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"Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility" is more than a slogan at Gunnison Valley Health

Every August, communities join in acknowledgement of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month. This annual celebration of breastfeeding is intended to increase breastfeeding awareness and improve the health of mothers and babies. Colorado’s theme for 2021 was “Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility” chosen to promote the importance of breastfeeding support within the community. An individual’s breastfeeding success involves finding support from all different areas of their community. It is critical to the health of mothers and babies that communities help women find individualized support systems. This is a responsibility that the staff of Gunnison Valley Health’s Family Birth Center take seriously and live each day.

The Gunnison Valley Health Hospital nursing staff currently includes seven certified lactation counselors and a maternal child coordinator who support mothers well beyond their time at the Gunnison Valley Health Hospital. The Family Birth Center staff utilize their expertise to provide comprehensive support for mothers and infants that begins in the hospital and follows them home for as long as the mother feels is necessary.

This investment in continuing education, depth of expertise and continued support helps to ensure that no one entering the doors of the Family Birth Center goes without the resources necessary to be comfortable and have the individualized support they need.

This focus on breastfeeding support and success is part of a broader quality initiative at Gunnison Valley Health. The Family Birth Center is on the path to being designated as “Baby-Friendly” through the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. This designation means that the hospital provides the gold standard of maternal and infant care. Not surprisingly, a large area of focus is on breastfeeding.

The health benefits of breastfeeding are numerous and well-documented. Breastfeeding significantly impacts the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies, both in the short and long term. Breast milk provides important nutrients, vitamins, antibodies and more that are not found in infant formula and that keep babies healthy. Studies have shown that breastfed infants are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, some childhood cancers, sudden infant death syndrome and are less likely to become obese in later life.

Additionally, breastfeeding can have positive impacts on the health of the entire community. Breastfeeding is a low cost way of feeding infants, helping to reduce poverty and prevent hunger, undernutrition and obesity.

Although World Breastfeeding Week has ended, we want to continue recognizing National Breastfeeding Month and acknowledge the incredible nursing staff at Gunnison Valley Health for promoting this incredible message 365 days a year and thank all of the mothers in the Gunnison Valley who continue to trust us to be a part of their community support system.