Filling a 'real need'
HUNTINGTON -- Following the birth of her first two children, Jennifer Williams said breastfeeding came easily. But after moving to Huntington four years ago and welcoming her third child, Williams said her struggles with nursing left her feeling unsure and alone.
"I had my first two children in Morgantown and there was a breastfeeding support group there that I was a part of. I didn't particularly have any problems, but it was just good for me as a first-time breastfeeder to be around others doing the same thing," Williams said. "I had trouble with breastfeeding after my third child, and there was nobody in Huntington to talk to, no groups to attend, I didn't know anybody to reach out to."
Now the mother of four -- her youngest is five months old -- Williams said she realized the need, and saw the opportunity, to create a group for nursing mothers in Huntington. Wild and Wonderful Breastfeeding in Huntington held its first meeting in January. The group's next meeting will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 27, and the last Wednesday of each month thereafter.
"There is a real need here. Typical breastfeeders in our country are middle-class women and there's a real need for education and support of other classes right here in the heart of Appalachia. It can have a huge impact, both economically and health-wise. There are tremendous benefits," Williams said. "You don't ever see anybody breastfeeding in public and I'd like to see that changed. There are so many studies that show how beneficial it is to children, not just as babies, but throughout their entire lives. And, I think I can make a difference."
Williams said walking into a room of like-minded women who serve as a support network for each other helps mothers feel less lonely and more certain of their decision to nurse their babies. It also serves as a social outlet and an arena in which to ask questions of more experienced mothers.
"These are very supportive women and everyone is welcome to come -- spouses, children, grandparents who are curious, supportive friends, moms, pregnant women with questions," said Williams, who is working toward certification as La Leche League counselor. "This is an open, welcoming, loving group that encourages breastfeeding and natural parenting and can share answers to questions someone might have."
For more information about the group, search for "Wild and Wonderful Breastfeeding in Huntington" on Facebook.
Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.
If You Go
Who: Nursing moms, pregnant moms, children and others interested in a breastfeeding support group
What: Wild and Wonderful Breastfeeding in Huntington
When: The last Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.
Where: 432 11th Ave., Huntington, but check the website or call for possible location change
Web: Search "Wild and Wonderful Breastfeeding in Huntington" on Facebook
Contact: Jennifer Williams at 304-525-1551.