CHEER CHAMPION OF THE WEEK: SOUTH MISSISSIPPI BREASTFEEDING COALITION!
CHAMPS is excited to honor the South Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition (SMBFC), a relatively new group that is doing a great job supporting and promoting breastfeeding on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast!
“Our coalition’s mission is to promote and protect breastfeeding by providing support, advocacy, and resources for a healthier South Mississippi community,” shares Amanda Sterling, RN, BSN, IBCLC, founding President of SMBFC and Lactation Consultant & CHAMPS Team Leader at CHAMPS hospital Merit Health Biloxi.
Founded in August 2017, SMBFC is still spreading the word about who they are. They are contacting local parent groups, physicians and hospitals that work with parents, grandparents, women and children to let them know about the work they are doing. They have begun a website and have social media sites that share helpful information, encouragement and community events that pertain to breastfeeding. Last year, they wrote a letter of support for the Mississippi Public Health Institute to aid in them receiving a 3.4 million dollar grant from the CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program, known as REACH. It aims to improve lives by building stronger relationships between black communities, public health groups, health care providers and community-based organizations. Part of the work this grant plans to do is open a cluster of Baby Cafés on the Gulf Coast this year.
With the tide turning regarding breastfeeding in Mississippi, Amanda wants SMBFC to be there to support the increased number of women wanting to breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding rates in our community have increased greatly over the last several years,” Amanda says. “Almost every hospital in our area is now on the Baby-Friendly pathway and breastfeeding is being promoted more and more. The community is becoming more educated on the importance of breastfeeding, which has led to higher initiation. This is amazing considering historically Mississippi has always had the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. With the initiation and desire to breastfeed increasing in our area, we need to be there to support the duration of the breastfeeding experience. We want people to be able to reach their breastfeeding goals and continue through any challenges they may face. Our goal is to support them along the way.”
SMBFC meets quarterly in different counties within South Mississippi and hopes to involve more people. They have had nurses, lactation consultants, physicians, La Leche League leaders, mothers of children of all ages, grandmothers, and others in the community that support breastfeeding attend their meetings. Everyone is welcome! They discuss ways to help spread the message about breastfeeding in their community, ways to raise funds to do this work, and anything else that has been brought to the table for the coalition to address.
Check out this helpful breastfeeding resource guide that SMBFC created! It lists various breastfeeding resources in the counties they serve, and they have shared it with local hospitals and posted it on their website.
Congratulations, SMBFC, and thank you for the work you are doing!