Mom, Lactation and Infant Feeding Specialist
I had my daughter in my last year of college. I breastfed her, and it felt so easy. I was like I don’t have to get up. I don’t have to make bottles. I just sit here and breastfeed. I was thinking in my head, “if this is so easy, why aren’t more Black people doing it?” I didn’t understand it.
As I was going through college, I found out about the many health disparities that plague Black people. I learned choosing to breastfeed impacts our health when I switched my major to sociology. I started putting two and two together and began educating myself on health and breastfeeding. I was hired as a breastfeeding peer counselor at WIC and that changed everything.
I do this work because Black people are dying. We’re dying because we have high maternal and infant health disparities. We have low breastfeeding rates. And we have less access to resources and healthcare. Some days I feel overwhelmed, especially when I look at the breastfeeding rates and I don’t see them increasing. The numbers don’t lie, but they also don’t tell the complete story.
Breastfeeding is hard, but anything that’s worth doing is going to be hard. But with support, education, confirmation, and affirmations, you’re able to succeed in whatever that goal is that you set for yourself.
When you breastfeed your baby, you can say, “I took time to sit down every two hours to feed you. I did that. It’s a self sacrifice many aren’t willing to make.” And you build up your self-confidence in so many other ways because you’re able to physically complete something, and you can see the result of this happy, healthy bonded kid. I feel I’m giving [moms] a sense of empowerment. I’m helping them understand that they have the ability and confidence to achieve their goals. And the first goal is breastfeeding. Once you get to that goal, then they can do other things.
One of the things that I would like to do in the future is create more workforce development opportunities. I want to help teach my clients skills to become lactation consultants, educators, peer counselors and doulas. This is an opportunity for women who don’t necessarily want to get a degree, but they want to have a skill that is considered valuable to help support their family.
Listening to clients share their stories and ideas shows us how to improve care. Which creates change. Change is good and should always be happening since parenting , birth and breastfeeding look different now.