Meet Ita Wimer, Culturally Dirverse Community Breastfeeding Educator
Ita joined the CBE group in 2021. She speaks Spanish and English.
Where did you grow up, Ita?
I was born here in Lincoln at Saint Elizabeth’s hospital about four years after my family moved to Lincoln. I love to tell my family’s story of how they ended up in Lincoln. My family is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. They were on their way to Michigan, where we have other family, when their car ended up breaking down on I-80 right outside of Lincoln. My parents were blown away by the help they received and the kindness they were shown. They decided that they would stay and chose to raise their family here!
My parents came to the U.S. because they wanted their children to have better education and opportunities. Both my parents were teachers, but in the U.S. they took on many different and difficult jobs in order to provide for us. I will always be grateful to them for the sacrifices they made for us.
Did you see mothers breastfeeding their babies when you were growing up? What did you learn from them?
My siblings and I were all breastfed. In Mexico, it is very normal to breastfeed and on visits, I saw babies being breastfed. Since I am the youngest in my family, I didn’t have much experience with babies until my oldest sisters had babies. I remember how strongly my oldest sister felt about wanting to give her babies breastmilk and knowing how much it meant to her and to my mom, I was sure I would breastfeed my own children someday.
My mom passed away when I was very little, so I am so glad to have my sisters for support. I also feel breastfeeding has been a way to be closer to my mom and her experience in life.
What was your experience like breastfeeding your own children? Was it easy or hard? What helped you?
Trigger Warning: Infant Loss
My firstborn baby unfortunately passed away shortly after birth due to a congenital birth defect. We were able to meet him and hold him. He was born prematurely, and I remember thinking how I needed to get a breast pump and ask for donor milk. When that was no longer necessary, I wanted to pump and donate milk to bring some good out of what had happened and to help other babies.
I wasn’t able to get a pump through my insurance, but I went to MilkWorks and they had just received a donated pump the previous day. My lactation consultant taught me how to use the pump and how to ease my engorgement. I pumped for three and a half months. I feel that donating my milk was something that helped me grieve and heal.
End Trigger Warning
I had my older daughter the next year, and she latched right away! Breastfeeding her was intense and I remember one night I cried to my husband when she just wouldn’t stop eating and I was worried that something was wrong. But I had support from my family and my doctor, and she was growing well and thriving.
I had an oversupply, and it took months for my body to regulate. I went to MilkWorks when my daughter was around two months and got some help with my daughter’s latch because she had learned to clamp down to slow the flow of my milk. We overcame our struggles, and I was able to breastfeed her until she was almost two.
Breastfeeding was much easier with my younger daughter. I knew to expect long cluster feeds and I spent many nights nursing her and doing skin to skin while watching TV and eating snacks. She didn’t have the best latch, but I knew how to help her latch the best she could and I knew things would get better with time (and they did!). She’s 20 months now and absolutely loves nursing. I think we will keep going to two years.
What do you like most about helping other mothers to breastfeed?
I like being able to reassure moms that they are doing well and that they are good moms. I think so many moms feel like they are doing something wrong, and especially new moms don’t know what is normal.
What do you think mothers find easy (or hard) about breastfeeding today?
There are so many resources for moms who want to breastfeed, which is awesome! You can find videos and information about almost any situation, and especially in Lincoln it is easy to get help when you need it.
There are still a lot of barriers for moms, however. A lot of moms worry about supply, and it makes sense when you think about how so many moms don’t have the support to breastfeed or pump frequently, especially if they are back at school or work. There’s also pressure from society and from family, sometimes to use formula when it isn’t necessary (which may hurt their supply), and sometimes to breastfeed even when mom’s mental and physical health are really suffering.
Every mom needs support at home, at work, and in her community, and without that, breastfeeding is often an insurmountable challenge.
How can our community better support new mothers?
I love how the mall has a really nice space for moms to breastfeed, either privately if they choose, or in more of a lounge area. I wish more stores and public places had quiet areas for moms to sit and get comfortable with their baby. I think a lot of workplaces still lack clean, accessible, and comfortable places for moms to pump, and I wish there was more public understanding of how frequently moms need to remove milk in order to keep their supply, stay comfortable, and avoid clogged ducts and mastitis.
What do you find most helpful about being part of the CBE group?
I love hearing everyone’s unique perspectives and it feels amazing to be with others who are passionate about supporting breastfeeding moms. I think it helps me support other moms when I hear so many different experiences and I am so glad to have the group as a resource and a place to find friendship and support.
What else would you like to share about yourself?
I am a peer counselor for moms who have WIC benefits. Not everyone realizes that WIC is a huge resource for breastfeeding moms. I would like to encourage anyone who would like more support with breastfeeding to look into WIC and make use of the great benefits and services they provide.
(Interview July 2022)