Breastfeeding seminars

Breastfeeding center opens in Norwich

OB-GYN Services had a grand opening on July 28 at 17 Case St. in Norwich.

OB-GYN Services treats area patients with care and compassion, and its new breastfeeding service

Kathie Gauthier, CNM, IBCLC, left, and Tracey Gomes-Johnson, practice administrator at OB-GYN Services.

The center is no exception. Housed in a separate building on site, the cozy shelter for families and babies was due to open on July 28 at 17 Case St. in Norwich.

The first of its kind in the region, this establishment is an indispensable and already welcome service.

“Our mission is to support newly pregnant and nursing mothers through education and support services,” explained Tracey Gomes-Johnson, practice administrator at OB-GYN Services. “We felt there was a real need for this in the community. On day 3 (after giving birth), many mothers stop breastfeeding and start bottle-feeding. They get some education in the hospital. There are plenty of online resources, but not a lot of one-on-one care. It gives them a place where they can get that immediate care.

Gomes-Johnson and Kathie Gauthier, traveled to Cleveland several years ago and visited its breastfeeding center, which Norwich is inspired by.

Gauthier is the midwife and lactation consultant who practices at the center, and will accompany patients throughout their journey. This includes starting with a breast exam and screening, as well as preparing to return to work and learning to express breast milk. Everything else includes: breastfeeding education, latch-on, intimate classes for parents (preparing for the birth, caring for your baby and a class for future fathers), and even a small shop that offers nipple cream, breast pumps, pregnant belly balm and onesies. They also hope to add Baby CPR.

Gauthier notes that one of the first things she does is help patients order breast pumps, and it’s important to note that insurance covers most of their services. She stresses the importance of those first few days after leaving the hospital, when new mums may find it difficult to latch on. Sometimes all it takes is a different approach and someone to remind you that you are not alone in this process, which can be overwhelming.

They also have a scale to weigh babies to make sure they are progressing.

“My greatest moment to date was when a baby gained 4 oz. in 4 days. And seeing how happy that mom was. It’s so hard when a baby loses weight and a mom thinks that it’s her fault because her baby isn’t eating,” she said.

Gauthier and Gomes-Johnson also recognize that some mothers cannot or do not want to breastfeed. They welcome all patients and new members of the community.

“We’re here to support mothers anyway, no matter what they choose,” Gomes-Johnson said. “We are here to support not only our patients, but also the community and all of their childbirth and breastfeeding needs.”

The current national formula shortage has not gone unnoticed by either practitioner, which is why this center is a welcome step forward for patients, who might not otherwise have turned to breastfeeding.

“It’s a struggle for our patient population,” Gomes-Johnson said.

“It’s a stressful time for them.” Gauthier added: “I think they are really concerned about the price. People who were reluctant about breastfeeding are now leaning towards it.

Their mission is to be as available as possible and to be a resource for new families during those crucial first days and months. An added benefit is telemedical visits. If it’s late at night and a mom is struggling to breastfeed a new baby, Gauthier can easily access the computer through a secure link. She can see if the baby is latching and, if not, correct the latch to help the patient through the process, ensuring a well-fed baby and mom’s peace of mind.

The OB-GYN Services Breastfeeding Center is considered an advancement in local postnatal care. Education, compassion and support for mothers, babies and families will help advance child and mother care in the community. For more information or to schedule a visit, call (860) 886-2461.

Nicole Roberge is a writer from Uncasville and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, ELLEgirl, Song Facts, Blurt, Hear/Say, and Script Magazine. She is the author of the memoir “Hang in There, Wherever ‘There’ is.”