Get to know the members of the Tampa Bay Birth Network!
We are fortunate to have The Fourth Trimester, a Lactation Counseling & Breastfeeding Advocacy team in our community. We interviewed them and here is what they are all about!
What is the mission of your business?
Our mission is to be a supportive, knowledgeable, trustworthy safety net that helps women to meet their own breastfeeding goals. We also participate with organizations (such as The Tampa Bay Birth Network) and work on advocacy projects like "Breastfeeding Welcome Here Initiative" that have focus on promoting and normalizing breastfeeding within our community.
What services do you offer for mothers and babies?
We have three service offerings; prenatal breastfeeding education, in home postpartum breastfeeding assistance, and back to work counseling for nursing mothers. We're also available to our clients by phone, text, and email to answer any additional questions that might come up after an in-person counseling session.
Who are the main staff that deliver your services?
Gladis: There are two of us on our team, Emily and I. It's great working with Emily because we are able to benefit from eachother's strengths. We have a wide range of experience between the two of us, so we can accomplish more than if we were two Lactation Counselors working separately.
How did you get into this line of work?
Gladis: I was first interested in helping women with breastfeeding when my eight year old daughter was a baby. Nursing my first baby had been a struggle and I'd learned a lot of navigating through those issues, so it motivated me to help others. I thought, back then, how great it would be to create a regular place where women could go for breastfeeding support and education. I was initially envisioning starting a drop-in type resource center or support group. A few years later, I got to put those wishes into action when I started doing lactation counseling for WIC. Our incredible team was able to help moms with breastfeeding concerns over the phone and in the office during business hours, but often times the moms needing help the most were unable to come in to our office at the health department. It got me thinking about how great it would be to bring breastfeeding support directly to them!
Emily: I felt called to serve women with lactation support after the birth of my second child nine months ago. He was born with unexpected metabolic, genetic and gastrointestinal health concerns that require us to see and follow up with many specialists. I knew in my heart that I was committed to breastfeeding my baby. The level of support from the many professionals we were seeing on an ongoing basis was not consistent during his most critical weeks and months. It became clear to me along the way in his journey, that when a mother says she wants to breastfeed her baby but is faced with challenges, compassionate and evidence-based support is what is most needed to help her overcome obstacles. I knew that my decision to breastfeed my baby was more than just a biological necessity; breast milk was also healing to his fragile little body. And it was my refusal to accept the notion that nursing my baby was merely a "lifestyle choice"; my baby needed my milk. I truly feel that all babies deserve what is not only "best" for them, but what is made just for them.
Tell us about us how families will benefit from your services?
We offer evidence-based information, but are also mothers with our own nurslings so we have a "real world" perspective and experience as well. Our prenatal breastfeeding education is designed to empower, enlighten, and inform soon-to-be parents about everything they need to know to get breastfeeding off to the best possible start. But sometimes, no matter how much you think you may be prepared for the arrival of your baby, concerns or difficulties can come up, and establishing breastfeeding may be more of a struggle than anticipated. In addition to caring for herself and her baby, a mom who's struggling is also expected to make appointments during business hours for this much needed help, get her baby ready to leave the house (sometimes with other children in tow), and deal with troubling feeding concerns at the same time. Maybe she has sore nipples and wearing a bra hurts, or maybe she's tethered to a pump because baby isn't currently latching. Our in-home service prevents them from having to run around to yet another appointment. We want to help our moms eliminate as many of the unnecessary stumbling blocks as we can. And the feedback we've gotten has been a resounding "Yes!" The new moms and dads we've worked with have been enthusiastic about wanting in-home support and education on how breastfeeding works. Preventing potential problems is absolutely the best way to make nursing a success. Education and support can help to prevent so many bigger problems. Everything from plugged ducts and mastitis (a breast infection) to low milk supply can be prevented or managed by getting adequate support and appropriate guidance.
What locations do you service?
We serve much of Pinellas, Pasco, and parts of Hillsborough. You can visit our website for more information on our coverage area.
Are there any statistics you want to share with us that parents might want to know?
Yes! Studies show that prenatal breastfeeding education does matter! In one study, it was found that moms who had at least one exposure to breastfeeding education during pregnancy, on average, nursed their babies twice as long as those who didn't (Reifsnider and Eckhert, 1997). Another study showed that women who received personalized prenatal education were twice as likely to still be breastfeeding at six weeks postpartum as women who did not receive prenatal education (Kisten et al., 1990). And families that exclusively breastfeed for one year can save up to $1200 - $1500 by never having to buy formula. There are also significant savings for breastfeeding families in their healthcare spending and medical costs. In 2011, the Surgeon General published data relating to health risks faced by babies who are not breastfed. Ear infections, gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections, and necrotizing enterocolitis are all more than 100% more common in babies who are not breastfed (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/breastfeeding/factsheet.html).
Anything else you want to share about your business?
We are very excited about bringing the Breastfeeding Welcome Here project to the Tampa Bay Area, so stay tuned for more information about that in the near future!
To connect with The Fourth Trimester visit their website here!