Our honorees in 2009 include:
- Theme: Breastfeeding - A Vital Emergency Response
- Lactation Consultant Mary Gruszka for supporting families
- Grant County for supporting breastfeedign employees with a nursing room
- WNMU Miller Library for advocating for student parents
Nowhere is 'immune' to an emergency. Emergencies can happen anywhere in the world. Whatever the emergency - from earthquake to conflict, from flood to flu pandemic - the story is the same: breastfeeding saves lives. In emergencies, infants and young children are especially vulnerable to malnutrition, illness and death1. Here are just a few facts from emergency experiences.
Published total mortality rates for infants under one year of age in emergencies are much higher than at ordinary times, ranging from 12% to 53%.
In a large-scale therapeutic feeding programme in Niger in 2005, 95% of the 43,529 malnourished cases admitted for therapeutic care were children less than two years of age.
In a therapeutic feeding programme in Afghanistan, the mortality rate was 17.2% amongst infants under 6 months of age admitted for therapeutic care.
During the first three months of conflict in Guinea-Bissau in 1998, the death rate amongst 9-20 month old non-breastfed children was six times higher than amongst the children of the same age-group who were breastfed.
Silver City, New Mexico, August 1, 2009: When emergencies strike children, especially infants, can be the most vulnerable part of our population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) during emergencies children's death rate can soar to 70 times higher than average due to diarrhea, respiratory illness, and malnutrition. In times of uncertainty, breastfeeding can play a vital role in emergencies by offering infants a safe, sanitary and abundant food source. This year's International Worldwide Breastfeeding Week is dedicated to reminding families in the event of an emergency breastfeeding can safeguard the survival, health, growth and development of infants and young children.
Emergencies can happen anywhere in the world. Emergencies destroy what is `normal',' leaving caregivers struggling to cope and infants vulnerable to diseases and death. One of the largest effects of an emergency is people's access to a clean water supply. "With breastfeeding you don't need a clean water supply, all you need is mom," says Cammie Bacho, lactation consultant at Gila Regional Medical Center (GRMC).
"Formula and bottles can grow bacteria, especially in a situation where clean water isn't available to sanitize the bottles," says Mary Gruska, another of GRMC's lactation consultants. ""Infants are very susceptible to dehydration during emergencies because if they become sick they have very little fluids they can lose."
Bacho adds that breastfeeding can actually lower the stress level of mothers and babies during an emergency, "Biochemically, mother's milk has a hormone that calms both the baby and the mother when they nurse. Breast milk also has live cells that kill bacteria. Plus the supply and demand for food is perfectly balanced; the baby demands and the mother supplies." Breastfeeding also offers infants additional immunity to diseases, which can run rampant in the poor sanitation found after most disasters and emergency situations. Infant formulas offer no immune protection and harms infant's gut defense mechanism actually making infection easier. Furthering that risk is the infant is dependent on quality of formula and supply, water and fuel, and sanitation with the difficulty of disinfecting feeding bottles. The WHO recommends cup or spoon-feeding non-breastfed infants during emergencies to insure better sanitation.
Recently there was an international controversy over tainted infant formula manufactured in China, which led to the death of at least 12 and sickened 1,200 infants. Gruska explains the quality of infant formula is even a concern in industrialize countries like the United States, "We had that concern recently in New Mexico where an infant died from the quality of the formula. People need to remember it's a manufactured product." Breast is best in the scientific opinion of the American Academy of Pediatrics and WHO, which recommend mothers breastfeed for the first year of a child's life.
Breastfeeding is a life saving intervention and protection is greatest for young infants, even in non-emergency settings, non-breastfed babies under 2 months of age are six times more likely to die, according to the WHO collaborative study on the role of breastfeeding in the prevention of infant mortality in 2001.
During flooding in Botswana 2006 where flooding led to a huge rise in diarrhea and death among non-breastfed infants, mortality for children under five was 22 times higher than the same time the previous year. Non-breastfed infants were 50 times more likely to need hospital treatment and much more likely to die.
The protective factor of breastfeeding infants can be astounding. In one Botswana village no breastfed infants died, while 30 percent of formula fed infants perished. Even developed nations like the U.S. artificially fed infants are at risk in an emergency. Following Hurricane Katrina many infants lacked food and some died as a result. One WHO worker recalled a mother who ceased breastfeeding during the emergency, and the infant perished when switched to formula. Gruska says, "Such a switch to formula, especially at a stressful time, can negatively effect the child's health, and effect the mother's milk supply. Mothers need to keep breastfeeding the baby to keep their milk supply up and their babies healthy."
