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Hoping to increase breastfeeding rates in CNY, Upstate hires additional lactation consultant, expands services

When Jayne Charlamb, MD, FACP, FABM, IBCLC, started Upstate’s Breastfeeding Medicine Program in 2015, she set out to help the most complex medical situations with newborns and mothers. Three years later, Dr. Charlamb, who serves as the director of the Division of Breast Health and Breastfeeding Medicine at Upstate Medical University, has added a new lactation consultant and the program now has the capacity to assist breastfeeding families with a range of difficulties.

Michele Dwyer is a registered nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). The goal of an IBCLC is to improve breastfeeding rates while providing care in routine and high-risk situations.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that infants in the first six months of life receive nothing other than breastmilk unless otherwise medically indicated. After the first six months of life, it’s recommended mothers continue breastfeeding while introducing solid foods slowly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year. While The World Health Organization encourages breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond, in conjunction with appropriate solid foods.

“While breastfeeding rates in New York State and nationally have improved overall—over 82 percent of babies are receiving some breastmilk—we have room for improvement in exclusive breastfeeding rates for the first six months and total duration of breastfeeding,” said Charlamb.

What most concerns Charlamb is supporting mothers who wish to breastfeed.

“I think the most concerning statistic to me as a physician who supports breastfeeding is when we recognize that research shows six out of 10 mothers are not meeting their own breastfeeding goals. That means that we have lots of room for improvement in supporting breastfeeding families. I am hopeful that our program will begin to improve that statistic in our own community,” Charlamb said.

Thanks to solid objective evidence demonstrating why breastfeeding is important and promoting the benefits of breastfeeding for infants and families, women are more interested in breastfeeding. The next step is to provide these women and families with support at home, in health care settings, in our community, and in the workforce.

Charlamb attributes the conveniences of living in a mobile society as one of the barriers to support for new breastfeeding mothers. She explains, “While breastfeeding skills are innate for a healthy newborn, a new mother must learn to breastfeed. Traditionally, this support and education may have come from family members and friends who have had successful experiences of their own to guide hera new mother in breastfeeding. However, as these people may not be available to her locally, we need to get her that support in the community both and within the healthcare setting,” she said. Charlamb recommends mother-to-mother support with organizations such as La Leche League.

It is important to recognize the challenges of breastfeeding for mothers who are employed outside of the home and for those who may not have the benefit of prolonged maternity leaves. This can make breastfeeding stressful and difficult at times. However, that can make continuing the a breastfeeding relationship even morecan be especially valuable to these families.

Charlamb and Dwyer are assisting with a wide range of lactation issues, including basic issues like latching problems, as well as more complex issues like persistent pain and infections.

“We are happy to see families and babies regardless of where they delivered and no matter what age the baby is,” said Charlamb.

In addition, Upstate’s Breastfeeding Medicine Program has the ability to assist in more unusual situations, such as supporting a breastfeeding mother who has chronic or serious medical problems, or even inducing lactation in a mother who has been unable to carry a pregnancy herself. Lactation consultants can enable a new mom to at least partially breastfeed a baby she has adopted or a baby carried by a surrogate. The family’s ability to bond with their new babies through breastfeeding contributes to the overall health and wellness of the family.

Charlamb and Dwyer are assisting with a wide range of lactation issues, including basic issues like latching on, as well as more complex issues like persistent pain and infections.

“We are happy to see families and babies regardless of where they delivered and no matter what age the baby is,” said Charlamb.

Charlamb serves as the program’s director and as director of the Division of Breast Health and Breastfeeding Medicine. She is a fellow of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and the American College of Physicians and is board certified in Internal Medicine and is also a Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Dwyer received her nursing degree at St. Joseph’s Hospital College of Nursing and joins Upstate’s Breastfeeding Medicine Program with over 25 years of nursing experience in maternal and child health care. She was licensed in 2011 as a IBCLC.

The International Lactation Consultant Association celebrates Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants on IBCLC Day, March 7.

For more information on Upstate’s Breastfeeding Medicine Program, call 315-464-2192.

Caption: Jayne Charlamb, MD, and Michele Dwyer, RN.

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