On May 24, 2013, Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA) held our 4th National Seminar, Innovations in Breastfeeding Support in Detroit, MI, USA. The Seminar consisted of a plenary address, keynote speaker and lecture sessions from some of the most notable experts in the field of lactation. Topics were directed toward maternal-child healthcare professionals on innovative solutions that address the cultural road blocks in breastfeeding support.
The Seminar began with Beth Eggleston MS, RD of Michigan Department of Community Health offering the plenary address where current breastfeeding rates in Michigan were shared and a lively discussion was held about why disparities exist. The information provided about Baby-Friendly Hospitals was particularly interesting as it not only described the 10 steps to achieving Baby-Friendly designation but also explored realistic strategies to eliminate barriers presented by hospital administration as well as mothers of newborns. Allison Benjamin RN, IBCLC of Harlem Hospital (retired), described her instrumental role in assisting Harlem Hospital in becoming the first Hospital in New York City to receive the distinguished Baby-Friendly designation. While breastfeeding provisions are still a work in progress, Leila Abolfazli, J.D., of Washington, DC, shared that the Affordable Care Act offers insurance coverage to breastfeeding mothers for services such as breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling. Interestingly enough, breast milk is being viewed as preventive healthcare according to Leila. BMBFA’s Founding Director, Kiddada Green, M.A.T., of Detroit, MI, shared strategies necessary to organize and sustain a breastfeeding support group using a model that has proven successful as it has expanded its reach throughout the Detroit area. Other strategies for sustaining community based breastfeeding support suggested by Sade Moonsammy-Gray, B.A. and Kathleen Logan, RN, CPNG, IBCLC of Community of Hope Family Healing and Birthing Center, Washington, D.C. included education, self-efficacy and empowerment of breastfeeding mothers while utilizing evidence based interventions. Dr. Paula Schreck of St. John Mother Nurture Project in Detroit, MI, offered valuable insight into community based breastfeeding support as she compared and contrasted the Mother Nurture Project with traditional hospital-based programs. Dr. Schreck facilitated the first Physician led outpatient breastfeeding clinic in Michigan. I can’t wait to begin planning next year’s seminar. I’m sure it will be yet another stellar opportunity to provide education and resources to breastfeeding professionals.
I’m excited to report that BMBFA has made significant progress in our efforts to support breastfeeding mothers and healthcare professionals in our community. We have increased our breastfeeding clubs from once monthly to four times per month with various times and locations throughout the city of Detroit. This expansion has enabled us to reach a far greater target population and minimized barriers to our mothers receiving necessary support. How awesome is that!
Another area of significant progress is our breastfeeding peer counselor program. We recently graduated 11 women who have completed a rigorous curriculum assisted by Health Connect One, which has enabled them to provide breastfeeding counseling to women in the Detroit area with hopes of increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration rates. Surely this will help our mothers by overcoming obstacles that may otherwise lead to breastfeeding cessation.
We have formed amazing relationships in the community with those who share our enthusiasm and passion in which reciprocal support is provided to breastfeeding mothers and public health professionals. These relationships include Neighborhood Service Organization Harper Gratiot Service Center, Wayne CHAP (Children Healthcare Access Program), WIN (Women Inspired Neighborhood) Network, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Focus Hope and First Beat. Our relationship with the St. John Mother Nurture Project has flourished as we forge our efforts to diversify Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) in the state of Michigan. The Michigan Department of Community Health awarded BMBFA a $117,000 grant to supplement our work to eliminate breastfeeding disparities.
BMBFA has also received a $400,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The funds will be used to strengthen organizational capacity by building management systems, expanding existing programs and developing new programs, leading to sustainable growth to improve the quality of life for vulnerable, poverty stricken children, while causing social change for the greater good.
BMBFA’s community approach to breastfeeding support has been deemed innovative due to its explicit focus on narrowing the disparity gap that exists in breastfeeding rates. In Michigan, only 50.9 percent of black children ever receive breast milk as compared to 68.5 percent of white children. Strengthening BMBFA’s infrastructure will lead to long-term increases in breastfeeding rates and work to create a monumental social impact that restores the emotional, psychological and physical health of the Detroit community.
We are looking forward to following our passion and doing incredible work in our community as we continue to answer the US Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.
Originally posted at LactationMatters.org in July, 2013.