Andrea Borda, SB is a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor II for the Mississippi Department of Health’s District 5 WIC program in Hinds County. She began working for the MS Department of Health WIC program in 2008 as a Peer Counselor I, and advanced to a Peer Counselor II in 2011. She is currently studying to become a Certified Lactation Counselor. Andrea teaches breastfeeding classes, provides information to mothers prenatally, and helps mothers to breastfeed once they have their babies. She works closely with local hospitals, especially CHAMPS hospital University of MS Medical Center in Jackson, MS. Andrea recently participated in a CHAMPS site visit at Merit Health Woman’s Hospital in Flowood, MS, where her input was much appreciated!
Originally from Colombia, Andrea is bilingual in English and Spanish, and a great resource for the growing Hispanic population in her district. CHAMPS asked Andrea about her perspective on working with Hispanic mothers, and Andrea replied: “Our big barrier is formula. Sometimes mothers come to the United States and think that if they receive free formula, they have to use it. So we explain that the natural way is to breastfeed, and we explain the benefits of breastfeeding…We also talk about everything about [the birthing] experience, including skin-to-skin. It’s something they haven’t heard about before; it’s something new. They are open and really like the idea to try it. We approach people with new information and they really like it.”
Andrea is excited about the changes she is seeing in Mississippi, with more hospitals on the pathway to become Baby-Friendly. She would like to see breastfeeding become the norm; for her community to become educated, knowledgeable, and supportive of breastfeeding; and for breastfeeding rates to increase. She shares: “It would be great if everybody exclusively breastfed. But just getting them to try [breastfeeding] would be great. They are afraid to try. When we are pregnant we hear [about] everyone else’s experience. But to have your own experience is different. We want to give people the chance to try. If it doesn’t happen with the first baby maybe they will try with the second one.”
What does Andrea love most about her job? “To help people. When a mom comes and says thank you so much—just to hear that is…amazing. To help mothers is a nice feeling. That’s what I love about it.”
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).