Jefferson County’s Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) sees new mothers come in all the time with questions about how to care for their newborn child. One of those …
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Jefferson County’s Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) sees new mothers come in all the time with questions about how to care for their newborn child. One of those many questions and concerns that Jeffco WIC sees mothers come in with frequently revolves around breastfeeding.
“The biggest one that we hear about when (mothers) come in for their WIC visit is a general lack of support, whether that’s from friends and family, or school, or work. A lot of moms have to go back to work pretty quickly because of their jobs, and a lot of them that we see give up breastfeeding before they come in to chat with us,” Kelsey Rivera, Jeffco WIC’s breastfeeding coordinator said.
Jeffco WIC, which offers a number of services to pregnant women, mothers, children and infants like nutrition information, mother’s milk donations, a breastfeeding mothers’ group, basic health screenings, referrals for health care and other community services, wants to normalize, support and celebrate breastfeeding families. The program held its second Jeffco Breastfeeds Mini Fair, a half-day event to celebrate breastfeeding mothers and to help connect families to resources that can help support them.
The fair was Aug. 17 at Jefferson County Public Health in Lakewood in honor of National Breastfeeding Month. Jeffco WIC officials estimate that between 200 to 300 people attended the event. The event had fun and games for families, a petting zoo, food trucks and private booths for mothers to breastfeed at, but the most valuable part of it was introducing families to resources that they might not know about. Families were able to receive information at the event about Jeffco WIC, public health programs, clinic services, Drive Smart, a program that provides education and information to enhance traffic safety, the YMCA’s diabetes prevention program and other services.
One of the organizations that was at the Jeffco Breastfeeds Mini Fair was the Mothers’ Milk Bank, an organization which collects, tests, processes and provides donor human milk to infants. Laraine Borman, the director of outreach for Mother’s Milk Bank, said a mother at the fair expressed her gratitude for being able to receive milk from the organization. The mother’s infant was born prematurely and mothers of premature born infants often won’t produce breast milk right away. Borman said those are the infants who are the most vulnerable and need human milk.
“Human milk is a miracle. It’s precious, and it’s something that is really needed,” Borman said. “I think sometimes young families don’t know about all of the resources out there. (Jeffco WIC) brought together all of the local resources for moms in one room.”
According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding supports healthy brain development and reduces the risk of long-term illness. The Jeffco Community Health Assessment recently found that nearly 81 percent of mothers in Jefferson County were breastfeeding their child at nine weeks.
However, the assessment found mothers with a lower education level, individuals who are of color and those whose income is below 250 percent of the federal poverty level are less likely to breastfeed their child at nine weeks.
Allison Wilson, the Jeffco coordinator of the Advancing Breastfeeding in Colorado (ABC) Project which seeks to make the state more breastfeeding friendly, said a major reason why women who fall into those categories don’t breastfeed their child is because they have to return to their jobs. She was at the fair representing ABC.
“It was just helpful to talk to moms and hear where they needed extra support in the community. The parenting world is a lot to take on, and I think I saw a lot of people getting good connections,” Wilson said.
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