August 7, 2008

Moms Focus of Event

By Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell

COLTON - Eight months into her pregnancy, Marcela Zambrano is eager to do everything she can to ensure her baby is healthy.

So Wednesday, the Riverside resident lined up at booths at the Breastfeeding Awareness Carnival at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center to learn as much as she could about the benefits of breast feeding.

"I heard there was a fair during my doctor's appointment, so I thought I should stop by to check it out," she said. "This is much better than reading a book. It really gets the message across."

Pregnant women like Zambrano, mothers and fathers pushing babies in strollers and those long past childbearing age were among the many people at the event, which is in its third year.

They were treated to games, where they were asked questions about breast feeding.

Among the questions: If a kitten is meowing, what does it want from its mom?

Near the carnival entrance, workers at The Golden Hour booth passed out brochures in English and Spanish.

The "golden" hour is the time after the infant's birth when it receives skin-to-skin contact with the mother.

At the La Leche League booth, Autumn Rujiraviriyapinyo and her 16- month-old daughter Kyra got the message across in T-shirts that said "Milk Goddess" and "My Mom is a Milk Goddess."

Autumn did more than share advice at the La Leche booth - she also nursed rosy-cheeked Kyra as she talked to visitors.

"We are seeing mothers who are hungry for information and even grandmas saying 'I breastfed all by myself,' so it is great to see a community event like this one," she said.

The event has grown since it was first held in the hospital's lobby three years ago.

Dr. Webster Wong, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Arrowhead Regional, said he hopes it continues to grow every year, because the message is so important.

To further spread awareness, the hospital works closely with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, a global network of individuals and organizations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breast feeding worldwide. It is also focused on being a baby-friendly hospital, a designation awarded by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund to hospitals that encourage breast feeding.

Nourishing babies with mother's milk is important because studies show that breast-fed babies are less likely to have colic, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, asthma, allergies and other conditions.

For moms, breast feeding can provide faster recovery from childbirth, reduce the risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer and help to shed weight.

Steve Jankiewicz, who pushed his son Conan in a stroller from one end of the carnival to the other, is a proponent of the benefits.

"Breast feeding makes for a happy baby, period," he said.

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