Avera Medical Minute: Baby Café at Brookings Hospital provides support to pregnant and breastfeeding moms

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Breastfeeding is the gold standard of nutrition for infants. Support and education for breastfeeding is very important.

“This is Roly Owen Knutson and he’s eight-weeks-old,” said Rebecca Bott-Knutson.

Bott-Knutson loves everything about motherhood. And like most first-time moms, she’s had many questions.

“Questions about latch and if he’s getting enough -- and how do I make sure that we’re preparing for transition for back to work and getting him enough, both from the breast, as well as pumping and time for that,” said Bott-Knutson.

She’s found support in other moms and lactation consultants through the New Beginnings Baby Café at Brookings Hospital.

“I am so relieved when it’s the day of the week that I get to go to Baby Café. We are regulars and we’re always learning something new. I thought it would be solely about lactation but I’m learning so much about just caring for Roly in general,” said Bott-Knutson.

“A lot of times, when they don’t have that ongoing support, they will just kind of stop breastfeeding,” said Aleycia Gerlach, registered nurse and lactation consultant at Brookings Hospital.

Gerlach says the Baby Café provides ongoing support for both new and experienced moms.

“Patients and members of the community can just come and get that one-on-one support from a lactation consultant and then we do a weight after the baby is nursed. And so moms know what their babies are taking in because we don’t get to see that quantity when they’re nursing,” said Gerlach.

“Breast milk contains the fats, sugar, water, protein and minerals that growing and developing baby will need,” said Dr. Tara Haarsma, OB/GYN with Avera Medical Group Specialty Care Brookings.

Dr. Haarsma says making lactation consultants available to moms on a regular basis through Brookings Hospital’s Baby Café is invaluable.

“The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for six months and then starting at six months is when we start to introduce some foods and then continuing to breastfeed up to one year,” said Dr. Haarsma.

Bott-Knutson says the Baby Café has made her feel more confident in how she cares for little Roly.

“I love coming back because lactation consultants have so much expertise and know how to teach us how to make, of course, a redirection if necessary and they also provide support and encouragement to let us know we’re doing things right,” said Bott-Knutson.

“My biggest thing that I want moms to know is that once they leave the hospital, they’re not on their own, and I think that whether they deliver at the hospital here or they deliver somewhere else, that they’re always welcome to come and have access to this free service,” said Gerlach.

New Beginnings Baby Café takes place every Tuesday night from 5 to 7 and every Thursday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 at the OB Unit Family Room inside Brookings Hospital.