Breastfeeding Week Highlights Health Benefits for NICU Babies

By Chris Eidson

Published 08/04 2014 09:34PM

Updated 08/04 2014 10:15PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Doctors say the health benefits of breastfeeding are extensive, for both mother and baby.

But for premature babies those benefits can be life saving.

This is World Breastfeeding Week, so hospitals like CoxHealth here in Springfield are getting the word out.

Christy Kindred is head over heels in love with her six day old baby boy.

But he decided to make his appearance at 31 weeks.

"So he was about 7 to 8 weeks early," Kindred said.

So baby Asher is spending time in the CoxHealth NICU for premature babies.

"I think he looks a lot better than when he first came," she said.

Better, she believes, because he's being fed Kindred's own breast milk.

"He was on IV and now they've taken it off of him, since he's had mine it's just healthier for him," she said.

Some babies here are even fed donor breast milk that's been processed and pasteurized.

That's a new trend for NICU babies.

And one that doctors and nurses say demonstrates the importance of breastfeeding.

"Breast milk has many many nutritional benefits," Lactation Consultant Melissa Bowers said, "For babies that are in the NICU it's higher in calories."

Bowers said a mother's milk comes with very specific nutritional benefits depending on the age of the baby.

"If the baby was born at 24 weeks the milk is going to be different and it's going to have what those babies need at that gestational age," she said.

Bowers said 85 percent of new moms at CoxHealth try breastfeeding.

And she hopes World Breastfeeding Week can help that percentage continue to grow.

The Turner Center at CoxHealth has a support group for breastfeeding mothers.

It meets the first Monday of every month.

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