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A support group to assist black mothers is underway in Springfield. As KSMU’s Kaitlyn Schwers reports, the Springfield-Greene County WIC program recognized the need upon completion of the latest community health assessment report, which will be published this spring.
Mary Ellison is the local WIC coordinator and says that discussion topics will include breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and changes that come with parenting.
“We just took a look at infant mortality and then discovered that there is a huge disparity between infant deaths for white mothers, or white infants, and then infants’ deaths in black infants. We don’t know what those reasons are, but we need to begin a conversation,” Ellison says.
Monique Hyden, a breastfeeding peer counselor at WIC, facilitates the group. In addition to discussions on breastfeeding, she hopes to bring in guest speakers on other issues.
“I was looking to find some way to reach out to that group and address all these different topics at one time and then to also create support. As being a breastfeeding peer counselor, a lot of these mothers do not breast feed past the first couple of weeks, so if I could get them the support they need in other areas, then hopefully I can also help them in breastfeeding,” Hyden explains.
Hyden, who is also a mother herself and a WIC participant, says that she comes from two generations of non-breast feeders. She explains that the general attitude among black mothers shows that they don’t breastfeed for a full year or at all because their mothers or other women did not breastfeed in the past.
Four mothers attended Monday’s first meeting. One of them is 20-year-old soon-to-be mother Braishel Fox.
“I know some people are not as shy when it comes to breastfeeding, so you get to learn a lot about people’s confidence and how it works. It’s just really exciting to get to know the other mothers,” Fox says.
Fox also hopes to learn more about parenting.
In the future, Hyden says the group may also open up to other minority groups in Springfield.
“At this time, we’re just looking to make this group the best group possible and things are prone to change,” Hyden says.
The support group meets on the third Monday of every month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bartley-Decatur Neighborhood Center. The next meeting falls on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
For KSMU News, I’m Kaitlyn Schwers.