Photos courtesy of Prep for Babes
It seems like beauty pageant winner and mother of twin toddlers (as well as a four year old) are two roles that would be pretty difficult to fill at the same time. Julie Hamilton, Mrs. Nashville 2010, would disagree. Julie not only handles the duties of both, but she is using her status as Mrs. Nashville to help new moms through those early 'dark days' of no sleep, ravenous babies, and constantly wondering if the babies are eating enough that all parents go through when they first bring their babies home from the hospital. Julie's platform is breastfeeding awareness and she is using her position as Mrs. Nashville to work with the Metro Nashville Department of Health to educate Nashvillians about the benefits of breastfeeding and to encourage breastfeeding mothers.
Julie wanted to talk about breastfeeding, and if that's what you want to read, I suggest you skip to the next paragraph. For the sake of my own curiosity I had to first ask her a few questions about the Mrs. Nashville pageant. The competitors are married and typically several years older than Miss Nashville competitors. Competitors can be mothers, but it isn't required. Julie reports that the competition is quite similar to Miss Nashville with evening gown, swimsuit, and interview portions. The contestants community involvement and platform play a major role in the interview portion, and Julie volunteers for Baptist Hospital and the American Red Cross. The competition does not include a talent portion because as Julie puts it, "The organizers rightly know once we are married and especially with children, our talents we focused on growing up changed and became negotiating with our four year old to eat vegetables!"
Julie is the mother of 20 month old fraternal twins and a four year old daughter. With that background it's easy to see why she feels strongly about breastfeeding. In her own words, "When I brought my twins home from the hospital I was unprepared to breastfeed them and quickly got into a lot of trouble. I call those first few days my “dark days” and I am working hard to protect new moms from having those dark days."
In addition to her work as Mrs. Nashville, Julie is writing a book about breastfeeding and has just begunto teach classes on breastfeeding preparation. Julie has a Certificate in Lactation Counseling, as well as the practical experience of breastfeeding twins for two years. Her teaching partner, Holly, is registered nurse and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant with years of experience as a labor and delivery nurse and teaching breastfeeding at Baptist and Centennial Hospitals in the Nashville area. Holly also has plenty of practical experience with her four children (with a fifth on the way this summer). The duo wrote their own curriculum combing their own breastfeeding experiences with the latest cutting edge research. They call their class for expectant moms Prep for Babes. When asked to describe the course, Julie says:
"We cover what you’d expect like how to hold your baby in different positions, importance of a good latch, health benefits but we really focus on preparedness as the key to breastfeeding success. Examples include having a professional resource ready if needed, identifying supporters, having basic supplies ready, interviewing the baby’s pediatrician and making sure they are supportive of breastfeeding and more."
In a twist I haven't seen in the Nashville area, Julie and Holly also offer a Prep for Babes course for the family and support system of the moms to be. Historically women turned to their mothers, female family members, and friends for support, but in the 70's and 80's when most of today's new moms where born most women didn't breastfeed their babies so they aren't quite sure how to help. The class offers facts on the importance of breastfeeding for mother and baby (or babies), as well as suggestions on how to support a breastfeeding mom.
The Prep for Babes classes cost $60 and begin on April 20 for moms. The families class hasn't been scheduled yet, but it will cost $55 and classes will be announced soon for April and May. All classes will be held at The Women's Club on Hillsboro Road in Green Hills.
Julie assures me that daddies are welcome in the class for mothers and male relatives are welcome in the support class. Come back Wednesday to hear ideas from Julie and myself about the best way to handle the late night feedings.
Additional reading: Interview with a certified lactation consultant, Breastfeeding from a dad's point of view.