The World Health Organization says: “Beyond the immediate benefits for children, breastfeeding contributes to a lifetime of good health. Adults who were breastfed as babies often have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as lower rates of overweight, obesity and type-2 diabetes. There is evidence that people who were breastfed perform better in intelligence tests.”
Many breastfeeding mothers looking for support from a professionally trained person have found a lactation consultant to be just what they needed. Christine Sneed of Cleveland recently achieved the distinction as an international board certified lactation consultant, which represents the highest standard in lactation consultant credentialing.
As such, she work together with mothers to prevent and solve breastfeeding problems, collaborate with members of the health care profession to provide comprehensive care that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding and encourage a social environment that supports breastfeeding families, and educates families, health professionals and policy makers about the far-reaching and long-lasting value of breastfeeding as a global public health imperative.
Sneed, who has worked for 11 years as a certified lactate educator at LifeCircle Women’s Healthcare, said, “I chose to get certified because I had been working as a CLE for many years and I wanted to attain the gold standard of lactation by obtaining IBCLC status. That would mean in addition to educating I would also do consultations as part of a patient’s healthcare team.
“Our immediate area had very few experts of that caliber and patients have trouble finding the support they need to meet the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for breastfeeding for the first six months. As an educator I could only give support and education, but as a consultant, I could help them with their individual challenges in a more comprehensive manner.”
According to Sneed, educators may help someone know where to find helpful information and even help with basic positioning, but as a board-certified consultant, she said, “I find my days filled with treating mothers that face challenges such as low milk supply, tongue tie, breast infections, clogged ducts, infants with special needs. As an international board certified lactation consultant I can provide expert breastfeeding and lactation care, promote changes that support breastfeeding and help reduce the risks of not breastfeeding.”
LifeCircle Women’s Healthcare has the “first freestanding lactation clinic in the area,” Sneed said. She can be contacted 24/7 by phone or text. She can also help to diagnose signs of a breast infection and offer recommendations as well as address milk production issues.
“The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that for optimal health of mother and baby, a woman should exclusively breastfeed for six months and continue up to 24 months,” Sneed said. “Women deserve to know the risks of not breastfeeding and the benefits of breastfeeding. The Surgeon General Call To Action said babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and if 90 percent of American women would do so, they would save the government $13 billion in healthcare expenses.”
While human milk is specially designed for human babies, containing antibodies to make a strong immune system and components to develop brain cells, baby formula is a mixture of chemicals and alteration of cow’s milk or soy to make it possible for infant consumption. Experts say it will never be as perfect a food for babies as their own mother’s milk.
Sneed explained why she is such an advocate for breastfeeding, admitting, “I have a very personal reason why this subject is so near and dear to my heart. I was born without IGA or Immunoglobulin A deficiency, which is a vital part of the immune system that is like the first line of defense to the mucosal lining of the intestine, lungs, sinuses etc. I had a doctor at the Mayo Clinic tell me if I had been breastfed — all the infections and autoimmune conditions I have would have been prevented because I would have gotten what I needed from my mother’s colostrum (the first breastfed milk babies get when they nurse, and which is said to be rich in antibodies and immunoglobulin A.)
After confirming the doctor’s findings, Sneed said, “I decided that I needed to make sure mothers were aware of the long-term health benefits for their babies and themselves. Since that time I have learned more amazing benefits of breastfeeding on society as a whole. I just can’t hide my passion about how wonderfully made we are. Lactation is a medical field in itself and I love being able to share this knowledge with medical professionals who work closely with moms and babies in our community so that we can work together as a team for the health and well-being of our community.”
Once she became a board certified lactation consultant, Sneed opened a freestanding Lactation Clinic to help mothers by using techniques to overcome breastfeeding challenges.
“When we know better, we do better!” Sneed said. “There are several studies on breastfeeding that come out every year. I realize I am only one woman, but there are many women who need assistance in the area. In order to help all of these women, our area will need more certified lactation educators to accomplish the surgeon general’s call to action and have 90 percent of women breastfeeding. I am doing everything in my power to assist as many mothers now, but I also do Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association CLE trainings to produce more Certified Lactation Educators in this area. I feel the more help there is available to mothers, the higher the possibility that more mothers will reach the goal of breastfeeding exclusively for six months and continue up to 24 months.”
Sneed quoted from the new health insurance reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010, stating the new Affordable Healthcare Act says, “Pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventative measures mothers can take to protect their health and that of their children.”
Sneed said, “Parents need to know that they no longer have to feel alone or unable to face any challenges they have with breastfeeding. They now have the highest level of qualification for a lactation consultant just a call away.”
A free breastfeeding support group is held the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. at LifeCircle. A free breastfeeding class is the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. for patients of LifeCircle. On Feb. 22-24, Sneed will teach a special Certified Lactation Educator Training course at LifeCircle Women’s Healthcare from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. This CLE class is not free.
“This course is perfectly suited for anyone who works with prenatal or postpartum moms,” Sneed said. “The maternal/child professional as well as the community volunteer will benefit from this well-rounded breastfeeding education course. Participants will learn to build confidence and skills in lactation education.”
For further information, visit www.LatchOntoLactationEducation.com or call Christine Sneed at 423-284-9008. LifeCircle Women’s Healthcare is located at 2301 North Ocoee St.