World Breastfeeding Week: The benefits of breastfeeding

July 31, 2017

By Jennifer Passwaters, BSN, RN, IBCLC

Healthy behaviors for new moms and babies take the spotlight August 1 – 7 during World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), an opportunity for health-related groups across the world to focus their efforts on the benefits of breastfeeding. Launched in 1991 by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), WBW aims to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding.”  This year, the organization is placing particular emphasis on working together for the common good.  

At Haywood Regional, we are proud to join the action and participate in #WBW17 and provide support to the breastfeeding moms in our area – those at work and at home, first-time moms to fourth-time moms and beyond, single moms and married moms. We want every mom to have the support she needs to give her baby a healthy start to life, and a big part of that support is understanding the benefits of breastfeeding, both for the mom and the baby.

Benefits for babies
There are many benefits babies will reap from breast milk. The nutrients, hormones and antibodies provided by the mother will help keep the baby healthy and strong. Plus, breast milk tends to be easier for babies to digest. Add in the sense of comfort and security that breastfeeding offers a baby, and you have three compelling reasons to take nature’s approach to feeding your child.   

In addition to the three reasons mentioned above, breastfed babies tend to have lower risk of allergies, ear infections, diarrhea, asthma, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and lower respiratory infections. And if you still have reservations, the physical contact of breastfeeding is a great way for a new mom and baby to bond. 

Benefits for moms
While people often talk about the benefits of breastfeeding for babies, it can be equally beneficial for mothers. The most obvious benefit to breastfeeding for new moms is that it is a perfect opportunity to really connect and bond with your new baby. You can give your baby something that no one else can – nutritious milk and a strong sense of security.

On top of the bonding and security breastfeeding provides, it also is free and can save significant amounts of time and money. Estimates indicate that formula and feeding supplies can cost more than $1,500 per year. Breastfeeding also saves time in that moms do not have to deal with measuring and mixing formula and sterilizing bottles. Additionally, the physical contact between mother and baby increases oxytocin levels, a hormone that helps milk flow and can create a calming effect for the mother. Studies have shown that breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk of Type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer and postpartum depression. It also requires calorie expenditure, which can help new moms shed any extra weight gained during pregnancy.   

But breastfeeding can be intimidating for first-time moms. How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk? What if I’m feeding her too much? Are the foods I’m eating upsetting my baby’s stomach? How can I breastfeed when I return to work? All of these questions, and so many more, often dissuade new moms from breastfeeding, but they shouldn’t. 

At Haywood Regional, we offer a number of services to answer these questions, calm new mothers’ fears and provide support to moms who want to breastfeed their babies. These services include numerous Parent Education classes, one of which being Breastfeeding A-Z which provides information about the importance of breastfeeding to babies and their families. Among other services, moms who deliver at the Women’s Care Center at Haywood Regional receive free one-on-one lactation education from one of our Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants. 
To learn more about the services we offer, visit the Women’s Care Center at or call 828.452.8440.

Meet the IBCLC's at Haywood Regional 

Jennifer Passwaters, BSN, RN, IBCLC 

Jennifer is a graduate of the University Of Maryland School Of Nursing, class of 2011. She also has a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry from Villa Julie College. She has five years of experience as a critical care nurse on the Cardiac Care Unit at University of Maryland Medical Center up until February of 2012, when she moved to Haywood County with her husband.  She started at HRMC in March of 2012 as a nurse and has worked on both the Progressive Care Unit and the Intensive Care Unit.

After struggling with breastfeeding her daughter, born in September of 2012, Jennifer started working towards becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).  She trained for two years under Betsy Wall, CCE, IBCLC and sat for her board exam in July 2015.  Jennifer transitioned into the IBCLC position in August of 2015 at HRMC.   

Jennifer enjoys knitting, reading and spending time with my her two little girls.

Laura Willis, RN, BSN, IBCLC 

Laura Willis, RN, BSN, IBCLC is a graduate of Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing and University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She has been a nurse for 30 years, an IBCLC for 8 years and a La Leche League Leader for 9 years. 

Her practice began in Charlotte at Carolinas Medical System. In the summer of 2015 she and her family moved to Waynesville and she began practicing at Haywood Regional Medical Center in October of 2015. 

She loves mountain living, horses and crafting stained glass.