Recently, the Southwest Breastfeeding Council presented information to the Grant County Local Emergency Planning Council (LEPC) on including the needs of mothers and breastfeeding infants into any emergency response plans they drafted.
"LEPC was so supportive and attentive," reports Kendra Milligan, a member of the Southwest Breastfeeding Council who presented to LEPC. ""With a population so at-risk during an emergency, its important to include the needs and comforts of mothers and their infants, It can be as easy as plans for a private tent so moms can feel safe and supported to continue to breastfeed during emergencies or disasters. Even educating mothers who are bottle feeding on the use of spoons and cups instead of bottles can cut down on infection rate from poor sanitation and can mean the difference between life and death for an infant."
Come learn more about Worldwide Breastfeeding Week this August 2nd to 8th at the Silver City Farmer's Market on Saturday August 8, 2009 at the Mom and Baby Comfort Station sponsored by the Southwest Breastfeeding Council. To learn more about the council call Beverly Allen-Ananins at 388-1198 ext. 11.
Silver City, New Mexico, August 4, 2009: Its hard to believe the energetic and petite woman visiting with a mother at the Silver City Blues Fest has changed the lives of hundreds mothers in southwest New Mexico by offering support and information on the healthy choice they have made for their child: breastfeeding.
As one of Gila Regional Medical Center's lactation consultants, Gruszka's support and advice has helped mothers bond closer with their babies, saved families thousands of dollars in the cost of baby formula, and most importantly, supported the future health of New Mexico children by enabling their mothers to continue to breastfeed when confronting difficulties. Her commitment to supporting mothers and babies has earned the esteem of Southwest New Mexico Breastfeeding Council, which recognized Gruszka with the award for outstanding promotion of breastfeeding in the community by an individual during this year's Worldwide Breastfeeding Week.
Council member, Beverly Allen-Ananins says while breastfeeding her three children Gruszka's support was invaluable, "I've called her from Hobbs when I was having breastfeeding issues; Mary even recommended the best breast pumps for me when I returned to work. She's the person that helps keep me going. She's inspired me to become involved in the Breastfeeding Council to help support others mothers." Allen-Ananins adds the support received from Gruszka helped her continue to breastfeed for the first year of her babies' lives as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Breastfeeding duration is where the real benefits are for both babies and mothers," says Gruszka, who notes scientific studies have proven breast milk is the preferable food for all infants and offers a variety of positive benefits including healthier babies who are less prone to infections, have fewer allergies, and a decrease risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. "Breastfeeding can be challenging the first couple of weeks, and there's help for the asking.just pick up the phone and call us."
Gruszka, and her counterpart Cammie Bacho, are both R.N.s and board certified lactation consultants (IBCLC), at Gila Regional Medical Center, which offers their services free of charge to the community as part of the Baby Friendly Initiative, a commitment by hospitals to improve breastfeeding policy, training, and practices. "As part of the initiative, we've begun monthly Breastfeeding Support Groups where moms can come to share the joys and challenges of breastfeeding and a lactation consultant is there to offer advice." The support groups are part of a partnership with the Southwest Breastfeeding Council, which grew out of the Grant County Breastfeeding Council, which Gruszka founded with Judy Tucker in 1994 to offer breastfeeding mothers free support and consultation.
"There's many myths about breastfeeding that affect mother's decision on whether to breastfeed or how long to breastfeed; we're here to talk with mothers about what is normal, what to expect, and how to deal with issues that come up," says Gruszka. A reoccurring concern of new mothers is if the baby is getting enough to eat when nursing, "A mother can count a baby's wet diapers to make sure the child is getting enough to eat," Gruszka says.
To become a lactation consultant, Gruszka completed a rigorous training program that included 75 hours of continuing education and 2000 hours of breastfeeding support in the community, a large portion of that time was while working with GRMC Labor and Delivery and the First Born Program. "That was wonderful because I had a chance to experience different breastfeeding issues, outside of newborns at hospital delivery. There were women returning to work or mothers feeding toddlers. It was a chance to see mothers at home with their children as opposed to the hospital setting."
Gruszka practice what she preaches and has breastfed all her children. She hopes by her commitment to supporting mothers society's attitudes can change for the better, "Part of what's happened in society is we have moved away from seeing breastfeeding as the norm for babies. People have a vision of a bottle as opposed to more natural sight a mother cuddling her child."
