By Becky Streeter
You’re expecting and thinking about breastfeeding your newborn. Jennifer Hafele, owner of Mama Bear Lactation Care, has some of the best words of wisdom you could ever hear as you start your journey: “Breastfeeding is natural, but it is not necessarily easy.”
Hafele, mother of three, wanted to bring the joys of breastfeeding she herself experienced to other mothers. It is a wonderful, rewarding experience, but often not without its challenges. There are many variables that come into play between a nursing parent and nursing child, and Hafele, through Mama Bear Lactation Care, strives to meet each parent where they are at and make their goals her goals.
After much studying and hard work, Hafele gained her International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential in early 2019. The requirements to become an IBCLC include clinical hours, general education, and lactation-specific education. Because of this, IBCLC’s are able to offer the most extensive scope of practice and care when it comes to complex breastfeeding difficulties.
Mama Bear Lactation Care officially opened in October 2019, offering services and in-home visits for a variety of needs from prenatal consultations to back-to-work pumping tips. Hafele states, “I am a firm believer in educating new parents on the basics of milk production and how breastfeeding works, ahead of delivery if possible. It is helpful for parents to know what biologically normal infant behavior looks like and what is outside the norm and requires attention/intervention.”
Mama Bear Lactation Care also offers group classes that are a great way to learn the basics and meet other parents and parents-to-be. Additionally, Hafele holds a free, drop-in “Weight Check Wednesday” clinic every week at Lily Pad Lab in Eau Claire. WCW is a free service open to the public for anyone to get a weight check on their baby with no obligation; it also provides a chance for current clients to touch base with Hafele, as well as for curious potential clients to meet her ahead of booking an appointment. Families are welcome to bring older children to enjoy the Lily Pad Lab space and, as Hafele says, “play while we weigh.”
Partners are encouraged to attend both at-home consultations as well as group classes. Hafele states, “One of the biggest indicators of how successful a nursing parent will be is how supportive their partner is! I also find that partners often remember the most out of the class or consult and can remind the nursing parent later on with that information.”
Many area hospitals offer inpatient lactation services, but the options for outpatient lactation visits (after discharge) are harder to find. Hafele says one of the things her clients love best is that they don’t even have to get out of their pajamas or buckle baby up in the car seat when they meet with her. One less stressor taken out of being a new parent! Hafele also provides proper documentation for clients to submit to their insurance companies if they choose to seek reimbursement for lactation services, which are required to be covered under the Affordable Care Act in most cases.
The phrase “Mama Bear” has always held special meaning for Hafele. She likes the protective connotation of the name and often feels she is Mama Bear for her own children and the families she serves. Hafele loves what she does and states, “I consider it a privilege to walk with families as they develop new identities as parents and find who they are in their new roles.”
For more information about Mama Bear Lactation Care, visit Hafele’s website: https://www.mamabearlactationcare.com/.