Breastfeeding a newborn can be an exciting time for a new mother. However, for some women, there is a very real fear that might accompany, and sometimes overpower, their feelings of excitement. Peer support during breastfeeding can help ease breastfeeding anxiety and increase the likelihood mothers will breastfeed exclusively for six months—the amount of time recommended by pediatricians.
Baby cafés are designed to help new parents navigate the joys and challenges of caring for their infant in a community of peers with support from health professionals. During regular sessions, mothers are able to share stories and resources, including advice about the unique breastfeeding experience Black women have.
Tina Fritz, a registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, facilitates the baby café at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula.Her goal is to create a safe space where pregnant and new mothers feel comfortable sharing stories, asking questions, and connecting with other women.
“We usually have a group discussion,” Fritz says. “Whatever the parents want to talk about, that’s what we talk about. My job is to make sure that correct information about breastfeeding is being shared and that mothers have the resources they need to breastfeed successfully.”
Although new parents often hear about the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby, Fritz says it’s essential for women to know about the health benefits for mothers. “Breastfeeding protects mothers from diabetes, heart disease, and breast cancer. The more exclusively and the longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater the protection against those diseases.”
In addition to peer support and trusted advice, one of the other benefits of participating in a baby café is the opportunity to have an infant weighed before and after a mom breastfeeds. “A lot of moms love doing a pre- and a post-feed weight, the difference between the weights gives us a concrete number that tells us the amount of milk the baby got during that feeding,” Fritz says. “That information is reassuring to mothers who worry their baby is not getting enough milk.”
The Singing River and Merit Health Hospital baby cafés are open for all pregnant and nursing moms, regardless of where their baby was delivered. The Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center is privately owned and operated by an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in Hancock county. More information about baby cafés on the Gulf Coast can be found at sheahealth.org/breastfeeding.
Find out more about the health benefits of breastfeeding, the importance of getting a flu vaccine, and more fun facts in our SHEA Breastfeeding Mini-Magazine.