In 2010, the Saskatoon Health Region’s Healthy and Home Program established a drop-in Breastfeeding Café at the West Winds Primary Health Centre in Saskatoon.

The Café is meant to provide a relaxed atmosphere where mothers can access breastfeeding information and support from a lactation consultant and other mothers. The concept was initiated in response to continued research that shows the vital role social support plays in assisting mothers to meet their own breastfeeding goals.

Moms and babies attend a Breastfeeding Cafe.

Moms like Lindsay Sanderson (foreground) are enjoying the Breastfeeding Cafe sessions.

The group is facilitated by an international board certified lactation consultant, but through informal group discussions, participants are encouraged to make connections with women who are there to help other women through their parenting experiences.

“Even though breastfeeding is a common focus of the discussions, all mothers, regardless of how they are feeding their babies, are invited to attend,” noted Tonia Olson, clinical coordinator for Healthy and Home and The Breastfeeding Centre.

Guest speakers are invited to the group regularly, as mothers often request information on other topics, such as baby massage, car seat safety, baby wearing, travelling with baby and early speech development, to name a few topics. There is no time limit for women attending the group, though many often stop attending when their infants become more mobile.

“Moms tell us that the café has enhanced their breastfeeding and parenting experience and helped them to meet their feeding goals,” Olson said. “They appreciate the opportunity to have questions answered, to relate to one another and to learn from each other. Connections made in the café often last well beyond the time spent in the group, as some women have gone on to establish toddler support groups, walking groups and even Facebook support groups.”

“One night while I was up searching the internet for help, I found a breastfeeding support group (The Breastfeeding Cafe),” said Lindsay Sanderson, new mom to baby William. “So, Thursday morning I packed up my screaming baby and went over…. I felt like someone had just thrown me a life preserver. I didn’t know there were lactation consultants a couple of blocks from my house I could go see, for free, whenever I needed help.… I do remember not feeling like I was alone for the first time…. I heard other moms asking questions and offering support. I had found my lifeline.”

Julie Smith-Fehr, manager of the Healthy and Home Program which includes the Breastfeeding Café and the Breastfeeding Centre, has said that she finds her visits to the café allow her to hear feedback from the mothers about their care experience.

“The comments and stories from the moms about their birth and care provide invaluable insight to inform our practice as we continually strive to provide optimal family centred care,” Smith-Fehr stated.

The Breastfeeding Café is held Thursday mornings from 10:00-11:30 a.m. at the West Winds Primary Health Centre, 3211 Fairlight Drive.

For individual appointments with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, clients should call 306-655-4806.

For more information about breastfeeding and community based supports for mothers in the Saskatoon Health Region, visit Saskatoon Health Region’s Breastfeeding page.