A breastfeeding support group helps moms while giving back to the community
GRAND RAPIDS – Governor Whitmer has declared August Breastfeeding Month. A common misconception is that just because it’s a natural process, it’s easy for mom and baby.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 90% of families start feeding their babies this way. At three months, only 58% of families are still feeding their children this way.
Even more staggering numbers, black infants are 20% less likely to receive breast milk than any other race. For most mothers, breastfeeding is a big challenge and they need help. That’s why Spectrum Health offers an open door breastfeeding support group.
Mandy Walma says her breastfeeding journey started with a struggle with her 4-month-old baby Leo. “I arrived at the breastfeeding support group in tears. I was so emotionally drained that we were going through such a difficult time.”
Leo and Mandy worked with Jennie Kishbaugh, nurse, prenatal educator and lactation consultant.
“Research shows us that 80-100% of new moms need help with breastfeeding. So you’re not alone if you need help because it’s so difficult.” Kishbaugh continued, “I know what it’s like to be a mom who’s tired and struggling to breastfeed, feeling lonely and isolated in her home and I know what it’s like to walk into a moms room. who were there with you.”
Leo was having trouble latching on, Mandy didn’t know why.
“They were willing to look for a tongue and lip tie, they were willing to help me find it because I didn’t know what I was looking for. As a new mum, there’s so much you don’t know,” Walma said. . She continued, “He wasn’t gaining weight because of this tongue and lip attachment. Once we sorted that out, he ended up with a diagnosis of stunting for a while just because the comeback was so slow, but once we fixed that, he just got out of that stunted diagnosis, he’s growing now.”
From pumping to pacifiers, clogged ducts and supplies, no subject is taboo at the support group.
“These nurses weren’t going to judge me in this group, saying if I choose to give up or if we choose to continue, and I said you know I really want to breastfeed, I think we can do it” , Walma said.
Mandy says that not only is the breastfeeding support group part of her success, but it’s also a special place: “We were able to come together as women who were all in this new stage of life. Some first-time moms like me, and others were second, third, fourth babies. And as we were all able to chat, get help from other women, see what else they went through, it was incredibly helpful to get from this community.
Anyone can join this support group, you don’t have to be a Spectrum Health patient. It takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Tuesday Support Group is at the South Pavilion near Pine Rest. Wednesday and Thursday is at the “Healthier Communities Building” at 665 Seward Avenue NW.
If you need more help, WIC provides more food for breastfeeding moms and babies. You can also follow this program longer as a breastfeeding mother. WIC offers a WARM Helpline 5 days a week, 8am to 8pm, to answer questions. This number is: 833-649-4223.