Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and Lawrence Memorial Hospital have received a $6,940 grant from United Methodist Health Ministry Fund to start an evening breast-feeding support group in Lawrence.
“The goal of the grant is to increase breast-feeding rates across the community,” said Lisa Horn, communications director for the health department. She announced the grant during Monday’s board meeting.
Horn said the organizations want to help pregnant women and new mothers who may be in school or at work.
It would be similar to a daytime breast-feeding support group that has been meeting at LMH for about 10 years. That group meets at 10 a.m. every Monday and offers infant weigh-ins and is staffed by maternal/child nurses with lactation training. So far this year, it has had 893 mother and baby visits.
Horn said they hope to start the weekly Douglas County Evening Breastfeeding Support Group in the spring. It also would offer nurses and peer counselors to facilitate the meetings. They still need to decide where to meet and are hoping to get the community’s input.
The goal is for the group to continue once the one-year grant runs out. That’s because having support is so important.
Horn said research has shown women are more likely to breast-feed because of peer support.
“It makes a huge difference, especially if your mother didn’t breast-feed or your sister or grandma,” she said.
Denise Martinek, director of Maternal Child Services at LMH, said women often hear that breastfeeding should be easy because it is natural, but that’s not true.
“It just doesn’t always come easy to moms and babies, so it’s important to have that support from other moms who have been there,” she said.
There are just over 1,000 babies born at LMH each year, and about 85 percent of new mothers leave LMH as breast-feeding moms. But sometimes those moms give up once home.
“It’s a lot easier when you are surrounded by nurses and the lactation consultants who are helping you, but once you go home there’s not that encouragement there and someone helping you with your feedings,” Martinek said.
LMH and the health department promote breast-feeding because of the benefits for mothers and babies. Research has shown breast-fed babies are less likely to be sick or develop infections.
To weigh in on the new support group, contact Horn at 856-7362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.