First-time mom April Parker thought breastfeeding her son, Silas would be easy.
But she found that wasn’t the case when she returned to her Gilbert home with her newborn.
“I thought it would come naturally when they just open their mouth,” Parker said. “But it’s a lot more complicated. I was having issues with latching and also lot of pain to the point where I just couldn’t nurse him. So, I needed help.”
Help came in the form of a new Gilbert business — Milk Makers, a mobile lactation and breastfeeding service.
“Breastfeeding is such a hard experience,” said owner Leana Thompson RN, BSN and IBCLC. “Lots of people get frustrated because everyone tells them, it’s natural, the baby knows what to do. If someone had a traumatic birth with complications, the baby is stunned from the birth and needs help and to be trained to suck, swallow and breathe.
“So many moms are so overwhelmed. It’s a stressful event and I try to make it as stress-less as possible and give them as much support and guidance.”
At the home, Thompson will perform a physical assessment of the mother and baby, address any uncertainty around breastfeeding and lactation and create a tailored care plan.
“My consultations typically last anywhere from one to two hours depending on the level of support a mom is looking for,” said Thompson, a high-risk antepartum/postpartum registered nurse for over seven years.
“We provide breastfeeding services from start to finish to ensure breastfeeding and pumping goes smoothly at home.” Thompson added. “It is vital for newborns to get the nutrition they need.”
She got the idea for her business after numerous new moms in the hospital would ask, “Can I bring you home with me?”’ said Thompson, who currently works part time at an East Valley hospital.
Milk Makers offers five packages ranging from $75 to $285. Since launching in July, Thompson has had around 15 clients.
Although lactation consultation is available for new moms in the hospital, it’s generally a quick 15-minute overview and by request, according to Thompson, a Gilbert resident.
“Moms come home and usually by day three or four the mom starts to realize they have issues and are having pain,” she said. “There’s a lack of resources.
“People don’t know where to turn for help. They call the hospital back up but talking to someone at the hospital is different from someone coming to the home.”
Parker said Milk Makers was an immense resource.
“She helped me so much in one visit,” Parker said. “She sat next to me and made sure my son’s mouth position was right and watched him latch on. She helped me with a few positions so I was able to continue nursing him and I didn’t have the pain.
“She is so genuine and really caring about my situation and I can tell she has a passion about it and is very knowledgeable. It’s hard to find someone like that.”
Milk Makers should find plenty of customers like Parker because breastfeeding is on the increase in the United States, according to the CDC.
The rate for infants who are ever breastfed is currently at 83.8 percent, but that drastically drops to 57.3 percent for infants still breastfed at 6 months, the agency reported.
Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most babies and can help reduce the risk for some short- and long-term health conditions for both infants and mothers.
Breastfed infants have reduced risks of obesity, gastrointestinal infections, asthma, ear and respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome while nursing moms can have lower risks of high-blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and ovarian and breast cancers, according to the CDC.
Additionally, low rates of breastfeeding add more than $3 billion a year to medical costs for the mother and child in the United States, the CDC said.
Milk Makers currently serves Gilbert, Chandler, Queen Creek, Mesa and Tempe. The company will accommodate mothers outside the coverage area.
“It’s mostly the East Valley where the need is,” Thompson said. “The goal down the line when I grow is to have a consultant in every area, all over the Valley.”
Gilbert Walmart piloting
Mamava lactation pods
The Walmart supercenter at 5290 S. Power Road in Gilbert is one of the chain’s three outlets across the country to begin piloting a Mamava Lactation Suite, also called Mamava pods, for breastfeeding mothers.
Each pod contains amenities that breastfeeding moms need — including plugs, seating space and air conditioning.
Mamava was started by two moms and has thousands of locations across the U.S., but Walmart is the first retailer to test the free-standing Mamava pods in a store setting.
This pilot is the result of Walmart real estate associate and new mom, Tennille Webb, who travels often for her job, but struggled to find a consistent place to pump. She saw the Mamava Pod in an airport and thought it would be of use to customers.