Why We Volunteer!

Ruth Tincoff

Founder and Breastfeeding Counselor

“I'm excited to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Breastfeeding USA and all of the amazing contributions from Counselors, volunteers, members, and breastfeeding parents!
“The photo you see is of me and my second daughter born in 2013. We are so happy because of the support and up-to-date evidence-based information we found in Breastfeeding USA that helped us solve...you guessed it!... latch problems from a restricted tongue and upper lip. I was surprised to find myself in that situation after so recently helping to establish Breastfeeding USA as a new option for information and support. Didn't this baby know that I had it all figured out?!? It's always good to be reminded that we have more to learn. That sweet baby is now an energetic 7-year-old and my first baby, who helped connect me to the breastfeeding community back in 2002, is now a wonderful young adult in college.
“My memories of organizing Breastfeeding USA include: late night chat board conversations, big dreams, laughter, working with knowledgeable and passionate volunteers on the mission statement and code of ethics, seeing the first website come together, contributing to the first Breastfeeding Counselor course, completing my training as a Breastfeeding Counselor, starting the Central Pennsylvania chapter, learning more about myself and the lives of the other volunteers, and many more organizational and personal moments. It's quite wonderful to see all that Breastfeeding USA is doing today. I send much love and appreciation to each and every person who was involved in imagining and creating Breastfeeding USA to be of service to today's breastfeeding parents.”

Beth Lichy

Breastfeeding USA Counselor, Volunteer Services Chair, Director, and Founder

"My first child was born in 1985 and I was the first in my extended family to breastfeed. It was a rough birth and my daughter was in the NICU for treatment with antibiotics. I kept telling the hospital staff that I wanted to breastfeed my baby but was told it could wait until the next day. No one listened to me, and I didn't know how to advocate for myself and my child. The next day, I reached a lactation consultant who took me to my daughter and helped me latch her on. Once we were home, no more bottles, formula, or pumping were required and we had a great breastfeeding journey. My two sons were breastfed for increasingly longer periods of time.
"That one lactation helper really inspired me. I became a Nursing Mothers' Counselor, then a La Leche League Leader after we moved, and then a Founder of Breastfeeding USA. As the years passed, a group of us envisioned creating a national membership organization that would be inclusive, evidence-based and welcoming of the many ways in which parents feed and nurture their babies. I've been blessed to see that same daughter breastfeed her own two little boys and to see Breastfeeding USA grow across the country. I love sharing the knowledge and wisdom I learned through breastfeeding with today's generation of parents. Through my own local Breastfeeding USA Chapter, the volunteers I work with daily and my work as an IBCLC, I have met the most incredible people and the cutest babies!"

Carmen Valverde

Breastfeeding USA Counselor, Administrator of Spanish Speaking Facebook Group and Co-chair of Community Participation.

"Why did I become a Breastfeeding USA volunteer? Well, breastfeeding was very healing and very rewarding to me but it came with its challenges. I am so thankful for all the women who were part of my journey and helped me continue and reach my goals. I would like to pass on that help. My first child wasn't breastfed. At the time I gave birth, I had a lot of misconceptions and misconceptions about breastfeeding and felt that formula feeding was the best decision. Over the years, fortunately before the conception of my second child, I realized the importance of breastfeeding. It's not only important to our health but also to get attached. I was determined that because I knew better I would do better. When my daughter was born I was very motivated to continue breastfeeding even though it was hard at first. We continued exclusively breastfeeding for 2.5 years and weaned when it was the best time for both of us. Achieving my goals wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't had the support of women who gave me accurate information about breastfeeding. Thank you Breastfeeding USA for giving me the opportunity to help other women reach their goals!"

Rachel Wineberg Fenton

Breastfeeding USA Counselor, Lactation Counselor at Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

“Today I had a lovely phone conversation with a woman who had questions about breastfeeding. At the end of the call she told me she felt relieved after speaking with me. That's one of the highest compliments I can receive. My goal is to help those wanting to provide breastmilk to meet their own goals, NOT mine. If I can help breastfeeding parents feel more comfortable, confident, relieved, and/or empowered, I consider that a success.”

Carol Kelley

Founder, Applications Review Team, and Breastfeeding Counselor Support for the Southern Region

"Somewhere around 2008, a few of us...looked into forming a breastfeeding support organization for the 21st century. We wanted an organization that was welcoming to employed mothers, that had an open, transparent governance where the counselors were stakeholders and had a say in how things were run, and that had evidence-based education curricula. I was fortunate to be in that group of women. We discussed things through email and eventually through Instant Messenger chats. In December 2010, we were ready to launch."

Beth Bejnarowicz

Founder, Breastfeeding Counselor, and Breastfeeding Information and Resources co-chair.

“I started volunteering 22 years ago, teaching senior citizens computer skills. I would start with the basics; this is a mouse, this is a monitor, this is a keyboard, etc. It taught me a lot of patience! Through my first pregnancy, I continued working and volunteering. I was confident about my ability to raise some children, but I wasn't really sure I was going to breastfeed. I really thought it was kind of weird. But, my firstborn taught me how to give more thoroughly than I had ever thought possible, and I wanted the best for her, so I breastfed her, and then her little brother when he came along. There were many challenges, a couple unusual, and most run of the mill.

