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Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training - Halfway Point

We are more than halfway through our 12-week Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training Program and are receiving great feedback from our engaged first cohort and the trainers from Healthy Baby Network as they share personal experiences in a learning environment.

For Jacqui Lindsey who is the Program Development Director and the lead on the program, her breastfeeding journey was challenging, starting with her micro preemie daughter who weighed 2 pounds at birth. “I was even more determined to breastfeed my child, I knew my milk was the best and safest option for my daughter, so I pumped around the clock. Unfortunately, my milk was limited, so I worked with a lactation consultant who prescribed supplements which worked a little. At 6 weeks postpartum I experienced secondary postpartum hemorrhaging – a condition caused by retained placenta, which

caused significant vaginal bleeding. After emergency surgery, my milk started to flow heavily as my body finally no longer believed I was pregnant. That’s when it clicked, and my child and I became a team. Just as it is with babies born at term, what helps preemies thrive the most are touch, talk, and breastmilk. These are the simple things that count. Studies show preemies who are talked to and touched more fare better than those that don't. The same goes for breastfed preemies versus those who were given formula.

The goal of the program is to increase the number of Black and Hispanic women who breastfeed, which has been a priority of Healthy Baby Network for a while. In fact, we have increased the percentage of mothers who initiate breastfeeding from 58% in 1996 to 82% in 2019. Most recently in 2023, our Community Based Doula Program tracked data on breastfeeding rates among 135 births that occurred within 18 months, with a 92% breastfeeding initiation rate. And this training will continue that positive momentum by being able to provide in-person breastfeeding support in our community.

The Tuesday training for the Healthy Baby Network course includes:



∙Beliefs, and Values

∙Prenatal work

∙How Lactation Works

∙Postpartum Newborn

∙Postpartum Parent




∙Infant Capacities

After each session, the peer counselors have homework which keeps them engaged, and includes observing a breastfeeding class, a prenatal appointment with an expectant birthing person and attending a postpartum appointment with a birthing person. Once these requirements are met, participants will graduate and receive their Breastfeeding Peer Counselor certificates.

Once the program is complete, Healthy Baby Network will hire two full-time Peer Counselors, and work toward becoming Accredited through Health Connect One to be able to provide additional training to individuals and organizations in the future. Funding for the project was provided by Greater Rochester Health Foundation, whose mission is to pursue and invest in solutions that build a healthier region. There are several components to this grant which include the Peer Counselor Training, a Black Breastfeeding Coalition, stipends for Peer Counselors to work with Breast/Chest feeding women, two full-time Breast/Chest feeding Peer Counselors on staff, and acknowledgement activities during Black Breastfeeding Week.

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