Breastfeeding is Not a Private Issue

Rosetta Walls photo in Time Out Chicago July 2012

by Rosetta M. Walls

My name is Rosetta M. Walls and I’m a former Breastfeeding Peer Counselor with HealthConnect One. I inadvertently became a counselor by taking the class to find out how to get my “Boob-Head” son off my breast. He was a little over one years old and I was totally exhausted from nursing. Amazingly, by the time I completed this class and bonded with those wonderful mothers, I nursed him till two-and-half years old.

It’s funny how you seek out something to end a journey only to discover another one that’s been awaiting you to embrace it. I knew this was the direction I was to undertake because I loved educating and promoting breastfeeding.

I smiled everyday just knowing I was about to educate a mom on the importance of her God-given breast milk to increase the healthiness of her baby, and to see that baby latch properly on her breast was a wonderful feeling. Why? The HEALTH journey began.

Actually, it begins every time a woman becomes pregnant. It’s amazing how her body changes not only to accommodate the hibernation of that precious baby but the nutrition to feed it – nutrition to combat diabetes, asthma, and one of today’s society top health villains: OBESITY. If mom does not eat healthy, her children will not, as well. Everything starts at home!

But breastfeeding should not be looked upon as a private issue. It needs to be embraced more in the public.

From what I’ve gathered, young ladies (16-25) in the African American community are not exposed to breastfeeding, nor are they taught how their grand or great grandmothers nursed their parents. HealthConnect One Peer Counselors do an outstanding job in disseminating breastfeeding information to young mothers and families all over the State of Illinois, especially where there is misinformation or a lack of information.

When one is educated with Respect – not just tolerance – a light radiates in one’s soul. Then transformation of the mindset begins. I’ve seen it time and time again.

Breastfeeding is not only giving the best nutrition to our babies. It also strengthens the bond between mother and child, something that is truly missing in today’s society among families. It’s nothing like seeing the love in a mother’s eyes as she nurses her child and those beautiful eyes of the baby looking up at her. Wow! I miss this job.

I would like to see our Junior Colleges and Universities incorporate a class, even if it is an elective, about Breastfeeding. This way, it becomes mainstream in society, opening minds to the great importance of the subject. It will help to alleviate the ignorance of just viewing a woman giving her breast to a baby and will help the nay-sayers understand the benefits of nursing for the both of them.

You’ve probably gathered I can go on and on about this subject. Even in my present job, I still talk to moms – and especially expectant moms – on the importance of breastfeeding.

I just want people to understand it is a beautiful and self-less act for a woman to give of her body for a healthy baby. A healthy baby means less visits to the doctor’s office, less time taken off work, less worries about catching sickness and diseases, and more money in the family’s pocket. What a win-win situation.

Thank you for allowing me to express my views and experiences.

Rosetta M. Walls took the 2010 Access training for Breastfeeding Peer Counselors through HealthConnect One, and then worked as a Peer Counselor at John Stroger Cook County Hospital. Ms. Walls left to continue her education. Although she no longer does rounds in the hospital setting, she is a Peer Counselor at heart and continues to help mothers in her community.   

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For Black History Month 2015, HealthConnect One partnered 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.

 

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