Breastfeeding Makes My Heart Happy

by Elizabeth Chang, Bilingual Spanish/English Certified Lactation Counselor, Nursing Student, Founder and CEO of Pretty Mama Breastfeeding, LLC

Ms. Chang and HealthConnect One  have crossed paths many times over the years, most recently during our #DandoPecho campaign. We appreciate the opportunity to share a bit of her breastfeeding journey. 

Liz Chang BreastfeedingFrom the very beginning when my husband and I decided to start a family, we started educating ourselves about maternity in the USA and breastfeeding. We were very new to the whole world of having a baby because it was our first time as parents. I always loved breastfeeding but felt a strong, intuitive and powerful desire to know more when I started having conversations about it with my family and with my mom.

My mom told me how she breastfed me, and how she breastfed my siblings. I also remember being around people in Colombia, where I am from, and seeing breastfeeding completely as a “no-brainer.” It is like you are drinking a glass of water. Breastfeeding is that normal. In my family and in my cultural background, that’s what women do. We don’t question it. We just do it because that is what is embedded in our culture. The same was true for my husband’s family, as both he and his siblings were successfully breastfed.

They were ready to support me in any way possible.

I remember being around people in Colombia, where I am from, and seeing breastfeeding completely as a ‘no-brainer.’ It is like you are drinking a glass of water. Breastfeeding is that normal.

When my son was delivered, I had problems with breastfeeding. At the start, my baby wouldn’t latch. I was searching for help and it was not given to me.

We went back to the hospital to see the Lactation Consultant, but she couldn’t pick out what the issue was. She gave me an SNS (a supplemental nursing system), nipple shields that were the wrong size, and told my husband and I that a large number of babies simply do not ever latch. She didn’t explain to me why this was happening.

Not knowing, of course I followed her directions — and that became chaos in my house. Not only was I sore — and he was a big baby, yelling and screaming — How was I supposed to know that he was a tongue tied baby?

That experience was so frustrating and so alarming that it inspired me to get more educated and to help other women.

After a long month and a few days of searching and calling many local and non-local breastfeeding professionals, we finally found someone to help us. And the minute she came, we discovered that my baby boy had a tongue tie. She sent me to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor). That ENT cut the frenulum, and that was the end of my problem. He latched on like you wouldn’t believe and the pain I had on my breast for the longest time was gone immediately.

That has been my inspiration — my baby, my situation, and seeing that it happens every second across the country.

Feeding my child out of my breast felt like I was in heaven. Breastfeeding allowed us to build a very strong emotional and physical bond. There are simply no words to describe it.

While I was breastfeeding my boy, when he was about 3 or 4 months old, I opened my living room for a breastfeeding support group. As soon as I got my title as a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), I was able to host the first bilingual Spanish support group in this area. I hosted the support group for free for more than a year, and then I decided to launch my website to start my business.

Now I am a bilingual Spanish/English Certified Lactation Counselor studying to obtain my credentials as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and I have my own business, Pretty Mama Breastfeeding, LLC. I am currently doing an internship at one of the largest university hospitals in the state of New Jersey. I am also a nursing student. This is my second career, as I have a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Technology and I worked in the corporate world for some time.

I am a wife and mother to a four year old boy who easily weaned at 34 months. We speak 3 languages at my house: Mandarin, English and Spanish. My family is quite unique and I work for a unique set of people, as well.

I am constantly promoting the importance of breastfeeding and why it matters.

I serve NYC, New Jersey, and then Northeast of Pennsylvania, so I do travel a lot. I also do international counseling on Skype with moms who are from Central America or South America, and I am in the process of creating counseling services for Chinese women that are fluent in English.

The most common questions I hear are about moms returning to work and needing assistance with pumping.

There are a few myths I have encountered, as well, working with women from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

These myths include:

  • Colostrum is not as effective as the second milk.
  • I have to pump right away to get milk.
  • I can’t drink anything very cold.
  • I can only drink hot things and eat things that are really salty and sugary to give me energy.
  • I should not take a shower or get my head wet after having my baby.

Education and giving correct information are so important!

I am really passionate. I go with what is in my heart and I am educating myself non-stop!

I see breastfeeding as a right that has been stolen and sabotaged over and over again. I am making a lifelong lasting difference in the health and emotional well being of both mothers and babies. And to be able to do this makes my heart happy.

Elizabeth Chang, CLC, offers a variety of services through Pretty Mama Breastfeeding, LLC, including in-home counseling, and phone or online video counseling via Skype. If mom wants resources in Spanish or in Chinese, Ms. Chang connects her with someone who speaks her language. She says there are many times where moms can find the information online, but they don’t trust everything online and they’d prefer to speak with someone who is in the breastfeeding world and who can be trusted. Ms. Chang is working towards her BSN certification and studying to obtain her IBCLC.

