All in a Day of Breastfeeding #ThrowbackThursday 1998

Since 1986, community health workers have been sharing their personal stories with HealthConnect One — stories of peer counseling, of childbirth, of breastfeeding, of pumping — stories of labor, and supporting the choices made by sisters and neighbors and friends. These stories are shared to motivate one another, to connect or to inspire, and they are timeless.

Here’s a story from our Spring 1998 Peer Counselor and Doula Newsletter, Natural Times.

All in a Day of Breastfeeding

by LaShone Kelly

Shortly after delivering her third child, my sister-in-law had guests over to share in the joy of this new little one. One of her guests included her 5-year-old godson. After awhile, it became clear that the baby was ready to be nursed.

My sister-in-law proceeded to feed the baby as her godson watched in awe. After she laid the baby down for a rest, her godson asked her, “What was the baby doing?” My sister-in-law told him that the baby was getting his milk. The little boy nodded and went on his way.

Several weeks later when my sister-in-law returned to church, her little godson noticed that the baby was suckling on her finger. The little boy tapped her on the shoulder and asked, “Does the baby get milk from there, too?” We all had a good laugh.

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Advocacy: Breaking it Down

Before our team hopped on a plane for Power of Community Day in Washington, DC earlier this month, we asked Advocacy Consultant Anne Warden for a few tips to share with advocates visiting legislative staff on Capitol Hill or reaching out to legislators at home.

Here’s what she said.

  • The average congressional district has 700K residents. Stand out by speaking up!
  • Google! Before contacting your legislator, look them up and learn something about them.
  • The best advocacy messages are simple, well researched and heartfelt.
  • Check the maps. What other communities do your legislators represent?
  • When it comes to advocacy, be a polite, but squeaky wheel. If you don’t hear back from your legislator, try them again.
  • Make it personal with legislators. If you’ve seen them before, say so. If you’re personally connected to the issue, say so.
  • If you had a good experience with your legislator, thank them on social media.
  • If your legislator is responsive, send a thank you note.


Has any of this worked for you? 

What would you add?

Wandy and Tamela after the Congressional Briefing Photo by Anne Warden

Wandy and Tamela after the Congressional Briefing
Photo by Anne Warden

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Peer Counselor Perspective on Breastfeeding and Skin to Skin

Every year, we visit Capitol Hill to share stories of birth and health and support with our legislators – stories like the one that follows. But these stories don’t need to be shared only on Capitol Hill. They need to be shared in our home districts, too. So today, we are calling for a coordinated day of action – to share stories that demonstrate the power of community-based, peer-to-peer support for moms, babies and families all over the country.

Do you know your legislators? If you don’t, today is a good day to learn their names. Then you can reach out. Let them know you’ve seen the power of community-based doulas and breastfeeding peer counselors in your community. Let them know you want to see more of that – more programs like these – more of what works. Need help?  

Let’s celebrate – together – the Power of Community.

Thank you, Charlotte, for getting us started.

by Charlotte Torres, PC, CLC
Mile Square WIC Program- Senior Peer Counselor
Chicago Region Breastfeeding Task Force- Membership Committee

Charlotte and her daughterI started my journey as a client of the WIC office. Ms. Belinda Sayadian, the IBCLC at Mile Square, along with Peer Counselors (PCs) that were working in the office at the time, supported me during my breastfeeding journey with three children.

Ms. Belinda always encouraged me to become a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor (PC) but it was not until I was in the hospital after having my third child that I realized this was something I could really do. The young lady that shared the room with me was nervous, crying and becoming frustrated between the baby not latching on and a nurse who was trying to be helpful but in a very strong way. When the nurse left the room, I built up enough courage to talk to the mom. While we talked about other things besides breastfeeding, she and the baby calmed down. I sat and breastfed my son and helped her latch her son to the breast. She cried again, except this time she cried tears of joy. I was not officially trained as a peer counselor, but this was one of my most memorable experiences as a PC.

Looking back on that experience, I can see how talking with moms prenatally can make such a big difference when it comes to breastfeeding. Prenatal education can break myths, educate moms on what to expect, prepare moms to help themselves, and most importantly empower our moms that they can do this! Our biggest problems with breastfeeding duration – such as latching, not enough milk, pain, or returning to work or school – can be addressed during pregnancy.

We may not all get to see our moms on a regular basis during pregnancy, but we can all give our moms a tool that will help her through the first few days, and that is to encourage mom to do skin to skin. As Peer Counselors, we know the benefits of skin to skin. Our moms can benefit from knowing, as well. At my WIC site, we tell all of our moms about the benefits of skin to skin. This has helped us combat the “spoiling” baby concern as well as breastfeeding concerns.

