OTTUMWA — Many moms who breastfeed their babies may be familiar with the concept of having to hide their babies in order to breastfeed. In turn, they may feel as if there is a lack of support for them.
On Saturday August 3, the lack of support dissipated from many of the moms who were able to find support for breastfeeding at the booths inside Market on Main. At the event, women not only were able to get connected with support options, but they and their families also got the opportunities to get massages and play games.
Organizer Angie Mach encouraged women to come and breastfeed their babies.
For two years, Mach planned annual breastfeeding awareness events to ensure women received the support they needed and provided education on breastfeeding.
Mach herself has experiencing with breastfeeding her daughter for 15 months. In turn, she wanted other women to have a way of getting any information needed. “Being able to plan and coordinate this event — everybody has been aware of the resources that are out there,” Mach said, “and it has been phenomenal and getting to meet with families who are nursing. Celebrating breastfeeding is amazing.”
For mothers or know mothers who breastfeed have different ways of getting involved in World Breastfeeding Week (WBK). “Promote breastfeeding in their establishments and let moms know they are welcome to come in and nurse,” Mach said. “Reach out to your local NIC and letting them know how you’d like to be involved.”
Kyla Jackson from Mercy Hospital said people should not only celebrate WBK, but bring importance to it everyday. “Support moms during WBK,” Jackson said, “but support them all the time as well.”
Breastfeeding and involvement in WBK were not only seen as important concepts, many of the women in charge of providing information to mothers also said education and awareness were vital to mothers and their families.
Cicely Lawrence, nest coordinator was one of the women who believed awareness was vital. “Let these children know they are not alone,” Lawrence said. “We are all here for the same purpose. It’s a great opportunity for community resources and mothers and daughters to come together, to support each other.”
Lawrence’s boothmate Sandra Tejo agreed. “It’s nice seeing the communities come together. It’s another resource,” Tejo said. “It doesn’t apply to one person, they can always spread the word. Education and programs are key.”
Attendee Tamaya Guzman-Steele even said there were benefits to breastfeeding. “It’s natural and good, my son rarely gets sick compared to my formula kids,” “immunity, regularity in bowls, bonding between mom and dad as well. It’s easy and you don’t have to carry bottles and formulas. You are a milk machine on the go.”
Jackson agreed with Guzman-Steele, who encouraged women to keep an open mind for breastfeeding. “I encourage all moms to at least give it a shot,” Guzman-Steele said, “Don’t be completely against it from the get go because there’s so many health benefits. The bonding experience you get with your baby is also wonderful.”
Many women not only enjoyed receiving resources, but they also enjoyed their time engaging with other mothers.
Guzman-Steele came last year, but noted something different about Saturday’s event.
“I see a lot more kids this year, it’s nice and a lot more husbands as well,” Guzman-Steele. “They all seem comfortable knowing they are breastfeeding mothers and very accepting. A lot of information here for family planning good to know there’s other mom’s here. Many people are in different stages.”
Shelby McAdams an attendee said she enjoyed the community. “I loved meeting other moms,” she said, “I loved seeing opportunity for growth and am excited to see breastfeeding grow in the future.”
While women did enjoy their time and received support, they also noted how some people still react negatively to breastfeeding. These women shared another goal when it comes to breastfeeding — to have people stop seeing it in a negative light. “More people should look at it as a natural way to feed a baby and babies should be able to be fed wherever,” McAdams said, “not hide in a bathroom or a private room or be secluded.”
Coordinator of WIC, Kim Proctor knew the backlash that many come with breastfeeding which is why she said she is in the process of reaching out to businesses and arranging to have a sign she made with her slogan, “breastfeeding welcome here.”
“We want to empower moms to feel comfortable anywhere they go,” Proctor said. “I want it to become something our women become familiar with.”