Breastfeeding support group for nursing moms started at St. Mary’s

Nursing mothers and their babies meeting monthly at St. Mary's Healthcare Carondelet Pavilion, from left, are Kelly Reed with baby Chase, Mackenzie Egelston with babies Natalie and Harper, Amanda Roblee with baby Olivia, and Brittany Heermance with baby LJ. (Photo submitted)

AMSTERDAM — Amanda Roblee, a registered nurse working in maternity and gynecology at St. Mary’s Healthcare, has always taught moms about the ins and outs of breastfeeding.

Now breastfeeding a 5-month-old baby herself, she has been teaming up with certified lactation RN Cynthia Pikcilingis to lead a Mommy and Me support group for nursing mothers and their babies at 1 p.m. every third Wednesday at the hospital’s Carondelet Pavilion.

The social time is good for the babies and the mothers. Mothers get to share their knowledge and experiences.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a diet of pure breast milk for the first six months of a baby’s life–no other food or drink is needed,” said Pikcilingis.

“Formula doesn’t replicate what human milk has” besides increasing “a mother’s bonding with her baby,” said Roblee. “Whatever immunities the mother has are passed on to the baby,” keeping the infant healthier in the crucial early stages of life.”

She calls the six months of breastfeeding “the fourth trimester.”

But “breastfeeding is not straightforward,” said Heidi Jones of Mariaville. She was nursing her baby boy six times a day, and he was still losing weight–so she had to supplement with formula.

Despite the exceptions, research shows mom’s milk is the first choice. Breastfeeding stimulates the production of hormones that helps the uterus get back to its pre-pregnancy condition and also “helps you feel very loving toward your baby,” said Pikcilingis. It also reduces postpartum depression and decreases the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, she said.

The group is a source of advice based on experience such as a baby’s tongue being impeded by overly tight frenulums (pieces of tissue that hold the tongue and lips in place), food allergies and fussy babies.

Husband and other family member sometimes look for ways to help the breastfeeding mother, who spends hours latched to an infant. Roblee advises that husbands and other family members can best assist nursing mothers by not feeding the baby. The mother has to do twice as much work expressing her milk for bottle. Better for helpers to give the baby a bath or play with the infant.

Sisi Chen of Amsterdam, a native of China, and Brook Tennis of Fort Plain appreciate spending time with other nursing mothers socializing and sharing insights.

Chen moved here from Japan two years ago and said she wants to “meet some new moms and meet some other babies.”