Yoselin: Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto

–> In English <–

Mi nombre es Yoselin. Nací en Chicago de padres mexicanos. Antes de quedar embarazada, nunca pensé en el embarazo. Pensé que la única opción era tener bebés en el hospital y la lactancia materna era lo mejor.

Lo más que investigaba, lo más me daba cuenta que el proceso de parto es un proceso natural por el cual el cuerpo femenino pasa y trabaja en conjunto para aliviar el estrés de dar a luz. Nuestras antiguas tradiciones, sabían que esto era cierto. Creo que la lactancia materna y el respeto de nuestras tradiciones de parto son importantes en nuestra comunidad latina para mantener los conocidos para las generaciones futuras.

Para mí, creo que la lactancia materna es la mejor manera de criar a nuestros hijos, siempre que sea posible. La lactancia materna da a los bebés muchos anticuerpos que necesitan y no tienen al nacer.

En términos de lactancia materna y parto mi familia fue mi modelo. Cuando yo era niña, veía a mis tías amamantar a sus hijos. Todas dieron a luz por vía vaginal y asumí que esa era la única opción.

Es importante que las mujeres sigamos compartiendo nuestras historias así podremos seguir preservando nuestras tradiciones. El nacimiento es un proceso hermoso y natural. La manera en que el cuerpo femenino trabaja para empujar a otro ser humano es muy poderosa. La fuerza que se necesita para dar a luz es increíble y todas las mujeres pueden hacerlo porque está en nuestra naturaleza.

Tenemos muchos programas en nuestra comunidad -como el centro de maternidad- pero la gente no lo sabe o no tiene tiempo para ir a verlo y aprender sobre ello, ya sea por sus trabajos o por sus familias.

El concejo que le daría a otra hermana latina y su familia acerca de nuestras tradiciones de parto y lactancia materna, es que hagan todo lo posible por amamantar y tener un parto natural, a veces puede parecer que quieren renunciar porque es demasiado difícil pero la parte difícil pasará rápidamente y el resto es fácil. Todo lo que tienes que hacer es creer en ti misma.

Gracias a Yoselin por compartir su historia como parte de nuestra Serie del Mes de la Herencia Hispana/Latina 2017, “Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”

Yoselin: Reclaiming Latina Traditions in Breastfeeding and Birth

–> En Español <–

My name is Yoselin, and I was born in Chicago to Mexican parents. Before I got pregnant, I never thought about pregnancy at all. I thought that the only option was to have babies in the hospital and breastfeeding was the best thing.

The more research I did, I realized that the birthing process is a natural process that the female body goes through and works together to alleviate the stress of giving birth. In our old traditions, we knew it to be true. I think breastfeeding and respecting our birth traditions is important in our Latino community, to keep them known for future generations.

To me, I believe breastfeeding is the best way to raise our children, whenever possible. Breastfeeding gives babies many antibodies that they need and are not born with. I always looked up to my family in terms of breastfeeding and birth. I would see my aunts breastfeeding their kids when I was a kid. They all gave birth vaginally and I just assumed that it was the only option.

By having other women sharing stories of why this is important, we can continue to preserve our traditions.

We have a lot of programs in our community – like the birth center – but people don’t know about it or don’t have time to go see it and learn about it because of their work or their families.

Birth is a beautiful and natural process. The way the female body works to push out another human being is very powerful. The strength it takes to give birth is amazing and every woman can do it because it is in our nature.

The words of wisdom I would give to another Latina sister and family about our birthing traditions and breastfeeding: Do as much as you can to breastfeed and have a natural labor. Sometimes it might seem like you just want to give up because it is too hard, but the hard part will pass quickly and the rest is easy. All you have to do is believe in yourself.

Thank you, Yoselin, for sharing your perspective as part of our 2017 Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month Series, “Reclaiming our Traditions on Breastfeeding and Birth / Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”

Disaster Relief and Support

In times of crisis, we band together. In times of transition, in times of vulnerability – every day really, but it’s clearest at these times – we must support one another. As birth workers, as cultural workers, as storytellers, parents, families, community leaders and advocates, we know this.

None of us are immune. We need each other.

Following are some ways to help in the wake of recent disasters in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Virgin Islands, Florida, Cuba, and Texas.

Statement on Infant Feeding During Disasters

by the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color, endorsed by HealthConnect One and Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), and signed onto by countless organizations and individuals

* * * * *

Verified Relief Organizations

TEXAS

FLORIDA

  • In South Florida, our allies at the Southern Birth Justice Network are accepting PayPal donations via southernbirthjustice@gmail.com
  • If you live near Spartanburg, South Carolina, our partners at BirthMatters are hosting a diaper drive for Florida, from now through October 5th.

