Local clothing store launches ‘Baby Cafe’

Blossom Boutique opened its Baby Cafe Thursday. Pictured, from left, are Michelle Norman, of Shiawassee Health and Wellness; Erica Matteson, an employee at Blossom Boutique; Jennifer Babcock, a lactation consultant with the SCHD; Tiffany Hanson, a breastfeeding counselor at the SCHD; Jill Koterva, an RN with the SCHD; Nicole Greenway, director of personal community health at the SCHD; and Annalisa Creger, a registered dietician with WIC.

OWOSSO — On Thursday, the owner of Blossom Boutique in Owosso unveiled a new meeting area for mothers and those who are expecting.

The Baby Cafe, located inside the children’s clothing store, will be a place for women to come and network, as well as a place to share the struggles and successes of motherhood. The cafe will be open during Blossom Boutique’s regular business hours.

Owner Bobbi Fuller said when people were giving her advice on how to make her retail business the most profitable, they warned her against the Baby Cafe because it wouldn’t produce money. She was undeterred by that notion because of how beneficial she thought the cafe could be.

From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. every Thursday, the Baby Cafe will host a drop-in group that will be focused on breastfeeding.

It will be a time for moms or expecting mothers to get together and talk about what issues, if any, they are experiencing, while having health and wellness professionals on hand to take questions.

Fuller hopes that having an informational meeting outside of a traditional health care facility will be beneficial.

“A lot of people know there are resources out there but they don’t think they fall into a category where they should be utilizing those resources,” Fuller said. “I think (people) more or less assume that they are for those with low-income, where it’s not a service that is meant for everybody and that’s not the case at all. We’re trying to break that stigma of having resources and using them by just having the meetings in a different location.”

Jennifer Babcock, a lactation consultant with the Shiawassee County Health Department, will attend the meetings to answer questions and offer advice.

“This is an opportunity for moms to come together and use each other as a resource, but also to have other resources and people to help them. Sometimes breastfeeding isn’t easy for everyone,” Babcock said. “They can come here and get that extra support. It also gives them someone to call up and say, ‘Hey, I’m having a hard day, this isn’t working,’ and get some help.

“It is open to any pregnant mom or breastfeeding mom. It doesn’t matter if they have never breastfed or have been doing it for a week, we’re just here to educate,” Babcock continued. “It’s all evidence-based practice, that’s why we have certain staff available to moms.”

Oftentimes there is a stigma around breastfeeding in public, Tiffany Hanson, a breastfeeding counselor with the SCHD, said. She hopes the Baby Cafe helps normalize feelings around it.

“When someone is breastfeeding and showing any part of their breast people think it’s sexual,” Hanson said. “We’re trying to normalize it because that’s what babies are meant to do. They are meant to breastfeed. The main thing is just educating moms to know what’s normal.”

Babcock said that, according to Michigan law, mothers can breastfeed anytime in public — indecent exposure laws don’t apply to breastfeeding.

Danielle Devota attended the opening of the Baby Cafe with her newborn. She said she was looking forward to the support and resources the group will offer.

“Breastfeeding is hard, but it’s nice to have a network of people to be around and ask questions,” Devota said. “You can go on the internet and search for anything, but having a real-life person who you can sit across from and talk to about the issues you’re facing, or just to brainstorm with, is really valuable.”

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