Mommy Monday: Lactation Counselors

Reporter:{} Danner Evans l Videographer: Brian Whitesell

Lynchburg, VA - You should breast feed your baby for the first six months of his life, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In a new study in the month's journal Pediatrics, researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 85 % of mothers planned to exclusively breast-feed for three months or longer.

However, only about 32 % actually followed through.

Breast feeding is hard. It's harder than some women imagine, and having support can get you through the tough times.

Now Lynchburg has more support for new moms like LeSharon Trent.

"I've always wanted to do it I just didn't think it was going to be easy cause my sister tried it couldn't and she stopped and switched to formula," Trent said.

But Trent had a little more help learning to breast feed when she brought home baby Paul with a lactation counselor. Joy Knapton was assigned to her case.

"It helps a whole lot. The first week I came home from the hospital, we called her every day asking her questions, had her come out and help me with different positions, how to feed him and everything."

"A lot of moms think it's a real natural thing they'll know how to do but when it comes down to it the positioning of the baby is maybe a little off or the positioning of the mouth," Knapton said. "Having the assistance there and letting them know its ok you are a good mom."

Trent met Knapton through the Healthy Families program at the Presbyterian Homes & Family Services and the Family Alliance.

Ashley Graham with Healthy Families said grant money from the Centra Foundation and the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth covered the cost of training a lactation counselor.

"It's huge," Graham said. "Especially for the population that we serve in the Healthy Families program. The majority of the families we serve are an at risk population and don't have access to the resources and information."

Help starts before the baby is born. The lactation counselor also visits in the hospital and more importantly, follows up when it's time for mom to take the baby home.

"The majority of the complications happen about five days after they have the baby when the milk is supposed to come in.{} That's when our lactation counselor with Healthy Families will be in the home and trouble shooting those issues as they come up," Graham said.

Thanks to the support, Trent is still breast feeding and plans to keep it up until Paul is six months.

"It's far from easy in the beginning, then it gets better after the first couple of weeks. It gets a whole lot better," Trent said.

To find out if you qualify for this Healthy Families program call 434-384-3131 ext. 3687 or click here.{}