PUERTO RICO & other Islands


MEXICO

  • Mexican Red Cross has been accepting direct donations online and has set up an Amazon Wish List for necessary items.
  • Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization, has staff members in Mexico City and has pledged that 100 percent of its donations will go directly to relief efforts, which it says will include facilitating the delivery of medical supplies to affected areas.
  • GlobalGiving, a crowdfunding organization, has pledged that all money donated to its earthquake fund will go to recovery and relief efforts.
  • Fondo Unido Mexico, part of the United Way network, has created an emergency fund to help the areas affected by the earthquakes as well as the recent series of hurricanes.

If you have additional resources or requests to share, please connect with us on Facebook or Twitter, or contact Communications Director RoiAnn Phillips at rphillips@healthconnectone.org.

Thank you.

Ser una nueva mamá

–> In English <–

por Diana N. Derige, DrPH  Director of National Health Initiatives, Urban Strategies

Mi embarazo y el nacimiento prematuro de mi hija no resultó ser como yo lo había planeado. En la semana 28 del embarazo fui hospitalizada con problemas de pre eclampsia (complicación que causa hipertensión arterial o presión alta, daño a los riñones, al hígado y otros problemas). En la semana 31 1/2 los médicos me aconsejaron inducir  el trabajo de parto, con el fin de reducir los riesgos en el bebé y en mí. Después de 32 horas del trabajo de parto sin éxito, fue necesario una cesárea. Mi hija nació a las 32 semanas con 4 libras 11 oz y las siguientes dos semanas las pasó en el UCIN (Unidad de Cuidados Intensivos para Neonatales). Sin embargo, esta no es la historia que yo quiero contarles. Hoy quiero compartir con ustedes lo que sucedió meses después, mientras yo alimentaba a mi hija con leche materna, ella al mismo tiempo crecía saludable y prospera, de pronto me encontré en medio de un pánico nocturno que no podía controlar y explicar.

Mi interés de compartir está historia personal es para aumentar la conciencia sobre la depresión postparto (PPD). Alguna vez pensé entender de que se trataba la depresión posparto, anteriormente ya había leído algunos artículos, revisado libros y hasta había hablado de esto con algunos familiares y amigos. Sin embargo, más tarde aprendí algo que yo no sabía sobre los efectos de la depresión posparto (PPD), los cuales ocurren en una de cada cinco mujeres y algunos clínicos mencionan que el número es mucho mayor y que además la PPD es la complicación médica más común que padecen las madres primerizas. En las mujeres latinas, la tasa de porcentaje parece ser todavía mayor, el problema se presenta en una de cada tres mujeres que son madres por primera vez. Algo que también yo desconocía es que la PPD no es una enfermedad que solamente ocurre en las noticias y en los programas televisivos, en ellos  con frecuencia observamos que las mujeres se lastiman a sí mismas o a sus hijos, las cuales previamente presentaron síntomas de “adormecimiento o sentimientos de zombis”, al menos así lo describen las celebridades que sufren de PPD en la televisión. En mí experiencia personal, el PPD tomó una forma más desleal, está se alimentó de mis sentimientos de frustración cuando yo ahora era una mamá nueva y se manifestó con muchas noches sin poder dormir, mientras yo me preguntaba ¿cómo voy a mantener a mi hija a salvo de un incendio, una invasión en la casa o de un tornado? Esto significa que cuando estaba en la casa a solas con mi hija no podía conciliar el sueño, porque yo quería asegurarme de que no le iba a pasar nada, algunos días el temor de que algo le sucediera me congelaba y otros días la envolvía y la salía a la calle con ella, sin embargo, está situación fue peligrosa, ya que pudimos haber participado en un accidente de coche. En mi mente yo jugaba con estos escenarios y trataba de  “preparar” un escape. Pero nada era suficiente, todavía estaba desconcertada pensando: “Y qué pasa si”, yo estaba siempre emocional y físicamente agotada, no sólo tenía que atender a un recién nacido, sino también a mis interminables horas de preocupación. A veces podía decirme a mí misma que mis preocupaciones eran irracionales, sin embargo durante muchos meses yo no podía separar y sacudir esos sentimientos. Cuando regresé  a mi trabajo, la ansiedad sobre la seguridad de mi bebé y mis capacidades propias comenzaron a luchar.

