New program helps with breast feeding

A new grant-funded program is helping moms and pregnant women to support and promote breast feeding. The program features peer breast feeding counselors and works alongside WIC, but is available for all women in the county, regardless of income.

“Together, we can serve all women with questions or concerns about breast feeding in the county,” said county nurse and lactation specialist Erin Johnson. “There really isn’t anything else out there doing what we’re doing right now.”

A peer group of women were trained for the program in June and received their on-call phones in July. They are now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions or lend support to mothers with questions or having problems naturally feeding their children.

“There aren’t a lot of counties out there that have received this grant yet,” Johnson said. “It’s a very unique opportunity that we’ve been presented with in this grant.”

The four-member peer group includes Tracy Haedt.

“Basically, we make contact with breast feeding moms just to see if they have questions,” Haedt said. “If problems arise, we can help.”

For peer counselor Anita Savage, the choice of joining the program sprang from her own experiences trying to breast feed her son with special needs.

“I went through hell and back,” she said of the experience. “There wasn’t any support network there when I went through it, so I wanted to help others. There’s nothing worse than being a new mom and having no one to talk to about it.”

The program is hosting its first breast feeding class from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at the Community and Veterans Services building near the county courthouse.

The Mille Lacs County Peer Breast Feeding program is available for support and teaching via phone or text at 320-362-1884 or 320-362-1874. Peers are also online at Facebook.

For the full story, see the Thursday, Aug. 9 print edition of the Times.