Chinle moms encouraged to breast-feed

Larissa L. Jimmy
Navajo Times

CHINLE, August 15, 2013

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I n case people were wondering why they saw a small group of people walking with yellow balloons on Highway 191 toward the Basha's plaza early in the morning of Aug. 8, it was the Indian Health Services and Navajo Nation Breastfeeding Coalition along with other organizations celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

"The yellow balloons that you saw us walking with represent colostrum," said Emmeline Yazzie, who works with the Navajo Nation Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program in Chinle. "It's the first milk that your breasts produce during pregnancy."

Colostrum is also known as the "golden milk" because it produces substantial amount of nutrients that an infant needs during the first month of the infant's development.

According to the WIC program, breast milk provides the infant with antibodies, anti-allergies, protein, enzymes, minerals, vitamins and more; as opposed to formula, which supplies some of these nutrients, but not enough.

According to Senior Nutrition Worker Samantha Harvey, who has been with WIC for about seven years, formula-fed babies are more prone to diarrhea, constipation and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) than are breast-fed infants.

Harvey also added that not only is breastfeeding beneficial to the health of a newborn infant, but safer.

"A couple of years back there was a recall on the Similac formula, which we are contracting with, and they found beetle body parts in the formula," said Harvey, who also noted that although the contamination was only found in certain manufactured products, which were taken off the shelves, their program diligently warned mothers about the contaminated formula.

While WIC will pass on any recall information as soon as the USDA orders one, the best way to know what's in your baby's milk is to produce it yourself, according to Pauletta Chief-Lee, an acting nutrition coordinator for the Navajo Nation WIC Nutrition Program in Window Rock.

Lee, who has been with the program for about a year, also stated that the first month and - especially the first week - are crucial times to breastfeed a newborn, because that is when the mother's body learns how to adjust milk production.

As part of Breastfeeding Awareness Month Indian Health Services personnel in Chinle collaborated with WIC, Family Spirit, Community Nutrition and Diabetes Services among other organizations.

Family Spirit - run by Public Health and the Chinle IHS. Service Unit with technicians trained by Johns Hopkins University - was one of the programs to partake in the Fourth Annual Health Fair to celebrate Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

Family Spirit is an outreach program that helps educate young parents about childcare, early preparations, and infant development.

Among one of the trained technicians is Wilpita Honie, who works with the IHS's Public Health Department.

"Family Spirit Program is a sixty-four-lesson curriculum. We work with them up to Baby's third birthday," said Honie.

According to Honie within that 64-lesson sequential timeframe parents are taught about ways to tackle the obstacles of parenthood without becoming too bombarded with "baby's firsts."

This would include teething.

"We allow the parents to know that their baby's teeth will grow at this time and to be aware of it and ways to handle it," said Honie, who added that Baby Oragel, teething spoons, wash cloths, and baby Tylenol are ways that a parent can soothe the progress of teeth development."That way they are not as stressed as much or overwhelmed with the process of baby's teeth growing."