Nunca hablé de esto con mi familia o a mis amigos de lo extenso que era mis miedos. Mi marido sentía que algo andaba mal, sin embargo, yo nunca le dije lo que estaba en mis pensamientos. Mi esposo y algunos otros familiares simplemente dijeron “creo que ella se preocupa demasiado” o “ella es muy protectora”. Finalmente, en una visita a mi terapeuta para discutir el estrés laboral, empezamos a desglosar este problema. El médico me sugirió que yo podría estar padeciendo PPD, yo le aseguré que nunca tenía intenciones de causarme alguna herida o al bebé, además yo no estaba llorando inconsolablemente y estaba muy conectada con mi bebé. ¿Por qué más estaría yo tan preocupada? O ¿Por qué más estaría tan ansiosa? Hasta que hablamos de las diferentes formas en que se presenta la ansiedad? Y así fue como descubrí que cuatro meses después del nacimiento de mi bebé ciertamente tuve la depresión posparto. Al principio me sentí culpable por tener PPD; sentía que debería ser feliz porque mi bebé estaba sana, ¿qué más puedo pedir? ¿Por qué no podía eliminar estos sentimientos? Había incluso una pequeña parte de mí que me hacía llamarlo “PPD”, en donde yo  trataba de encontrar una excusa y por ser una mamá primeriza no era capaz de eliminar estos pensamientos. Tuve mucha suerte cuando recibí la ayuda que permitió frenar mi ansiedad, así pude estar presente con mi familia para disfrutar lo que es ser madre, además pude pasar más tiempo con mi hija y no estar siempre en el borde de la ansiedad.

Mi historia es sólo una historia, cuando empezamos a compartir nuestras historias aprendemos que no estamos solos; que podemos apoyarnos unos a otros y que encontraremos la ayuda necesaria para nosotros y para nuestras familias. Por lo tanto, hay que compartir nuestras historias, ya que al pedir ayuda podemos encontrar un apoyó mutuo. Usted no es culpable y nunca está sola, como mujeres latinas, a menudo recibimos un diagnostico equivocado, un diagnostico menor o simplemente somos ignoradas. En ocasiones, nuestras reglas culturales nos presionan a vivir “sacrificándonos” y a renunciar a la felicidad porque ese es el deber de una madre. Es muy fácil confundir los signos de PPD con el papel de ser madre, sin embargo, una madre sana es vital para una familia sana. La salud mental no se toma en cuenta, solamente cuando está en un estado criticó, hay que atenderla siempre, para mejorar la salud a largo plazo y además mejorar su felicidad y la de su bebé.


Recursos

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

Baby Center  Depresión posparto

Postpartum Progress – Publicaciones de sitios en internet (blogs) con información y apoyó

 

Gracias a Diana y a Urban Strategies por compartir su historia como parte de nuestra Serie del Mes de la Herencia Hispana 2017, “Reclaiming our Traditions on Breastfeeding and Birth / Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”

 

Urban Strategies entiende que las madres son el centro de la familia latina. La salud de la madre, incluyendo su salud mental, puede afectar todos los aspectos del funcionamiento de la familia. La depresión posparto no es poco frecuente y puede ser negativa para la madre, su hijo y trayendo consecuencias a toda la familia. La depresión no tratada conduce a tener efectos negativos en el niño, generando dificultades en el apego emocional y dificultades en la regulación de sus emociones, está desencadena en los niños que en los años subsecuentes  presenten también los riesgos de depresión, ansiedad y dificultades con la escuela. Las latinas corren el riesgo de sufrir depresión, si no son tratadas durante y después del embarazo, debido a los estigmas sociales, a las barreras idiomáticas y/o a las creencias culturales. Estos factores negativos impiden que las madres con depresión identifiquen los síntomas o busquen la ayuda necesaria.

También es importante reconocer que las prácticas y creencias culturales latinas también pueden proporcionar factores potenciales positivos de protección que apoyan a las madres, a los hijos y a las familias. Urban Strategies se ha asociado con el Centro de  Investigación de la Salud Materna y Familiar de la Universidad de Houston para promocionar la Intervención Culturalmente Responsable de Mejorar la Salud en el Proyecto de Bienestar Materno-Infantil. Está ayuda a mejorar el entendimiento que las creencias y las prácticas culturales proporcionan, como son los factores positivos de protección; también ayuda a adaptar medidas nuevas de intervención en la ya existente depresión posparto y este es culturalmente sensible a las mujeres latinas que viven en los Estados Unidos. De esta forma, nosotros podremos construir comunidades más fuertes.

On Being a New Mom

–> En Español <–

by Diana N. Derige, DrPH, Director of National Health Initiatives, Urban Strategies

My pregnancy and child birth was not what I had planned. By week 28, I was hospitalized with preeclampsia (a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys) and by week 31 1/2 my doctors advised that my labor should be induced to reduce the risk for me and my infant. After 32 unsuccessful hours of labor, I was told I needed  a cesarean section. My daughter was born at 32 weeks at 4 lbs 11 oz and spent the next two weeks in the NICU. But that is not the story I want to tell. I want to share with you what happened months later when my baby girl was thriving, breastfeeding, growing and healthy. I found myself in a nightly panic that I could neither explain nor control.

