Sitting comfortably in her chair, a mother nurses her newborn. Holding her close to her chest, Lima Stafford gazed upon her 1-month-old daughter, Mila.
“I love the bonding and even just looking into her eyes is such a good feeling,” she said.
In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, Stafford and other new mothers got together Wednesday for a Mommy and Me event in Courthouse Park in Cortland.
Hosted by the Cortland Breastfeeding Partnership, the moms received a free lunch and a collection of brochures all about breastfeeding and postpartum resources.
“We wanted to honor moms who are breastfeeding, since it’s World Breastfeeding Week we want to do our part to really have a celebration,” said Olga Levitskiy, obstetrics nurse manager at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center. “We know that they’re doing the best thing they can for their babies, and we want to say, ‘keep up the good work.’”
Stafford, SUNY Cortland assistant director of multicultural life and diversity, will be on maternity leave until January. She said the Guthrie nurses helped her through two pregnancies and her postpartum care.
“My mom breastfed all of her kids,” Stafford said. “Growing up in Grenada, in the Caribbean, that was the main thing we did, we didn’t know much about formula back then. I’m not saying formula is bad, but if you’re able to produce (breast milk), then why not take advantage of the natural stuff that you can give your child?”
Judy Gallow, a clinical nurse educator for obstetrics at Guthrie, said breastfeeding is very important for newborns.
“We really stress with our patients to try as hard as they can to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of life,” Gallow said. “So many moms want to give up in the middle of that first night because they’re tired, they’re exhausted. So we try to give them hints of other things they can do, rather than giving them formula right away.”
Breastfeeding has a number of health benefits for infants, said Tammy Small, a registered nurse and childbirth educator at Guthrie. A mother’s adapts naturally to create the best combination of antibodies, proteins and fats the baby needs.
“During the pandemic, it’s especially important the babies are given all the antibodies they need, to protect them against the environment we’re in since they can’t be protected with vaccines at this age,” Small said.
For many new moms, breastfeeding can be difficult and painful at first and some newborns have a hard time latching on, Gallow said.
“The support from the nurses helped me a lot,” said Inna Soloviov, a new mom. “They encouraged me and told me what’s right and what’s wrong — because what do I know? I’ve never done it before — and they would check in here and there asking how things were going.”
Soloviov gave birth to her daughter Emma two months ago and is preparing to return to work as a teacher for Homer Central School District.
“They’ve always been pretty supportive about pumping,” Soloviov said. A private room and a comfortable chair are really all she’ll need, along with a cooler with ice packs or access to a fridge to store the milk until she leaves for the day.
“People need to know their rights because we’re supposed to get separate time out from our lunch breaks (to pump),” Stafford said. The state’s labor laws require employers to provide nursing mothers with break time to pump breast milk at work in a private lactation room, and it cannot be a restroom or toilet stall.
“I encourage breastfeeding moms and their supervisors to learn more about it so they can support breastfeeding moms,” Stafford said. “I’m big on supporting breastfeeding. I’ve had close friends who weren’t used to it and were like, ‘Oh you can’t feed him here,’ and I was like, ‘What? I’m not going to a bathroom to feed my child.’”