“Blending volunteering and breastfeeding merged beautifully and so I volunteered to help new families with their new babies. New parents have a LOT of questions, and their confidence can be undermined quite easily. They need a lot of encouragement and support. I love the new babies, but I love the new mothers even more; they are so tenderhearted and deserve extra TLC. So, what started as a little something has turned into a life-long commitment for me. It has changed my life. It feels so good to give, to lift others up. If you haven't already, I hope you find this fulfillment too. Breastfeeding is so much more than just about the milk.”

Amanda Gresham

Breastfeeding Counselor and co-chair of Community Engagement

“I breastfed my first two children, both past 14 months. Sometimes begging for direction and at times offering my advice. It was a unique journey with each individual child including many challenges and triumphs along the way. One of the toughest challenges included being a first-generation breastfeeding mom, having little to no guidance or education on the subject beforehand. Other challenges included: not having access to a breastpump, infant allergies, high lipase, clogged ducts, mastitis, GERD, breastfeeding while pregnant, experiencing a miscarriage and being a full-time college student.
“It was suggested to me that I become a lactation consultant so that I could share my experiences and educate other breastfeeding families. After interning with Atlanta Lactation in 2018 and researching possible avenues for becoming an IBCLC, I felt it best to start out as a Breastfeeding Counselor. I discovered that BfUSA’s mission and goals aligned with my personal values and beliefs. After college, I remained a stay at home mom. I now have a 5-year-old son, a 3-year-old daughter, and my rainbow baby who was born in August 2020. I continue doing what I feel most passionate about which is helping other breastfeeding families. I recently joined BfUSA's Social Media team and the Photo Management team, where I enjoy creating and sharing inspirational and motivational memes. Having encouragement and support throughout any journey is such a great feeling, and I feel great offering my support and encouragement to other breastfeeding families. Support makes ALL the difference.”

Nicky Prince

Breastfeeding Counselor, Accounts Receivable, and Social Media workgroup member.

“My name is Nicky and I have 2 children who are now 10 and 12 years old. I breastfed them both for at least a year and learned a lot during that time! I learned that each child is different and even though you have breastfed your first baby, your second may bring new and different challenges or experiences! I am so thankful for the support I received from friends and family as that helped me to be able to breastfeed so long. I remember attending breastfeeding support groups (even one when I was pregnant with my first!) which always left me feeling supported and encouraged."

“I wanted to be able to offer that same support to other moms. I have been a breastfeeding counselor for around 7 years now and enjoy being able to help people with their breastfeeding questions or just giving some reassurance. I love learning and have recently obtained my IBCLC certification as well. There have definitely been some challenges with COVID and I am interested in creative virtual ways we can support moms through these times.”

Patty Jacobs

Founder, Past President, Breastfeeding Counselor, Compliance Officer, National Volunteer

“I always knew I would breastfeed. My grandmother told stories of nursing her six children, so it made good sense to me too. And I wanted the close bond with the baby that I’d read about. My first baby girl was born in 1985 after a 7-year experience with infertility. We struggled for the first 6 weeks, before settling into a good groove. Breastfeeding after a C-section, low supply, sleepy baby, health concerns with visits to specialists, etc. for nearly a month, and cracked bleeding nipples, due to poor positioning were just a few of our struggles. My second baby was a total surprise. The girls are exactly 18 months apart to the day. Fast forward....My experience with breastfeeding my second was entirely different. I had a Vbac birth, a healthy baby, and zero breastfeeding issues. I was armed with the confidence that comes with breastfeeding experience."

“My eldest, Amy, weaned at 14 months due to my low milk supply during pregnancy, but surprisingly started up again 5 months later, opening up 3 years of tandem nursing. That was probably the hardest aspect of breastfeeding long term but brought great rewards too like a reduction of sibling rivalry. Having two under two wasn’t easy, but having them close together had its advantages too. They played together, tandem nursed together, and shared a small room in our little house until they went away to college. All this time, I helped other families, supported moms, dads, grandparents and babies, as a volunteer breastfeeding helper. I did this in the community where I was born and raised, as a La Leche League Leader. . Hundreds of parents and their children have passed through my home. And I visited them in their homes too. I’m so proud to be a part of the founding of Breastfeeding USA for the past 10 years, continuing the legacy of mother-to-mother and parent-to-parent support that offers an open, inclusive spirit among the volunteers."

“I just became a grandmother for the first time on Nov. 4th. It’s an incredible feeling watching my daughter become a mother, snuggling her newborn. Watching her struggle with breastfeeding is hard though. Mothers have struggled since the dawn of time and were helped by other experienced mothers. And today with our often isolated families, encouragement, support, and information is more important than ever before. One mother helping another mother was the cornerstone of Breastfeeding USA support. And today, one experienced breastfeeding parent helping another parent. Yet, after helping families as a peer breastfeeding counselor for over 30 years, I know that not everyone realizes their breastfeeding goals. Parents need kindness, empathy, and support no matter how they ultimately feed their babies.”