BUCKHANNON — Upshur County mothers and mothers-to-be can get the support they need to breastfeed their babies. Interest in starting a Breastfeeding Support Group has grown over the period of several years, and the Upshur County WIC office has taken the opportunity to offer this support.
“We need to show these moms that they have someone, who’s been through this, and you can go to them and talk to them. We will help you,” Michele Thacker, certified lactation counselor for the W.Va. WIC Program, said.
This is a mother-to-mother support group, focusing mostly on women who are currently nursing, but also including pregnant women and mothers who have breastfed in the past. The first of its kind in the area, this support group meets the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at the WIC office, located in Southfork Plaza by Sam’s Pizza.
According to Thacker, the goal of the support group is to allow moms to get to know each other, and receive advice from mothers who have been through the same situations they have experienced. Provided for the kids are snacks, and older children are given the opportunity to make a craft while their mothers participate in the group conversation.
The meetings are largely laid back and led by the mothers themselves but occasionally they plan to bring in guest speakers, and health professionals including local midwives, and representatives from the Right From the Start and Helping Appalachian Parents and Infants programs.
“A huge variety of moms attend these meetings,” Thacker said “From mothers who are in high school, to mothers who are middle-aged. We encourage all mothers to come educate themselves about breastfeeding. Even women who are outside of WIC or outside of the community.”
An important part of the group’s breastfeeding education is discussing laws regarding nursing and pumping in public, and the actions mothers can take if their workplace, or other public institutions do not meet regulations regarding breastfeeding. These regulations specifically state that mothers should be allowed the appropriate time and space to breastfeed or pump anywhere that they are legally allowed to be, including their workplace.
“I think the tide is slowly turning, thank goodness, I think a lot of it has to do with social media, moms posting breastfeeding selfies, and their stories. I think that has had a huge turnaround in the way breastfeeding is seen.” Michele Thacker said of the stigma placed around mothers who nurse publicly.
For more information on the Breastfeeding Support Group, and other questions/concerns about nursing, contact Thacker at the Upshur County WIC office at 304-472-4714, Mondays from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.