I want to share my story to raise awareness about Postpartum Depression. I thought I understood what postpartum depression was. I had read articles, flipped through books, and talked to family and friends. What I didn’t know and would later learn is that postpartum depression (PPD) effects 1 in 5 women and some clinicians believe that number is much higher – making PPD the most common medical complication among new mothers. For Latinas, the rate seems to be closer to 1 in 3 new moms. What I also failed to understand is that PPD is not just the cases that we hear about on the news about women hurting themselves or their children and that not everyone who suffers PPD will have the “numbness” or zombie feeling as described by some celebrities. For me, my PPD took a more insidious form. It fed on my feelings of inadequacy as a new mom. It manifested itself in many sleepless nights wondering how I would keep my daughter safe from a fire, a home invasion and even a tornado. It meant when I was in the house alone with her I didn’t sleep because I wanted to make sure nothing happened or that some days as I finally got the courage to wrap her up and take her out I would freeze in fear that we might get into a car accident. In my mind, I would play out these scenarios and try to “prepare” in my mind an escape.  None of this preparation was ever enough. I was still rattled by “what ifs” and was always emotionally and physically exhausted from not only tending to a newborn but also the endless hours of worry. While I could sometimes tell myself that my worries were irrational, for months I could not shake these feelings. When I returned to work the anxiety both about my baby’s safety and my own capabilities began to make work a struggle.

I never told my family or friends the extent of my fears. My husband sensed something was wrong but because I never completely told him what I was thinking he and others just said I “worried too much” or that I was “over protective.” Finally, on a visit to my therapist to discuss work stress, we started to unravel this issue. My doctor suggested that I might have PPD. I assured her I didn’t want to hurt myself or my baby, that I wasn’t crying inconsolably, and that indeed I felt connected to my baby. Why else would I worry so much? Why else would I be so anxious?  We talked about how this anxiety, even four months after the birth of my baby was indeed postpartum depression. At first I felt guilty about having PPD. I felt that I should be happy – my baby was healthy. What else did I want?  Why couldn’t I just shake this off? There was even a small part of me that felt by calling it PPD, I was just trying to find an excuse for not being able to cut it as a new mom. I am lucky because I got help that allowed me to curb my anxiety, which allowed for me to be more fully present for my family. It allowed me to spend time with my daughter and not always be on edge and to be able to enjoy being a mother instead of always being over anxious.

My story is just one story, but as we begin to share our stories, we learn that we are not alone. We learn to support one another and to find help for ourselves and our families. So, share your stories, ask for help and support one another. You are not alone and it is not your fault. As Latinas, we are often misdiagnosed, under diagnosed or ignored. Sometimes our cultural norms press upon us that “sacrificing” of ourselves and forgoing happiness is a mother’s duty. We mistake the signs of PPD for our role as mother, but a healthy mother is vital for a healthy family and her mental health is critical for not only her long-term health, but the health and happiness of her baby.

 

More about PPD

Postpartum Depression – American Psychological Association

Postpartum Depression – March of Dimes

Postpartum Depression Article from Arizona Latinos

 

Resources

Online PPMD Support Group – online moderated discussion forums

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

Postpartum Progress – blog postings with information and support

Partners to Parents – tips for couples for pregnancy and newborns

Regroup Therapy – individual therapy and group support via webcam

Thank you to Diana and to Urban Strategies for sharing your story as part of our 2017 Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month Series, “Reclaiming our Traditions on Breastfeeding and Birth / Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”

 

Urban Strategies understands that mothers are central to the Latino family. A mother’s health, including her mental health, can affect all aspects of family functioning. Postpartum depression is not uncommon and can be negative for the mother, her child and the entire family. Untreated depression can lead to negative effects for the child such as difficulty forming emotional attachment, difficulty with emotional regulation and, in later years, risk of depression, anxiety and difficulty with school. Latinas are at risk for untreated depression during and after pregnancy due to issues of social stigma, language barriers and/or cultural beliefs that may prevent mothers with depression from identifying symptoms or seeking help. 

Recognizing that Latino cultural practices and beliefs may also provide potential protective factors that support mothers, children and families, Urban Strategies has partnered with the University of Houston’s Center for Latina Maternal & Family Health Research, to sponsor the Culturally Responsive Intervention to Improve Maternal and Child Wellbeing Project.  By better understanding which cultural beliefs and practices provide protective factors as well as adapting an existing intervention for postpartum depression to be culturally responsive to U.S. Latinas, we can build stronger communities.

