SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- World Breastfeeding Week kicks off August 1st and studies show breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most moms stop early due to lack of ongoing support. A lactation expert is trying to change that for women in the Bay Area and beyond.
The arrival of a baby is an exciting time for any family. But along with the smiles, come diaper changes, spit up, and trying to figure out how to feed your bundle of joy.
"You want it to be the easiest thing and then when it's not it's just that much more devastating," said mother of two, Meghan Nicolella.
Many moms who want to breastfeed, get help from Bay Area Breastfeeding Support. It's run by registered nurse and lactation consultant Serena Meyer. She offers free or reduced cost breastfeeding support programs in addition to her private practice, including facilitated group sessions and sliding scale consultations.
"Here we have this place where women can access support independent of their financial ability to pay for it. And I think that's what's key. That's what's made it successful," said Meyer.
Mom of twins, Robin Maes, said the support she's found here is important. "Going through having a low supply and having babies that were born early and having them learn how to latch but not right away...is hard. And having other people who are experiencing something similar at the same time is very valuable because you know you're not alone."
Bay Area Breastfeeding Support also offers free help online through Facebook. The private group was started in two thousand eleven and has grown to more than 7,000 members. There are twenty moderators, all volunteers, including Meyer and a range of experts, from midwives to OBGYNs.
"So this question says, 'Please help. My 12-week-old is acting like he isn't getting enough milk in the evenings. Could my supply have gone down?'" said moderator, Megan Shinkle. Shinkle is a postpartum doula, who works nights with families and has time free to help other mothers once she gets a baby settled.
"So I'm able to right away answer in the middle of the night. You wouldn't really get the support you know at a doctor's office at 3am. You're probably not going to have that instant access and that real sense of camaraderie and support that you can from our support group," said Shinkle.
Meyer was motivated to create this community when she became a mother, and could have used something similar. She finds many families just need someone to listen and normalize their infant's behavior.
"I think it gets confusing as a mother or a parent, you don't know what they want. I can help people with that. That's what I do," said Meyer.
Bay Area Breastfeeding Support provides breastfeeding support, whether you just have a quick question, you're still pregnant, or you'd just like to meet some fellow moms. And help is available online and in person regardless of your financial situation. That's why Serena Meyer is an 'ABC7 Star.'
ABC7 Star: Registered nurse and lactation consultant Serena Meyer