World Breastfeeding Week 2020

I am blown away at how quickly 2020 is flying by. 2021 is on the horizon and the future remains unknown. What I do know is that breastfeeding remains a constant in my household and is celebrated daily. It is a way of life for me! I am mommy to a nursing toddler, I wear cool swag to normalize breast / chestfeeding and I frequent circles where lactation is discussed regularly. I always look forward to the month of August because the month brings awareness to the rest of the world. August starts with World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and ends with Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25-31). Breast / chestfeeding is in the spotlight throughout the month and I couldn’t be happier!

Each year World Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy (WABA) establishes a theme. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2020 (WBW2020) is: Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet. Objectives for 2020 are:

  • Inform people about the links between breastfeeding and the environment/climate change
  • Anchor breastfeeding as a climate-smart decision
  • Engage with individuals and organisations for greater impact
  • Galvanize action on improving the health of the planet and people through breastfeeding

“Breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe: produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste.”

World Breastfeeding Week 2017

Sustainability and its correlation to breast / chestfeeding is an area that is seldom discussed. I am guilty as I primarily focus on providing direct support to nursing parents. Medela emphasizes that “there are no preservatives or risk of contaminants in breast milk and it’s generally not processed in any way… Feeding at the breast also recuses waste – from production to feeding, no products are needed, just mom and baby’s bodies.” Expressing human milk can require additional supplies (bottles, breast pump, storage bags), however, “it’s still much more earth-friendly than formula feeding” because the majority of these products are reusable.

The above insight is additional evidence that human milk is magic because it benefits infants, children, parents and the planet. Access, education and support are vital components of the equation that must come from a variety of sources – public policy, lactation professionals, partners, families, medical settings and workplace environments. It certainly takes a village to make breast / chestfeeding successful.

“Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both children and mothers. And it forms part of a sustainable food system. But while breastfeeding is a natural process, it is not always easy. Mothers need support – both to get started and to sustain breastfeeding.”

World Breastfeeding Week 2020 Message (WHO, UNICEF)

In closing, I encourage you to research for yourself, uplift a nursing parent and keep the conversation moving beyond the month of August.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Breathe, Thrive and Grow.

I am writing this on the heels of my May 27, 2020 post titled, “Exhausted.” Lots of changes have taken place in communities across the nation since my previous post. Several posts remain in “draft” status as my intention is to remain on task by discussing all that has taken place during the month of June. Our nation is currently in the midst of a movement. In the words of National Radio Hall of Fame Inductee, Joe Madison, “the difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice.” Salute to the foot soldiers on the frontline of the movement while the nation is in the middle of an active pandemic. You are indeed making a huge sacrifice as COVID-19 did not magically disappear. Your activism is needed. I see you. I hear you. I support you.

“The difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice.”

Joe Madison

Many of us are still exhausted; yet we are only half way through the current year. This month two memorial services for Brother George Floyd were televised. We also witnessed the killing of Brother Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police. He was laid to rest yesterday. The month of June presented the notion that Black men are suddenly hanging themselves from trees in an attempt to complete suicide. I refuse to believe that these lynchings are the result of suicide. Dr. Stacey Patton discusses this eloquently in her article written for the The Washington Post. Throughout June I have continued to provide mental health support to clients in a virtual format and have discussed all of the above events almost daily. The weight of the last few months is readily apparent with pain and powerlessness serving as the overarching theme.

During the first week of June I stumbled across a photo of an unknown nursing parent on social media. The photo was shared by a number of people but details about the parent and origin of the photo were unknown. I shared the photo but initially hesitated to do so as I had no way of giving credit to the owner of the photo. Within a few days the parent, Autumnn Gaines, was discovered thanks to social media. The photo was taken by Autumnn’s wife, Jania Gaines, and is being used here with Autumnn’s permission.

The photo and caption sends a much needed message, however, I cannot turn a blind eye to the racial disparities that exist for Black breast / chestfeeding mothers (parents) that impede our ability to provide our offspring with human milk. Breast / chestfeeding isn’t always an option for us. Studies show that Black women (parents) breast / chestfeed at lower rates when compared to other ethnic groups. It is imperative that we unpack the following: 1) structural racism in healthcare settings where access to quality healthcare isn’t always guaranteed; 2) medical settings that discourage Black women (parents) from breast / chestfeeding by solely offering supplemental feeding products; 3) working in environments where one does not have the option of maternity leave; 4) inadequate support; and 5) a complicated history where our enslaved African ancestors served as wet nurses to the slave owner’s children leaving our children to go without the nourishment of our milk. For some, a sense of pain and powerlessness is a theme starting the moment that our children are birthed into the world. I will explore this further in August as we celebrate World Breastfeeding Month and Black Breastfeeding Week.

