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Jefferson County Public Heath WIC will be hosting a Jeffco Breastfeeds Mini Fair 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, at its Lakewood location, 645 Parfet St., to celebrate National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. There will be free games, activities, information and prizes for the entire family.
JCPH WIC offers a free breast pump loan program for mothers enrolled in the WIC Program.
A free breastfeeding class is offered monthly at the Lakewood, Arvada and Wheat Ridge WIC clinics — as well as individual breastfeeding consults with a lactation consultant — for anyone in the community.
A free breastfeeding support group meets monthly through JCPH and the Mothers’ Milk Bank, open to any breastfeeding moms in Colorado.
JCPH now has lactation station privacy tents available upon request for use at any public events.
WHAT: Breastival, an event for breastfeeding families
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20
WHERE: Cheesman Park, East Eighth Avenue and North Williams Street, Denver
BACKGROUND: The Colorado Breastfeeding Coalition created the Breastival in 2016 to inform, engage and support breastfeeding families.
Breastfeeding comes naturally to some moms. Others struggle with pain, not having a large milk supply or being unsure that their baby is getting enough food.
But during World Breast Feeding Week and Breastfeeding Awareness Month moms are being encouraged to “find their village” to help them in the journey.
“Breastfeeding is an important way you can give your baby a healthy start — but it’s not always easy,” said Kelsey Rivera, lactation program supervisor for Jefferson County Public Health’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. “We want moms to know they aren’t alone in this, and that there are many places to turn in the Jefferson County community for information and advice.”
Rivera runs a free weekly breastfeeding support group at the Mothers Milk Bank in Arvada. The group was started a year ago on a monthly basis, but because of high demand, switched to weekly about four months ago.
Rivera said the number of moms who start breastfeeding is high, especially in Colorado.
“We do a really good job of helping moms start to breastfeed and know the importance of it,” Rivera said, adding that around the three-month mark, the number of breastfeeding moms drops, which coincides with mothers returning to work.
Within that first six weeks of breastfeeding, many moms will also run into problems, Rivera said. But a support group through the hospital or a community resource can help.
“It helps them meet other moms going through the same thing,” she said.
For Abby Malman Case, international board-certified lactation consultant at Mothers Milk Bank, reminding breastfeeding moms that it takes a village is a priority.
In the 1950s, when formula and bottle feeding became more prevalent, so did the nuclear family, Malman Case said, adding that moms became isolated.
“It was seen as a status thing that moms would use formula and bottle feed and that was the high-class thing to do,” Malman Case said. “So now, we’re going backward and reintegrating breastfeeding as the best.”
This is a worldwide issue, Malman Case said, as formula is often pushed in developing countries as the best alternative.
“But in developing countries where water isn’t clean, this can cause GI problems for babies and they die from diarrhea,” Malman Case said. “So breastfeeding and education is essential.”
Some workplaces and airports are making it easier for breastfeeding moms by creating lactation rooms for breastfeeding or pumping uses.
“The places like the airport that are providing these are just another step in supporting these new families,” Malman Case said.
The Denver International Airport does not currently have a lactation room or station, but announced in December that one is in the works.
By talking about breastfeeding more openly, Rivera and Malman Case both hope to bring it to the forefront.
“There is still this sexualized idea of the breast,” Malman Case said. “When we’re talking about breastfeeding, we’re showing that this is how babies eat. I think by just seeing it more, it really helps to destigmatize that.”
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