Congratulations to CHEER Champion of the Week, Baby Café USA (BCUSA), an organization that is known for its commitment to promoting and supporting the provision of free, high-quality lactation care to breastfeeding mothers across the U.S!
“Our mission is to promote and support the development of community-based, drop-in breastfeeding support sites offering on-going, high-quality, free-of-charge lactation care to breastfeeding mothers,” shares Lucia Jenkins, RN, IBCLC, RLC, Founder and Executive Director of Baby Café USA.
The first Baby Café in the United States was held in 2006, in Boston MA. Lucia got the idea for the organization during a 2004 visit to New Zealand, where she explored methods used by IBCLCs to ensure successful breastfeeding. Upon her return, she spearheaded the implementation of the Baby Café model in Boston.
BCUSA became an official non-profit organization in 2011 and has since facilitated the establishment of about 138 active Baby Cafés across 32 U.S. states. In 2016, they partnered with CHAMPS to open the Delta Hills Baby Café, the first in Mississippi. Since then, 14 more Baby Cafés have opened up across the state.
Though designed to establish a set standard for care and support to breastfeeding moms across the country, the model is often specially targeted towards individual communities and their unique challenges. “In partnership with other community organizations and resources, Baby Cafés aim to create a village sense where women from all walks of life and socioeconomic statuses can come together and learn from each other by trouble shooting their problems and helping one another through breastfeeding challenges,” says Lucia. They also provide mentoring opportunities for regular attendees to be empowered to achieve an IBCLC and become assets within their communities.
When asked for examples of unique ways in which the comprehensive Baby Café model has been adopted, Lucia described Cafés that have: opened in soup kitchens and a domestic abuse shelter to reach and assist moms with breastfeeding, and partnered with community assets such as YMCA to provide free family memberships to moms who attend a set number of Cafés. The latter created a culture where moms work hard to not only keep fit, but also breastfeed successfully together.
Baby Café USA is most proud of its ability to have helped mothers overcome their various breastfeeding challenges and breastfeed successfully and exclusively. “The support systems and communities created in person and via social media are our biggest successes”, states Lucia. “Mothers in various communities develop an ownership of their Baby Café and make it theirs culturally, this involvement in their own care is what enables success”.
Thank you Baby Café USA, for providing spaces for breastfeeding mothers to support one another across the U.S!
Click here to find a Baby Café in your state.
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Jackie Berger, MS, a CHEER Consultant and Project Manager for the Rocky Boy’s Community Health Assessment (CHA) Project. She was nominated for her outstanding work, collaboration, and leadership on the recently completed CHA.
“My favorite part of the CHA was tracking down community data” Jackie says. “It was like a puzzle and I enjoyed the process of creating a product for the community that they and CHAMPS can be proud of.” Jackie is an anthropologist who does research on historic health and inequalities. She began working with CHEER during her Master’s program at Boston University. Through this involvement, she was able to look at the lived experiences of marginalized populations and how that intersects with health.
Over the years, Jackie has worked on various CHEER projects, mainly CHAs for Blackfeet, Northern Cheyenne and other American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities in Montana. In her role as project lead for Rocky Boy’s Community Health Assessment, she coordinated the survey, collaborated with the community to collect data, conducted data analysis, and wrote the CHA. Prior to that, she was a Research Assistant on the Blackfeet CHA, where she organized existing data on the tribe and developed the CHEER approach for conducting CHAs with AI/AN tribes. In addition, Jackie currently maintains the database of all CHA sources and results.
When asked what motivates her work with CHEER, Jackie replied “I am motivated by the idea of honing my skills and contributing to the health of living communities for a change.” She is glad to have had the opportunity for collaboration and research with historically disadvantaged Native communities. Outside of her involvement with CHEER, Jackie is a doctoral student at the University of South Florida, where she’s a bioarchaeologist. She also enjoys fitness, reading, gardening, and baking in her spare time.
Congratulations Jackie! Thank you for all your hard work and best wishes on your doctoral program.
Read about the big push to have your child counted in the 2020 Census at https://www.census.gov/
Breanna Pennington, CLC, BD, is a doula who works full time as a Community Care Coordinator at Tougaloo Delta Health partners/United Health Care Greenville MS, a home visiting program for pregnant women. She was nominated for her contributions as a volunteer for the Delta Baby Café in Greenville.
“I started going to the Delta Baby Café after my second daughter was a year old,” Breanna shares. “I was an exclusive pumper for 18 months and I knew women needed to know that there was another way to give your baby breast milk.” In the past, she would go to the Delta Baby Café after her night shift on Wednesdays to talk to moms and share her experience of working and pumping.
In her role as Community Care Coordinator, Breanna assists mothers from the time they find out about their pregnancy until the baby is two years old. She covers the areas of Bolivar, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, and Washington County. As a Community Care Coordinator, Breanna provides resources in the client’s area. She makes sure each of her clients have as much knowledge on their pregnancy and breastfeeding as she is able to provide.
Breanna absolutely loves when the women she has worked with send her a message or stop her in person, to explain how she has helped them to continue with their breastfeeding journey. “That is the best thing ever. It gives you, as the CLC, so much joy”, she says.
What motivates Breanna to do this work? She is motivated by her mom who passed 2-3 weeks before she found out Breanna had passed her CLC exam. She has two daughters and dreams of having a private practice.
Congratulations, Breanna, and thank you for the work you do!
This week, we would like to recognize the East Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition (EMSBFC), an organization that strives to promote awareness and correct misconceptions around breastfeeding in Golden Triangle and surrounding counties. Established in 2017, “EMSBFC’s mission is the advancement of breastfeeding as the cultural norm and advocacy in the communities we serve,” shares Christina Chunn, CHES, IBCLC, CLC and EMSBFC President.
Originally part of the North Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition, the members of EMSBFC decided to create a new coalition, so each group could better focus their efforts and serve their respective areas. Since it became a stand-alone organization, EMSBFC has sought to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding in the Golden Triangle and surrounding counties through coalition building, parent education and support, securing provider support, increasing workplace and child care center support, and translating breastfeeding research and recommendations into action and policy respectively.
EMSBSFC is very active on Facebook where they share research articles, information, and local breastfeeding resources for parents or health care providers. They also speak regularly at health fairs, parenting classes, and local colleges about breastfeeding. “We have a goal to educate more local businesses about the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law and post resources related to that on FB,” says Christina. Currently, they are working on connecting with local Chambers of Commerce and attending an employer's health fair to promote awareness about the law.
Furthermore, EMSBFC partners with local hospitals and seeks to make community connections through their meetings. In the past, these meetings have featured OBGYNs, a midwife, a doula, a licensed trauma counselor, and a NICU mom who shared their experiences and resources for parents. They also periodically provide CERP (Continuing Education Recognition Points) opportunities where they invite professionals to train people on various breastfeeding issues.
Thank you EMSBFC for championing breastfeeding in the Golden Triangle and surrounding counties!
To learn more about the East Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition and community resources, visit their Facebook page.
CHEER Champion of the week
Each Monday (besides public holidays), we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the work they have done for CHEER (Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research)/CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices).