Breastfeeding in Nevada

By Kendle Walters

What is the most nutritious food for your baby? Breast milk, according to the Surgeon General. It is recommended that children be breastfed exclusively until the age of six months to ensure optimal nutrition.

Premature babies can perhaps benefit the most, from the nutrients and bonding that breastfeeding provides. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the potent benefits of breast milk are such that all preterm infants should receive breast milk.

Las Vegas mother Lauren Eldik, has learned just how crucial breast milk has been to the health of her baby. Her son, David Eldik, was born at 28 weeks, nearly three months before his due date. He weighed only 1 lb, 14 oz. Throughout his three month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Valley Hospital, baby David received his mother’s pumped breast milk through a feeding tube. Eldik said she knew that breastfeeding was best for her baby and she pumped until David was strong enough to nurse on his own. David is now a healthy, happy three-year old and his mother is confident that breastfeeding played a large role in contributing to his good health.

AAP states that there are significant short-term and long-term benefits of feeding human breast milk to premature infants  and that these benefits are realized not only in the NICU, but also in the fewer hospital readmissions for illness in the year after NICU discharge.

Eldik said the benefits of breastfeeding aren’t just physical, but psychological too.

“The bonding and the trust between your child and you is a wonderful benefit of breastfeeding.”

Eldik stated that breastfeeding is also a convenient option for many reasons. Your baby can be fed in the middle of the night without even having to prepare a bottle, and you don’t have to pack any formula or bottles when you go out in public. No preparation is required.

“ If you’re out in public, your newborn doesn’t need to cry and you don’t have to fumble making a bottle, with breastfeeding, it’s all just right there,” Eldik said.

The rate of breastfeeding is the highest it’s been in over 20 years, according to the March of Dimes. Four out of five moms in the United States nurse their babies. These numbers are encouraging to breastfeeding advocates who worry that many women shy away from nursing their children out of embarrassment or lack of support.

“ As far as nursing in public, we’ve just been shamed for doing something that is so healthy and natural,” Eldik said. “It’s so good for our babies and I can’t believe we are being told to go find a corner and cover ourselves. Not all kids like to be stuck nursing under a blanket in the Las Vegas heat.”

Breastfeeding and working can pose another challenge for women who fear being shunned for their choice to breastfeed.

Working mothers will soon be able to come out from pumping milk in a cramped bathroom stall at work.

Health Care Reform, passed in March of 2010, has put in place new protections for nursing mothers. Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom place for breastfeeding mothers to express breast milk during the workday, for one year after the child’s birth.

These reforms are expected to benefit employers too.

The Office on Women’s Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services states that the health benefits to mothers and babies conveyed by breastfeeding translate into reduced costs to employers due to lower health care costs, decreased absenteeism, enhanced productivity, improved employee satisfaction, and a better corporate image.

Breastfeeding mothers living in Nevada have the freedom to nurse their children whenever, wherever, without worrying about being harassed or asked to leave a place of business. NRS 201.232 states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.”

To find support and more information about breastfeeding, visit Nevada breastfeeds.org.

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