Monday, October 17, 2016

Mother Knows Best: 7 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Baby

Kimberely Richey, RN
Lactation Consultant
Women's Hospital

A mother’s milk is the most natural source of sustenance for a baby. Breast milk provides amazing benefits to both the child and the mom. Breastfed babies are less likely to get sick and have a lower rate of illness as adults. A mother can provide the exact mix of nutrients that will be best for the child.

When the baby latches on to the breast, it creates a vacuum. This vacuum pulls the infant’s saliva into the nipple, where mammary gland receptors analyze it. This is how a mom’s body knows how to make antibodies to any germs the baby has come into contact with.


Here are seven reasons why breastfeeding is so good for a baby:

  1. Breast milk is custom-made for the baby and contains easily digestible proteins along with the right amount of fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
  2. Breast milk changes through the different stages of development. The first few days of milk is called colostrum, which contains immune protective ingredients such as antibodies and living cells. It is like a natural vaccine. The milk changes as the baby develops and grows to provide just the right nutrients. Formula remains constant and unchanging.
  3. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop diseases such as pneumonia, eczema, asthma, diabetes, leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome.
  4. Breast milk is fresh and at the optimal temperature for a baby’s liking.
  5. Babies regulate their own milk consumption from the breast, lowering the risk for obesity.
  6. Babies are born nearsighted. Breastfeeding brings them to just the right distance to see the mother’s face.
  7. The quiet time during feeding creates a healthy bond between mother and child while offering the baby a sense of warmth and security. The mother and infant interaction also helps long-term brain development.

And the benefits are not just for the child. Breastfeeding is also good for the mother.

  • It stimulates the contraction of the uterus, speeding up recovery from delivery.
  • Breastfeeding and milk production require extra energy. This uses up reserves built up during pregnancy and helps the mother return to her pre-pregnancy shape sooner.
  • Breastfeeding stabilizes a mother’s emotions after delivery, easing postpartum depression.
  • Every year a mother breastfeeds, her risk of developing invasive breast cancer is reduced by six percent.

Breastfeeding your child in public is legal in North Carolina

Breastfeeding in public has had its share of controversy. What exactly are the rules? In North Carolina, since 1993, the law is very clear on a woman’s right to breastfeed in public:
“…a woman may breastfeed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.” - N.C. General Statute 14-190.9(b)

If a mother is able and willing to breastfeed, it is recommended for both the mother and child. When the baby is hungry, they must eat, even in public places. Let your common sense and modesty guide your decision on where to feed. But remember, the law is on your side and the health of your child is priority number one.

Breastfeeding is the natural way for a mother to feed children. There are plenty of people who cannot or will not breastfeed that still have amazing, healthy children. However, the benefits of breastfeeding to both the mother and child are ideal. If a mother chooses to breastfeed, she may have difficulty in the beginning. But with the persistence and the aid of a lactation consultant, she will find reward in breastfeeding her child.   

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Do’s and Don’ts of Making a Healthy Smoothie

Kate Towery, RD

Kate Towery, RD
Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center

The Do’s
  • Do choose smoothies for a refreshing snack or breakfast item, or an after-work  picker-upper.
  • Do include vegetables in your smoothies. Mixing spinach, kale, cucumbers or other vegetables is a great way to get that extra serving and still have a great tasting snack.
  • Do use fresh or frozen ingredients. Frozen fruits and veggies have all the same nutrients as fresh and are less expensive.
  • Do make a smoothie the night before and keep it in the refrigerator. They are great on-the-go choices for busy mornings.

The Don’ts
  • Don’t assume that all smoothies are healthy. Many smoothies from restaurants are too big and contain lots of added sugar.
  • Don’t choose syrup made smoothies. Try to find a smoothie shop that uses whole fruits instead of pre-made mixes or make your own at home.
  • Don’t over-do it on the fruit juices, choose low-fat milk or yogurt as the base to a healthy smoothie.
  • Don’t forget the protein. Choose nut butters, Greek yogurt, protein powder, low-fat cow’s milk or oats to add protein staying power.

