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New Ozarks Coalition Created to Support, Advocate Breastfeeding

Photo credit: sabianmaggy, via flickr

Raising an infant can be challenging for new parents; apart from sleep deprivation and diaper duty, breastfeeding can cause stress and frustration. Here in the Ozarks, there's a new coalition to help educate and give support to those parents along the journey of breastfeeding. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.


The Greater Ozarks Regional Breastfeeding Coalition includes doctors, nurses and lactation experts from Mercy, CoxHealth, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

The coalition formed after these experts recognized a need in the community for more communication and teamwork between healthcare providers about how to better promote the practice and benefits of breastfeeding.

Dr. Chan Reyes is a family physician and the medical director at Jordan Valley Community Health Center. In her practice, she regularly sees mothers-to-be, newborn babies, and breastfeeding mothers.

She says about a third of her patients who choose to breastfeed face challenges in doing so.

“Maybe just not feeling like they’re doing it right, maybe it’s painful for them. A lot of times it’s just because of how the baby has latched on. Some may not produce enough milk and it might be because they’re not breastfeeding enough, maybe they’re not drinking enough water…” said Reyes.

And a lot of times, she says, new moms don’t find the support they need from their significant other or family members to feel comfortable breastfeeding. She says breastfeeding is much less common in the U.S. because of the availability of baby formula. In the developing world, nursing is the only option for many mothers.

The coalition will host educational programs for healthcare workers, and also offer workplace support for moms through consultation and education for employers and employees.

One goal of the coalition is to develop a Human Milk Depot site, affiliated with the Heart of American Mother’s Milk Bank at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City. The depot, regulated by the health department, will let mothers donate their breast milk to be distributed to local hospitals. The donated milk is already offered at CoxHealth and Mercy. Again, Dr. Reyes.

“For moms who pump a lot and have extra milk, more than what they can even use for their baby, now there’s a possibility of  donation. It goes through a Kansas City program depot there for pasteurization and all that. That can be used for babies in the NICU and other babies.”

She tells KSMU that the process is safe and effective.

Reyes says if it’s possible for a mother to breastfeed, that is the healthiest option for a child and for the mother.

For more information about the coalition, you can call the health department at 864-1568.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.