WRNMMC, Bethesda, MD –
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s (WRNMMC) Chief of Staff, Navy Capt. Kelly Elmore applauded women who breastfeed their babies during “Latch On,” an event observing National Breastfeeding Month held Aug. 18.
“Breast/chestfeeding in uniform motivated me to continue promoting the significance of breastfeeding everywhere I go,” said Elmore, who served as guest speaker for the first-of-its-kind event, hosted by WRNMMC’s Mother and Infant Care Center (MICC) lactation team, highlighting the importance of breast/chestfeeding.
Elmore shared that the benefits of breastfeeding are innumerable for both mother and baby, to include decreasing the risk of certain diseases in mothers and their babies.
In general, babies who are breastfeed are healthier and build better immunity from communicable diseases. Breastfeeding is the biological norm and as such, should be supported by the community at large, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Mothers are highly encouraged to breastfeed their babies if their health condition permits, which increases bonding between mothers and their babies,” said Elmore. She also added the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee officially declared August as National Breastfeeding Month in 2011, and that WRNMMC supports breastfeeding mothers, which is key to its designation as one of only a few Baby-Friendly Hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR).
In April 2017, WRNMMC earned its designation as a Baby-Friendly Hospital from Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., the U.S. authority for implementing of the Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative, a global program sponsored by the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“This means we have an obligation to support and promote breast/chestfeeding for kids and its benefits to their families,” said Elmore, who is also a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist (OB-GYN).
Currently, there are only three military treatment facilities (MTF) in the country that are Baby-Friendly designated, they are Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (Virginia), Naval Hospital Jacksonville (Florida), and WRNMMC.
“Every newborn has three key demands -- the demand for love, the demand for food, and the demand for security. Breastfeeding cuts across all three of them,” said Elmore. “That’s why we will continue to use every opportunity to support breastfeeding within and outside the workplace.”
“All women who breastfeed your babies, you have WRNMMC’s full support and admiration, Elmore said. “In my own case, I breastfed my baby for 14 months during a very difficult situation and survived. Now, I am proud to say
my child is a loving, healthy, happy young man.
WRNMMC held the event in conjunction with Fort Belvoir and Naval Hospital Jacksonville, who also hosted a similar event acknowledging, supporting and promoting breastfeeding. The MTFs connected virtually where mothers from all three MTFs latched their babies simultaneously in support of breastfeeding.
Jennifer Vasquez-Robles and Melanie Buzzelli, mothers who breastfed their babies during a synchronized latch with other mothers from both Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and Naval Hospital Jacksonville, shared their thoughts on the importance of breastfeeding. Both mothers agreed with Elmore that breastfeeding strengthens the bond between babies and their mothers. They also shared their appreciation for WRNMMC and the community for their continued support to breastfeeding mothers.
WHO and UNICEF recommend women to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, and babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life – meaning no other foods or liquids are provided, including water. Infants should be breastfed on demand – that is as often as the child wants, day and night.
For more information on breastfeeding, visit the WRNMMC lactation team on https://wrnmmc.libguides.com/lactation