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A Mother's Day: 5K Run for World Breastfeeding Week

M. Danielle Bergum
Parkersburg, West Virginia, USA
From New Beginnings, Vol. 26 No. 2, 2009, p. 9

I struggled to find comfort and support during an emotionally difficult pregnancy. My husband and I anticipated a natural birth but we were unknowingly preparing for a "typical hospital birth." Books and childbirth classes were my retreat to sanity, keeping me grounded with uplifting motivation and knowledge. They were opening my eyes to a whole new world of birth and parenting. With this new knowledge, I took more responsibility for my birth, switching care providers as well as birth locations.

I avoided an imminent cesarean section with the assistance of DeEtte Nicholson, Certified Nurse-Midwife, at a beautiful home birth to my precious baby girl. Breastfeeding got off to a good start and I felt empowered but things quickly turned around. I was having a lot of pain during nursing and the four-hour breastfeeding sessions, with little break between, were taking their toll on my emotional well being. Through my husband's support, we decided to call Asheville, NC, La Leche League Leader, Susan Mooney; we knew she was the person to help.

Susan came to our apartment, commenting on the surprisingly clean state it was in, and sat down with days-old Isabella. Checking on mouth features, sucking style, latch-on, and how I was holding her, Susan assessed our breastfeeding approach with positive encouragement. Though I still supplemented with expressed milk in the first few weeks to limit the pain, I was gradually able to nurse more often and eventually my baby girl was exclusively feeding at the breast.

As the weeks went by, and I began to reconnect with the world, I attended my first LLL meeting. Nursing in public was awkward for me, with only one previous occurrence but, if I were to get the hang of it, this was the place to start. Being able to discuss problems and solutions and relate to others' experiences was life changing. My mother was also a significant resource during this period with reminiscences from her own postpartum days. After moving back home to the Mid-Ohio Valley, I have continued breastfeeding, finding more ease and comfort in my ability. Now I have a network of support, so that I am able to continue giving this beautiful gift to my daughter.

This experience has fed my passion to become a childbirth educator and supporter. In looking for a way to give back to those who helped me during this time, I decided to plan a World Breastfeeding Week Celebration event. My choice led me to the Mid-Ohio River City Runners and Walkers Club (the RCRW), of which my mother, Leslie Thomas, is a member. The RCRW holds races throughout the year and almost every weekend during the summer months. They collect entry fees to contribute to their group and to cover event costs as well as to raise money for a variety of grant programs and charity organizations. The RCRW's race coordinator, Joe Corra, was excited to hear our proposal for a Mother's Day race and volunteered to help, beginning with the USTAF certification (to accurately measure the distance) of a beautiful and stroller-friendly 3.1-mile course along the Ohio River.

We designed race flyers and a Web site, contacted newspapers, and sent entry forms through the RCRW mailer to spread the word. Feeling it was important to promote mothering resources when possible, I solicited the mother-oriented groups and businesses I have used during my own birth and breastfeeding experiences. We received generous donations from nationally known companies and local grocers donated refreshments. So, with most of our costs covered, almost all our entry fees contributed to the $1000 we raised during our event.

The event was an absolute success with over 70 adult participants and a handful of children who joined in the fun. With my passion for breastfeeding and my mom's enthusiasm for competitive fitness, this mother-daughter team increased breastfeeding awareness while raising money for LLL's World Breastfeeding Week campaign.

We look forward to next year's event and are already planning the details at

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