Guest post: Breastfeeding champion and consultant Denise Mills

Denise Mills with her fiance Calvin Sr. and son Calvin Jr.
Denise Mills with her fiance Calvin Sr. and son Calvin Jr.

This blog was written by Denise Mills, a former Nurse-Family Partnership participant. NFP is an evidence-based home-visiting model for pregnant women that is implemented within the Healthy Start program in Duval County and funded through the Florida Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program

Denise is currently a breastfeeding consultant with the Coalition. During National Breastfeeding Month, she shares her journey as a breastfeeding mom and how she now supports other moms in the same quest. 

Hi my name is Denise Mills. I would like to share with you some of the amazing things that the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition is doing.

The Coalition is working very hard to improve breastfeeding initiation and duration rates within the Jacksonville Nurse-Family Partnership Program by implementing strategies through the Home Visiting Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network. While breastfeeding initiation rates are high in the region and program, duration rates decrease sharply at six months.

Prior to working at the Coalition, I was a participant in the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program.  NFP is a program for first-time parents where a nurse comes to visit you in your home. This home visitor helps you get prepared to be a parent. Your home visitor nurse stays with you until your child is two years old.

photo 1While I was a participant in NFP, I made a choice to breastfeed my son. My nurse home visitor Janet McDonald gave me information one visit about breastfeeding and I knew that I had to try it. I breastfed my son for 12 months and I have to say I truly loved it.  Although it wasn’t easy in the beginning, I knew that I was giving my son the best gift I could ever give him. After my experience with breastfeeding I told anyone I could about it. I was so thankful to the NFP program and the Coalition that they truly became part of my life.  I never wanted to leave this program but knew one day that day would come and another mom would learn everything that I did.

Rounds at the grounds 2014-3733I was very pleased one day to know that I wasn’t the only mom that wished the NFP program last longer. The Coalition and the Jacksonville NFP program granted our wish. They allowed us to put together a NFP support group. In this group we give all NFP participants (graduates and current) a chance to get together and get to know each other. This group is still fairly new but we are growing and we hope to have all participants come to the once a month meetings and also be a part of our Facebook page. We have moms days out and play dates with the kids. We are trying to get a daddy’s group together where the graduated dads will mentor the new dads in the group.  I am very thankful to the Northeast Florida Healthy Coalition for this platform that they have allowed us to have.

Very recently the Coalition has given me another amazing opportunity. I am now working with the Coalition on a grant to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration through the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO)  as a peer breastfeeding counselor.  I have been trained as a peer breastfeeding counselor and now I have breastfeeding support groups for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. This program works hand in hand with our NFP program by referring clients at 33 weeks that show interest in breastfeeding to me for support. We are also working on putting pumping stations in two local high schools.

I get to share my story with so many now and I just hope that I can make a difference in one person’s life.