Fellow lactation consultant Bacho praises Gruszka for her efforts to support breastfeeding, ""Mary has done enormous service for years and helped the welfare of children and breastfeeding mothers in our county. It was wonderful to be mentored by her." Gruszka and Bacho will be at the Silver City Farmer's Market this Saturday (Aug. 8) at the Mom and Baby Comfort Station celebrating Worldwide Breastfeeding Week sponsored by the Southwest Breastfeeding Council.
Bacho and Gruszka offer free consultation over the phone or in the privacy of their office by calling 538-4676. To learn more about the Southwest Breastfeeding Council call 388-1198 ext. 11. The next Grant County Breastfeeding Support Group meets Friday, August 21, at noon at the First Born Program office 3202 N. Ridge Loop (corner of addressStreet32nd St. and Ridge Loop above GRMC).
Silver City, New Mexico, August 5, 2009: When Angela Castillo was a first-time mother and returned to work, she was determined to continue to nurse her baby even if it meant having to do it in the company restroom. "It made nursing difficult," remembers Castillo. "The restroom was unsanitary to nurse or pump there, sometimes I would have to take personal leave to travel home to nurse my child or to deliver milk." Castillo persevered though, because she knew breastfeeding was the best choice for her child's future health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with Castillo and recommends babies be breastfed at least for the first year of life, if not longer as new scientific findings suggest breast milk increases intelligence and neural-functioning, while lowering the chance of infections and a decreases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Castillo changed jobs, but not her commitment to breastfeeding. Now employed by Grant County, she informed the county manager she was expecting a second child and her desire to nurse her child once she returned from maternity leave.
County manager, Jon Saari was supportive of Castillo's decision and dedicated space in the County's Administrative Complex for a nursing room, "As county manager I'm dedicated to our employees, just as those employees are dedicated to serving Grant County. We found a convenient room in the building so employees wouldn't have to leave work, and we offered flexible breaks. If one person used the nursing room, I felt it would be worthwhile."
Grant County's dedication to its employees has won it recognition by the Southwest Breastfeeding Council for promoting breastfeeding in the community. Council coordinator, Beverly Allen-Ananins says, "Businesses that support breastfeeding mothers are supporting a healthy community. A recent study `Workplace Breastfeeding Report' says supporting women who are breastfeeding their babies reduces absenteeism, lowers health care costs, and improves productivity. What a great benefit for supporting what comes naturally!"
Saari is honored by the recognition from the Breastfeeding Council, "It's great to have this recognition for supporting our employees."
Grant County Commissioner Christy Miller echoes his sentiments, "It's an honor to be commended by the Breastfeeding Council. Anything we can do to support breastfeeding, which is an important part of raising our children, and to support all our county's mothers is worthwhile."
That support was invaluable to Castillo when she returned to work to nurse her second child, "The County and Jon were so cooperative and supportive." Castillo said the availability of the nursing room helped her not miss work and offered the opportunity to bond closer with her child. In the three years since the nursing room was established numerous working mothers have utilized it.
The Grant County nursing room predates the New Mexico law that now requires employers to provide "a clean, private space, not a bathroom, in order to foster the ability of a nursing mother who is an employee to use a breast pump in the workplace (NMSA 1978, Section 28-20-2)." With the Department of Labor reporting 56 percent of mothers with children under the age of three are employed outside the home, its become important to recognize employment might hinder a mother's nutritional choice for her baby and legislate options for supporting working and nursing mothers.
The New Mexico law also requires employers to offer flexible break time give mother's the opportunity to pump on a staggered schedule to allow for milk production, and the state law goes one step further than most other states by mandating the space not be a bathroom. Mary Gruszka, R.N., IBCLC, an international board certified lactation consultant at Gila Regional Medical Center, says sanitation is the main reason for the exclusion of bathrooms in the law as a location to pump milk, "You're preparing food, and I don't know of any other instant you would prepare food in a bathroom. Plus its very important for a mother to feel comfortable for the milk to let down, and not many people are comfortable sitting in a bathroom stall with people coming in and out." Gruszka is available to consult with business owners about creating areas for breast pumping at their business. Her services are free of charge to the community thanks to the support of GRMC.
"All it cost was a sofa and a table," said Saari about the expenditure associated with establishing the placePlaceNameGrant PlaceNameCounty nursing room.
Allen-Ananins says, "With all the benefits attributed to breastfeeding, it's important to create an environment where mother's feel supported to breastfeed whether in the public or the workplace. Grant County deserves recognition for the contributions they have made in that effort for their employees."
To contact the GRMC Lactation Consultant call 538-4676. For more information on the Southwest New Mexico Breastfeeding Council or the laws that support breastfeeding call 388-1198 ext. 11.
