As they say, every baby is different and they don’t come with a manual. For Missoula families, a book isn’t the only resource available. The Nursing Nook, owned and operated by Jennifer and Scott Stires, has become a trusted hub for new families.
It’s not just about mom and baby anymore. That’s evident the moment anyone walks through the doorway of the Nursing Nook. Scott mans the shop and is often the first contact for customers.
“I see dads or grandpas coming in to buy supplies. They’ll do a double-take and say, ‘You’re the last person I expected to see in the store.’ I’ll say, ‘Well, you’re the last person I’d expect coming through the door.’ We have a good laugh and then I explain that everything I know, I learned from my wife.”
Jennifer Stires has 20-plus years in nursing and health education. With her medical background of a lactation specialist and a heart for growing families, Jennifer is out to de-smarm the myths of what life should look like after a baby arrives.
“No matter which way it goes, it’s a challenging time for parents. In nursing school, I learned about infant nutrition and the best way to breast feed but nobody taught moms how to actually do that. Even with my third child, I had lactation problems. Just because we know what we should do doesn’t mean our bodies cooperate,” she said.
From their home base at the Nursing Nook, Jennifer and Scott focus on education and the health of the entire family. And like any good secret, Scott shares from his own experience.
“Our youngest daughter wouldn’t let me bottle feed her because she smelt Jen in the house. So, if they’re bottle feeding, I advise dads to send mom out of the house for a bit. It’s going to make it a whole lot easier,” Scott said. Jennifer agreed. “We are parents first and professionals second. We meet our customers where they’re at.” “Even if they’re halfway across the country,” Scott added. “I get calls every day from someone who needs a quality breast pump. We ship them all over. We’re here to help moms, regardless of where they live.”
Doing business in Missoula has been an easy fit, especially when it comes to offering a variety of natural, holistic retail products. “Our Boobie Bars are big sellers,” Jennifer said. “They’re full of organic herbs, vitamins for mom, and ingredients that increase lactation.” When it comes to pumping, wearables are all the craze. “There’s quiet pumps you can literally fit into a nursing bra,” Jennifer explained. “I almost guarantee, when someone is out, there’s a mom near them who is pumping right then and there and they don’t even know it.”
Convenience and ease are new additions to the world of parenting and the Nursing Nook is privy to all the improved ways of caring for a healing mother and new baby, and even more so: meeting the needs for both.
In addition to retail items, the Nursing Nook offers educational classes. Scott has been teaching CPR for eighteen years and he used to work for Missoula Parks and Recreation programs, and Jennifer used to work as a public health nurse. Together, they offer walk-in support, consultations, and everything one needs for nursing.
“Support programs and training have always been an important part of what we provide,” Scott said. “We haven’t always had the room, though. Now, we have an official community space. Our goal is to open that up to community members who want to host classes or share resources.”
For the couple, collaboration with the community is key. Scott directed Missoula’s Baby Fair at Caras Park for years. Together, they started Montana’s Milk Bank. Jennifer negotiates agreements with most insurance companies as a Durable Medical Supplier.
“I advocate hard for babies and families. For example, a premature baby was in the NICU and mom wasn’t getting the proper supplies that the hospital said she needed. I got on the phone with the insurance company and made sure she got them. I get pretty fired up about that,” Jennifer said.
Throughout their 13 years in business, Jennifer and Scott expect the Nursing Nook to grow along with the families it serves.
“The roots we’ve planted in Missoula are going to last for decades,” Jennifer said. “More than likely, we’ll help clients that we saw as infants. We’re watching Missoula’s future grow up.”
Jennifer and Scott Stiles