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Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beneficial ways a mother can care for her baby.  The experience of breastfeeding is very special and while some may feel breastfeeding is unnecessary, it provides endless value for your child, and is just as rewarding for you, too.  It may be challenging at first, but you and your baby can succeed and find value in the numerous benefits of breastfeeding.

Benefits for Baby
–The colostrum – a yellow, watery pre-milk – that your breasts make for the first few days after birth helps your newborn’s digestive system grow and function.
–Breast milk has antibodies that help your baby’s immune system fight off sickness. Babies who are breastfed also have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, allergies, and colic.
–The protein and fat in breast milk are better used by the baby’s body than the protein and fat in formula.
–Babies who are breastfed have less gas, fewer feeding problems, and often less constipation than those given formulas.
–Breastfed babies have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
–Breastfeeding provides contact that babies yearn.  Frequent skin-to-skin contact with Mom is calming and comforting.

Benefits for Mom
–It is convenient – Your baby’s food is always available and ready at the right temperature.
–Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which makes the uterus contract and helps it return to its normal size more quickly.
–It may decrease your risk of some forms of cancer and other illnesses.
–It may help you lose weight gained during pregnancy faster than you would if you were bottle-feeding.
–It is less expensive than bottle feeding with formula.
–It creates a special bond between you and your baby.

With help from our Fort HealthCare lactation consultants, 80-90% of mothers begin breastfeeding their babies shortly after birth, and studies have shown that 91% of mothers who deliver their babies Fort Memorial Hospital Great Expectations Birthing Center are successfully breastfeeding at both two- and five-weeks after birth.

At Fort HealthCare, breastfeeding is discussed throughout pregnancy, and more information is presented both in person and through our childbirth preparation classes.  Fort HealthCare’s Breastfeeding Support Group meets the last Thursday of every month from 1:30-3:00 in the OB Classroom at the hospital. There is a lactation consultant who can answer questions and perform infant weight checks. Moms who attend are typically nearing the end of their pregnancy or have a nursing newborn, infant or toddler. All nursing or curious moms are welcome! As always, moms are invited and encouraged to call our Lactation department (920) 568-5396 for guidance on any breastfeeding related issue.

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From the moment you become a parent, activity and healthy living choices seems to come second to the needs of your children.  Even parents with a strong commitment to physical activity before parenthood may struggle to find the time and energy to stay fit.  But when it comes to abandoning activity, you are hurting more than just yourself.  Physical activity can help you stay healthy so you can keep up with your child’s needs and be around when they get older.

Even though most parents feel like they are always on the go, studies have shown that physical activity declines among the majority of new parents.   Here are some tips to stay active and healthy for you and your family.

Be active all day.
You don’t have to go to the gym to be physically active.  There are lots of little things you can do to incorporate activity into your day.  Go for a walk with your child, take them to the park, take the stairs, park further away from your destination, or do a few exercises in between your daily routines.  Make these small changes and commit to being active throughout your day—we think they will add up!

Don’t let time be an excuse.
Although your children take up a lot of the time you once had for yourself, it is not impossible to stay physically active during parenthood.  It does not take a lot of time at the gym to reap the health benefits of exercise.  Focusing on quality instead of quantity, a few short workouts every week can help you stay motivated and avoid burnout.

Find social support.
Having a friend, family member, or neighbor to who you can trust to care for your child is vital.  Few exercise facilities provide childcare services, so this dilemma becomes a problem and long-term excuse for many parents.  Establish a network of friends that you could trade off child care responsibilities with.

It is also helpful to find social support through an exercise partner that has similar goals.  By making a commitment to exercising with someone, people feel more accountable and are more likely to follow through with their workout.  Exercise partners can also provide continuous motivation and support.

Make it a family affair.
The best way to show your children the value of fitness is to be physically active with them.  Take infants or toddlers for walks in their stroller or fit in quick exercises during their nap.  Take your older children to the park or enjoy the opportunities that your community provides.  Take advantage of each season—ride bikes in the spring, swim in the summer, take a scenic hike in the fall, and go sledding or ice-skating in the winter.  Doing these physical activities will feel more like fun than exercise and can instill great habits in your children at a young age.

Set goals for yourself.
Motivation comes from within, so the first step to physical fitness is to have a reason to want it.  It is important to set short-term goals that are measurable and attainable.  Start with small, manageable goals and go from there.  Continue to monitor your progress and set new goals accordingly.  Don’t get discouraged if you don’t meet your exercise goal for a week.  There is no reason to completely drop out; reevaluate and work hard next week!

Be a role model.
You serve as a huge role model in your child’s life, and your actions have a huge impact on the habits that they will form.  Your children will likely mimic your behaviors, including physical activity practices; therefore, when teaching discipline, it is important for you as a parent to have some as well.