In closing, she says:

“My heart and soul are in this! This is my inspiration.”

What makes your heart happy?

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Filed under Breastfeeding, Local Champions

Celebrating Women Who Inspire

For International Women’s Day, we asked:

Who inspired you to get into birth or breastfeeding equity work? Why?

Here is what we heard:

Breastfeeding Christopher 001“My first born child and remembering seeing my mother breastfeeding my siblings. Breastfeeding is our reproductive female right. Also because I was raised in a country where breastfeeding is as simple as drinking a glass of water. It is the norm.” ~ Elizabeth Chang, B.Sc.,CLC, IBCLC Candidate, Nursing Student, Bilingual Spanish/English Certified Lactation Counselor, Founder & CEO Pretty Mama Breastfeeding, LLC


Felisha Floyd“Once I became a peer counselor, I was inspired by my colleagues and mentors, Hope Young, and Lin Cook.  These women empowered my journey to continue in the field of breastfeeding and become a lactation consultant.  My passion and soul in this work is fueled by the activists and advocates that have paved the road for my journey in this profession. Breastfeeding was frowned upon in my family, so when I decided to breastfeed, I had little to no support.  I was inspired to become a breastfeeding advocate and lactation consultant because of my own difficulties and experiences in breastfeeding, and desired to become a beacon of support for families to make an informed decision about breastfeeding.” 
~ Felisha Floyd, BS, CLC, IBCLC, Founder and CEO of Blactavist, Co-Founder and President of the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC), Founder and CEO of Beyond Breastfeeding, Inc.


“I am the daughter of two mothers, one who birthed me and nurtured me until I was three, and one who raised me to become the woman I am today.  I am inspired by both my mothers, Bertha Feinberg Abramson, and Alice Umans Abramson.  I am particularly aware that my work is deeply influenced by Alice’s constant struggle to do good, to keep trying, and to make a better world.”
~ Rachel Abramson, RN, MS, IBCLC, Executive Director of HealthConnect One

IWD2016 Rachel baby   IWD2016 Alice

And on Twitter …

@JerethaMcKinley: Name a woman who inspires you? Why?

@StacyMcDavi: @JerethaMcKinley u 4 ur candidness @ttwadley 4 her strength, perseverance, spirit & positivity #mymom 4 her ability to continuously rise up

@Birthbirthbirth: Irene Ellis, House of El-Elyon

 

Now it’s your turn:

Who are you celebrating for International Women’s Day?

Who inspires YOU?

 

 

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March 8, 2016 · 3:58 pm

Women Who Inspired Me

by Helen Dimas, Program Coordinator

Today is International Women’s Day. I came up with the idea of asking other women who work in the maternal and child health, birthing, and breastfeeding field to tell us who inspired them in their work. I figured I would answer the question, too, and it would be a 2 minute process. Man, was I wrong!

It’s a hard question.

IntlWomD2016 aWhen I was very young, women like Harriet Tubman, Florence Nightingale, & Anne Frank inspired me to be brave and help others even though I was impossibly shy. As I grew up in the turbulent times of the 60’s with rock and roll as my soundtrack and influence, I noticed women like Angela Davis and Dolores Huerta and heard the word feminism for the first time. Janis screamed in my ear while Joni sang me through yet another phase as I evolved and tried to figure out who I was becoming. I connected with a young socialist group and began to model myself after women like Angie, IntlWomD2016 bYoli, and Faith. I went canvassing door to door. I picketed stores that sold grapes, lettuce and wines made from those same grapes. I worked in the barrios handing out free lunches and volunteered at alternative schools for working class parents when the schools went on strike.

IntlWomD2016 cAs I grew older and began raising my own family, my priorities changed. I worked at being a good mother and wife while holding onto my values and who I was. I began to notice the women around me: My mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, aunts, and friends. My ideas of heroines began to shift. How did Ma spread $25 a week to feed a family of 9? How did my grandma and my suegra take care of those 9, 10 and 11 children and no washing machine?!

Then I saw women I Iove lose their children. How did they go on?! How did Mary go on?

IntlWomD2016 dMultitudes of women inspired me on my life journey, as I am sure there were many in your life who inspired you. Women who didn’t give up. Women who, no matter how little they had, gave to another woman in need. Women who are brave and tired but forged on. Women who have faith. Women who know it is up to us to sustain one another and inspire other women to do the same.

IntlWomD2016 fSo, for International Women’s Day, I salute all of the women who inspired me. Thank you.

 

———-

It’s a hard question – believe me, I know – but it’s International Women’s Day so here goes:

Who inspired YOU?

