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Oishei Children's Hospital Baby Café helps new breastfeeding moms

Honour Scharp is a laid back 2-month-old; silly, but relaxed.

“She makes lots of fun faces and is really observant, really curious,” said her mom, Trisha Williams.

Like daughter, like mother – who have become regulars in recent weeks at the new Oishei Children’s Hospital Baby Café, one of roughly a dozen sites across the region that offers free breastfeeding consultation and support.

Williams counts her blessings that Honour quickly latched on to a healthy breastfeeding regimen. She also is grateful that her mother, Nancy Wilson of Oakfield, two sisters and a sister-in-law – all of whom breastfed their children – offered sound advice and encouragement

Still, “being a first-time mom, you just need to triple check,” said Williams, who lives in the Hamlin Park neighborhood with Honour and her daughter’s dad, Isaac Scharp.

Courtney Wahowski, a registered nurse whose been a certified lactation consultant for almost a decade, and others with similar credentials operate the Baby Café from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Wednesday in the fifth floor Family Resource Center. The service is free to women who are pregnant or have recently delivered babies. All are welcome to drop in with their baby, regardless of whether they have been patients at Children’s Hospital.

“We not only have had babies like Honour who have been doing really well, but we have dealt with some infants who have had some breastfeeding issues,” Wahowski said. The staff can weigh visiting babies each week, to assure adequate feedings are taking place, and answer most questions and concerns. They also can refer new moms to pediatricians or other specialists when needed.

Children's Hospital families have a more visible advocate

The World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend mothers exclusively breastfeed until their child turns 6 months old, in order to achieve optimal growth and immunity, and to continue for at least another half-year as they also provide nutritious, complementary foods.

Williams said breastfeeding also has helped boost her bond with Honour. She’s been surprised that her daughter feeds eight to 12 times a day – which is why Wahowski and others can help Williams create a breast-pumping strategy for the new mom when she returns next month to her job on the activities staff at BryLyn Behavioral Health System.

“Another thing that’s really nice is the other moms, even the other staff,” Williams said. “We swap baby stories.”

The common questions the Baby Café staff already has fielded about breastfeeding?

“ ‘Am I giving this baby enough?’ ‘Am I making enough milk?’ The reassurance, seeing on the scale that he or see is getting those 3 ounces of breast milk during a feeding, and all those other positive signs that moms are doing enough, is important,” Wahowski said.

The pieces of advice that Williams already has received, and given?

“Trust your instincts, but there’s no shame in asking for help,” she said. “Don’t worry about having to check in again.”

The café is part of the Baby Café USA network. See a list of similar sites, and other supports in the region for new moms, click here.


Twitter: @BNrefresh

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