We had a mom at our clinic that had children prior to the last child. She was sure she did not want to breastfeed this child. We continued talking with her throughout her pregnancy and of course talked about skin to skin. Mom called after she delivered. While doing skin to skin, baby actually latched onto the breast. Mom was so shocked yet excited to see that baby did it with no help. Mom and baby successfully breast fed and as mom puts it, “Changed her whole life!”

Skin to Skin is the one tool that anyone, from doctors to nurses to clinic staff to family members, can encourage a mom to use anytime.

Peer Counselors are not only a great support for moms, but also for doctors who are supporting a breastfeeding mom. Working together to ensure the health and well-being of mom and baby is a great way to support each other.

Charlotte Torres has been a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for six years at the Mile Square WIC Office in Chicago.   

 Now we want to hear from you! 

Please comment below, or tweet your thoughts with the hashtag #PowerOfCommunity.

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Where Do You Look For Strength? #ThrowbackThursday 1995

Since 1986, community health workers have been sharing their personal stories with HealthConnect One — stories of peer counseling, of childbirth, of breastfeeding, of pumping — stories of labor, and supporting the choices made by sisters and neighbors and friends. These stories are shared to motivate one another, to connect or to inspire, and they are timeless.

Here’s one from our Winter 1995 Peer Counselor Newsletter, Natural Times.

Where Do You Look For Strength?

by Assunta Osterholt

TBT 3 5 2015Once you start working in the breastfeeding community and you repeatedly come across inadequacies towards breastfeeding, and unjust practices towards women and infant feeding, where do you look for strength?

I know some look to their “God.” Some talk to others of like mind. Maybe you read a book that reaffirms what you always knew to be true. Some will get recharged by attending a conference. Others become active members of organizations in the field. Still, time and time again, we are confronted with many different challenges. Some of these challenges can be very exhausting. I often ask myself, when will that turning point be, when breastfeeding is considered the norm and bottle feeding is known to be the abnormal?

To help me get through these difficult times, I close my eyes, breathe deep, and relax. I mentally visualize such a turning point in society. After awhile, I open my eyes … I look at my children and they seem to put everything into perspective for me.

So, sister, carry on. Peace.

TBT 3 5 2015 masthead

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NICU Dad’s Breastfeeding Journey

For Black History Month, HealthConnect One is partnering with Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), MomsRising, and National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC) to celebrate the work of people, organizations and institutions who make a positive impact on breastfeeding in African-American communities.

This is the sixth and final guest post in our Black History Month blog series.

by John E. Bridges, Jr.

NICU Dad and PC - John BridgesMy name is John E. Bridges, Jr. and I am a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor.

My Journey began when my daughter Amiya was born and it was discovered that she had Hirschsprung Disease. This disease is when certain cells in the large intestine are not active. Because of this disease, at 3 weeks of age she had to have 3 surgeries which ended with her wearing a colostomy bag — so she could have regular bowel movements. Her small intestine got long enough as she was growing so it could be connected to her rectum at 9 months of age, because the Hirschsprung Disease had killed most of the cells in her large intestine and a small part of her small intestine.

Amazingly, her mother breastfeeding — by way of a Grade A hospital breast pump — kept our daughter from catching colds and other sicknesses that affect a normal baby. The breast milk also made the cells in her small intestine much stronger, able to adapt to the different foods she was eating as she grew.

The knowledge I learned about the importance of breast milk, and the support I received from a lady name Paula Meier and her team, changed my life!! I began to understand that Breast milk is not just milk, but it’s medicine for your baby … and … skin to skin with both parents is equally important. These two natural tools are some of the best and most cost effective ways to nurture our babies.

I am also discovering new frontiers that the breastfeeding family as a whole has not talked about much, especially: Men as the main nurturing support for mom and baby.

Men can and do:

  • Clean the breast pump
  • Keep mom’s environment as stress-free as possible so her milk won’t dry up
  • Provide hand and foot massages
  • Listen to mom’s heart; listen to what she wants to share
  • Listen to baby’s heart, as a way of connection
  • Help mom with a healthy diet
  • Do skin to skin, not only for the baby but for the mom, as well, when needed

This support is extremely important.

I believe the more men get involved, especially in the African American community, the more we are able to do whole family healing and education on the importance of breastfeeding, skin to skin, what are facts vs. theory, then more grandmothers, grandfathers, aunties, uncles and friends can love this new precious soul with unrestricted and unconditional love. These are some of the foundations of creating a strong family.

It takes a village to raise a baby.

Photo Credit: Helen Dimas

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Now we want to hear from you! 

Please comment below, or tweet your thoughts with the hashtag #BlkBFing.

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