Fort HealthCare supports a parent’s decision to be physically fit with fitness classes, events, and challenges to help jumpstart and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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You are never too young or too old to take care of your heart.  People at any age can benefit from simple steps to keep their heart healthy, and making smart choices at an early age can create healthy habits to help prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

Tools for all generations to take to heart:

In Your 20s

  • Have regular wellness exams: Establishing a relationship with a doctor means you can form heart-healthy habits early and easily monitor possible changes in the future.  Talk to your doctor about you diet, lifestyle, and checking your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, heart rate, body mass index, and waist circumference.
  • By physically active: Mix up your exercise routine and find new motivators to keep your workout interesting.  It is much easier to stay active throughout your life if you start at a young age.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke: If you picked up smoking as a teen, now is the time to quit.  Even secondhand exposure poses serious health problems, so try to avoid it at all costs.

In Your 30s

  • Make it a family affair: You can benefit from instilling heart-healthy habits in your children.  Explore a nearby park or encourage your kids to help you cook in the kitchen, and take these healthy steps together.
  • Know your family history: Dig into your past to learn about your family’s health history.  A family history of heart disease increases your risk, so take control by making healthy choices and inform your doctor.
  • Control your stress: Long-term stress can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and long-term heart damage.  Learning stress management techniques can be vital to your heart’s health, so breathe deep and find some time every day to do something you enjoy.

In Your 40s

  • Watch your plate—and weight: Your metabolism starts slowing down in your 40s, but you can avoid weight gain by getting plenty of exercise and sticking to a healthy diet.  Stay motivated by trying new recipes and activities, or find friend to share your new plan and help each other stay on track.
  • Have your blood sugar checked: You should have your fasting blood sugar (FBS) tested for the first time around age 45; this is often the first check for (pre)diabetes and will provide a baseline for future tests.

In Your 50s

  • Learn the warning signs: Not everyone experiences tell-tale symptoms of a stroke and heart attack, so it is important to know the warning signs.  Women can also experience different symptoms than men.
  • Follow the treatment plan: If you have been diagnosed with a condition that increases your risk for heart disease or stroke, closely follow your prescribed treatment plan, including diet, lifestyle plans and medication.

In Your 60s+

  • Have an ankle-brachial index test: In addition to eating healthy, exercising, and managing any health issues that arise, you should also have your first ankle-brachial index test, which helps diagnose peripheral artery disease (PAD), a lesser-known cardiovascular disease.  This test should be performed every one to two years as part of a regular physical exam.

With age comes an increased risk for heart disease, but by taking these steps and making simple heart-healthy choices, you can help prevent heart disease at any age. Talk with your doctor or call Fort HealthCare’s Integrated Family Care for an appointment.

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PinkEyeSharing butterfly kisses with your kiddo? Who doesn’t? It’s a great way to bond, cuddle…and potentially to spread conjunctivitis.  Also known as pink eye, this contagious infection causes irritation or infection of the membrane that covers the white of the eye and inside the eyelid.  It is very common in both children and adults, but with proper precaution and care, you can protect yourself and your child from catching and spreading the infection.

How did my child get pink eye?
There are many different causes of pink eye, including bacteria and viruses.  The infection can be spread from person to person, or it can develop on its own.  Children in daycare centers or school are exposed to more germs and may be more likely to pick up pink eye.

What are the symptoms?
Pink eye can be mistaken for general irritation or redness in the eye, but the following are some signs:

  • Redness in and around the eye
  • Eyes that are puffy and sore
  • Itching, burning, or stinging eyes
  • Watery eyes or yellow, pus-like discharge from the eye
  • Eyelids that are crusty or stuck together following sleep

How do I treat pink eye?
Though it’s a minor infection, it is very important to see a doctor if symptoms are present to prevent damage to the eye and stop the spread.  After it’s confirmed as pink eye, antibiotic ointment or drops will be prescribed to stop the infection.

Can I prevent pink eye?
Pink eye is highly contagious and can be spread through contact with the eye drainage that contains the bacteria or virus.  To prevent the spread of the infection, it is important to thoroughly wash hands and bedding, do not share towels, washcloths, contact lens equipment, eye makeup or eye medicine. Women should stop using any eye cosmetic products or tools (eyeliner, mascara, lash curlers, etc.) that may have been in contact with the infection.  If anyone else in the household shows symptoms, contact the doctor to begin treatment right away.

If you suspect pink eye in your child, talk to your family practice provider or pediatrician right away.  After antibiotics are started, drainage and irritation typically begin to subside in about 24-48 hours, though antibiotics should be continued for the duration stated by the provider.

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