Below are recipes for smoothies that are good and good for you:

Peanut-Butter Banana Smoothie
1 small or ½ large banana
½ cup skim milk or almond milk
1 tablespoon reduced-fat peanut butter or almond butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5-8 ice cubes
Blend until smooth

210 calories, 36g carbohydrate, 8g protein

Mixed Fruit Smoothie
1 cup mixed fruit or berries (frozen or fresh)
½ cup vanilla or Greek yogurt
1/3 cup skim milk or almond milk
1/3 cup frozen or fresh spinach
5-8 ice cubes
Blend until smooth

223 calories, 43g carbohydrate, 12g protein

Pumpkin Smoothie
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup skim milk or almond milk
1 small banana or ½ large banana
1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey
2 teaspoon cinnamon
5-8 ice cubes
Blend until smooth

195 calories, 50g carbohydrate, 6g protein

Friday, October 7, 2016

First Moments: The Importance Of Mom And Newborn Bonding

Sue Pedaline
Sue Pedaline, DNP, RNC, MS
Vice President, Nursing and Patient Care Services
Women's Hospital

At Women’s Hospital, we believe in the importance of family-centered maternity care. After all, when your baby is born, it’s life changing. That’s why it’s so important to support bonding opportunities for mom, baby and other family members. After birth, getting off the right start – with the support of compassionate, knowledgeable caregivers – can have a multitude of health benefits.

Long gone are the days when babies were whisked away to a nursery where families got their first glimpse through a glass window. Today, we understand the importance of one-on-one bonding. At Women’s Hospital, moms and babies are together nearly 24 hours a day, and family members of all ages are welcome. Every mom and newborn benefits from “rooming” together with the support of a mother and baby nurse. Studies have found that infants who share a room with their mom stay stable and warm and are less likely to cry and startle.

Breastfeeding is new for both moms and babies. At Women’s Hospital, our certified lactation consultants provide one-on-one lactation support, both in the hospital and once you’re at home.

Immediately after birth, mom and newborn bonding begins with skin to skin cuddling. After birth, being skin to skin calms both mom and baby and encourages interaction. Also, it helps newborns regulate body temperature, heart rate and breathing, positively affects blood glucose levels, and boosts hormones that help milk flow while naturally promoting the baby to latch to the breast.

The benefits of breastfeeding are well-known for supporting the baby’s immune system and offering protection from various illnesses. But, did you know there are benefits for mom, too? Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.

Beginning breastfeeding within the first hours of a baby’s life is a great way to get a healthy start. However, breastfeeding is new for both moms and babies, so it can be challenging. One of the easiest ways to make sure you get the breastfeeding support you desire is to choose a hospital with proven expertise. Women’s Hospital is one of only 90 U.S. hospitals selected to lead the way in a nationwide breastfeeding initiative. Our staff of fully certified lactation consultants provide one-on-one lactation support, both in the hospital and at home.

While moms and newborns are often only with us at Women’s Hospital for a short time, we understand the importance of those priceless first moments. That’s why we do all we can to deliver an exceptional experience for the families in our care.

This blog post was originally published in

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

8 Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy When Someone Comes Home with the Flu

Dr. Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Azbell Walker, MD
Internal Medicine
LeBauer HealthCare at Burlington Station

It starts off harmless enough. Someone comes home from school or work with a case of the sniffles, feeling a little worn down. Next thing you know it’s nearly bedtime and they have a full blown fever, chills and nausea – the flu.

Now what? How can you keep the rest of the family from catching the flu? The most important method of prevention is to frequently wash your hands. Here are a few more common sense tips that will help keep the spreading of germs to a minimum.

  1. Keep the sick person’s personal items separate from everyone else's.  Don’t share pens, eating utensils, phones, towels, etc.
  2. Quarantine the sick person in a separate room away from everyone else. Typically, this would be their bedroom, but if the bedroom is shared, a sofa in another room will do the trick.
  3. Assign one person to be the primary caregiver for the sick person. Try to delegate it to the family member who is least likely to get sick. Have the caregiver wear a mask when they are in close contact to the ill family member.
  4. Wear disposable gloves if you have to touch contaminated items like tissues or drinking glasses. Wash your hands immediately after removing the gloves.
  5. Clean surfaces with a household disinfectant. This includes items such as doorknobs, phones and remote controls.
  6. Be diligent about every family member washing their hands frequently.
  7. If it is not too cold outside, open windows for good ventilation in your home.
  8. Contact your primary care provider to see if a visit or prescribed medications are a necessity.

