Why your baby needs you to breastfeed

by Candy Powell BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC, CCE, Lactation Consultant and Certified Childbirth Educator at the Medical Center Hospital Center for Women and Infants.


As seen in the Odessa American’s Medical Matters at:



Breastfeeding is a vital part of healthy child development and provides the best start to life for any baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is the standard for infant feeding.

The World Health Organization recommends:

  • early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth
  • exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life
  • introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at six months together with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond

Why is breastfeeding important for your baby?  

Breastfeeding provides essential nutrients and antibodies that boost an infant’s immune system, providing protection from childhood illnesses. Benefits for breastfed infants include:

  • reduced risks for diarrhea and respiratory infections
  • protection against childhood obesity
  • protection against non-communicable diseases later in life, including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus
  • higher intelligence quotient
  • reduced risk for allergies.


Is there any benefit for the mother? 

Yes, breastfeeding is important for mothers too. Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, obesity and osteoporosis.

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week occurs annually the first week of August and is celebrated in more than 170 countries worldwide. During the week, the World Health Organization promotes the benefits of breastfeeding and raises awareness about this essential part of every person’s life course.

The 2018 theme, “Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life”, encourages breastfeeding as a way to promote mother-child bonding and to provide vital long-term health benefits to both mother and child. According to the Lancet 2016 Breastfeeding Series, “Improved breastfeeding practices have the potential to save the lives of 823,000 children and 20,000 women a year.”

World Breastfeeding Week also calls attention to local efforts that support breastfeeding.

Available local breastfeeding assistance and information

Medical Center Hospital’s Center for Women and Infants (CWI) Infants is designated as a Texas Ten Step Hospital which means policies and practices promote breastfeeding. CWI staff encourages and supports new mothers to breastfeed by giving them information and support throughout their pregnancy, in the hospital and after they are home.


Baby Café (FREE Drop-in Breastfeeding Center)

The MCH Baby Café is a free, drop-in breastfeeding center for mothers seeking more information or help with breastfeeding. Baby Café is free and open to breastfeeding mothers every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon in the CWI fourth floor classroom.


Oh Baby! Breastfeeding Basics (FREE CLASS)

Learn about the basics of breastfeeding and how to start off breastfeeding with tips on positioning, latching, how to recognize a good latch and how milk is produced.

Date and Time:  Saturday, August 4, 2018, 10:00 a.m. to noon

Location: MCH Center for Women and Infants, Fourth Floor Classroom


Sustaining Breastfeeding and Returning to Work (FREE CLASS)

Learn about accommodation laws and your rights in the workplace, child care, pumping to maintain and enhance milk supply and how to smoothen transitions from home to work and back.

Date and time:  Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 11:00 a.m. to noon

Location: MCH Center for Women and Infants, Fourth Floor Classroom


For more information on these free local resources, contact:

Candy Powell BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC @ cpowell@echd.org  or 432-640-1714

Ashley Harry BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC @ aharry@echd.org  or 432-640-1784


Look Who’s Talking!

by Dr. Kevin Benson, Board Certified in Pediatrics, ProCare Healthy Kids Clinic

As seen in the Odessa American’s Medical Matters:



One of the reasons pediatricians have you bring your babies and children in so many times during their first few years of life is to monitor their development. And the area that is both the easiest to recognize, and to miss, is speech development.

Babies should enter into the world of verbal communication early in life. They usually start life with a loud cry and things proceed from there. They respond to our voices when they are infants, even if they do not really understand what we say. Infants will start to coo in the first few months of life. At six months, they usually have a variety of sounds, especially if they get a reaction from their parents. It’s not unusual to hear a scream to get our attention. (My daughter thought a fake cough was funny.)

At nine months, you often hear some basic consonants such as “dada” and/or “mama”. However, this can be very meaningless. (Sorry “Dada”.) At a year, most children will have a meaningful dada and mama sound, as well as one other word. Unfortunately, it is often the dog’s name! Children’s receptive language usually precedes their expressive language, so they understand more than they can say back.

Speech often plateaus a bit. Then by 18 months, most children have an explosion of meaningful language. At a year and a half, most toddlers will babble out some form of about 10 to 15 words, although probably only family members will recognize their meaning.

