Still eating for two
Program gives new moms the goods on breastfeeding

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 11/99) - Mirasol Cameron finds it easy to praise a Fort Smith program called Our Babies, Our Future, especially during World Breastfeeding Week, Oct. 4-9.

When she first had her six-month-old son, Sammy, she was determined to breastfeed. But it wasn't that easy.

"It's a very excellent program," Cameron, 24, said as she relaxed with other young mothers at the Thursday drop-in. "When I had Sammy, I had a very hard time nursing him. But they were a big help."

"They" are the two workers at Our Babies, Our Future, a nutrition and education initiative for pregnant women and new mothers that stresses the importance of good eating during pregnancy and afterward, especially if mom is breastfeeding her baby.

And the best eating for babies is breast milk, said Sylvie Tordiff, the co-ordinator of Our Babies, Our Future.

"Many women want to breastfeed their babies but run into difficulties," she said.

These difficulties can be physical discomfort, such as sore and cracked nipples caused by the baby latching improperly.

Or they can be misunderstandings about the growth of breastfed babies.

"Many mothers worry their baby isn't getting enough to eat, and will supplement with formula," Tordiff said, "which can lead to total formula feeding."

She said breastfed babies may be thinner than formula babies, but breastfed babies tend to be healthier, with less digestive problems and greater immunity to infections.

Tordiff said the program, the main focus of which is good eating for mothers and babies, encourages breastfeeding and tries to help the community see it as part of life.

"We set up a table every year at the Northern (Foods) foyer and give out breast-shaped cupcakes," she said.

We encourage people to see it as normal ... because breastfeeding is the most normal thing you can do."

She said they offer information, advice and support for breastfeeding mothers.

"We tell mothers when baby wants the boob, give him the boob," she said with a laugh.

Cameron said the program helped her with overcoming her breastfeeding problems, which is important since Sammy will soon have a new brother or sister. It also helped her meet people in Fort Smith, her new home.

"I'm from the Philippines, and my husband's a teacher. When it's cold, I felt stuck in the house. But I can come here, and take a cab and they'll pay for it."

Our Babies our Future is located in Tawpe House and is open Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for drop-in and activities, such as a cooking circle. The program also offers a good food box. Mothers pay $15 and receive $50 worth of nutritious food, such as fruit, vegetables and whole wheat bread. The majority of mothers who visit the program are between the ages of 15 and 19, with 20-somethings being the next biggest group, Tordiff said.