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Q&A: Breast-feeding, VBAC and music lessons for kids

Upstate Parent gets answers to those health and wellness questions you’ve always wanted to ask. You ask us, and we ask local experts to weigh in with some answers.

Have a burning question? Let us know! This month’s questions are answered by several local experts. Remember that these answers are the opinions of these specific experts and not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal doctor about your health.

Q: At what age should I let my children start music lessons? Is there a best first instrument for kids?

A: Introducing music to children when they are very young provides essential developmental benefits. You should wait for individual lessons until your child is old enough to concentrate and take instruction. Some children are ready to start piano, violin or guitar as early as age 4, particularly with the Suzuki method or the Childbloom Guitar Program, which engage the child in making music before emphasizing the details of reading music. Whatever the starting age or the instrument, you should find a teacher who encourages your child’s love of music in addition to developing good basic skills that will lead to a lifetime of music enjoyment.

— Valerie MacPhail, director, Lawson Academy of the Arts, Converse College

Q: Is it OK to continue breast-feeding when I have a cold or the flu? Should I take any special precautions?

A: Some moms might instinctively think that by avoiding breast-feeding when they are ill, they are “protecting” their baby from a viral or bacterial infection. But the exact opposite is actually true. It is best to continue breast-feeding right through your illness. Anytime you become sick, your body produces powerful antibodies to fight that particular illness.

As you breast-feed your baby, that same protection is transferred through your breast milk to your infant, thus helping him or her fight that very same infection. We do, however, certainly recommend that you practice good handwashing practices, limit your face-to-face contact with baby and avoid directly sneezing or coughing on him or her while you are ill. Also, be sure to stay well-hydrated, get plenty of rest and take only breastfeeding-friendly medications.

— Dr. Maya Powers, pediatrician and Certified Lactation Consultant, Parkside Pediatrics and Breastfeeding Center

Q: My first child was delivered by C-section. I would like my next to be a vaginal birth. What should I consider in making that choice?

A: Vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC, is an option for women with a history of one or two cesarean deliveries. The most concerning risk is uterine rupture, meaning the scar on the uterus opens up. The more cesarean deliveries a woman has, the higher the risk of rupture.

Because of this, it is recommended that an operating room and staff be immediately available for a VBAC. In general, the risks associated with a successful VBAC are lower than those with a scheduled repeat cesarean.

However, the risks associated with a failed trial of labor are the greatest. If the reason for cesarean is non-recurring (for example, breech presentation or fetal distress), then the likelihood of success is higher than if the issue is recurrent (for example, a small pelvis.)

Discuss these issues with your health-care provider to plan the safest delivery option for you and your baby.

— Dr. Georgia Ragonetti-Zebell, Mountain View OB/GYN, Easley

Have a question?

Email questions to Upstate Parent writer Chris Worthy: