Breastfeeding Support Makes a Difference

Divine Savior Healthcare understands that new parents must make a lot of very important decisions when they bring a child into the world – some can seem very daunting. Our goal is to guide and support mothers and families in their efforts to raise healthy and happy children. August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and we’d like to take the opportunity to highlight the support and guidance offered at Divine Savior Healthcare for new and experienced mothers.

Most women in the United States initiate breastfeeding, but more than half stop breastfeeding earlier than planned.  As the Lactation Consultant at Divine Savior Healthcare, Wendy Sherwood states, “Support is the key work when it comes to breastfeeding.  When a mother feels supported in her decision to provide breastmilk she will continue until her infant is ready to wean.”

Current recommendations by The American Academy of Pediatrics is to exclusively breastfeed until 6 months of age and continue to breastfeed for a year or for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.  Research has shown breastfeeding is a benefit for both mother and baby by protecting babies from some common childhood infections.  Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the child’s risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, and the mother’s risk of acquiring breast cancer.

When we talk about support, family and friends are extremely important as well as support from nurses, lactation consultants, physicians and other medical professionals.  Research from the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group reveals that one-on-one support is more effective than telephone support.  In addition, support that is only offered if women seek help will likely be ineffective showing the importance of scheduled, ongoing visits with all patients.

Support for breastfeeding can include giving reassurance, praise, information, and the opportunity to discuss and respond to a mother’s questions with evidence-based information.  At Divine Savior Healthcare, our team of medical professionals is here to help and support mothers every step of the way.

Each day, Wendy is meeting with families, taking phone calls from mothers to reassure them, and offer support to maintain a positive breastfeeding experience.  She says, “I love that part of my job.  I would like mothers to know that I am here as a resource for them.  My job is to assist mothers to give their families the very best start to a healthier future.  Providing breastmilk is not just a mother’s decision but it is a family decision.”

Many people stress the importance of your six month breastfeeding experience, while Wendy likes to focus more specifically on the experience mothers get pre-delivery to right after birth.  Many first time mothers assume that breastfeeding is going to be easy but it can be normal to need some assistance getting started. It is not just enough for mothers to know they should breastfeed, but it is also extremely important to understand the risk of not breastfeeding.  Wendy believes this starts with breastfeeding classes during their pregnancy, questions answered by their doctor, hospital nurses assisting them when baby is born, and a great network of friends and family that support breastfeeding.   

Wendy knows from personal experience, the difference it makes when having support.  She shares, “I have been there at day two post discharge with a little tiny baby in my arms and I didn’t know what to do to get my baby to breastfeed.  It can be scary at times, but I was able to get through with the support of a wondering nurse who encouraged me to relax and enjoy the experience.  From that day forward breastfeeding was still something we worked at, but it became a joyful experience not just a task to be done.  I became a Lactation Consultant because of the great support I received from that nurse and feel that it is my job to offer that same support to new families.  I just needed someone to support me and listen, and that is what we are here for at Divine Savior Healthcare.”

In addition to the one-on-one support, Divine Savior Healthcare offers a variety of supportive breastfeeding services, including:

  • 20 week pregnancy visit to discuss feeding plans and a healthy pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding class following each 4 week session of Childbirth Education Classes
  • Breastfeeding consults in the hospital after delivery
  • Knowledgeable nursing staff
  • Weight check visits at 2 days post discharge
  • Follow up phone consultation
  • Support group “Mommy and Me Connections” held once a month

Mommy and Me Connections, formally the Breastfeeding Support Group, meets the first Monday of every month at 10:30 am in Classroom C at Divine Savior Healthcare.  This group is more than just supporting mothers who are breastfeeding.  It is open to all mothers, breastfeeding or not, as an opportunity to connect with one another, listen to one another’s stories, and build relationships with other mothers in the community.  Wendy assures this is not just a group for those that are only having difficulty breastfeeding and invites all mothers to join the next meeting on Monday, September 12th due to Labor Day. 


Nurse helping a mother breastfeed her baby

New Baby Tip from Lactation Consultant, Wendy Sherwood

“The first thing I would suggest to any mother when your baby is born, is to keep them skin to skin for as long as possible.  When mothers hold their infants skin to skin they have the ability to make their infants transition to life outside the womb much easier.  It also provides easy access to their main food source and babies are instinctive and they will find it.”

To speak with our Divine Savior Lactation Consultant, Wendy Sherwood, contact her at 608-745-5696.

