on continuing this through other funding opportunities.”
There’s no need to set an appointment to attend a BabyCafe, though if you’re looking for more information, visit www.chsbuffalo.org, or call 862-1939. Tea and light snacks are available for those who attend.IF YOU GO • WHAT: BabyCafe • WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. • WHERE: Tuesdays at Sisters of Charity Hospital, Piver Center, 1st floor conference room, 2121 Main St., Buffalo; Thursdays at Our Lady of Victory senior housing, 55 Melroy Ave., Lackawanna • MORE INFORMATION: Call 862-1939, or visit www.chsbuffalo.org or www.womenshealth.gov/ItsOnlyNatural. Contact Sunday Lifestyle editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.