MERIDEN — Yamayra Rivera was a registered nurse in Puerto Rico before moving to Meriden.
Navigating the breastfeeding world on her own, gave the mother of four children experiences and tools she can share with other mothers in her new position as breastfeeding peer counselor at the Women, Infants and Children office in Meriden.
Dana Lamontagne, nutritionist and breastfeeding coordinator for WIC in Meriden, said the goal was to hire someone with similar experiences to the moms in the program to help with their challenges and goals. The position is new in the Meriden office, but has been used at other offices around the state.
The goal is to have moms enroll during pregnancy and for Rivera to meet with them at least once every trimester. She will also speak with clients in between appointments as needed and continue to counsel women after their babies are born.
They will also be able to reach Rivera by cell phone.
“Whether it is a text or a quick phone call just letting them know that you’re thinking of them, that’s really like what these moms need, especially after they’ve had their babies and they’re over tired and they’re overwhelmed so it’s exciting because she’ll have those tools,” said Shelley Carpenter, Meriden WIC coordinator.
The office was looking for a bilingual peer counselor because of the high Spanish speaking population in the city, Carpenter said.
Rivera, who moved to Meriden nine years ago has been a stay at home mom in recent years, called the new job a “great opportunity.”
“I’m so happy to serve the community,” she said.
One of her goals is to encourage all pregnant women to consider breastfeeding.
“Yamayra, she has such a great personality, she’s so warm and nurturing and I think she’s a good listener,” Carpenter said. “That’s what these new moms need.”
Carpenter explained that breastfeeding has many benefits, including nutrition and cost effectiveness.
Undocumented mothers are welcome to take part in the WIC programs. Carpenter noted participating in the programs will not hurt anyone’s immigration status.
WIC also offers other resources such as support for fathers, educational videos and support groups.
For more information about WIC in Meriden, visit https://www.meridenct.gov/city-services/social-services/women-infants-and-children-wic-/ or call 203-630-4245.