A little over a year ago, Melody Stinson, Director of the Altha Church of God Daycare, had an employee, Jennifer, who was very interested in breastfeeding her newborn infant. Since Ms. Stinson had no experience with breastfeeding moms, it was a challenge to find space for the employee to breastfeed. “We put her everywhere – the bathroom, a closet, anywhere we could find a space,” says Ms. Stinson.
It wasn’t until Ms. Stinson participated in the ECE Learning Collaborative that she realized how important breastfeeding was. “I had no idea what was involved and how important it is to provide support to someone like Jennifer, who learned about breastfeeding through WIC and was excited to do this for her baby.”
Ms. Stinson soon mobilized her staff and over a period of about three months, converted a storage room into a beautiful and appealing area for moms who want to breastfeed their infants. Ms. Stinson explained, “It was a cooperative effort. Staff cleaned out and painted the space, one person donated a rocking chair, and parents helped install the sink and shelves. I used the stipend I received from Nemours to buy a refrigerator so moms could store their breastmilk safely.” The room is also equipped with a changing table, and books and toys for siblings to play with while mom breastfeeds. The local WIC office provides educational materials for moms as well.
As part of the effort, Ms. Stinson developed a comprehensive breastfeeding and infant feeding policy for the center that includes staff behaviors and feeding policies that support and promote breastfeeding. In May, 2016, the center was recognized by the Iowa Department of Health as a ‘Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care Center.’ “We want to be a community resource as well. Moms who work at the local school or other businesses are welcome to come here to breastfeed or pump breast milk for their infants.”
When asked if she could describe her experience with the ECE Learning Collaborative in one word, Ms. Stinson replied, “Emotional. It was all about children and parents, so it was personal as that is what is most important to me. The sessions opened up new doors to things I didn’t know. It was fun and practical, so I could apply the information immediately and see results. This was so different from other classes that I’ve attended. It was a great opportunity.”
Information provided by interview with:
Altha Church of God Daycare