Oklahoma City Indian Clinic
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit clinic providing health and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma, wants parents to have the knowledge and resources available to breastfeed confidently.
Indigenous Milk Medicine Week, formerly known as Native Breastfeeding Week, will be August 8-14, 2022. This awareness week highlights the benefits of breastfeeding for both parent and baby, as well as the cultural significance of breastfeeding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breastfed babies are less likely to have asthma, type 1 diabetes, obesity, ear infections, SIDS and stomach bugs.
“As your baby grows, your breast milk will change to fit your baby’s needs,” said Janice Hixson, MD, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic’s Chief Medical Officer. “Breast milk also shares antibodies from the parent that help fortify your baby’s immune system.”
Babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from breastfeeding. Parents who breastfeed have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain types of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
In addition to health benefits, breastfeeding creates a bond between parent and baby. The skin-to-skin contact boosts oxytocin, which helps the baby feel secure and comforted. Oxytocin also helps the parent feel calm and keeps the supply of breast milk flowing.
“Many parents prefer the convenience of breastfeeding,” Hixson said. “Parents can feed their babies without preparing formula or bottles. Breastfeeding can also comfort babies in new environments.”
Choosing to breastfeed may seem intimidating. Oklahoma City Indian Clinic offers Eagle’s Nest, a culturally sensitive prenatal education program. Patients will learn more about prenatal care, infant care, breastfeeding education and support, parenting skills, substance use prevention, child development, maternal life skills and more. Parents have access to the program until their baby turns three. Patients can call (405) 948-4900 ext. 695 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
“Some parents need help learning to breastfeed,” Hixson said. “If you need assistance, talk to your health care provider about seeing a lactation counselor.”
Breastfeeding has a multitude of health benefits for parents and babies. Prenatal education programs and lactation counselors can help you breastfeed more confidently.
About Oklahoma City Indian Clinic
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic was established in 1974 to provide excellent health care and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma. The clinic staff cares for more than 22,000 patients from over 200 federally recognized tribes every year. American Indians can receive a range of services, including medical, dental, pediatrics, prenatal, pharmacy, optometry, physical fitness, nutrition, family programs and behavioral health services. For more information, please call (405) 948-4900 or visit www.okcic.com.