ROBE: Teaching Fathers To Support Breastfeeding In Their Families

 

Thank you to Wesley Bugg, for taking the time this Father’s Day to share about the organization he founded, called Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere (ROBE).

What is the goal of ROBE?

The goal of Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere is to provide men with culturally appropriate information and resources that allow them to more fully understand the dilemma of breastfeeding and birth disparities in order to impact maternal and infant mortality—especially in minority communities where the disparities are more prominent. It is a well-known that communities of color have been historically resource deprived when it comes to engagement in the process of eliminating disparities. We intend to alleviate misinformation in these communities so that fathers, brothers, uncles, mentors, pastors and community leaders have culturally competent language to understand and share the importance of breastfeeding and birth equity and are able to communicate this information and knowledge to others in the community.

How does supporting dads improve birth equity?

ROBE’s support of fathers is to educate, equip and empower men to impact the increase of breastfeeding initiation and duration and decrease maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in disproportionately disenfranchised communities. Knowledge is power, power not to be held on to but to be shared. Men can bring significant relief from anxiety to a woman’s birth experience. Creating positive, culturally based opportunities for fathers to be involved with birth process allows them to be heard and provides for less family stress. Our equation is Stress= Demand – Resources.

How does the funding from HealthConnect One’s Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA) help you reach project goals?

Funding from HealthConnect One has been a game changer. This funding has allowed us to become visible in the community to get our message out. We have participated in male oriented projects in Louisiana, Oklahoma, California, Colorado, Ohio and Georgia.

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Wesley Bugg, is a BELA Leader and he serves ROSE as their Financial and Legal Operations Coordinator.

NICU Dad’s Breastfeeding Journey

NICU Dad and PC - John Bridgesby John E. Bridges, Jr.

My 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

 Now we want to hear from you!  

Please connect with us on Facebook or tweet your thoughts with the hashtag #BlkBFing.

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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.

 

dressed-up mom baby and dad

Dad Talks Birth & Breastfeeding

Editor’s Note:  Thank you to Abraham Dueñas, who first shared this story with us in 2010.  His story, like so many others, is timeless, and so we share it again today.  Thank you to all the dads out there for the love and support you show your families ~ Happy Father’s Day!

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My name is Abraham Dueñas.  I have one daughter.  Her name is Sarai Ishabel Dueñas.  She turned 1 on the 25th of May.  My wife is still breastfeeding to this date.  She jokes that she’ll keep doing it cause she loves it so much.

You know, at first I didn’t know if I could handle attending my daughter’s birth, but thanks to the urging I got from my Mom, I decided to be there, and I have to say, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.  Since the moment I knew my wife was pregnant, I could see the connection she had with our daughter.  It’s only natural.  I mean, you have someone growing day by day inside you.  As I saw that, I couldn’t help but feel – hey! – When am I going to experience that sort of connection to my baby?  I thought, maybe when I hear her heartbeat or when I see the ultrasound. Even though those were great moments, I just didn’t get that feeling I was waiting for, you know, that – hey! – You’re a daddy now.

Well I’m telling you, when I was able to see my daughter come into this world,  and after hearing her first cry, it was like this switch inside my heart was flipped, and it was then that I could feel what I had been looking for, that connection, that sense of responsibility, everything. I was just so overcome with happiness, I cried uncontrollably.  It really surprised me.  I don’t think I ever understood what people meant when they say they cried out of happiness, but I did that day.  I did the moment she was born.

When I first held my daughter, well I finally understood what my parents had always said to me: “Just wait, you’ll have your own some day.  Then you will understand.”  I don’t think I ever really did understand what they meant, not until I held my very own in my arms.  I understood that they really would have given their lives gladly in favor of mine. I understood that they really would have given me everything if they could even though it sometimes seemed they didn’t, and that they really would love me no matter what.

I couldn’t have been happier about my wife breastfeeding.  I really didn’t know the full benefits of her choosing to do so, but I’ve always thought that if that is what our bodies are meant to do, then it has to be good.  To support her, I made sure she always had plenty of fenugreek, and planned out the logistics for her to have privacy whenever we went out.  I also fed our daughter breast milk from the bottle whenever my wife could not be around.

To a new father, first I’d say that just because breastfeeding is not popular, doesn’t mean it’s not the best solution for your baby.  Ask yourself why is it not the popular choice, what are the benefits?  What do studies show? Basically, do some research.  A lot of people do research on what they put into their bodies.  A good father would never allow their 3 year old to have a steady diet of junk food.  Fathers shouldn’t wait ‘til they‘re 3 years old to make those decisions.  Start now.  Do some research.  Remember that our children rely on us as parents to make the best decisions for them.

I think the best thing about being a father is just watching them develop.  I never could imagine how such an addition can bring so much into our lives.  They entertain, they make us cry, help us relieve stress.  They truly are the greatest gift.