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SSM Health offers free virtual lactation consults for new moms

Schwaller said research shows breastfeeding has major preventative health benefits for both mothers and babies. (KRCG)

The Centers for Disease Control reported about eight in 10 Missouri mothers breastfeed their babies starting at birth, but many stop earlier than is recommended.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health nurse and lactation consultant Becky Schwaller about a new program that could help new moms in mid-Missouri breastfeed their babies longer.

Schwaller said research shows breastfeeding has major preventative health benefits for both mothers and babies.

"Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from a number of chronic conditions, including asthma and allergies. There's even a lot of research that shows breastfeeding prevents obesity as a child and as an adult," she said. "Women who breastfeed their babies also tend to have lower blood pressures and lower cholesterol. So you're looking at a reduced cardiovascular disease risk when those mothers get older too."

However, Schwaller said breastfeeding isn't always an easy process to start.

"It takes a lot of patience and determination. Many moms need some support, and I'm able to give that to them. Whether they want to come in to the hospital to see me, or perhaps they'd like to simply talk with me through our virtual lactation program," she said.

Schwaller said for many women, being a new mom is stressful enough without making extra trips to the hospital. That was why she said she was excited to now be able to offer virtual lactation consulting.

"Moms can be at home, and I can be here at work. We connect at the time that agrees with both of us, and I can help them out in that way as well," she said.

Mothers who gave birth at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City can use their phones to download and enroll in MyChart, a health app SSM Health uses. But Schwaller said she is also able to offer help to women who did not give birth at an SSM Health facility.

"Anybody who's struggling with breastfeeding, SSM has allowed me to see them as a community benefit," she said. "They just need to contact me, and I can walk them through that process."

With free breastfeeding help now just a call away, Schwaller said she hopes as many moms as possible will take her up on the offer of virtual lactation consults at no cost.

"The children are our future. Anything I can do to help make that future better, that's what I'm all about," she said.

Schwaller said new mothers may contact her by phone at 573-681-3399 or email her at Rebecca.Schwaller@ssmhealth.com.

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