Billings Baby Bistro: A mom-to-mom breastfeeding support group

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s March 2017 issue. Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here

article by Hannah Luedt, photo by Jana Graham Photography

Having a child generates a magnitude of questions and fears for most soon-to-be parents. Of those questions, the topic of feeding baby is likely high on the list. For mothers who decide to breastfeed their baby, it’s a time of wonder, anxiety, and sometimes-unplanned complications. In our community, a new resource has become available to complement services for mothers breastfeeding their children, Billings Baby Bistro.

This support group formed through a $5,000 grant from the Montana Breastfeeding Coalition. The local Billings Breastfeeding Coalition initiated Billings Baby Bistro with the purpose to help mothers navigate through the exciting or potentially challenging experience of breastfeeding. Meetings occur every 4th Wednesday at 1pm in the Lil Anderson Building on the RiverStone Health Campus. The group is an excellent addition to Billings’ existing support services such as La Leche League, local mom groups, peer counselors from local health departments, pediatric services, and hospital lactation care.

During each meeting, the group facilitator is a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) or certified lactation counselor (CLC). Discussions are guided to aid in answering the questions mothers in attendance may have. Elsa Peterson, IBCLC with Billings Clinic notes that Billings Baby Bistro has been helping many mothers ease their concerns about loss in milk production and how to increase milk supply. Elsa is quick to mention that all sorts of topics have come up such as: growth and development, feeding changes, breastfeeding in public, going back to work, weaning, and experiences with unsupportive family members or friends.

“One of the foreseen purposes of the group is to influence breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the community.” Elsa promotes. As of now, most of the mothers attending Billings Baby Bistro have previously made the decision to breastfeed and are doing so currently. In an effort to help educate, the group does welcome expectant mothers or those debating on the best method for feeding their child. The group wants to be an opportunity for mothers and mothers-to-be to ease their fears, concerns, or to answer their questions through peer support.

Some mothers seek lactation consultations due to latching issues. Both IBCLC and CLC can often attribute latching issues to positioning the baby at breast. However, Elsa does note, “Secondary issues can come about such as: poor weight gain, jaundice, lethargy to feed, dehydration, and/or damage and pain to the mother’s nipples.” Latching issues may not always result in these secondary concerns, but through education and support found at groups such as Billings Baby Bistro, the success of breastfeeding can be achieved.

The non-judgmental, respectful, and empathetic environment found at the Billings Baby Bistro on the 4th Wednesday of each month is an ideal place for a mother or expectant mother to find support. Full of friendly conversation, an IBCLC or CLC will provide experienced advice. Children are welcome, there is a play mat set up to encourage social interaction, but there is no childcare provided. Those in attendance can feed their child without fears or fretting over covering up unless desired. To learn more visit: facebook.com/groups/BillingsBabyBistro

about the author...Hannah and her husband, Derik, are new parents to a happy and talkative son, Cole. As a family of three they intend to keep the adventures coming along with their dogs Toby and Sam.