Mary Louise McNitt brings 30 years of nursing care and extensive experience as a mom together to provide the best support for new moms at GRH.
Mary is a mother of three sons and knows how difficult it can be to breastfeed. When she needed help, her colleagues and other professionals were there to help her.
Now, Mary is a registered nurse and lactation consultant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She provides help and advice to new mothers who may be experiencing issues while breastfeeding.
What benefits does breastfeeding provide to a baby/child?
Breastfeeding encourages a close physical bonding between the mom and her baby as her body responds to the baby’s need of supply and demand. With bottle-feeding, anyone can give a bottle to a baby while only mom can feed by the breast. That connection is important.
Is there a difference in length of when a mother breastfeeds her child or bottle-feeds her child?
There are health benefits for both the mom and the baby as long as breastfeeding continues. Babies can enjoy the breastfeeding relationship as long as desired. Most mothers begin to offer a cup and introduce solids at six months old. It is recommended to give formula until one year of age, along with supplementing with solid foods starting at six months.
What made you decide to become a nurse in NICU?
I have a passion for helping new moms in the very vulnerable first few days of this new lifestyle and helping to establish the breastfeeding relationship. I had a difficult time breastfeeding all three of my sons so I had a lot of help from colleagues and professionals which meant a lot.
What is the typical age range that a mother should begin and end breastfeeding?
The typical age to start breastfeeding your baby is right after birth – as soon as the baby is awake is the most important time. The earlier the baby gets to breastfeed, starting with skin-to-skin care right after birth, is best as this will help to make more breast milk sooner. Babies can nurse as long as it is good for the mom and baby. Breast milk always has nutritional benefits. Exclusively breastfeeding for six months is important – no other food is needed.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I really enjoy helping parents achieve success in meeting the needs of their newborn babies.
How has your field changed throughout your career?
We are much more aware of the detrimental effects of separating infants form their mothers at birth nowadays than we used to realize. We are focused a lot more on keeping the pair together.
What keeps you motivated and excited in your work?
Our NICU is like a family – we care for one another, both inside and outside of the work setting. It’s the relationships I have and the people that I work so closely with who always keep me motivated.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to new moms?
I advise parents to focus on enjoying the baby, spend lots of time with skin-to-skin contact with the baby, and let all the rest come together naturally.