Just when we thought we may be nearing a loosening up of the quarantine, we witnessed again, the death of a black man at the hands of police. I'm sure like me, your current emotions are changing like the ups and downs of a roller coaster ride. One minute you may think this isn't so bad, we're going to be alright, and the next minute a wave of fear may hit you as you wonder what the future may bring.
I came across this picture yesterday and my heart dropped. As always, the BRC is holding our community in our hearts. We know that motherhood is a struggle for many, especially our women of color. Systemic racism affects every aspect of life, from housing to criminal justice to education to employment and to healthcare.
Breastfeeding or providing your milk is the first step towards good health. We try to do our part and support
families. Just two days ago we
a donation from a client with this quote. "We did it 1 year! THANK YOU!!! Also, thank you for supporting all racial communities!!!" We hope that we have never made someone feel unwelcome and I hope some of our programs are taking small steps toward health disparities for women of color.
A few months ago, the BRC started a monthly free support group for women of color. This group is intended to provide space for our WOC community to share their thoughts and experiences on a variety of nursing topics, including cultural disparities related to nursing, stigma associated with nursing in the communities of color, creating a nursing support network, maternal health and more. If you haven't joined us yet, we'd love to have you at this free monthly group, led by some of our BRC Community Counselors.
The IBCLC profession as a whole is lacking in women of color. We've developed a scholarship for our internship program to reduce barriers.
*If there are any other programs you'd like us to develop, we're always open to ideas.*
During the crisis of the pandemic, I tried to search for the positives. Is there a silver lining through all this? Here are a few we've noticed:
1. Breastfeeding and exclusivity rates have increased in the hospital setting. There are a number of things that may be influencing this. More mothers are choosing to breastfeed in hopes of building the baby's immune system to maximum capacity. The hospital policies to eliminate visitors and decrease staff/patient contact allows families to concentrate on breastfeeding without multiple interruptions. And finally, many families find themselves "forced" to room in with their babies. Forced sounds negative, but research shows that the families that practice rooming in have better breastfeeding rates, so it's a positive!
2. Some partners are working from home which may allow them to help out during their work breaks. What new mother wouldn't kill to have someone hold the baby while they take a shower or sit down and actually eat a meal from start to finish!
3. You get to feed your baby rather than pumping when you're forced to work from home! I don't think I've ever heard a mother say, I love pumping. And I'm sure NO one misses trying to get out the door on time. You may even nurse longer without the stress of maintaining supply with a pump!
4. Tele-health visits! These have been great. On Memorial Day the office phone rang as the staff has them forwarded to our personal phones. Of course I answered it, because really... what am I doing? No barbecues to plan this year. This poor mother was crying. It had been 9 hours since the baby latched. Her breasts were engorged and she was unable to express any milk. We quickly organized a tele-health visit and after making some adjustments, the little guy latched and milk was flowing! Mom, dad, and I think I can speak for baby too, we're so grateful! I'm sure his three siblings were relieved that he was fed and happy too.