Photo: Angela Castillo, shows off the nursing room at the County Building. The County's commitment to support nursing mothers won an award from the Southwest Breastfeeding Council during this year's Worldwide Breastfeeding Week.
The WNMU Miller Library staff and friends at the dedication of the Mother Comfort Zone: (from left to right) Mary Gruska, Andrea Jaquez, Katherine Aguirre, Nellie Begay, Cookie Stolpe, Michelle Reed, Gilda Baeza Ortega, Maria Dominguez, and Beverly Allen-Ananins.(Photo courtesy Mia Alessandra)
Silver City, New Mexico, August 6, 2009: Western New Mexico University Librarian Gilda Baeza Ortega and her staff knew they needed to do something when they saw student mothers struggling to nurse on campus. "These students would have a hand on the keyboard and a baby at their bosom as they tried to complete research for classes," Ortega says. "How could we not reach out and help them?"
Ortega shared her concern with Dr. Faye Vowell, Vice president of Academic Affairs and Provost, on what options were available to help WNMU students be more successful academically and parentally. Though the WNMU has a nursing room available for students, the building isn't easily accessible to the campus and hours are limited. "Vowell's enthusiasm and concern for nursing mothers motivated us to act for the benefit of our students and their children," says Ortega.
By coincidence the library staff saw an announcement for the Southwest Breastfeeding Council in the newspaper and went for guidance on establishing a room for nursing mothers in the library. There they met with Gila Regional Medical Center's lactation consultants Cammie Bacho and Mary Gruszka, both R.N. and IBLCL, who gave them advise on creating a friendly space for mothers.
Bacho says, "It doesn't take much money or space to make mothers comfortable. We would be happy to consult with anyone to offer ideas on how to work with the space they have or help them find space." Bacho and Gruszka's services are available for free, compliments to the community from Gila PlaceNameRegional Medical Center.
New Mexico law protects the rights of mothers to nurse anywhere they can legally be. An additional law passed two years ago requires employers to provide a space and flexible break time for mothers to nurse or pump milk, but a gap in the law doesn't specifically address the rights of student mothers on state-owned school or university campuses. Gruska says steps are being taken to close that loophole in mothers' nursing rights, "Last year, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a memorial to protect the rights of student mothers to breastfeed." This memorial includes universities and public school students on state properties.
The Southwest Breastfeeding Council was so impressed with the WNMU Library's initiative to support student mothers the council has awarded them for the outstanding promotion of breastfeeding in the community. Council member, Bacho says such a huge generous commitment calls for recognition, "Supporting mothers to breastfeed is the best thing we can do for our children, mothers and the village that we live in."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breastfed for the first year. In New Mexico, 77 percent of mothers breastfeed their babies, placing our state 17th in the nation according to the Center for Diseases Control's Breastfeeding Report Card for 2008, by comparison 88 percent of mothers in neighboring Arizona breastfeed. Though the state has dropped from 13th in 2008 in mother's breastfeeding, the percent of mothers who report still breastfeeding at 6 month after birth has held steady at 41 percent, a little shy of the 50 percent goal of Healthy People 2010. But the percent of mothers maintaining breastfeeding for the recommended first year of a baby's life has increased to 26 percent, a five percent increases since 2008.
Gruszka says, "Its very important to have a supportive community to help mothers feel comfortable to initiate breastfeeding and maintain breastfeeding longer to insure the health of their babies."
WNMU Nursing student, Ashley Hale had trouble maintaining her milk supply when she returned to school after the birth of her second child, Alexander. "There are so many women with babies at the university. I could have used a place to nurse on campus to help me. I think its great the library is supporting student mothers."
The library has taken their goal one step further by consulting directly with student mothers on their needs. Ortega says, "The moms told us they needed a place to change diapers after a feeding. We've had a changing table installed in the women's restroom and one is on order for the men's restroom, because we see father's here with their babies too." The changing tables are the only ones available on campus outside the Fine Arts Center and Theater. Also, the Director of Multi-cultural and Student Affairs, Maria Dominguez is organizing the WNMU breastfeeding support group which will be starting in the fall.
Ortega and the library staff were honored by the recognition of the Breastfeeding Council, "It's an honor, but we were just supporting our students."
To learn more about the Southwest Breastfeeding Council call Beverly Allen-Ananins at 388-1198 ext. 11. GRMC Lactation Consultants Bacho and Gruska are available free of charge to consult with nursing mothers on any issue or businesses on creating a lactation room at 538-4676.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 November 2013 14:45