In honor of national breastfeeding week, we thought it was high time to catch up with Sixteenth Street WIC’s Breastfeeding (BF) Peer Counselor, Aracelis, and get the low down on breastfeeding peer counseling and all the wonderful things she’s experiencing with moms.
What is a BV Peer Counselor?
A breastfeeding peer counselor is a fellow mother with lots of knowledge about breastfeeding, who is available to connect with and help mothers breastfeed. It is mother to mother support. Because we have shared experiences and live in the same world, we are able to form a deeper connection and relate to feelings and expectations – because we’ve had them too.
Is the BF Peer Counselor only there for pregnant moms?
Of course not! We are there for all sorts of moms – pregnant, just had first baby, just had fifth baby, had baby 6 months ago but still wants support. Moms receive support at all stages, whenever it’s needed. And don’t worry – we haven’t forgotten about partners or family support systems! We offer support to partners as well. The transition is often a family affair and we do our best to support the whole family.
So, my partner is welcome to join me for visits?
Definitely. Partners, grandparents, parents, friends. Whoever mom wants with her for support. We talk about many things, like cues and feeding, that the whole support system benefits from. We especially love when children join because we can help children connect with mom and baby.
It is just a one-time thing?
It’s actually a process. First, we talk about breastfeeding – what mom knows, what she expects, what she is afraid of. Then I send her to a breastfeeding class and maybe a baby behavior group. Then we reconnect to talk about what she’s learned and where she still feels like they need support. This all could be before or after baby is born. And after those conversations, I’m available by phone or visit at any time – and many moms love that!
Are there other options at WIC for help with breastfeeding?
There are tons! In addition to the classes I mentioned above and the peer support I offer, all of the nutritionists on staff are lactation certified! That means any one of our nutritionists could offer individualized support and education about breastfeeding.
What have you heard from moms who you have worked with?
Moms absolutely love the peer to peer experience. Because I’m not just teaching, it is an exchange of knowledge, support, dialogue and most of all, a shared understanding. We are two moms helping each other and connecting over breastfeeding and many other things. If anything, moms have asked to have a larger class, so they can connect with even more moms and have a space to share and bond with each other. I love that idea as well.