Cynthia Wood (left)

Cynthia Wood (left)

In celebration of breastfeeding

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in Vernon with a number of events, including the Breastfeeding Café

The customers are always satisfied at the Breastfeeding Café. Mothers and babies of all ages get together to help each other with challenges and celebrate successes.

“That’s naturally the thing to do. My husband is very supportive and it’s what we want for our family,” said Amanda Kopiak, one of the facilitators, who is breastfeeding Ocean, eight months, and Cash, two.

“We are letting Cash wean himself. It has been a good experience. Other mothers don’t realize that you can breastfeed through pregnancy and feed two babies at once.”

Laura Meikle is also breastfeeding two children, Lily Meikle Porup, four months, and Dane Meikle Porup, four, who nurses briefly every couple of days now.

“When Mommy nurses me, I feel loved,” Dane whispered, first to his mother and then to the others.

Meikle, a former La Leche League leader who is writing a book about parenting, said allowing an older child to keep nursing helps.

“We really enjoy coming to the group and meeting the other mothers and children. There’s a great social aspect. Some of us have had the experience of people looking at us in a judgmental way for breastfeeding — of course we do it discreetly in public — and I feel like saying to them, ‘that’s what breasts are for.’ I think coming to the group makes women feel more confident about breastfeeding when and where their babies need it,” she said.

“Breastfeeding is a learned art and the more support, the more success.”

Kopiak added, “I think women need to be aware of their rights as a breastfeeding mother in the workplace as well.”

Women can come to the Breastfeeding Café while they are pregnant and preparing to breastfeed or when their babies are any age. One mother came with a premature baby.

Tracy Sackman came when Alyssa, now six months, was three weeks old. She had had a difficult delivery.

“I was on the verge of giving up on breastfeeding. The nurses at the hospital were encouraging and the midwife got me in touch with the group. If I hadn’t had the support, I would have given up. There was so much I didn’t know,” she said. “My husband was supportive, so were his mom and my mom but they had not breastfed and couldn’t relate.

“I learn so much from moms here. I try to come every time they have it. The greatest reward is the bond I have with Alyssa and knowing no one else can offer her that but me.”

Kim Lauritsen brings her first child, Rayne, 10 weeks, to the group.

“I couldn’t breastfeed right away and it would have been difficult for me without the support from these women. We can ask questions online in the middle of the night if we have to and in the morning there’s an answer. In the day, you sometimes get an answer in minutes,” she said.

Cynthia Wood comes with Jerome, seven months.

“I wish I had come sooner. Now I feel comfortable breastfeeding everywhere. I have even breastfed at a hockey game,” she said.

She and Selena Russell, who comes with Logan, seven months, both enjoy the social aspects of the group.

“I also had some breastfeeding challenges but with the help of the other mothers and practice we got a lot better. Other moms will smile at you when they see you breastfeeding. We had to breastfeed once at a store sitting on some outdoor furniture and the staff was so nice that we later went back and bought the furniture, which was very comfortable.”

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in Canada Oct. 1 to 7, with local events planned for the first week of October. The Breastfeeding Café meets twice a month.

For more information, contact Kopiak at vernonbreastfeedingcafe@gmail.com.