Merit Health Wesley nurse shares benefits of breastfeeding

Merit Health Wesley nurse shares benefits of breastfeeding

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mothers can now legally breastfeed in public in all 50 states. That's good news for Merit Health Wesley's Labor and Delivery Registered Nurse Stephanie Sheppard.

Sheppard said no matter where you need to feed your baby, there are many benefits for mom and baby when a mother chooses to breastfeed.

"I teach a breastfeeding class every first and third Thursday of the month at the clinic," Sheppard said.

Sheppard said she tells moms that breastfeeding isn't just about nourishing your child. There's a long list of advantages for baby.

"It helps decrease ear infections, respiratory tract infections, also helps decrease gastroenteritis, diarrhea. It helps decrease food allergies," Sheppard said.

She said there are many perks for mothers, too. Sheppard said breastfeeding helps the mom lose the baby weight, and it's cheaper than buying formula.

"It decreases postpartum hemorrhage because it helps the uterus clamp down right after delivery. It decreases obesity in women, ovarian cancer and breast cancer," Sheppard said.

Sheppard said breastfeeding is natural, but it may not always come easy. That's where her staff helps out.

"We have two lactation specialists, and we also have every one of our labor and delivery staff all educated with 20 plus hours," Sheppard said. "We also have an education on proper formula preparation as well."

In 2006, Mississippi decriminalized breastfeeding in public. Before that, state laws did not make a distinction between indecent exposure and breastfeeding in public.

For more information about Merit Health Wesley's Women Services, including their breastfeeding classes, visit