Two-year-olds will have many words, and start to put them into two-word sentences. They will be about 50 percent understandable to strangers at that age. Three-year-olds about 75 percent understandable and 4-year-olds, you guessed it, should be 100 percent understandable to strangers. Just in time for school!

Now there is a large variety of speeds in which language develops, some children are just naturally more verbal (and no, not just the girls). It is important to recognize language issues early in life. There is a certain “developmental window” in which speech is easier to develop. (Ask anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language as an adult.) I have witnessed parents who have ignored speech issues early on, only to try and make up for that lost time in speech therapy later. Be proactive and keep your routine physical appointments, bringing up speech concerns as soon as they come to mind.




Parents’ questions about the everlasting flu season of 2017-2018

by Dr. Kevin Benson, Board Certified in Pediatrics, ProCare Healthy Kids Clinic

As seen in the Odessa American’s Medical Matters:


There is endless information about the flu available to anyone with a smartphone. Rather than reprint information that is available elsewhere, I would like to answer a few questions that parents ask every day at my office.

Can you get the flu twice?

I chuckled seeing a report on one of those sensational nightly news shows that highlighted “This boy has had the flu TWICE!” I didn’t realize that any of the many patients I have seen with the flu twice this season could make national news. Unfortunately, catching one strain of the flu does not protect a person from catching one of the many other strains. Flu just doesn’t play fair … you can even have multiple strains at the same time! It is unlikely that you would get the same strain more than once though … if that makes you feel better.

The flu test was negative, does that mean my child doesn’t have the flu? 

Unfortunately, no. They still might have the flu. The flu test is very specific. So, if you have a positive, it is extremely accurate. However, the sensitivity of the test varies with the quality of the specimen (yes, we need boogers) and the length of illness. I have had families where every child is positive but one, but they are all symptomatic. A child can be diagnosed clinically with the flu.

Is Tamiflu (osteltamivir) good?  Is it bad?  What if they can’t finish it? 

This medication decreases the flu virus’ ability to reproduce. It does not “kill the flu” like an antibiotic might kill a bacteria. It is supposed to shorten the course of the illness. It is best started within the first 48 hours of illness.

Like every medication, Tamiflu (osteltamivir) has side effects. Most commonly, the side effects include stomach issues, but there are many more. I tell parents, if the side effects are worse than the illness, stop the medicine. The clear majority of us will still make it through the flu. Before the introduction of this medication, humans still survived the flu, and probably continue to.

Is it too late to get a flu vaccine?

Flu season, as a rule, is from October to April. So we give vaccines through March. Remember – the vaccine takes at least two weeks to be effective. This year’s effectiveness rate has been about 30 percent, which sounds low. However, remember that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 85 percent of children who have died this flu season were unvaccinated.



Baby Teeth and Babies’ Teeth

 Baby Teeth and Babies’ Teeth

by Dr. Robert Stanaland

Baby teeth are so important! This cannot be stressed enough. Yes, they will be “lost” eventually, but they play a vital role in a child’s jaw development in addition to aiding in proper nutrition and socially.  Here are the answers to several questions we hear a lot.

When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

As soon as you are aware that any have erupted. Even before teeth come, you can be wiping down your baby’s mouth with a damp cloth after every feeding.

Why are baby teeth so important if they just fall out?

Obviously, children use their teeth to chew food, just like the adults. The baby teeth also act as place holders for the adult teeth, and if they are lost too soon, the adult teeth will have huge problems coming in correctly. Teeth that get decay can cause severe pain and infections. Children miss a lot of school in order to deal with dental problems, and the cost of treating these dental problems far outweighs the cost of preventing them. 

When should I take my child to the dentist?

It is recommended that a child be seen by age one (1) or within six (6) months of their first tooth erupting, but the child should have been in a dental office long before then. Expecting mothers should be seeing their dentist regularly before the child is here, so education begins then.

What else can I do for my kid’s teeth?

Take care of YOUR teeth! See a dentist regularly. If you have established good oral hygiene and diet habits, your children will too. “Bad teeth” are NOT inherited, but bad habits can be passed down to your children.

