So far, their efforts have resulted in several Northeast Missouri workplaces becoming breastfeeding friendly — with employers getting on board by establishing procedures and setting up posters and other educational materials provided by the Pike County Health Department and DHSS.

Pike County Health Department personnel are helping to ensure that more Northeast Missouri businesses are breastfeeding friendly, thanks to a grant from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Rhiannon Terrill and Leanne Hinds, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Breastfeeding Peer Counselors with the Pike County Health Department, have been providing information and assistance to Northeast Missouri businesses to help more of them become breastfeeding friendly. The department recently received a $3,000 grant through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) for the Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Program, allowing them to expand their efforts that include individual counseling and assistance for breastfeeding moms. Terrill said that many new moms are returning to the workplace as early as six weeks after delivery, and she stressed that it can be difficult for them to successfully take care of their baby’s needs — such as taking a break to pump milk or locating a private lactation area — while dealing with the stresses of reentering the workplace.

So far, their efforts have resulted in several Northeast Missouri workplaces becoming breastfeeding friendly — with employers getting on board by establishing procedures and setting up posters and other educational materials provided by the Pike County Health Department and DHSS. Terrill said once a business completes the short application and receives certification for being breastfeeding friendly, a mini-grant is available to help purchase equipment like recliners, mini refrigerators or tables for a lactation lounge. Terrill and Hinds agreed that they plan to help as many businesses as possible become breastfeeding friendly in the area.

“That way, when they have their next breastfeeding mama in place, even if they don’t currently have one, they’ve got their policy written, they’ve got their room set up,” Terrill said. “They’re ready to help that mama meet her needs.”

Ralls County R-II fourth grade teacher Pamela Hemme helped make Ralls County R-II School District breastfeeding friendly in time for the start of the 2017-2018 school year, and Oakwood Elementary School in Hannibal is also part of the program. Hemme said she worked with School Nurse Robyn Leake and Librarian Becca Evans to pursue a grant that established a private room for pumping. Hemme said she was able to take advantage of the room her second child was born, and she noted that the space is open to community members, substitute teachers and fellow employees.

“Having this space and knowing that it was going to be available was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” she said.

Hemme echoed Terrill’s and Hinds’ feelings that it helps everyone in the community to have as many workplaces that are breastfeeding friendly as possible.

“I’d encourage anybody who does not have a place in their work environment like this — and they have the opportunity to get the money and the grant — to go for it,” she said. “There are several people out there who would be willing to help them get it.”

Businesses and organizations that have received a breastfeeding friendly workplace certification include: Fiddlestiks Food and Spirits, Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce, Hannibal Board of Public Works, Hannibal Clinic, Hannibal Regional, Clarity Healthcare and Prestige Realty in Hannibal; and the Pike County Health Department, The Learning Center and Bowling Green Elementary School in Bowling Green.

Hinds said she and Terrill have received a steady level of interest through their workplace efforts, and they work individually with employers to move through the steps to certification and to apply for the mini-grant for breastfeeding friendly equipment.

Terrill and Hinds each assist moms and their babies at the Honeysuckle Cafe Breastfeeding Group, which meets Mondays at 5 p.m. and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at Hannibal Regional. This program has been growing, Terrill said, and they enjoy helping to assist breastfeeding moms as they strive to provide the best care they can for their babies — in the workplace and elsewhere.

“It just makes it a good feeling when you get feedback from a mom saying that pumping is going so well at work — they’re able to reach their six-month goal, they’re able to reach their seven-month goal, Hinds said. “Then next thing you know, it’s a year, and they’re still breastfeeding and they’re happy with it.”

To reach Hannibal Regional’s Breastfeeding Warmline, call 573-406-2122. To learn more about Missouri’s Breastfeeding Worksite Program, visit http://health.mo.gov/living/families/wic/breastfeeding/support.php or call Terrill at 573-719-7690 or Hinds at 573-406-3093.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com