“Busy” doesn’t even begin to describe Alysia Bledsoe’s work routine at Mercy. Day after day, the emergency room nurse keeps her focus on patients – and her mind on her seven-month-old baby, Reagan.
“I wanted the closest bond with her as possible, so I decided early on to breastfeed,” Bledsoe said, and that’s when Mercy stepped in. “Before I left for maternity leave, Mercy offered me a free lactation consult and a tour of the hospital’s dedicated lactation rooms.”
Bledsoe quickly got up to speed on the best practices and equipment to ensure a healthy relationship with her little girl. “It definitely made it a lot easier for me and all the other moms at Mercy,” she said. “And when you’re on your feet for several hours, a quick getaway is appreciated. In fact, I can get a couple pumps in each day, with full support from my managers.”
But breastfeeding isn’t as easy as you’d think. “At first, many moms wonder if they’re feeding enough or doing it properly. That’s why it’s so important that we’re there to guide them and support them from start to finish,” said Sheila Peters, lead lactation consultant at the Mercy Family Resource Center. “From free prenatal consults to prepare new moms for success, to a returning-to-work consult, our goal is to make their lives, and their babies’ lives, as healthy as possible.”
Several Mercy facilities, including all three Mercy hospitals in Springfield, have comfortable, private rooms so new moms can express milk during a workday. As part of these and other efforts for co-workers, Mercy Hospital Springfield recently received the Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Award at the gold level by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) and the Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition.
“Many of our co-workers tell me they would have given up earlier on without our help,” Peters said. “But they’re seeing tremendous benefits by sticking to it. Moms have a lower risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers, and the baby will see fewer ear infections, respiratory infections, allergies, as well as hospital admissions. The list goes on and on.”
That’s why more than 70 percent of new mothers in Missouri now choose to breastfeed. In addition to a financial savings from avoiding costly formula, the MDHSS reports that breastfeeding reduces absenteeism because of fewer illnesses, lowers health care costs due to fewer doctor visits, and also improves productivity and retention.
“Simply put, if you’re pumping, it’s good for your baby,” Bledsoe added. “With Mercy’s help, I’m now focusing on Reagan’s next steps – literally. She’s crawling all over the place!”
The week of August 1-7, 2015, has been designated as World Breastfeeding Week by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. To learn more about the services provided by the Mercy Family Resource Center, call 417-820-2327.