DOBSON — Future mothers and new mothers alike will soon have a support group geared toward breastfeeding available to them.
The breastfeeding support group is being started by the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, but organizers want it to be a community effort rather than solely part of the center. The center’s breastfeeding coordinator, WIC director and breastfeeding peer counselor will be available as guides for the group members.
“Breastfeeding program is a branch of WIC (Women, Infants and Children),” explained Brenda Hall, the county’s breastfeeding coordinator, of how WIC is involved.
But the new support group is for anyone in the community, free of charge, Hall said, noting that it is not limited to mothers in the WIC program.
“We have even had calls about people attending from other counties,” she said.
The support group will be geared toward expectant mothers (prenatals) and new mothers (postpartum mothers), Hall said.
“If prenatal mothers are interested in breastfeeding, we will have moms who are breastfeeding at the meetings talking about it,” Hall said, noting that she will be at most meetings to help guide discussions with correct facts and help dispel myths, and WIC Director Allie McCallum as well as Diane Anderson, breastfeeding peer counselor, will be at some meetings. Both Hall and Anderson speak Spanish, so they are able to reach anyone needing assistance.
“We’re there to facilitate it and make sure they are getting right information,” Hall said.
McCallum said discussions could be about how breastfeeding is going for the mothers, any problems or issues that may have arisen and how the other mothers can help give them guidance about it.
“Babies go through appetite spurts and moms may have trouble with the baby latching on,” said Hall. “It is not a class on teaching breastfeeding, but we hope to be there to answer questions about their concerns.
“It is a time for moms to bring their babies and relax and talk a little bit,” she said.
With some mothers breastfeeding for a while and then stopping, the group could have a rotating attendance, Hall explained. “One or two might come a time or two, and then feel they don’t need to anymore or they stop breastfeeding,” she said. “We want the group to be there with a scheduled time and place whether they can come or not.”
“I think just having someone to talk to that is going through something I’m going through, to let them know you can get past this and I’m going to support you in this,” said McCallum of why the support group is so important for the mothers.
“And some moms are struggling with postpartum or are stuck in the house with the baby all the time, and this gives them a place to go,” Hall added.
The meetings are also a chance for expectant mothers to learn about breastfeeding first-hand. “It is important to see women interact with their babies or even breastfeeding their babies,” said Hall, noting that there is a generational gap in which many women chose not to breastfeed, so some expectant mothers may have never had a chance to learn from their mothers or grandmothers. “Now sometimes women don’t have role players in their lives to learn breastfeeding from.”
McCallum noted that mothers who are on Medicaid automatically qualify for WIC and its programs, and other mothers may qualify based on their income. More information on WIC and breastfeeding can be found at the health and nutrition center’s website, www.surry.com.
There are laws and places who serve as advocates for breastfeeding mothers. Belk at Mayberry Mall and Mayberry Consignments in downtown Mount Airy both have breastfeeding rooms set up with rockers and private areas where mothers can feed their infants. Hall said most pediatricians’ offices also have rooms for breastfeeding mothers.
Hall said that laws are in place which require employers to provide breaks for mothers who need to pump, and businesses who meet a certain level of size must provide a private location other than a bathroom for the mothers.
The North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition website reads, “President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590, on March 23rd and the Reconciliation Act of 2010, H.R. 4872, on March 30, 2010. (They are called Public Laws 111-148 and 111-152.)
“Among many provisions, Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 US Code 207) to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.
“The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk.
“If these requirements impose undue hardship, an employer that employs less than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements. Furthermore, these requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.”
According to the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, rules for the state’s child care facilities “state that ‘Accommodations for breastfeeding mothers shall be provided that include seating and an electrical outlet, in a place other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view by staff and the public, which may be used by mothers while they are breastfeeding or expressing milk.’”
The county’s new breastfeeding support group will begin meeting April 4, and will meet the first Thursday of each month at Salem Baptist Church, 430 Rockford Road, Dobson, from 1 to 2 p.m. For more information on the support group, call Hall at 401-8452.
Reach Wendy Byerly Wood at email@example.com or at 719-1923.