What can be better than a cute baby in a ladybug costume? That’s easy — a parade featuring dozens of little ones in costume.
Each October, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center Women’s and Infants’ Services holds its annual Halloween Baby Parade featuring moms, dads and their children from the Sharp Chula Vista breastfeeding support groups. They add Halloween cheer for patients, staff, doctors and visitors while touting the benefits of breastfeeding.
“There is nothing cuter than a baby in a Halloween costume,” says Felicia Carlucci, a perinatal educator at Sharp Chula Vista. “And the breastfeeding support groups are a lifeline for mothers who are having issues with breastfeeding.”
Many moms go into the childbirth experience wanting to breastfeed, but end up quitting early on because they encounter issues that throw them off, Carlucci says. “Typically, however, those same issues are easily remedied if the moms just reach out.”
According to Carlucci, the breastfeeding support groups offer myriad benefits:
- Breastfeeding educators can help new moms ensure they are positioning and latching their babies properly — two of the most common concerns breastfeeding women face
- Moms can measure how much milk their babies are taking in by weighing their baby on digital scales before, in the middle of and after a feed
- Questions related to both breastfeeding and breastfed-baby eating behaviors can be answered
- Breastfeeding moms can find a community of support
“As a former breastfeeding support group member, I can tell you that one of the best, little discussed benefits is the opportunity to meet other mothers with babies and see that you aren’t the only mother struggling,” says Carlucci. “I always say that it starts off as breastfeeding support, but it is also mommy support.”
While the parade is great fun for both participants and observers, organizers hope that the message about the benefits of breastfeeding is noted. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding allows parents to give their infants the best start in life.
The AAP reports that the benefits of breastmilk include the following:
- It is always available and doesn’t need to be prepared
- It’s easier for babies to digest
- It has all the nutrients, calories and fluids babies need to be healthy, as well as growth factors that ensure the best development of an infant’s organs
- It has natural substances to protect babies from many diseases and infections; breastfed babies are less likely to have ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia and other bacterial and viral infections
- Research shows it may also help protect against obesity, diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, eczema, colitis and some cancers
Breastfeeding is also good for mom. It releases hormones that promote maternal behaviors, helps return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size, burns calories, reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancers, and helps to maintain bone strength, which can protect against fractures later in life.
“I always say that breastfeeding is a learned art for mothers and babies,” says Carlucci. “It takes time to get the hang of it, and that is where the support groups are extremely helpful.”
For information on breastfeeding classes and support groups, visit Sharp.com’s Classes and Events page.