Breastfeeding Reaches a New Frontier

(GARDEN CITY, KAS) Janet Colson and Danielle Ast knew they were helping new mothers in Finney County but they wanted to do more. So, they and their colleagues are taking the show on the road. Colson is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at St. Catherine Hospital (SCH); Ast is the Southwest Kansas Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Director at the Finney County Health Department.

Members of the already established Community Breastfeeding Coalition at St. Catherine Hospital saw a need to include rural communities that support breastfeeding families, Colson said during a recent interview. Some smaller areas dont have as much access to resources as other agencies. This regional coalition is a wonderful way to remedy this.

The Community Breastfeeding Coalition at SCH is comprised of seven entities within Finney County. They recently hosted the first southwest Kansas meeting where the regional Frontier Breastfeeding Coalition was born. Forty-three participants represented 13 counties. The feedback was great at this first meeting, Colson commented. Many people told us they are grateful to us for branching out to other communities.

Mothers and families need environmental support to meet personal goals. They need health-care providers, hospital staff, WIC staff, local businesses and many others to help mom and baby feel welcome and supported. Breastfeeding is becoming more openly accepted, Ast continued. This regional coalition is a positive step because more babies will receive the countless benefits of breast milk.

Colson and Ast outlined a few of those benefits. This natural food provides all the energy and nutrients necessary during the first six months of life. It continues to provide at least half the nutritional needs during the second six months and up to one-third during the second year. Even though breastfeeding is a natural act, it also is a learned behavior. Extensive research has demonstrated that mothers require active support for breastfeeding practices to improve quality of life for mother and baby.

Since Finney County is rich in community resources and have already established great collaboration between the numerous entities such as the Maternal Child Department at SCH and the WIC Department at the Finney County Health Department, sharing the knowledge gained from the group seemed like an obvious choice. We appreciate the ongoing support for children and families from all Finney County agencies, Colson and Ast agreed.

Colson pointed out that SCH has a long track record of actively supporting breastfeeding initiatives. It provides High 5 for Mom and Baby, as well as the Breastfeeding Clinic of St. Catherine Hospital for free lactation consults, breast pump fit and technique consultations plus baby-weight checks.

Forming and supporting coalitions is part of St. Catherines history, Colson said. Our new regional breastfeeding coalition is one more step in supporting better health for families. We are excited to be a part of this new beginning.

The first meeting of the Frontier Breastfeeding Coalition is set for 9:30 am, Friday, July 17. The Frontier Coalition will meet on a regular basis during the first year with the first host being Kearny County Hospital. Other counties scheduled as a rotating hosts are Grant, Scott, Sedgwick and Finney.

For additional information, please call Janet Colson, IBCLC, at 620-272-2309.

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About St. Catherine Hospital
As a 132 bed Joint Commission accredited regional health care center in southwest Kansas, St. Catherine Hospital is ahead of the curve in health care technology and innovations. The growing, active medical staff includes full time Hospitalists, as well as specialist services in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Critical Care, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Occupational and Aviation Medicine, Otolaryngology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Audiology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Nephrology, Radiology, General Surgery, and Urology. Exceptional care, extraordinary peopleits what makes the St. Catherine Hospital difference. For more information, please visit St. Catherine Hospital website.

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