For Hannah Hughey, World Breastfeeding Week is extra special.

As an obstetrics nurse at Sutter Coast Hospital, Hughey helps moms and dads bond with the latest additions to their families every day. Breastfeeding plays an important role in forming that bond, she said. But Hughey is especially excited about World Breastfeeding Week 2018 because she’s about to become a new mom herself.

Hughey said she’s due to give birth to a baby girl named Kathryn Marie on Aug. 14.

“Even as a labor and delivery nurse I took the prenatal class because I think there is something for everyone to learn,” she said. “I dragged my husband along with me and he ended up loving it. There’s a whole section dedicated to breastfeeding and it was eye opening of him to see his role in breastfeeding and how important it really is. It’s not something the mom can do alone.”

Held Aug. 1-7 this year, World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated to encourage and support breastfeeding in an effort to ensure the growth, development and survival of children worldwide. World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, which works with a variety of partners including the United Nation Children’s Fund, the World Health Organisation and the Food Agricultural Organisation.

Even though it’s small, Sutter Coast offers two lactation consultants, one working the night shift and one working the day shift, as well as two support groups, Hughey said. Prenatal classes at the hospital also stress the importance of breastfeeding, seeking to alleviate any cultural stigma a new mom may experience regarding breastfeeding and to encourage her family to support her, she said.

“Family support is huge with breastfeeding,” Hughey said. “If you have had an example of moms who have successfully breastfed within the family, those girls do really well. Breastfeeding is one of those things that seems like it should just come naturally, but you don’t realize a lot of work goes into it and it’s not just a one-person job.”

Meanwhile, under a new policy the hospital implemented about six months ago, nurses in the labor and delivery department don’t take the baby away from the mother right away for bathing, Hughey said.

“The first two hours after birth, the main goal is for the baby to be with mom or dad if the mom is not able to,” she said. “We’ve found that babies who are skin to skin with Mom immediately after birth do better with breastfeeding, do better with regulating temperature and regulating blood sugar. We wait at least four hours to bathe the baby.”

According to Hughey, the hospital has also made a point of providing a safe place for mothers to breastfeed their children when they’re at the Del Norte County Fair as well as at the Community Health Fair. She said the hospital’s lactation consultants set up a booth that provides a private space for breastfeeding and diaper changing.

“In addition to our lactation consultants, all of our nurses are educated about breastfeeding and all of us are encouraged to continue our education as well,” Hughey said. “Around half of our staff this year went to a breastfeeding conference. We’re really encouraged to keep up on the most current practices and how to best educate and support our patients in that way.”

There are two community support groups for breastfeeding mothers. Del Norte Circle of Moms is held from 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays at the Family Resource Center of the Redwoods, 494 Pacific Ave. For more information, find the Del Norte Circle of Moms on Facebook.

Another support group via the Del Norte Breastfeeding Coalition from 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Thursday at the Family Resource Center.

Meanwhile, the hospital’s prenatal classes are held the first four Wednesdays of the month on the odd months of the year, according to Hughey. The next class begins in September.

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