Soy Mexicana y este es el  mes  de mi Patria

Mi Nombre es Elva M Mireles

Mi mejor modelo fueron mis abuelas con 11 hijos

y a todos darles esa vida que era la leche materna

de la manera que Podemos seguir preservando nuestras raíces

es no romper esa cadena de vida y salud que temenos como herencia

la mejor propaganda para mi es la prueba de la conexión entre madre e hijo

para toda la vida.

Enfocarse mas en el parto natural como mas efectivo y respeto a la decisión de la cultura

Latina de amamantar en cualquier lugar  creo que se pasan por alto.

El respeto a la cultura y tradición de cada quien y a sus creencias.

Mi consejo seria que no suelte por nada ni por nadie esa riqueza con la cual creció porque eso lo

Mamo del pecho de su madre y son sus raíces porque es herencia de vida

My name is Elva M Mireles

My greatest models were my grandmothers with 11 children

giving them all life with mother’s milk.

The way we can continue to preserve our roots

is not to break that chain of life and health that we have inherited.

To me, the best propaganda is proof of the connection between mother and baby

Forever.

To focus more on childbirth as a natural event and respect the decision of Latina culture

to breastfeed anywhere. I think they are overlooked:

Respect for each other’s cultures and traditions and beliefs.

My advice would be not to let go anything or anyone — the richness with which we grew up — because that

Latch onto mother’s breast are our roots; because that is the inheritance of life.

Soy Mexicana y este es el  mes  de mi Patria

I am Mexican and this is the Month of my Country

Nací en un pequeño ranchito a un lado del rio Bravo llamado la burrita

I was born in a small ranchito on the side of the Rio Bravo called La Burrita

Mi compromiso es pasar lo que mi madre me ha dado a mi, la herencia de salud. Mis raíces

Y después en mi trabajo como Doula

My commitment is to pass on what my mother has given me, the inheritance of life, health, my roots

In my work as a Doula.

El respeto a nuestras raíces  y tradiciones

Es dejar y respetar nuestras raíces nuestros fundamentos de vida.

Respect for our roots and traditions

Is to leave and respect our roots, our foundations of life.

       

Preservando Nuestras Tradiciones

Un parto natural en cama y una cultura de lactancia

Lo traemos desde siempre esa es nuestra herencia latina

Preserving Our Traditions

A natural birth in bed and a culture of breastfeeding

Is what we bring. It is our Latina heritage.

Mi Modelo

Mi abuela — 11 hijos y solo dos pezones y todos bien alimentados

Sanos y respetuosos de su herencia

My Model

My grandmother — 11 children and only two nipples and all well fed,

Healthy and respectful of their heritage.

PARTO NATURAL Y LACTANCIA MATERNA

CONSEJERIA SOBRE LACTANCIA
UNA  DOULA PRESENTE

NATURAL CHILDBIRTH AND BREASTFEEDING

BREASTFEEDING COUNSELING

A DOULA PRESENT

Dar lugar a las tradiciones y permitir que la mujer Latina tome sus decisiones

Sin ser motivadas ni acosadas sobre el que no tienen que sentir dolor

y dejar de poner biberones por si no pueden dar pecho

Give place to traditions and allow Latina women to make her decisions

Without being motivated or harassed about not feeling pain

and stop giving bottles if they cannot breastfeed

Mi consejo seria

Que no dejar de traer grabadas y arraigadas

Nuestras raíces  esa herencia que ni el tiempo ni la distancia puedan desaparecerlas

Que eso que mamaron de niñas pueda perdurar como cadena que no se rompe

Que se sientan orgullosas y saquen la casta y con la frente en alto puedan defender

Y abogar por lo que ellas creen y han recibido como herencia de sus padres abuelos y bisabuelos

My advice would be

Do not detract from bringing, recorded and ingrained,

Our roots, the heritage that neither time nor distance can disappear,

That what they drank as girls can last like a chain that does not break,

To feel proud and take the caste out and with their heads held high, they can defend

And advocate for what they believe and have received as an inheritance from their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

No importa las circunstancias por las cuales no estés donde dejaste tu ombligo

Has que el ombligo de tus hijos nietos y bisnietos aunque en tierras lejanas sigan con la misma raíz

De quien los pario es una orgullo ser Latina y con la frente en alto temenos que decirlo

No Podemos dejar a un lado esa riqueza que traemos arrastrando y que nos formo

No matter what your circumstances are, you are not where you left your navel.

The navels of your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, although in distant lands, follow the same root

Of who gave you birth. It is a pride to be Latina, and with the head high, we must say it.

We cannot leave aside the richness that we brought, that has formed us.