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Freedom

by Milkah Jackson

Flat on her back
Legs spread far apart she lays
And no matter how uncomfortable
Still and fearful she humbly obeys

I cannot even begin to tell you the numerous occasions I’ve seen this
The countless times this image has played in my head
Back and forth…forth and back
But somehow this particular scene I can never seem to lose track of
I’ve tried completely erasing it from my mind
But how could I when deep down inside I knew…

I knew this is only the beginning of a long journey
With the same script different cast of a mentally enslaved woman
Whose fate was in the hands of her slave masters
With a role simply of domination
And they gave code words such as sedation, starvation, and augmentation
Then one day I suddenly realized that fear not only possesses the ability to institutionalize, but that it specialized
In causing her to become completely mentally paralyzed

See, the funny thing about history is that it has a way of repeating itself

You know, Harriet Tubman freed a thousand slaves and would have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were enslaved
While I cannot free every mentally enslaved woman
I can indeed show her how to break this vicious cycle of mental imprisonment
As she brings life into this world
And like Rosa Parks, I simply refuse to take a back seat on this issue of African American mothers and babies dying at 2x the rate of their white counterparts
No, I’m certainly not trying to pull the race card here
But in the cards that we’ve been dealt, RACE is written in Black Bold letters

So I promise, I promise to remain committed to boldly joining a coalition with doulas and health workers in my community
We will educate, nurture, and support marginalized women which in turn will foster unity
Reducing racial disparities through empowerment
Taking voices back, no longer being subjected to birthing while lying flat, but in fact…

Standing strong and firm with birth plan in hand,
Using visualization and a gentle massage as sedation
We will take birth back, no longer sitting on the sidelines
But right in front holding space until one day
These disparities will eventually be completely erased
And we start one community at a time
one birth at a time
one mother at a time and
one baby at a time.

Ebony “Milkah” JacksonEbony “Milkah” Jackson is the CEO and owner of In “2” This World Birthing Services. Being the mother of 8 caused her to realize her purpose in life. As a doula, Milkah’s mission is to serve women and their families by providing sincere and qualitative birthing services. She strongly perceives her role as nurturing and believes it is of utmost importance to preserve the mother’s birthing experience. She is also a founder and board member of Bold City Doula Coalition, which is a nonprofit organization that provides pro bono doula services for marginalized women in the Jacksonville, Florida community.

For Black History Month 2016, HealthConnect One invited partners and allies to share how they have been influenced or inspired by Black women who made history.

We hope you will share with us, too!

We invite you to comment below or join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #BlkHerStory.

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Filed under Advocacy & Action, Black History, Local Champions

On Sojourner Truth, Motherhood and Trust

For Black History Month 2016, HealthConnect One invited partners and allies to share how they have been influenced or inspired by Black women who made history – women like Sojourner Truth. ~ Editor’s Note

by Phyllis Brown

phyllis brownSojourner Truth traveled telling the truth. She also had some of her children taken away from her.

As a community-based doula, I have some understanding of both of these circumstances.

I want to talk about my experience with a client and her pregnancy, which pushed me to stand up and advocate for services to help ease her stress, anxiety, and feeling of overwhelm.

I wanted to make sure I could support this young lady to find her voice and communicate with her providers concerning her wants and needs. I went with her to a meeting with her case management agency, for support, so that she would know someone was with her and walking alongside her regardless.

This mother was so stressed about her pregnancy and wanted to make sure her pregnancy was not in vain. She wanted a crib, a car seat, a bathtub, equipment that would make her feel like a mother, equipment that was given to other mothers without hesitation.

I began to tell the case management agency the truth about this young mother and her anxiety concerning infant equipment, and why it was important to her, but the agency did not see the importance of it as we did. I continued to speak the truth. If we could provide this young mother a chance to speak, if we could simply listen with compassion and affirm her needs by providing her with the equipment she desired, then if her pregnancy ended up in the loss of custody of her child after birth, she could still be part of caring for her baby. She could still help to make sure everything would be fine. The equipment was one of the ways this mom could feel her pregnancy was real and be acknowledged by others as a mother.

I wanted to make sure this mom felt supported and had the opportunity to go through “nesting” as other moms do, regardless if her baby was staying with her or not. I gave equipment to the mom from our agency, to help her have her nesting moment.

We set it up together.

This has built trust between the mother and me.

Phyllis Brown works as a community-based doula for UCAN in Chicago. She has been in the business of supporting others through the birthing process for more than 35 years and began doing this professionally 12 years ago. She was working with a population of young people who were in need of the service and it was bestowed upon her to assist. She has formal training as a community-based doula and has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Organizational Psychology.  

 Now we want to hear from you!

Please comment below, or join us for a Black Herstory Twitter Chat TODAY – Thursday, Feb 25th, at 1:00 p.m. ET (12 noon CT, 11a MT, 10a PT) – using the hashtag #BlkHerStory.

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Filed under Black History, CHW Voices, Community-Based Doula