More than 50 medical professionals, community members and mothers will be participating in a week-long training course all about how to better feed your baby.

The West Virginia Breastfeeding Alliance reports that West Virginia is below the national average for mothers who begin and stick with breastfeeding their babies, and officials are hoping to change that.

“You’re really talking about a public health issue. Anybody who knows anything about infant feeding knows that breastfeeding is healthier for babies, but also that it is not always easy,” said W.Va. Breastfeeding Alliance Director Molly McMillion.

The Center for Breastfeeding’s Lactation Counselor Training Course is a college-level course designed to provide research-based information. Participants work in a lecture style environment and learn practical skills to better help mothers.

“We need folks out there that can educate women on how to get started and support them,” said McMillion.

Organizers were happy to have such a variety of participants from all over the region.  Some participants have prior experience from their field or as mothers but were happy to have the opportunity to learn more.

“It’s a really great variety in this class of hospital folks as well as folks in the community, and that’s people in clinics; that’s home visitors; that’s WIC folks.  Just because the more we make breastfeeding the norm, the more it will be,” continued McMillion.

Participant and RN Tracy Sowards said she is eager to pass along her personal knowledge to new mothers.

“I would like to pass on my knowledge to other mothers because we see a lot of younger mothers, and they aren’t sure about how they want to feed their baby or they might want to breastfeed.  This will help give me the tools that I need to help them,” said Sowards.