Dr. Robert Stanaland is a dentist at the Family Health Dental Clinic at
840 West Clements in Odessa, TX. (432) 332-8870

Yes, immunizations, flu shots help

Yes, immunizations, flu shots help

As seen in the Odessa American “Medical Matters”: http://www.oaoa.com/people/health/article_3c82eb7c-d520-11e6-a0d4-2fb7bbaebde6.html

by Dr. Arun Mathews 

As you may be well aware, flu season is upon us. Occasionally I come across individuals that are unsure about the general benefits of receiving a flu shot, and in some instances immunization in general. I wanted to share a little historical perspective regarding a virus that humanity struggled with only a generation or so back – small pox. While researching information about this disease, I typed in one of my favorite names into the search field – DA Henderson. Instead of the usual platitudes and articles related to smallpox eradication, new headlines popped up, stating that he had passed away. I had met him only once, as a member of the audience for a lecture he gave at Johns Hopkins sharing his experience helping to eradicate smallpox from the planet.

So, in homage to this fallen giant of a man, I wanted to share with you two separate insights surrounding his work. The first related to an innovation in vaccination technology, and the second related to an innovation in process. But first, let’s talk about what the world was like prior to the small pox vaccine.

Variola major, or the severe form of the small pox infection was a brutal disease. Having emerged in human populations thousands of years ago, it, along with another virus, influenza (the reason we take the flu shot), was one of the few infectious diseases that decimated populations in such an effective manner that it may have shaped mankind’s history. George Washington supposedly debated for a year whether or not to institute a primitive form of small pox vaccination (called variolization) of this revolutionary army, suggesting a familiarity with what the disease could do to his ranks. Historians also note how haggard Lincoln appeared during the delivery of the historic Gettysburg address, and this may have been attributable to the fact that he developed small pox only days shortly thereafter. It’s hard to imagine what the implications of Lincoln not giving the famed address, but this was nearly the case. For this and other fascinating instances of when the disease intersected with our history, consider reading William Foege’s ‘House on Fire.’

As late as the 1950’s 50 million individuals would contract the virus each year. Dr. Henderson’s genius lay in applying a new type of vaccine delivery mechanism, the bifurcated needle, which allowed healthcare workers to vaccinate individuals extremely quickly. The second innovation involved a process called surveillance and containment, which required teams to identify index cases in an epidemic and vaccinate individuals around those cases to keep the disease from spreading. These two initiatives enabled us to conquer the virus, and all the suffering that it wrought.

The flu shot protects not only yourself, but also the members of the public too ill or too young to receive the vaccination. It thus reduces the rate of mortality from the flu in our community. By receiving the flu shot, you are literally doing your part to save lives – brava! I like to think that Dr. Henderson would have approved, also.

Dr. Arun Mathews is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Clinical Informatics. He serves as Medical Center Hospital’s Inpatient Chief Medical Officer/Chief Information Officer and has a passion for the history of medicine and its modern day applications.   

Singing the Blues

Singing the Blues
by Dr. Krystal Murphy

Postpartum Blues or Baby Blues is a form of mild depression that generally starts 2-3 days after the birth of a child and should be taken very seriously.  Sometimes the signs are subtle, but the effects it can have on the new family are very real. Although lack of sleep, irritability and anxiety are common problems for new moms, there should be special attention given if these feelings are extreme or become persistent.

Things about Postpartum Blues you should know

  • At least 50% of new moms experience postpartum blues
  • Symptoms usually get better within a few days to 2 weeks and resolve without any treatment
  • Women with postpartum blues are at increased risk of developing postpartum depression
  • 25% of new fathers suffer from the Baby Blues

Early signs and symptoms of the Baby Blues

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Crying for no clear reason
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Trouble eating, sleeping and making decisions

If you or a loved one experience these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should contact your OB/GYN for evaluation. Starting a life with your new baby is a tremendous challenge, but know that you are not alone! Prompt treatment and attention can place you and your baby on the path that will lead to a beautiful journey of discovery.

Krystal Murphy, M.D.,
Obstetrics and Gynecology
MCHS, ProCare
318 N Alleghaney
Odessa, TX  79761
(432) 640-2491

School Breakfast

Great Breakfast Ideas
by Mia Gibson RD, LD, CDE
Dietitian at Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab at the MCHS Center for Health & Wellness

As the kids go back to school, you have been shopping for new shoes, backpacks and notebooks getting all the things for your child to start the school year off right. Starting out with the right supplies is important, but so is starting each day with breakfast. Children that eat breakfast are able to focus and concentrate better. If a child misses breakfast, they may have not eaten in 12-15 hours by the time lunch time comes around. How do you feel when you have not eaten in a long time? It is much easier to get along when you are not starving.

