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PROFILE: Healthy beginnings for baby

ASHLAND, Ky. — Terri Brislin’s children are now 22 and 26. The Ironton resident wishes in her anxious days as a new mommy she was blessed with the foresight she has nowadays.

That’s because as a lactation consultant at King’s Daughters Medical Center, Brislin brings a wealth of knowhow to women who are opting to make the right choices for their little bundles of joy. It’s sometimes a hard choice, deciding whether to breastfeed.

Often, women are afraid of the inconveniences — finding a quiet place to breastfeed while on shopping trips or grocery store visits, embarrassed by stares or awkward glances, Brislin detailed.

“Locally, you still don’t see a lot of women breastfeeding in public.”

So, Brislin and her associate, Cindy Derifield have joined a team of two KDMC mother-baby staff nurses, Kristen Wright and Lori Raybourn to break down these stigmas, praying to bring healthy starts to infant lives, making sure mothers are equipped and ready to breastfeed.

They field questions, provide support when moms are having trouble feeding their little ones, weigh babies to ensure they are taking in adequate nutrients, and man a phone line, offering up answers to inquiries like pumping breast milk or finding a hushed mall dressing room to nurse a daughter.

The services are free to all Tri-State women, whether or not the babies were delivered at KDMC, Brislin explained.

It’s a special benefit, considering Brislin and Derifield are both IBCLC’s —­ International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, a tough designation requiring numerous clinical hours, college credit and testing.

The women are on a mission. A labor of love.

“We are exposing the community to the importance of breast feeding, helping women learn the benefits to the baby and the ultimate health benefits to mom,” Brislin said.

They reach-out, instruct and mentor during KDMC’s free Pregnancy 101 courses, through obstetrician-provided flyers, and in local health fair tents.

When a baby makes a welcome arrival at KDMC, the lactation team calls on the mom to determine her needs and offer assistance whether breast or bottle feeding. When Brislin and Derifeld are away, an around-the-clock support staff on the unit steps in to help.

Follow-up calls are made after hospital discharge to check on both mother and baby.

“Babies have to learn to eat,” she went on. “And it’s not always easy learning to feed and hold your babies. … That’s why we’re here — to make it simple for moms.”

Brislin presented pluses of breast feeding:

Benefits of breastfeeding for the baby

Nutritional benefits. The composition of breast milk provides the ideal nutrients for brain growth in the first year of life. Increases IQ scores.

Infection protection. If an infant is breastfed it doesn’t mean he or she will never get sick, but is less likely to get sick or won’t be as seriously ill, spelling out fewer ear infections; respiratory infections; allergies, and reduction of incidence and severity of asthma.

Easy to digest. Less colic and problems with constipation or diarrhea. Spit up less often.

Some evidence indicates it may help decrease Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Advantages to the mother

Helps mother return to pre-pregnancy weight sooner.

Lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Some studies indicate it may lower the risks of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

Environmental impact

No waste, slowing landfill clogging.

No disposal of packaging.

No pollution — there’s no processing of product.

Decreased health care costs to the family-mother and baby healthier.

Miss work less often to due healthier baby.

Less expensive-no bottles or formula to purchase.