Stores and Centers Dedicated to Breastfeeding Success
By Teri Brown
Imagine a place where breastfeeding is not only supported, it is nurtured. Imagine a place filled with breastfeeding supplies and clothes made especially for the nursing mother. You don’t have to imagine such places any more; they actually exist. Lactation centers, both those affiliated with hospitals and those outside the health care system, are springing up all over the country, and many mothers think it is about time.
Why they Need
Lactation centers come in many shapes and sizes. Some are located within a hospital and run by hospital staff members, while others are run by lactation consultants as small businesses. They offer a variety of services including classes, support groups, nursing wear, accessories and more. To mothers new to the world of breastfeeding, they can be a life saver.
The Lactation Resource Store in Chatham, N.J., is one such place, offering clients a place to get support and supplies. Maria Parlapiano, RN, IBCLC, director of the store and its online counterpart, EverythingMom.com, believes that clients feel more empowered when it comes to their own health care than they used to, and the center addresses that reality.
“Often clients do their own research and seek out specialists and alternatives to mainstream medicine,” Parlapiano says. “Lactation consultants are experts in the field of infant feeding. Experts are needed due to the vast array of conflicting and misleading breastfeeding information given to clients every day. New mothers are comfortable and confident in their breastfeeding when they receive information that is accurate, research-based and consistent.”
Lactation centers can provide that type of information and so much more. Parlapiano says that centers can meet the needs of mothers and infants by focusing on their individual needs. “Every client leaves our center with a customized plan of care, as well as a follow-up phone call within 24 hours,” she says. “Due to our open-door policy, most clients maintain a level of communication with us throughout their breastfeeding experience and seek out our expertise as needed.”
What You’ll Find
The Lactation Resource Store offers services for pre- and postnatal care, as well as infant massage classes and weekly new mom support groups. The store offers a complete line of nursing bras, supplies, pumps, nursing pillows, books, baby carriers, nursing clothing and diaper bags as well as breast pump and scale rentals. Call it a one-stop lactation station. Parlapiano feels such centers can help change the face of health care for women.
Centers affiliated with a hospital and those that are not run very differently. Hospital centers have access to a wider range of medical services and professionals. Independent centers run like small businesses and are not under the same restrictions and formality that hospital centers are.
Reflecting the Future
Misako Miller, RN, IBCLC, coordinator of the lactation resource center at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y., believes that lactation centers will only become more common as time goes on, especially as more and more hospitals and health care providers are getting on the breastfeeding bandwagon.
“Although there is a national effort to promote and support breastfeeding [Health and Human Services Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding and Healthy People 2010], we have yet to fully embrace breastfeeding as the cultural norm,” Miller says. “As health care providers, we should promote and support breastfeeding the same way we encourage the use of car seats and childhood vaccinations.”
Though the center is a hospital-based program, it also has an outpatient center off site. Miller believes there is no question that the services their center offers have helped women to continue breastfeeding and to overcome difficulties.
“While the majority of American women are leaving the hospital breastfeeding, fewer than half are continuing to breastfeed at 6 months,” she says. “It’s not enough to tell women that breastfeeding is beneficial; we need to ensure that practices are in place to assist and guide them, as well. Through education we hope that women get off to a good start.”
Lactation centers offer a place where women can go to ask questions, find support and browse through the latest in breastfeeding supplies. They also bring breastfeeding to the forefront of the neighborhoods in which they are located. By their very existence, they give credibility to breastfeeding and further the cause of children’s health.