A new program in Hamilton offers support to breastfeeding women and their infants.
UC Health West Chester Hospital opened Baby Café on Monday at 210 South Second St. in partnership with WIC and Primary Health Solutions to bring the program to an area with higher infant mortality rates.
“When mothers are able to breastfeed exclusively for six months, those babies do better and have lower rates of infant mortality, so there’s a direct correlation between successful breastfeeding and the health and wellness of infants and mothers,” said Heather Evans, Baby Café facilitator and the lactation clinical lead at West Chester Hospital.
Baby Café USA is an international non-profit organization that coordinates a network of licensed drop-in Baby Cafés across the country. All locations follow standards set by the organization, collect statistical data, and help reduce health disparities nationwide.
During Baby Café, a mother will weigh her child, then nurse under the supervision of lactation consultants. Then moms will use a specialized baby-weigh scale to determine how many ounces of breast milk a baby took in.
In all, 558 mothers have participated in the West Chester Hospital Baby Café since the program was launched four years ago, amounting to 2,273 total contacts, Evans said.
Baby Café will be offered from 10 to 11:30 a.m. every Monday at Primary Health Solutions, 210 S. Second St., Hamilton.
Launching the program in Hamilton just made sense, she said.
“What we saw at West Chester is that we were mostly reaching college-educated, Caucasian women and so we were trying to reach the other moms, trying to reach a wider demographic, wide ethnic base and wider socioeconomic base,” Evans said.
The program was able to secure a grant through the UC Health Community Fund to staff the Hamilton location, according to Kay Scott, director of OB and newborn services at West Chester Hospital. It then partnered with Cindy Meale, local WIC program director and breastfeeding coordinator, and Marc Bellisario, CEO of Primary Health Solutions, to make the program a reality.
Breastfeeding education and support is a core service of the WIC program, Meale said.
“We’re really trying to normalize breastfeeding and unfortunately in our country it’s not that way and we’re really trying to change how people view it,” she said. “It’s really the preferred method of infant feeding.”
Many mothers run into issues, which is where Baby Café aims to provide its support, Evans said.
“Every baby comes with their own set of challenges, so every mother is going to have some challenge or maybe a handful of challenges that they’re going to need education and support of professionals to be able to overcome them and be successful.”
Maya Whyte-Early, of Hamilton, said she has attended Baby Café at West Chester Hospital with 5-month-old son, Joey, and was glad to have local accessibility to lactation consultants without having to deal with scheduling time for the same service at a hospital.
“You can just come in and get the help that you need without having to make an appointment,” Whyte-Early said during Monday’s grand opening in Hamilton.
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