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November 2, 2020

Support group helps mothers with breastfeeding challenges

Mothers at a breast feeding support group before groups were held virtually due to COVID-19.

Chilton Medical Center’s Maternity Center creates the perfect setting for bringing your baby into the world comfortably and safely. Our family-friendly environment, expert medical care, and personalized comforts and amenities for the entire family provide support throughout the entire birth process. Our caring nurses and expert medical staff encourage moms and babies to remain together as much as possible to establish a firm bond, and our certified lactation consultants help new moms with breastfeeding in the hospital. Once baby is home, our lactation consultants offer classes and support groups to ensure that moms continue to learn and develop breastfeeding skills with confidence.

New mother Jen Chinskey had her first child at Chilton Medical Center in January of 2018. She assumed that the mothering instinct would kick in when it came to breastfeeding her son, but that did not happen. “To me, it was what you naturally did,” says Chinskey. “My mom did it, my stepmother, my sister – so I went in with the thought process that I would automatically be successful.”

Unfortunately, her initial attempts were unsuccessful. “When I first started, he wouldn’t latch. The lactation staff gave me a nipple shield to help him latch on more effectively. It took a long time. But we are finally shield-free, and now it is very easy.”

Health professionals agree that breastfeeding has many advantages. “It’s really nature’s ideal food,” says Amy Moriarity, manager, Maternity Center at Chilton Medical Center. “Breast milk has qualities that prevent and fight infection, it changes properties as the infant feeds, and it helps to thin out mucus. Although formula-fed infants and mothers enjoy the bonding process, bonding may be enhanced in the nursing mother and infant because of the secretion of hormones during breastfeeding.

The Maternity Center at Chilton has been designated as a Baby-Friendly Hospital by Baby-Friendly USA. “The designation visit is a two-day intensive visit in which patients, providers and nurses are interviewed to ensure that the 10 steps of successful breastfeeding are consistently followed,” says Moriarity.

To support mothers’ breastfeeding challenges, Chilton Medical Center’s lactation consultant, Meg Johnstone, founded a breastfeeding support group over two years ago. “We’ve had more than 80 mothers attend this free group,” says Johnstone. “In addition to daytime meetings, we’ve expanded to include an evening group every other week for moms who are returning to work, and we are now meeting virtually.”

Chinskey says she started attending the support group when her son was about a week old. “I was very grateful for the group because I thought my challenges were issues that only I was experiencing,” she says. “The members of the group talk about shared experiences and challenges. It’s nice to be able to socialize and problem solve with like-minded women with similar experiences and the expertise and guidance from a lactation consultant.”

The breastfeeding support group meets virtually every Monday from 11:00am-Noon and every Wednesday from 6:00-7:00pm. An additional group for the newest moms with babies from birth to 12 weeks has been added. This "Fourth Trimester" group meets every Monday from 1:00-2:00pm. Please call 973-831-5263 for more information. 

NOTE: The photo above was taken pre-COVID.