 * * * * *
Gracias a Elva por compartir su historia como parte de nuestra Serie del Mes de la Herencia Hispana/Latina 2017, “Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”
Thank you to Elva for sharing your story as part of our 2017 Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month Series, “Reclaiming our Traditions on Breastfeeding and Birth.”

Young Mothers Deserve Just As Much Encouragement

by Heidy Brito, Jasmin Coreño, Jacqueline Alva and Jazmin Lopez

Teen parents tend to face a lot of negative stigma when choosing to parent. They are often told that they are poor decision makers and are losing out in so much in their lives. So when it comes to breastfeeding, it often surprises adults when young people make the choice to breastfeed.

As young Latina mothers from the Southwest side of Chicago, we’ve dedicated ourselves to normalizing breastfeeding within our community. Trained as Breastfeeding Peer Counselors by HealthConnect One, we have been assisting young mothers with breastfeeding through the Opciones Saludables program of Heartland Alliance.

In April, we had the opportunity to present at the ICAH Youth Summit for Pregnant and Parenting Young People on this very topic. When reflecting on our experience as facilitators, we were grateful that it was us that Summit attendees got to ask questions to.

One thing we noticed was that participants’ knowledge around breastfeeding was pretty low and they were lost to what resources were available to them. This showed us that medical providers are still not encouraging young people to breastfeed like they do older moms, and that they leave the hospital not knowing where to get support. The one thing that was encouraging was that these young moms still chose to breastfeed, despite them not fully understanding the benefits and having challenges. They had so many questions and were excited that we didn’t dismiss their questions but answered them honestly and respectfully.

We remember when we were in their shoes. We all felt that medical providers didn’t care about our needs and wants. We’re glad that we were able to give them the support that we didn’t have as young mothers. We encourage medical providers and those who interface with young parents to provide their participants with resources that fit their needs, are culturally sensitive, and give power and confidence back to WOMEN!

Moms, remember that your body is amazing. It knows how to give birth. It knows how to produce milk to feed your baby. Trust your instincts and feed on!

Heidy Brito, Jasmin Coreño, Jacqueline Alva and Jazmin Lopez are Teen Mentors for Opciones Saludables/Healthy Options at Heartland Alliance. HealthConnect One consulted with them in 2016 to design and launch a program that supports young moms.

Cultivating Change: Rachel

Latino-Hispanic Heritage Month 2016 is here, and HealthConnect One is honored to amplify the voices of our Hispanic and Latinx allies, as they share about changes they are making in their lives and communities.

¡Mes de la herencia Hispano / Latino  ya está aquí! Nos encantaría que te unas a nosotros para celebrar del 15 de Septiembre al 15 de Octubre de 2016.  Nuestro tema este año es el Cultivando Cambio: los Latinos y los Hispanos hablan acerca de un cambio personal y de su comunidad.

r-blog-w-husbandI am a Mexican-American born in Chicago. My initial connection to HealthConnect One was my mother, Helen. She came on as admin personnel in the early 90’s when it was just the Executive Director, Rachel, and Program Director, Jere, in an office not much bigger than a small bedroom. Having a connection and growing up with the work of the Chicago Breastfeeding Taskforce – which is now HealthConnect One – has deeply impacted how I perceive breastfeeding and how I am an advocate.

Before I became a mom, my mother took me to her friend’s house while I was on leave, during my time in the Navy. Her son was close to 4 years of age and wanted to nurse. She nursed him. I remember feeling a sense of repulsion thinking this kid is WAY too old for that! Yes, I knew breastfeeding was all fine and dandy, but seriously – too much! Some of you out there reading this may be thinking something similar. I was the type of person whose face showed every expression and emotion. (My apologies, Rose, if that ever came across. You are a shining example!) I know I said something to my mother and I’m sure I blew off whatever she said. I was young and naïve.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I’m a mom. I had a goal of breastfeeding for 6 months and I was very fortunate to work for a company that was supportive of my pumping needs. I didn’t really have any negative thoughts or perceptions of formula. I knew breast was best, so I nursed pretty well for 6 months, supplementing with formula when we were out and about. For the next 3 months, I pretty much nursed at night only, feeding my baby formula and food the rest of the time. Yay! I was a great breastfeeding mom.

I ended up going through a divorce. I traveled back to Chicago with my breastfeeding success and did some work with HealthConnect One. I received my doula certification and gained so much knowledge! I still remember the trainer, Beth Isaacs, talking about how our bodies work and though we don’t always make the healthiest food choices, the baby will always get the best from us. That has always stayed with me. I went back to school for 2 semesters and breastfeeding seemed all around me. I wrote papers on it in my Anthropology class and my child development classes and my English class. I think it was after that doula class and training that I became a gung-ho advocate!

