National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, celebrated every August across the country, aims at empowering women to commit to breastfeeding. Studies show that breast milk is the gold standard for protective nutrients, while breastfeeding yields numerous health benefits.
Research shows that exclusive breastfeeding at one month of age lowers your baby’s risk of having SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by 50%, while exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months reduces the risk of ear infections in the first two years of your baby’s life! Not only will babies live healthier lives, but moms who breastfeed also see health benefits themselves, including a lowered risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer. The longer women breastfeed, the more they are protected from health risks.
Unfortunately, many first-time moms have little knowledge about breastfeeding and do not have access to community support. Cristina, however, was lucky to take a proactive approach. She shared her successful breastfeeding story, starting with confusion, stress, and becoming overwhelmed:
“I was very worried being a first time mother and finding out I was having twins. My sister lost her baby at 5 months and I just wanted to make it to full-term with them to make sure they were as healthy as possible.”
A mother on a mission, Cristina was extremely concerned about her babies’ wellness and was desperate to give them the best possible start in life. “My babies’ health was my main goal. I was very nervous because at each prenatal appointment there was a lot of worry that one baby may be too small, or that one baby may be sick and the other would be healthy,” said Cristina.
However, Cristina had no idea what to expect being a first-time mom, knew little about raising twins without the benefit of experience, and was eager to get support to conquer the obstacles ahead. “My cousin’s wife had been part of Nurse-Family Partnership® program and I wanted the same kind of help, but I was too far along,” remembered Cristina.
“I was recommended the CoMadres program after was told I was too far along in pregnancy for a nurse. I had no idea that these types of programs existed at all, more people should know.”
Public Health Solutions (PHS) provides a variety of evidence-based home-visiting services to pregnant and parenting families. The CoMadres program works to support women and their families before, during, and after pregnancy. Our Community Health Workers provide individual and group health education for pregnant and postpartum women, education and advocacy on reproductive justice, home visiting, and connection to community resources.
As a result of the CoMadres program, Cristina’s confidence grows with the help from our bilingual community health worker, Melissa Maldonado.
“I feel that my parenting skills and patience are a result of what I learned in the program. Emotionally, my community health worker, Melissa, supported me very much and I use those lessons today in my parenting. I still attend the mom groups that the program offers, and I enjoy them.”
After learning the numerous benefits of breastfeeding, Christina decided to breastfeed. As emotionally intense as it is, breastfeeding her twins is the bravest and the most selfless thing Cristina has ever done.
“My children were in the NICU for 4 days after they were born. They were so small, and so fragile. I was so scared of breastfeeding such small babies. But I was able to, and am so glad that I did.”
Cristina very much valued absorbing new knowledge regarding breastfeeding and parenting, while being close to her baby and embracing every moment with each of them.
“When I breastfed each of them, they would look into my eyes and bond with me. It was the one time when one baby would be able to have me to themselves and enjoy time with me.”
Cristina’ twins will be one year old next month, and they are thriving with all they need to grow into healthy kids. Cristina expressed her deep gratitude and attributed her being an attentive and successful parent to the CoMadres program and Melissa’s support.
“My community health worker showed me I needed to have my babies latch well to my breast, how to position my children, and provided me with education. Mostly, she helped me emotionally prepare myself for breastfeeding and the children. She helped me reduce my stress, and I believe that helped me maintain my breast milk for my babies.”
Supporting moms like Cristina empowers them to be the best moms they can be. Start your monthly contributions today – no gift is too small. Your unrestricted contribution supports our work in helping vulnerable families and communities in New York City.