During National Breastfeeding Month, the team at Orange Park Medical Center encourages community members to support nursing mothers. The recommended period of time for mothers to breastfeed their newborn babies is twelve months, but many women who pump breastmilk in public or in the workplace are met with less-than-accepting attitudes.

"We have to stop looking at breastmilk as just a food source and start looking at it as an essential medication. Breastmilk provides an unmatched source of health benefits,” says Dr. Kathleen Crick, pediatrician at Orange Park Medical Center. “We can change lives just by giving new moms and their families support and understanding for breastfeeding.”

The health benefits to baby are fairly well known, such as decreased risk of infection and childhood obesity, but the health benefits to mothers are often overlooked. Breastfeeding mothers also experience long-term positive impacts from breastfeeding, including a reduced risk of getting certain cancers. These health benefits mean smaller healthcare costs for breastfeeding babies and their mothers.

“It’s recommend moms exclusively feed their babies breastmilk for the first six months after birth, says Dr. Crick. “It’s also recommend moms keep breastfeeding, combined with other food sources, for another six months after that.”

New moms may quickly realize this isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when they return to work.

The law in 49 states specifically asserts that women can breastfeed in any public or private location. The law in the U.S. is that mothers must be allowed reasonable break times and locations (other than bathrooms) to pump breast milk during the work day for up to one year after her child is born.

“Caring for babies is our passion,” says Suzanne Jones, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Orange Park Medical Center. “So supporting our breastfeeding employees is very important to us. We know working as a nurse and breastfeeding is a lot to balance and we do everything we can to support our staff.” Jones says the hospital’s new four story expansion will include nursing mother’s rooms on each floor to help support and encourage breastfeeding.

Orange Park Medical Center provides free lactation support to their patients. Their lactation consultants provide breastfeeding education pre-baby, during their hospital stay and throughout their breastfeeding journey, all at no cost.