BC Guide - Preparing the Meeting Space

Breastfeeding Counselors should arrive early to prepare the space before each meeting. A well-prepared meeting space can help attendees feel at ease and facilitate good discussion and information sharing which is helpful for the participants.

Comfortable Seating

Breastfeeding Counselors should arrange for adequate seating for the attendees. The seating arrangement may vary based on the type of meeting. Drop-in meetings may use some table seating (particularly if food or drinks are provided), with extra space around the tables for parents of toddlers who may be more active. Classroom seating (with chairs in rows or behind tables) may be appropriate for educational events, although mothers carrying babies often need more room than is typically provided in a classroom situation. To foster mother-to-mother discussion in a support group meeting setting, BCs can create a circle of chairs. Often mothers with small babies may want to sit in the middle of the circle to participate while meeting the needs of their babies. In all cases, the BC should ensure that there is adequate space for all the participants and their children to feel safe and comfortable.

Safety Issues

Breastfeeding Counselors should evaluate the safety of the meeting space, keeping in mind the needs of the expected participants. Look particularly for child-proofing issues, recognizing that every family may have different safety concerns for their children. BCs may want to alert parents to watch their own children closely at meetings to avoid any safety problems.

Welcome Area

Breastfeeding Counselors can create a special area at which attendees can be greeted and welcomed to the meeting. A sign-in table can be placed in the welcome area to hold supplies and information for attendees, including a meeting sign-in sheet, Breastfeeding USA general information and membership forms, and name tags. If the Community Chapter maintains a lending library, it can be displayed on the welcome table or nearby.

Children’s Toys

The Community Chapter may choose to keep some small, quiet toys and engaging picture books available for participants’ children to play with during meetings. If so, the Breastfeeding Counselor can place these where the children’s parents can supervise the play while participating in the meeting. Chapter volunteers can be enlisted to help wash toys before meeting dates. Some Chapters may choose to have a mother’s helper supervise older children in a nearby space, separate from the main meeting area.

Refreshment Area

Serving food and drink at meetings can help participants to relax and be more comfortable in discussion. However, some meeting places may have restrictions on types of food and drink that can be served. Breastfeeding Counselors should also be considerate about potential food sensitivities and allergies among the participants, as well as possible religious or cultural food restrictions. In some cases, these issues may make it undesirable to offer refreshments at Chapter meetings.

If the Community Chapter does decide to serve food at its meetings, Breastfeeding Counselors can arrange for a refreshment area which is appropriately accessible and safe for the eating participants, with any needed serving items available. Recognizing that food spills are always a possibility, the refreshment area can also be stocked with plenty of napkins and cleaning supplies so the meeting can continue while any accidents are cleaned up. Because setup, serving, and cleanup can be difficult for participants with small children, engaging specific volunteers to manage the refreshments area can be a big help to the BCs.