So, then on to child #2 (and second husband). I was having a lot of issues with latching. I wept. I was so excited for this breastfeeding opportunity after all I had learned. I dealt with a few different lactation consultants, but they all had me using a nipple shield and pumping – basically feeding my daughter through that and a tube. It took a while before I could get her to latch without the use of that shield. I did A LOT of supplementing, but she loved to nurse and we would nurse everywhere. At a very young age, she stopped taking my pumped milk; she only liked it straight from the source. I always kept a cover with me.

Two years later and I’m pregnant and nursing. I tried tirelessly to wean her. She would put her two little hands on my face and plead with me, “PLEEEEASE, mommy!” I gave in. Sometimes the sensitivity from being pregnant and her wanting to nurse would bring me to tears. It was tough! Because of my history, I was having a c-section and I hoped that with me in the hospital a few days, she would forget all about chi-chi (Spanish slang for breast).

I was blessed with a third daughter. My mother – who was no longer admin personnel, but was now a trainer and so much more – was here for this birth. Though I had some complications and didn’t get to see my daughter right away, my mom was there supporting and helping me. When I came home from the hospital, my second daughter did not forget about chi-chi. How unfair it would have been with those little eyes and hands on my face again. So I ended up tandem nursing for a few months.

r-blog-20160203_073521Something I didn’t mention were the comments I heard… from family, including my husband. “She’s too big.” “She really needs to stop.” “She doesn’t need that anymore.” It was disheartening sometimes, but I never succumbed to the comments of others. I fed my babies. With my youngest, I nursed her anywhere and everywhere and I never carried a cover. I can feed my baby with the most minimal amount of skin showing. Every bra is a nursing bra and every shirt can be a nursing shirt. I got smart. Even after a big blow up with my mother-in-law about nursing in public, I was never deterred. My husband stood up for us gallantly. My youngest is now 4 and will still nurse. I’ve actually made two friends over the years, one who nursed her son until 3 and the other who nursed her daughter until 4.

Unfortunately, there will always be people out there who judge and might try to shame you. Just know that you are giving your child the very best! My children are some of the tallest in their classes. They rarely get sick and when they do, it’s for shorter periods of time than their peers. Moms of multiple children know that every child is different, just as every birth experience is different. If I see a mom nursing, I find it easy to make conversation because we have that in common. If I see a fussy baby, the first thing I think is: Give that baby some chi chi! I let moms know they don’t need to be shy to nurse!

I am a breastfeeding advocate.

 

r-blog-girlsWhile this story is for Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, I know there are a multitude of other mothers who share in this experience, in this bond that we have as nursing moms. It’s easy to judge – but until you are there, you really don’t understand. I have no word except love to explain or comprehend why I have nursed this long – and especially if you have a child, that, I’m sure, you understand.

 

Cultivating Change: Laura

Latino-Hispanic Heritage Month 2016 is here, and HealthConnect One is honored to amplify the voices of our Hispanic and Latinx allies, as they share about changes they are making in their lives and communities.

¡Mes de la herencia Hispano / Latino  ya está aquí! Nos encantaría que te unas a nosotros para celebrar del 15 de Septiembre al 15 de Octubre de 2016.  Nuestro tema este año es el Cultivando Cambio: los Latinos y los Hispanos hablan acerca de un cambio personal y de su comunidad.

laura-1Hi. My name is Laura and I have been a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for 24 years.

In August of 1989, I found out I was pregnant. Along with all the flurries of emotions from family and friends going crazy with the prospect of a first baby in the family, I had one thought in mind: I was adamant I was going to breastfeed.

Now that may not sound radical to you these days but in 1989, I had no role models for breastfeeding. My mom was a product of the 60’s when formula was “better” than breast. None of my friends who had babies breastfed. Of all my cousins I talked to in Texas and Mexico (yes, Mexico), only one was breastfeeding her firstborn. On my in-laws’ side, they all said the same thing “my milk dried up after 3 months!” They weren’t very encouraging.

laura-bf_010None of that mattered to me, or that I was going to do this on my own, or that I didn’t know how to do it. I was going to do it, and I did.

I loved breastfeeding, my baby girl loved being breastfed, and I didn’t want to stop but I did. I buckled under the pressure of the non-stop judgement: “Oh, you still have milk?” or, “Do you think the baby is getting fed enough?” You all know the remarks. I stopped at 11 months. Neither of us was happy.

When my daughter was 18 months I met this woman at Alivio Medical Center in Pilsen. She asked if I wanted to be not just a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor (BPC), but be in the very first Spanish-speaking BPC group with the Chicago Breastfeeding Taskforce (now called HealthConnect One)! Of course I immediately said YES!!

