When Chelsea Pinacate, a Richmond mother of one, was preparing for the birth of her baby, she and her husband set some time apart to take a class on breastfeeding.
“We learned a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding in that class and decided it was something we definitely wanted to do,” she said.
The city of Richmond offers many resources and classes like this for new mothers who are breastfeeding or considering breastfeeding.
A Woman’s Place Lactation Center and Boutique, located at Bon Secour Hospital, hosts classes similar to the one the Pinacates took. The center is completely dedicated to supporting new mothers who breastfeed. They offer breastfeeding classes and support groups, address latch difficulties, and even host a breastfeeding answer line.
According to the center’s website, “Breastfeeding isn’t just a lifestyle choice, it’s a health practice that’s been shown to protect babies against ear infection, lower the mother’s risk of breast cancer, and help mom’s lose pregnancy weight.”
These healthy benefits play a large role in explaining why many mothers choose to breastfeed.
Dr. Laura Goradia, a Richmond pediatrician at the office of Wiley and Arkin, says that her pediatrics office highly recommends that new mothers breastfeed.
“Because babies receive antibodies from the mother while breastfeeding, it makes them much healthier. There’s less chance of a baby developing asthma, ear infections, or having diarrhea when breastfeeding,” she said.
Dr. Goradia’s stance on breastfeeding backs up a statement issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010: “Breast milk is widely acknowledged as the most complete form of nutrition for infants, with a range of benefits for infants’ health, growth, immunity and development.”
“The simple truth,” says Dr. Goradia, “is that babies who breastfeed are healthier than babies who do not.”
Despite the documented health benefits of breastfeeding some new mothers still choose not to breastfeed.
Casey Barnett, a Richmond mother, made the choice to not breastfeed before giving birth to her now eighteen-month old daughter, Olivia.
“I chose not to breastfeed before Olivia was born because, to be honest, it’s just not comfortable and also I work a lot so it made more sense for me to put Olivia on the bottle right away. It makes life easier. Plus I give her really good formula and vitamin drops, so I don’t think she is missing out on anything,” says Barnett.
Chelsea Pinacate offers an opposing view.
“I think the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any hardships. It can be a lot of work, but I love it because there’s no cost, unlike using formula. It’s very natural and it gives babies all the nutrients they need during their first few months. It’s so much healthier and I wish now that I had breastfed long with my first child.”
“If I have another baby,” she added, “I will definitely breastfeed again.”
Monica Hunsaker and LaTrisha Elliott contributed to this report.