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.
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).