By Jill Nagy
Jenelle Nemeth’s new business, Breastfeeding Savvy, aims to ease the frustration and isolation felt by many new mothers trying to breastfeed their babies.
Nemeth and her colleagues offer individual consultations both before and after a baby’s birth and host weekly meetings of a lactating mothers’ support group.
The business, also called The Lactation Lounge, is located at 58 Clifton Country Road, Suite 106 in Clifton Park.
Nemeth said that she dreamed for a decade of providing a lactation support service but was motivated to actually do it when the hospital she worked at discontinued outpatient services during COVID and still is very limited by shortages of staff in what it can offer.
As a hospital nurse, Nemeth did home visits for a couple of years and, during that time, she saw a lot of new mothers self-isolating, cut off from outpatient services and support groups.
“My heart could not see another isolated mom and that was the real drive behind launching: to gather these moms together to see that they were not alone in transitioning into parenthood,” she said.
She sees between eight and 16 women a week for individual consultations. In addition, Nemeth opens the facility every Wednesday morning for a free support group. Sometimes, the new mothers just talk about common problems, lack of sleep high on the list, and exchange hints and ideas.
“I jump in with clinical support as needed,” she said. Other weeks, she arranges crafts or speakers. There are usually about eight women participating. Once the weather gets warmer and she can open the windows wide, she can expand the number of participants, she said.
In addition, the center offers CPR classes focusing on the special needs of infants. Nemeth sees it as part of preparation for starting babies on solid food.
Nemeth is assisted by two other RNs, Barbara Donnelly and Kathleen Burke. All three are international board certified lactation consultants. Each of them has a decade or more of hospital experience and Burke still works at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. In fact, the three of them worked together at St. Peter’s.
An intern, Sarah Henderson, is pursuing certification. Nemeth’s husband, Steve Nemeth III, does non-clinical work.
The business is named after the Nemeths’ daughter, Savanah, six and a half years old, nicknamed Savvy. They also have a son, Austin, almost four.
“My daughter was the inspiration behind the business name . . . and AJ, well, he tested my clinical knowledge during our breastfeeding journey, and I can now support our patients more optimally,” she said.
While Nemeth sees some women before their babies are born and helps prepare them (physically and emotionally) for nursing, most come for an initial consultation only after the baby is born. Typically, Nemeth said, those consultations last between two and two and a half hour.
“I help the moms determine what’s normal and what’s not normal,” she said. A major aim is to help the mother get—and remain—pain free. The baby is weighed before and after a feeding to be sure she or he is getting enough milk. Subsequent consultations are shorter, usually one to two hours.
Breastfeeding Savvy is in the networks of major health insurers and Nemeth is working on establishing affiliations with the others. For mothers covered by those insurers, care is free. For others, Nemeth provides detailed receipts that can be used to get reimbursement from their insurers. For self-paying clients, the initial consultations costs $250 and follow-up consultations are $150. But, Nemeth said, “I would never turn a mother down.”
While there are no immediate plans to expand the business, Nemeth noted that “a lot of consultants are knocking on our doors to join our team.” She estimates that she could expand to 10 qualified consultants within a month. She plans to grow the business as the number of clients justifies it.
Nemeth and her colleagues are still sensitive to protocols to reduce COVID exposure.
“We try to be extra cautious,” she said, “to protect the little ones.” Staff members still wear masks although they are optional for clients. Hand sanitizers are everywhere, she added.
Further information is on the company’s webpage, www.breastfeedingsavvy.com or by telephone at 518-344-6377.