Every week, I went to training until I got my certificate. I was so proud, and then came the hard part: What do I do with it?? During that time, there weren’t very many opportunities for employment. We all did a lot of volunteer work while we waited for hospitals and clinics to realize they needed us.

I loved volunteering at Cook County, helping all the new moms and giving them the support and help no one else was giving them. I went to meetings and conferences. The more I learned, the angrier I became that breastfeeding was not the norm. How the formula companies would manipulate moms into thinking their milk was not good enough! How no one really told us about all the wonderful and miraculous things breast milk contained.

laura-2Then one day, I was offered a job at W.I.C. as their first Spanish-speaking Breastfeeding Peer Counselor – with the first nursery, Spanish-only classes, and bi-lingual support groups in the state of Illinois. Huge responsibility! It was the proudest day of my professional life! I finally was able to share everything I knew about breastfeeding and help a lot of moms at the same time.

Believe me when I tell you that just because I worked with Latino mothers, that didn’t mean I had it easy; a lot of them were so influenced by their doctors and family to use formula since W.I.C. was “giving it for free”! But I did it!

I accomplished so much that year. One of my moms was on the “Cristina show” about breastfeeding, and not only was she breastfeeding for a year, but I had helped her start when the baby was 4 months old. One of my other mothers was chosen to be on a city-wide billboard even after her husband was not very thrilled about it. Even the smallest of victories — like having a mom breastfeed her 9th child when her husband was telling her not to — made my job so worthwhile!

Unfortunately, after a year, I was offered another job doing something very different and I left. Over the years, I never ever stopped being a BPC. I have consulted over the phone to Spain and Mexico. I’ve used Skype, texting & emailing, as well as the old-fashion face-to-face. For me, being a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor has always been a mission to make sure babies are given the best start possible … and to make sure moms are given the support the need with correct information to make the right choice for them.

laura-w-daughter-now_009

Cultivating Change: Emma Gonzales

Latino-Hispanic Heritage Month 2016 is here, and HealthConnect One is honored to amplify the voices of our Hispanic and Latinx allies, as they share about changes they are making in their lives and communities.

¡Mes de la herencia Hispano / Latino  ya está aquí! Nos encantaría que te unas a nosotros para celebrar del 15 de Septiembre al 15 de Octubre de 2016.  Nuestro tema este año es el Cultivando Cambio: los Latinos y los Hispanos hablan acerca de un cambio personal y de su comunidad.

 

emma-with-kids-2015A widowed mother of three children, Emma came to the United States in 1993. She enrolled in HealthConnect One (formerly Chicago Health Connection)’s breastfeeding peer counseling class in 1998, at the suggestion of her sister-in-law. Emma wanted to take this class to help others in her community, and in the ten-week course, she learned the basics of breastfeeding, how to advocate for new moms, and how to become a source of support when there is no one else to rely on.

She was surprised at what else she learned – in learning to advocate for others, she also began advocating for herself. “With this training, I learned to listen, pay attention, and speak up for myself and my kids. I want to be the best, because that’s what’s best for my kids. Breastfeeding helped me to be closer to my kids, and it taught me to be responsible for my future.”

A very shy person, Emma has never been shy of hard work. For years, she shared her wisdom, knowledge and support with breastfeeding moms in her community, and in March 2006, she returned to HealthConnect One for a Facilitator’s Workshop. This workshop was geared towards developing counselors into trainers, allowing them to reach a larger audience to make a broader impact. Here, Emma learned how to be more open with her feelings and voice her opinions in a very diverse group. She ended this class feeling more confident, and decided to run for a very competitive seat on her local school council. Within a week, Emma was elected to serve on the No Child Left Behind committee at her school.

She was making her impact!

emma-with-kids-graduationSlowly, quietly, and with great determination, Emma had become a local community leader, advocating in a new way for the healthy development of children. “The Facilitator’s Workshop helped me to be more open and secure with myself. The workshop helped more than anything I ever did. I don’t want to always be behind. I want to be ahead. is something important in my life and has given me the opportunity to do all these things.”

HealthConnect One trains community health workers, but more than that – HC One trains community advocates, women and men who strengthen their own communities by drawing on their own strengths, making one connection at a time. It is this connectedness that translates into effectiveness.

Emma worked for WIC awhile and ten years later, although no longer with WIC, she continues to provide peer counseling to new moms in her community. She wants her neighbors, family and friends to have the same experience she had with her children, and she hopes all mothers will realize the impact of bonding through breastfeeding. She says, “ taught me to open my eyes and my mind.”

HC One may have given her the tools to find her own power, but the power has always been hers.

As she continues to quietly nurture her community, Emma becomes a symbol of strength and independence – not only to her children – but to us all.

emma-kids