Megan Bayer’s personal life prepared her for her professional one in some significant ways.
As a child, she survived Wilms tumor, a kidney cancer that primarily affects children.
“I’d been around hospitals and sick people, and I thought I could be a good nurse,” she said.
The cancer led to fertility complications. After losing two pregnancies, Bayer said she and her husband adopted two girls. Already a registered nurse specializing in breast-feeding assistance, Bayer learned first-hand about the challenges facing adoptive mothers in that regard.
In January, Bayer opened the Breastfeeding Center of Wichita.
“There just seems to be a real need for somebody who can do private consultation, that you can see the same person each time to help with complicated breast-feeding issues,” she said.
“And, of course, I can address some of the easier, more common breast-feeding issues as well.”
Bayer’s one-woman operation offers private consultations and group classes. She charges $75 for an hour-long, private, in-office consultation and $110 for a 90-minute home visit. Private clients also can partake of a free group consultation each Monday morning, which allows them to check their baby’s weight, ask questions in a group setting and chat with other mothers.
Bayer teaches two group classes – Breastfeeding Basics, and Breastfeeding and Beyond – each costing $25.
Bayer, who graduated from Wichita State University’s nursing school in 2003, says she didn’t start out to be a breast-feeding expert. Her first job out of college was in Wesley Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit.
A three-year job with the Healthy Babies program, run by the Sedgwick County Health Department, took her into the homes of many new mothers where she saw the importance of breast-feeding to child development.
“For the first year, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests breast-feeding exclusively for six months, then up to a year with complementary food,” she said.
Bayer became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2009. She said she has worked as a registered nurse and lactation consultant at Via Christi St. Joseph Hospital and Wesley Medical Center, and also taught in the nursing programs at WSU and Wichita Area Technical College. She’s currently working on her master’s degree from Fort Hays State University.
Bayer said she had been making hospital and home visits as a private breast-feeding consultant for eight years before opening her center, which sits behind the Super Target on Maple near Ridge Road. It’s small – 650 square feet – but outfitted with changing stations, private consultation and group rooms, restroom, kitchenette and leather “boss chair” her husband found in an estate sale.
She’s holding an open house Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.
In addition to breast-feeding basics such as positioning and techniques, establishing and maintaining a milk supply, choosing a pump and introducing complementary foods, Bayer has experience in helping women overcome challenges caused by breast augmentation or reduction, mastectomies, and trying to provide milk without having given birth.
Despite the challenges that breast-feeding can present, Bayer calls her work “a unique job that not many people get an opportunity to share in, because most of the time it’s done behind closed doors.”
“There’s something amazing about the fact that a woman’s body can make a baby and then she can feed it for the first year of the baby’s life. It still blows my mind.”
Now you know
BREASTFEEDING CENTER OF WICHITA
Address: 520 S. Holland, Suite 503
Owner: Megan Bayer