Lactation Across Borders

National Breastfeeding Month | Roundtable Discussion

 

Date: August 30th | Time: 2:00 PM EST | ZOOM Webinar

The declining health status of immigrant groups through generations is varied and complex, as are the breastfeeding practices and available support across communities.

To close out National Breastfeeding Month, HealthConnect One is hosting a roundtable discussion on “Lactation Across Borders: Breastfeeding and Lactation Culture and Practice within Immigrant Communities.”

During this discussion, panelists working with immigrant communities across America to strengthen their maternal and child health outcomes will share their insights on supporting breastfeeding within these communities.

Speakers

Charlene McGee | REACH Program Manager @Multnomah County Health Department
Charlene McGee, MPA serves as the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Program Manager. REACH is a five-year funded program by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address chronic disease xc. In this capacity, she leads targeted policy, systems, environmental and communication strategies to redress chronic disease disparities and informs division-wide goals, monitors program performance, and assess outcomes to eliminate health disparities and cultivate a culture of Black Health for Multnomah County Black and African immigrant residents. A self-proclaimed Liberian-Oregonian, Charlene’s experience as a survivor of the Liberian civil war and a Black immigrant has heavily influenced her career trajectory. Her career spans more than 20 years, serving in a variety of roles

To-wen Tseng | Volunteer Blogger @San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition
To-wen Tseng is a TV reporter turned independent journalist and author. She writes about parenting, education, and family lifestyle for a variety of publications. She is an award-winning blogger and has authored six books. To-wen is also a passionate breastfeeding activist. She received a rude awakening when returning to her previous newsroom after giving birth to her first child in 2013 and was denied breastfeeding rights, which eventually resulted in her separation from that company. Since that experience, To-wen has dedicated her career to advocating for family-friendly policy and gender equity at the workplace and speaking out about breastfeeding barriers in Asian-American communities and beyond. She writes for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition and MomsRising; co-founded API Breastfeeding Task Force and AANHPI Breastfeeding Week.

Monica Esparza | Executive Director @New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force
Monica Esparza is currently the Executive Director of the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force. She is a trained CLC and Community Interpreter who previously served families as a breastfeeding peer counselor for more than 10 years, providing peer-to-peer support to lactating families through the WIC program both individually and in the hospital setting. She participated as a Leader in the Health Connect One Birth Leadership Academy and the NM Women of Color Leaders in Non-profit. She has served on different boards and currently sits on the National College of Midwifery Board. As a Mexican, Immigrant woman living in the south valley of Albuquerque, she brings a grassroots community approach and an equity lens into her work. She understands the importance of centering families and BIPOC communities in everything that we do. She enjoys hiking and gardening with her husband and 2 children.

Maya Jackson | Executive Director @MAAME, Inc.
Maya Jackson is a mother, community organizer, breastfeeding advocate, full-spectrum doula, and the founder and Executive Director of MAAME, Inc. (Mobilizing African American Mothers through Empowerment). A native of Durham, North Carolina, she graduated from North Carolina Central University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. She has over ten years of working in nonprofit leadership in the arts and public health. In 2018 Maya became a birth doula and Milky Mommas International Lactation Peer Counselor. She eventually founded and launched MAAME, Inc. MAAME, a community-rooted maternal health organization whose mission is to support Black and other birthing people of color. This fall, Jackson will begin working towards her MPH and MBA at Benedictine University.

Stevie Merino
Stevie Merino is a community organizer, mom, anthropologist, birthworker, and proud islander woman–CHamoru (Guam) & Boricua (Puerto Rico). Much of Stevie’s work has been in efforts to uplift the voices of Pacific Islanders, who are often afterthoughts in discussions, resources, and invitations to the table. Stevie’s research in anthropology focuses on Pacific Islander birth traditions and birth disparities specifically on Chamorro’s in Southern California. Stevie presents her research at various academic conferences around the country, where she centers the experience and voices of Pacific Islanders that are often left out of these spaces. She is the co-creator & trainer of The Birth Workers of Color Collective and Long Beach doula of Color training. Stevie holds various positions in the community and in academia, including holding the Gender Equity Seat for the American Anthropological Association Members Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee.

Announcing the First Food Equity Project

Diversifying the breastfeeding lactation support workforce will reduce breastfeeding disparities among BIPOC communities.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE // July 30, 2021

Chicago, Illinois — Through $1.2 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, HealthConnect One will increase access to community-based peer-to-peer breastfeeding support, critical to increasing breastfeeding rates and driving down infant mortality rates in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.

Breastfeeding is critical to young children’s health. Yet, years of disinvestment and systemic racism within the health care system created an untenable situation for low-income Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened this inequity as our health care systems are being pushed to the brink. HealthConnect One continues to put communities in touch with their own strengths and skills to augment years of systemic racism and neglect through collaboration, shared learning, and ongoing support for community-led work.   

The First Food Equity Project aims to improve the initiation and duration of breastfeeding rates among low-income communities by expanding community-based, peer-to-peer support models that diversify both the maternal and child health workforces rooted in these communities. 

“For new parents and babies, nothing compares to having lactation support that is from your community and shares your cultural background. W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s generous grant for our First Food Equity project provides us with the outstanding opportunity to grow the community-rooted lactation support in communities across the nation where the need is the greatest,” said Dr. Twylla Dillion, executive director of HealthConnect One. “For the communities we are working with, the option to work with someone with shared lived experience can be life-changing.”

  • Increase breastfeeding intention, initiation, and duration to improve mother and baby immunity and overall health.
  • Utilize the First Food Equity project to increase breastfeeding support by diverse, community-based peer-to-peer providers, resulting in increased breastfeeding rates.
  • Provide financial assistance and technical support for 15+ community-led initiatives and projects focused on increasing breastfeeding intention, initiation, and duration at six weeks.

###

Media Contact: Zainab Sulaiman, HealthConnect One Director of Communications & Advocacy
Tel: (202)440-1576 Email: zsulaiman@healthconnectone.org

Video by National First Food Racial Equity Cohort

 Watch – First Food: Women of Color Removing Barriers to Breastfeeding

Thank you to the National First Food Racial Equity Cohort for your work and leadership. This video features HealthConnect One’s Brenda Reyes among other leaders.  The video shows breastfeeding challenges faced by people of color and the powerful advantages of “first foods.”

You can view their video below, or on RaceForward’s YouTube channel.