If your family does not want to eat breakfast, try some ideas and new menu items. Try non-traditional breakfast items such as sandwiches, pizza, pasta or a baked potato. Peanut butter works well on toast, crackers or bananas.

If the breakfast table is a battle ground, try setting out different choices of cereal and cut up fruit, letting them choose what to mix.

Set the meal timing for what works best -whether right after getting up or waiting for a while to eat.

Eat breakfast with your family! Breakfast is not just for children. Adults who eat breakfast control their weight, have lower cholesterol and are more productive in the mornings.

Breakfast time can be rushed, so keep quick items on hand such as low-fat chocolate milk, string cheese, yogurt and low sugar cereal.

Homemade Mini Pizzas

These are always a favorite. Let them choose their toppings.

English muffins (Different breads will work, but can get soggy if they are too thin.)

Spaghetti sauce

Skim milk grated mozzarella cheese (Any cheese will work.)

Cut up vegetables (zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, black olives)

Heat the muffin in a toaster or toaster oven. Add a spoonful of spaghetti sauce, then top with cheeses and vegetables. Microwave or toast in oven to melt cheese. Be careful – cheese can be very hot.

Source (www.mayo.clinic.com)

I’m too tired to get up!

“I’m too tired to get up!”
by Pediatrician Dr. Kevin Benson

It’s a phrase that many of us parents hear on those school mornings.

It is an age old example of cause and effect, stay up too late and pay for it the next morning. Many adults try to beat the system with caffeinated beverages every AM but those things are not recommended for our kids (and probably aren’t really good for us in the long run either).

How much sleep do my kids need?  The National Sleep Foundation provides the following chart:

Age Recommended May be appropriate Not recommended

0-3 months


14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours

18 to 19 hours

Less than 11 hours

More than 19 hours


4-11 months


12 to 15 hours 10 to 11 hours

16 to 18 hours

Less than 10 hours

More than 18 hours


1-2 years


11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours

15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours


3-5 years


10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours

14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours

School-aged Children

6-13 years


9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 12 hours


14-17 years


8 to 10 hours 7 hours

11 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 11 hours

Young Adults

18-25 years


7 to 9 hours 6 hours

10 to 11 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 11 hours

As anyone care see, the recommended hours of sleep are always more than we expect.

Ways to improve sleep (especially with school starting):

  • Start bedtimes earlier. Avoid dramatic changes, if you’ve let the children stay up a little later during the summer, start weaning bedtime back to acceptable times by 15 minutes each night until you are back in the zone which provides adequate sleep.
  • Stop electronics at least an hour before bedtime. TV, video games, texting, etc are stimulating to the brain and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. Routines make most of us feel more relaxed and doing the same thing before going to sleep helps us prepare for a more restful night.  Bathing, reading, praying can all be part of a family sleep routine.
  • Eat right! Avoid caffeine and sugar before bed; kids are less likely to “bounce of the walls” without the stimulation of many carbonated beverages and the quick energy boosts of high calorie snacks and desserts.
  • It’s always easier to sleep when you are physically tired.
  • Maintain consistency. Many kids stay up late on weekends and then drag through Mondays and Tuesdays, start to feel better by the hump of Wednesday and then repeat the whole thing again as the weekend comes.  Maintaining bedtimes AND awakening times during the weekend will tend to help those who struggle on those dreaded blue Mondays.

Following these guidelines will make getting back to school a little less stressful for you and your family.

Kevin Benson, M.D., Board Certified in Pediatrics who specializes in:

• Comprehensive Pediatric Care
• Care From Birth to age 18 (Newborns/Infants/Toddlers/Adolescents)
• Allergy & Asthma Care Referrals
• School, Sports, Camp Physicals
• Sick Child Visits
• Routine Wellness Exams
• Health Education
• Immunizations

MCH Family Health Clinic 6030 West University Odessa, TX 79764
Office Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Same Day Appointments Available Call (432) 640-6600 for more information or to make an appointment.