Jefferson County, Colo. — When Andrea Perez-Loza had her first baby, she had trouble breastfeeding. She couldn’t breastfeed for very long, something she said was largely because she didn’t have good support systems in place to help her be successful. Perez-Loza isn’t alone — many moms and families struggle with breastfeeding. That’s why Jeffco WIC, or the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, is hosting its second annual Jeffco Breastfeeds Mini Fair.
After Perez-Loza started working at Jeffco WIC she saw how helpful the educators and dietitians were to the women who came to the clinics in search of breastfeeding support. When she found out she was pregnant with her second daughter, Perez-Loza knew she wanted to give breastfeeding another try. With the help of WIC, she was successful — so successful, in fact, that her little girl, Emmyrose, was still breastfeeding at 9 months.
That’s the kind of support every mother should have, said Kelsey Rivera, RD, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Jefferson County WIC’s Breastfeeding Coordinator.
That’s why last year, Rivera started the Jeffco Breastfeeds Mini Fair, a half-day event all about normalizing, supporting and celebrating breastfeeding families and helping connect them to resources that can help make their lives easier.
This year, the event will return to Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH), 645 Parfet Street in Lakewood, on August 17, 2018 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. It will feature information, games and activities for all members of the family. Everyone is invited — whether you are breastfeeding or not! Some highlights of the event will be:
But what’s all the buzz about breastfeeding? Breast milk is like baby superfood, Rivera said.
“Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do to keep your little one healthy. Breast milk provides all the nutrients and vitamins they need, as well as antibodies to help them fight off infection,” Rivera said. “It also changes as they grow and change. Whatever they need at certain times during their growth and development, they get from your breastmilk.”
According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding contributes to lifelong health benefits for both mom and baby. Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese, less likely to have type 2 diabetes and even perform better on intelligence tests. Women who breastfeed have reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and postpartum depression.
But despite all these benefits, stigma around breastfeeding — especially around breastfeeding in public — still exists.
“There are still people who don’t have support returning to the workplace while breastfeeding or pumping. There’s still plenty of women who don’t feel supported on their breastfeeding journey. We’re here for them,” Rivera said.
Supporting moms where they are
And even though Rivera and her team at Jeffco WIC believe wholeheartedly in the promotion of breastfeeding, they want all people from all walks of life, no matter how they feed, to know they are welcome.
“In a perfect world, every mother who could breastfeed would breastfeed. But we know some can’t, and in those cases, we never shame them,” Rivera said. “We never want someone to think they aren’t welcome at Jefferson County WIC because they didn’t breastfeed their first child, because they adopted a baby or because they’re unsure if they want to breastfeed. We want to help you and your child be as healthy as possible, no matter how that looks for you.”
To learn more about Jeffco WIC, please visit bit.ly/JeffcoWIC or call 303-271-5780.
Other JCPH and Jeffco WIC breastfeeding services
JCPH offers lactation services in the clinic on a sliding fee scale. During these consultations, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can help with any breastfeeding question a mom may have during pregnancy or after a baby’s birth. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit jeffco.us/2193 or call 303-239-7078.
JCPH and the Mothers’ Milk Bank host a breastfeeding moms group once a week at no cost to participants. The group meets every Wednesday from 10 a.m.-noon at Mothers’ Milk Bank, 5394 Marshall Street in Arvada.
Jeffco WIC offers monthly, hour-long breastfeeding classes at the Lakewood, Arvada, Littleton and Wheat Ridge WIC Clinics. Take-home material is distributed during the class. Spanish-speaking breastfeeding information can be provided on an individual basis. For more information, please contact Kelsey Rivera at 303-239-7139 or the WIC main line at 303-271-5780.
The Lakewood WIC Clinic was the first WIC clinic in Colorado to become a donation and outreach center for the Arvada-based Mothers’ Milk Bank. JCPH supports human milk donors by storing milk and preparing shipments to Mothers' Milk Bank. JCPH also performs the one-time blood draw for new donors. If you are breastfeeding and have an abundance of human milk, please consider becoming a donor. Call the Mothers' Milk Bank at 303-369-1888 or visit their website to find out how. For more information on dropping off donor milk, please contact Kelsey Rivera at 303-239-7139.
The Community Health Services and Health Promotion and Lifestyle Management teams at JCPH work to make sure parents in the community are supported in all parts of their breastfeeding journey, including when they go back to work and begin taking their child to childcare. That’s why we work with childcare providers of all types and sizes, including FFN providers (Family, Friend and Neighbor) to help make sure they have the training and resources necessary to support breast/chest-feeding families. This includes training on providing proper storage and preparation of human milk, information on infant feedings and the benefits of private, healthy places for people to pump. To learn more about this program, please visit http://www.healthyjeffco.com/breastfeeding.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan through prevention, education and partnerships for all people. To learn more about JCPH, visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.