By Emily Glory Peters
For the many families who brought a child into the world in 2020, life has been a tenuous balance of joy, fear, and frustration. From solo prenatal check-ups to not having birthing partners allowed in the delivery room, the year has seen many moms and parents bravely maneuver a mounting pile of COVID-19 restrictions. When Huntington Hospital closed its breastfeeding center this spring, it appeared to be yet another pandemic-related casualty—until two women decided to do something about it.
“We founded Pasadena Breastfeeding Center because of the lack of community support as changes happened with the hospital. There was such a need,” says Christina Tenorio. Together with her friend and co-founder Teresa Peters, both women had served as international board-certified lactation consultants and childbirth educators at Huntington Hospital for years before their department was shuttered due to COVID. Within weeks, the pair opened Pasadena Breastfeeding Center to prevent more families from “falling through the cracks.”
“Those first few weeks after birth can determine if a family will breastfeed, how long they’ll breastfeed, and how successful it is,” says Peters. “Since most of these issues happen once you’re at home, it’s the support you get there that matters—and that’s where we come in.”
Offering Prenatal Classes and Lactation Consultations
Currently, Pasadena Breastfeeding Center offers online prenatal classes covering childbirth preparation, breastfeeding basics, and baby care, as well as private lactation consultations. Available seven days a week and easily booked online, the consultations can be virtual or in-person, with Peters and Tenorio employing medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE), temperature checks, and social distancing when possible to keep families safe. Both women emphasize the importance of personalizing the experience rather than supplying general lactation advice.
“Breastfeeding isn’t just about milk. It’s extremely personal—it’s the place your baby first understands who they are and what community is,” explains Peters. “Mom, or whomever is breastfeeding or chestfeeding, is the first member of their community, and they deserve unbiased health professionals who will listen to their stories and understand what’s unique about their bodies so we can better address any nursing challenges.” Preparing new moms and families for childbirth is equally important.
“Whether it’s pain management, pacing of the labor, or something else, not everyone in the labor room has the same agenda as the mother. We want to restore autonomy to these families because everyone’s body is different, and your body changes with each labor. Personalized prenatal education empowers women and their families,” says Tenorio.
Building Community in Pasadena and Beyond
Offering this level of support literally comes with the territory. Both holding degrees in maternal child health and human lactation and with a combined 40-plus years serving families across Los Angeles, Tenorio and Peters have formed close ties with many local physicians, nurses, health centers, and clinics. Those relationships give Pasadena Breastfeeding Center a deeper understanding of what local families need and where they can find help, the pair explain—something which, as moms themselves, both value.
“I raised my kids here. I know the doctors, I know the hospitals, and I’m invested in what breastfeeding looks like in San Gabriel Valley. This is the community I want to serve,” Peters explains. Helping transplants to the area is also a focus, Tenorio notes. “For some moms who’ve moved here from another state or country, we may be their only form of family support,” she says. “We want you to know that we’re here for you.”
To bring moms together, Pasadena Breastfeeding Center offers a free, online breastfeeding support group every week on Zoom. Tenorio and Peters are also working on accepting insurance with the aim of making their services as accessible as possible. And while launching a new business during the pandemic hasn’t been easy, with each new family they help, Peters and Tenorio feel they’ve made the right decision in opening the center.
“The knowledge we have shouldn’t be shut behind doors for people who need it. We want people to feel like we’re the family they can call to help them quell their fears,” says Peters. “We’re so grateful for every parent that includes us in their birthing or nursing journey, and we are so excited to help even more.”
To learn more about Pasadena Breastfeeding Center, visit pasadenabreastfeedingcenter.com or email email@example.com, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook @pasadenabreastfeedingcenter.