Breastfeeding Mamas is heading into its fifth year of operation in the East Kootenay area. The peer support network organizes and facilitates seminars and conversations dedicated to pregnant and breastfeeding families. The network also provides support online, with a healthy Facebook presence to help anyone who might have questions anytime.
“What happens is that if moms have a question or something that comes up or something they want to know more information about, they post on the page and then all the other moms that feel like they have something to add will support them in answering a question or maybe giving a link,” said Daleen Bybee, an organizer of Breastfeeding Mamas.
Monthly meetings are organized in five towns across the East Kootenays, including Cranbrook, Kimberley, Invermere, Sparwood and Fernie.
“The meetings are really great to connect with other moms, even for those moms who don’t have issues come to support other moms that might be having issues. It’s really neat just with how the meetings go. They are topical in the fact that we kind of rotate through a series of topics throughout the year but they are also very geared to who is at the meeting,” Bybee said.
Bybee believes that a support network like Breastfeeding Mamas is important in the East Kooteanys as it provides readily available information to families, which they might not have access to otherwise.
“Unfortunately, in Canada and in our region, there is just not a huge focus on breastfeeding. Once you have your baby and you maybe don’t see your midwife anymore or you don’t see your doctor, there are not a whole lot of places for moms to go,” said Bybee. “Our public health nurses are really overworked and they have to kind of handle so many different things in regards to kids, so this is just a really specific support network that only focuses on breastfeeding and breastfeeding related topics. It’s easy for moms to come and get all of their support in one place.”
Bybee said that the program has been received well by the local communities.
“Everybody community is a bit different and some have been a bit more slower to get started and some have started with a bang and gone from there. Overall the response has been really awesome. We have the public health on board, we have the midwives on board, we’ve got the doula community on board, [and] we have early childhood committees in various communities that promote the group for us.”
The group also receives funding from Columbia Basin Trust, allowing them to provide quality services across the region.
“The last couple of years we have been blessed to have funding from Columbia Basin Trust, so that’s really awesome because it helps us pay for all of the supplies, it helps us cover to facilitate our costs so they don’t have to pay for anything for the group,” said Bybee. “It’s really nice to have some funds to maintain the groups like we can.”
The meetings in Fernie are held the first Friday of every month, at 10 a.m. the Heritage Library. “We like to make a little note to use the side door because the library is actually not open until 10:30 so moms have to go around to the side,” said Bybee. The Sparwood meetings are held at the Sparwood Public Library on every second Friday of the month, starting at 10 a.m. More information on Breastfeeding Mamas can be found at their Facebook page.