When someone in your family becomes ill, it is important to take every precaution to keep the rest of the family healthy. It is not easy when both mom and dad are sick with the flu and still have to manage the household and care for the children. By following common-sense practices and being diligent about staying germ-free, we can try to avoid passing around the flu.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Banish Brown Bag Boredom: Healthy Choices Made Easy

Maggie May, RN, RD
Dietician Nurse
Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center

While parents are preparing their kids to get back into the school day routine, they should also be encouraging healthy eating routines.  Whether bringing lunch or buying lunch, it is important for children to consume healthy foods, giving them plenty of energy for the school day.  Foods that are high in trans-fat, saturated fat and/or sugar actually slow brain function and tend to make you more sluggish, therefore it is important to read labels and avoid these types of foods.

Message #2:  If preparing your child’s lunch at home, try to incorporate healthy fats and complex carbs, and lower amounts of sugar and sodium. Carbohydrates provide the energy children need to stay sharp throughout the school day, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help keep the connections in the brain flexible and prepared to learn. Micronutrients and antioxidants are also important for brain function, and can be found in fruit, vegetables, whole grain bread and dairy products.  Examples of healthy lunch options include:
  • Low-fat chicken salad in a pita or on whole wheat bread
  • A whole grain tortilla wrap with a low-fat deli meat, cheese, lettuce and a little guacamole. Pair with whole grain crackers, fruit or a vegetable.
  • A whole grain tortilla wrap with shredded rotisserie chicken, spinach, and some light mayo.
  • A sandwich made of whole wheat bread, roast beef, lettuce, light mayonnaise, and cheese. Pair with strawberry-pineapple kabobs and almonds.
Also, try encouraging your children to drink water with their meals, rather than juice or other sugary drinks. If they do have juice, make sure it is 100% juice and try to dilute it with water.
Message #3:  Choosing healthy snacks is also important, especially for student athletes.  Snacks should include a balance of carbohydrates and protein, such as a graham cracker with banana and peanut butter. Other ideas include:
  • Apple slices with nut butter
  • Trail mix that consists of mostly nuts and dried fruit
  • Frozen grapes, melon or peaches
  • Homemade apple sauce without added sugar
  • Bean dip, such as hummus, with veggies and crackers
  • Ants on a log with pumpkin seeds or grape halves instead of raisins

Monday, September 26, 2016

5 Reasons to Stop Using Antibacterial Soaps

Emily O'Malley
Physician Assistant

Did you know that there are 19 ingredients in most antibacterial soaps? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does and has recently banned them from soaps and washes.

So are we at greater risk for getting sick by not using this added defense against germs? Not really. In fact, here are 5 reasons to discontinue using antibacterial soap.

  1. They are no more effective than regular soap. In 42 years of research, no evidence has been uncovered that proves antibacterial soaps are more effective. These soaps target bacteria, not viruses such as the flu. Viruses cause greater widespread illness.
  2. They may be creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Greater uses of antibiotic chemicals are causing random mutations in bacteria that allow them to survive exposure. The more often we use the chemicals, the greater and stronger the mutations.
  3. Antibacterial soaps may act as endocrine disruptors. One of the ingredients in these soaps is triclosan, which seems to interfere with the body’s ability to regulate the thyroid. This happens because triclosan resembles human hormones and can fool systems that rely on the thyroid. This can lead to infertility, advanced puberty, obesity or cancer. The body has a hard time processing triclosan. In one study on the effects of antibacterial soap, triclosan was found in the using samples of 75% of the tested subjects, demonstrating how our bodies absorb and retain the chemical.
  4. Antibacterial soaps kill good bacteria too. By reducing children’s exposure to bacteria, their immune systems have a higher chance of developing allergies such as hay fever. Exposure to bacteria at a young age is necessary for a properly functioning immune system as an adult.
  5. It is bad for the environment. Soap goes down the drain and back into the environment. Once there, it can harm algae, which make much of the world’s oxygen and are the beginning of the food chain.

The most effective way to get rid of germs by washing our hands with regular soap under running warm water for at least 20 seconds.  This new FDA ruling banning the sale of antibacterial soap does not apply to hand sanitizers, although it is recommended that you use products with at least 60 percent alcohol to be most effective. Hand sanitizers are not a replacement for soap and water, but offer protection when no soap or water are available.