Hennepin County Uses Peer Counselors to Encourage Breastfeeding
Hennepin County is celebrating breastfeeding awareness month.
For many moms, nursing can be a real struggle.
“I went through all the issues, poor latch, sore, cracked nipples, and everything that most of the clients are going through,” said Yaa Nti, a mother of four.
Nti eventually received help from a peer counselor and learned it was a simple fix.
“One thing is just making sure that when you are breastfeeding, that they’re not just suckling on the nipple but that they have the nipple pointed upwards back in their mouth and that right there reduces pain,” Kawanna Finklea explained.
Like Nti, Finklea went through the same issues.
The Benefit of Peer Counselors
Both moms now serve as peer counselors themselves through the Hennepin County WIC Program. WIC stands for Women, Infant and Children. The program helps families eat well and stay healthy.
Nti and Finklea are encouraging others to nurse because saying breast milk tops all formulas, even if you don’t have the best diet.
“Breastfeeding helps to reduce obesity, childhood cancer, Type 2 diabetes. There are many health conditions that are decreased thorough breastfeeding and for women too,” explained Jill Wilson, the Breastfeeding Coordinator for WIC.
Wilson told CCX that the Hmong and African-American population have the lowest breastfeeding rates within WIC. Wilson said it could be due to a variety of reasons like work-related issues, economic issues and cultural barriers.
“A lot of times the older generation feels like you’re not going to be able to satisfy your child’s hunger with just breast milk,” Finklea explained.
Finklea added because there’s not a lot of breastfeeding within the African-American community, it isn’t normalized. However, WIC shows that breastfeeding rates increased across the board with the help of peer counselors.
“There were times I probably would have stopped breastfeeding if I haven’t received breastfeeding help,” Finklea said.
“Chocolate Milk Day”
A documentary called “Chocolate Milk” explains the low breastfeeding rates among women of color. It will be screened Monday, August 26 from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. If you’re interested you can register here.
Hennepin County is also hosting its 3rd annual Chocolate Milk Day, celebrating black breastfeeding families on Thursday, August 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. The celebration will take place at Fairview Park; 621 North 29th Avenue, Minneapolis.