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Inside a Baby Cafe: Moms & breastfeeding

WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

Baby Cafes are opening up all across the U.S. and the world, from the UK to China to Buffalo. The cafes are designed to assist breastfeeding mothers. WBFO's Eileen Buckley recently visited a Baby Cafe that opened earlier this month in downtown Buffalo serving women in the inner-city.

It was a sunshine filled, late afternoon, where several women gathered inside the Durham's Central City Baby Cafe talking about breastfeeding and their babies.

"Oh look at her outfit. She's so cute," said the moms.

This new Baby Cafe is located within a soup kitchen on East Eagle Street downtown.  The Baby Cafe is a new pilot program, working to increase the numbers of mothers breastfeeding.

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
Babies sleep in their carriers inside the Durham's Central City Baby Cafe

The Baby Cafe was quiet and calm with newborn babies peacefully sleeping in their carriers.

Jessica Mason of Buffalo brought in her six-week-old daughter. Mason says there was never any question in her mind that she would breastfeed her baby.

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
Jessica Mason of Buffalo brought in her six week old daughter to the Baby Cafe.

"You can be holding her and she will start reaching for you," said Mason. "It's a good experience, breastfeeding. It's a bond that I'm getting with her. She knows where her mom is and she senses my milk."

Reaching out to Buffalo's African-American population is important for the health of the children says Doris Gayles, a Certified Lactation Counselor for the Baby Cafe.

"Trying especially in the African-American community where the infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates are higher," said Gayles. "To get mothers this information, here is a built-in, simple way, to maximize your child's health."

There are a host of health benefits for not only the child, but mother as well. 

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

"Immune factors for babies, preventing pneumonia, preventing diarrhea, even some cancers for both the mother and the baby," said Gayles.

Baby Cafe director Diann Holt noted that the there remains a disparity of getting the proper information into the inner-city.  Many of those women are unaware that the baby's immune system kicks in at birth and that begins the breastfeeding process.

"There's a procedure called skin to skin, so once the baby is born, it is very important that the baby is placed on mom's chest, and that baby will find his or her way to mama's breast, and it is just a beautiful sight to see," said Holt.

The Baby Cafe offers these mothers to learn more, and for their family members a place that provides them with a meal and an upbeat environment to feed their baby.

"Come here, feel free to breastfeed their children, ask any questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question. The only dumb questions is the question not asked," said Holt.

There is also an economic factor. Breastfeeding is a good solution for families budget cutting out the cost baby formulas.

"It's totally natural. God gave us our breasts for a reason," said Virginia Kaufman, from Williamsville.

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
Virginia Kaufman is from Williamsville and was visiting the Baby Cafe with her newborn baby boy.

Kaufman is physicians assistant and was visiting the Baby Cafe with her newborn baby boy who is just two months old. She had very little information about breastfeeding before having her son.        

"I happen to know about breastfeeding because I am in the medical field, but when I went to my OB-GYN during my prenatal visits, nobody every mentioned anything about breastfeeding.  I kind of just found out on my own," said Kaufman.

Kaufman said that surprised her.

"Because it is so important for the immune system for the baby," said Kaufman.

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
Diane Taylor of Buffalo is expecting her second child

Diane Taylor of Buffalo is expecting her second child.  Taylor says her first daughter never latched on, so now Taylor wants to learn about breastfeeding for her new baby. She even invited her boyfriend to join her to learn about.

"Not a lot of men really have that insight, and to actually come with me, because he is actually open minded...he will try new things...if it is something new for me and his child," said Taylor. "We learned together the bond we could have."

There are misconceptions about breastfeeding. Some woman are afraid to try it, fearing it will be painful. Others don't receive proper support from family and friends. 

"Start researching and networking with people," said Jill Haynie of Buffalo.

Haynie arrived at the Baby Cafe with her newborn son. Like Taylor, she never breastfed her first child.  Haynie is now breastfeeding her second son and wanted to learn some new strategies.

"Is it hard to do?" "Well kind of because  when he was born I didn't get him right after because he was born into the house, so I had to wean him form this.  He's still half bottle at night time I give him breast milk," said Haynie.

But not everyone agrees with watching a woman breastfeed, especially if it is conducted in a public space. However, mother Virginia Kaufman may have put it best, saying it is something "special" built into a woman's body.

"Why waste it. It's liquid gold, basically. I don't think there should be any complaining about that," said Kaufman.

Catholic Health also opened Baby Cafe's to support breastfeeding at Sisters and Mercy Hospitals in Buffalo.