Breastfeeding can be challenging. Most mothers have questions as they feed their new babies, but not everyone has access to the expertise and support they need.
“It’s important to get your questions answered from a reliable source,” said Becky Drevets, an international board certified lactation consultant at INTEGRIS Health Edmond Women’s Center. “There are going to be bumps in the road with breastfeeding.”
INTEGRIS Health Edmond Women’s Center offers a weekly Baby Café, where soon-to-be and new mothers can go for free breastfeeding support and help.
“They can ask me questions, but they can also come talk with other mothers for support,” said Drevets who facilitates the weekly meetings. “I hope all new mothers in the Edmond area will feel free to come, whether they have their baby here or not.”
Oklahoma breastfeeding statistics
Oklahoma lags behind the rest of the nation in breastfeeding rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For example, about 71 percent of Oklahoma babies have ever breastfed, compared to about 79 percent nationwide.
Oklahoma mothers are even less likely to breastfeed than other mothers as time goes on. Six months after birth, only about 38 percent of Oklahoma moms are still breastfeeding, compared to 49 percent nationwide.
Oklahoma also has fewer lactation consultants and certified lactation counselors when compared to other states.
Mothers can face many barriers during the breastfeeding process, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Three days after birth, 92 percent of new mothers said they struggled with breastfeeding. Some women don’t understand the significance of breastfeeding and how it benefits babies. Some are embarrassed or feel bottle feeding is the norm. Others lack family or social support, the physical ability to breastfeed or a way to breastfeed when returning to work.
Baby Cafés in Oklahoma
Baby Cafés aim to help mothers overcome some of those barriers.
Baby Cafés can be found across the country and around the world. The cafes are free and are hosted at neutral locations like hospitals, medical clinics or community centers. Unlike informal groups, Baby Cafés are hosted by lactation consultants or certified lactation counselors.
Oklahoma has a cluster of these programs, which are run through the Coalition of Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocates. It’s the first cluster in the country, said Danielle Lugrand, who coordinates Baby Café programs throughout the state. “The model itself works, and is really good for all women,” Lugrand said.
The Coalition of Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocates received a grant to start several Baby Cafés to help address the low breastfeeding rate in Oklahoma.
“We’re really working on making a community for mothers,” Lugrand said. “You become the trailblazer, but you’re lonely. What about me? Where’s my community? The café is their community.”
Baby Café first of its kind in Oklahoma
The INTEGRIS Health Edmond café is the first hospital-based café in the state, Lugrand said. It’s also the first Tier 1 program, which means it’s facilitated by an international board certified lactation consultant.
The Baby Café at INTEGRIS Health Edmond is the sixth in the state, according to Baby Café USA. There are locations in Oklahoma City, Lawton and Edmond.
The Baby Café is open from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays at the INTEGRIS Health Edmond Women’s Center, 4801 INTEGRIS Parkway. The group meets in a quiet room near the labor and delivery unit.
The café is free, and registration is not required. A baby scale is available for mothers to weigh their children for free. Siblings are welcome.
Drevets said she hopes the cafe will be a safe place for mothers to learn from her and also from other moms.
“It’s good for them to know they’re not the only one having trouble or going through what they’re going through,” Drevets said. “If a mom comes up here, we can address her specific situation with her child and her specific needs.”
In addition to the INTEGRIS Baby Café in Edmond, lactation consultants are available to advise new mothers at INTEGRIS birth centers across Oklahoma, including all five Oklahoma City metro hospitals.
Lactation consultants are available throughout the INTEGRIS Women’s Health Network of Oklahoma. Many of the facilities offer a number of free breastfeeding classes and support groups too.
Finally, this highly-rated lactation cookie recipe from the blog How Sweet It Is can offer a boost for nursing mothers. The oats, brewer’s yeast, coconut oil and ground flax are great for caloric intake and milk production.
“I noticed a difference after I made these,” said one new mother, who works for the INTEGRIS corporate communications office. “My production went up, and my belly is happy. These are so good. I eat a lot every day. I should probably cut back, but I can’t!”
Yield: makes about 20 to 22 cookies, depending on your scoop
Total Time: 45 minutes
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons brewers yeast
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks (I like ghirardelli)
feel free to add: unsweetened flaked coconut, chopped almonds, 1 to 2 tablespoons of almond butter
Preheat the oven the 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, yeast, flaxseed, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy. Add in the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the egg and egg yolk, beating until combined, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined again. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined and mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
Scoop the dough into 1-inch rounds (I use an ice cream scoop so they are fairly uniform in size) and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.