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Experiencing a dull pain in the pit of your stomach

Stomach PainGastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and gallbladder disease are two very common disorders. Knowing which one you have may be trickier than you think. Symptoms may be vague, such as a “dull pain in the pit of your stomach”, making it hard for you to explain to your doctor what’s exactly going on.

At Divine Savior Healthcare, General Surgeons, Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. Joshua Pogorelec, have seen many patients with these symptoms and after further examination are able to help  diagnose and treat both diseases.

What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD refers to stomach contents moving into the esophagus causing a burning sensation commonly referred to as heartburn. Other symptoms may occur as well, such as pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, nausea and an acid taste in your mouth.  If this continue, prolonged exposure of the esophagus to stomach contents can result in damage to the lining of the esophagus.  This in turn can result in difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing or permanent damage to the esophagus.

Although not all reflux results in symptoms or damage to the esophagus, common symptoms include:
• Heartburn
• Acid regurgitation
• Belching
• Difficulty or pain when swallowing
• Waterbrash sudden excess of saliva
• Dysphagia the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus
• Chronic sore throat
• Laryngitis
• Inflammation of the gums
• Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
• Chronic irritation in the throat
• Hoarseness in the morning
• A sour taste
• Bad breath
• Coughing at night

What is gallbladder disease?
The gallbladder is located below the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen. The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is made in the liver and allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Any condition that affects the gallbladder is considered a disease, and there are many different scenarios that fall under gallbladder disease:
• Inflammation
• Gallstones
• Common bile duct stones
• Biliary Dyskinesia
• Infection
• Perforated gallbladder
• Gallbladder polyps
• Porcelain gallbladders
• Gallbladder cancer

Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec share "the most common disease of the gallbladder is gallstones. Most people with gallstones do not even know they have them.  Once they cause problems, the gallbladder may need to be removed. Symptoms include pain below the right rib cage or in the “pit” of the stomach. This pain may radiate to the right upper back, chest, or shoulder. Other symptoms may include, bloating, nausea or vomiting, fever or chills, chronic diarrhea, jaundice yellow-tinted skin, or unusual lighter-colored stools or dark urine.”

After taking a closer look at GERD and gallbladder disease, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec are able to provide helpful insight on common distinguishing factors between the two diseases.

Common distinguishing factors:
• Location: Although both may feel like a “pit in your stomach”, if you experience symptoms located closer to your throat or in your chest it is more likely to be GERD related. Symptoms located near your right lower rib radiating into your right upper back, chest and shoulder are more likely to be associated to your gallbladder.
• Pain: Unlike GERD, gallbladder pain usually begins suddenly, and changing positions, belching, passing gas or taking medications rarely helps pain symptoms go away.
• Timing: With heartburn being the most common symptom of GERD, symptoms of reflux are likely to occur shortly after eating, where symptoms of gallbladder disease usually occurs several hours after eating and have more consistent patterns of reoccurrence the same time each day.

What does treatment look like?
The symptoms of GERD are commonly and effectively treated with over-the-counter medications such as anti-acids and proton pump inhibitors. However, if relief does not go away from these medications your provider may recommend you be evaluated by one of our surgeons at Divine Savior.

After a thorough history and physical, our surgeons may recommend further evaluation of the esophagus and stomach with endoscopy.  Similar to colonoscopy, but without the need for prep, upper endoscopy allows the surgeon to visualize the esophagus, stomach and intestine to evaluate for damage to the esophagus, infection and a hiatal hernia.  Depending on the findings, further testing may be indicated to evaluate the function of the esophagus. 

Patients with severe GERD benefit from surgery to prevent reflux from occurring.  This procedure is commonly performed by both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec, is minimally invasive, and very effective at treating GERD.  In fact, most patients no longer require any antacid medications after the procedure.

If you are found to have stones in the gallbladder causing symptoms, the best course of action is to have the gallbladder removed.  Leaving the stones in place will continue to cause pain and may result in serious infection of the gallbladder and bile ducts, jaundice or pancreatitis. 

Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec routinely perform minimally invasive removal of the gallbladder.  This is most often an outpatient procedure and very successful.  After a short recovery, most patients will find their symptoms are gone and they are able to live a normal life. 

If you experience symptoms related to GERD or gallbladder disease, or have concerns about either, it is best to consult your provider for further examination. Treatment for either disease varies person to person, but taking action immediately and being properly treated can help you prevent problems from worsening.

To schedule an appointment with Divine Savior Healthcare General Surgeons, Dr. Anderson or Dr. Pogorelec, call 608-745-5176.

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