Friday, April 3, 2015 12:00 AM

Nurturing moms, nourishing babies for a healthier start

The World Health Organization has determined that breastfeeding provides immediate benefits for children and their mothers, and contributes to a lifetime of better health. Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as babies were less likely to be overweight or obese, or experience Type-2 diabetes, and they’ve been shown to perform better in intelligence tests. Women who nursed their babies reduced their own risks for ovarian and breast cancer.

Suzanne Stipe, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, supervisor of the Mother’s Resource Center, shows Christina Zakarian the best ways to encourage her baby, Eva, to breastfeed.

In a region where breastfeeding rates are far below state averages, the Mother’s Resource Center at Community Regional Medical Center is one of the Central San Joaquin Valley’s most significant resources for mothers and their newborns. It provides education and support to pregnant women and nursing mothers, much of it as part of the hospital system’s unreimbursed community benefits program. Breastfeeding rates nationwide are lowest among women with lower incomes, less education and women who lack adequate or timely postpartum follow-up care.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” said Suzanne Stipe, supervisor of the Mother’s Resource Center and inpatient bedside lactation education at Community Regional. 

The center receives referrals from hospitals throughout the Valley and assists new mothers following their discharge from the hospital. Calls are answered within a day of being received and outpatient follow ups are scheduled within 24 hours to help babies get the healthiest start possible. The Mother’s Resource Center also works with the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine – a physician-staffed service that receives referrals from throughout California for the diagnosis, treatment and management of complicated breastfeeding problems.

In addition to private consultations, the Mother’s Resource Center also provides classes on breastfeeding basics, breastfeeding in special medical circumstances and how to continue breastfeeding optimally after returning to work. The center’s store, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers low-cost breast pump rentals and purchases, breast pump replacement parts and specialty feeding items.

Christina Zakarian brought her baby Eva to the Mother’s Resource Center three times during Eva’s first month. The 29-year-old Fresno mom called on a weekend for advice. “The Mother’s Resource Center has been very helpful. If I hadn’t come in I would’ve been very frustrated with breastfeeding.”

Jennifer Avila-Allen reported this story. She can be reached at