“At the root of what’s happening to black women and their birth outcomes, as well as their disparities with breastfeeding, is an issue about racism and bias.”

Kimberly Seals Allers

This month I am grateful for Autumnn’s photo. It was a breath of fresh air to stumble across it while aimlessly scrolling through social media. Breast / chestfeeding is life-sustaining and the photo speaks volumes with very few words. Timing is of the essence and the photo was posted at a time where many Black people feel powerless. When I look at the photo I see a mother that has made a powerful choice in determining how to nourish her son in a world where some parents are robbed of this choice. Autumnn represents another mother that debunks the myth that Black women (parents) do not breast / chestfeed. I see a mother that is unbothered and unashamed to feed her son in a public setting. Note that some parents have experienced ridicule for choosing to nurse openly in public. Lastly, this photo represents a mother that has made a healthy choice for herself, her son and her family. June is Pride Month and I celebrate Autumnn and her family.

“I’ll feed him, but you have to let him Grow.”

Autumnn Gaines

Black lives matter and making the choice to breast / chestfeed is a good start to closing the racial nursing gap. It serves as an example of finding empowerment through positively reframing an experience that was once deemed to be negative. Shifting from pain to purpose is a very necessary step. It is also necessary to exist in a world that provides support so that our people can breathe, thrive and grow.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

References

Jones, K., Power, M., Queenan, J., & Schulkin, J. (2015, May). Racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding. Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410446/

(n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.slaveryfacts.org/classroom/breastfeeding-master-s-babies-the-wet-nurse-slave

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Exhausted…

I have a few posts that are in draft status. Today I am straying away from them for a moment to address the here and now. No cool pictures. Nothing fancy. Not today. Here goes…

In my March 24 post I discussed elements of self-care to assist with navigating the pandemic and doing away with media that one may deem to be disturbing. To save you a bit of time here is what was written.

“Media – Media is a tool that serves a multitude of purposes – both positive and negative. It is acceptable to take a break from news and social media outlets as the constant stream of information can be emotionally disturbing. Set time limits for watching news outlets and be sure to get information from reputable sources. Take it upon yourself to modify social media settings to hide triggering words, posts and videos. You can also choose to refrain from engaging in threads that bring about distress and angst.”

Maziwa Tribe

It is a common occurrence to view looped footage displaying the killing of humans, specifically Black people, throughout various forms of media. We received the memo that navigating public spaces while Black is a matter of life or death long before social media was invented. Simply leaving home can be worrisome for many Black people because we have seen unfavorable outcomes play out too many times. A walk in the park can take a turn for the worse. Recall the Central Park Five and most recently Christian Cooper and his interaction with Amy Cooper (no relation). How about others – there are many – that did not make it home safely? Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd come to mind. One can be in their home; or in bed, and have a similar fate. Botham Jean, Brionna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson have this in common. Many of us carry these experiences with us simply because we exist and have no other choice. Additional complexity is added with having to explain these events in a language that our children can understand. Having a conversation with our Black boys because they “fit the description” is must-have conversation that no parent looks forward to. Georgina Dukes explains it in depth here.

“Being Black is America should not be a death sentence.”

Jacob Frey – Mayor of Minneapolis, MN

A death sentence is by no means an over exaggeration – it is reality. So much needs to be unpacked. Where do I start? Do I begin with dissecting the United States and its history of oppression? How about the hypersexualization of Black bodies, racial profiling and cultural conditioning resulting in the belief that Black people are inferior? What about racial bias which makes Black people appear to be threatening? Add in the criminal justice system and the over-policing of Black people and Black communities. Let’s not forget about stereotypes that Black people are larger in stature which leads to the belief that we are more threatening than others with a similar stature. Do I begin by unpacking institutionalized racism and privilege? I honestly do not have the mental capacity to go there today because I am tired. This is exhausting.

“Racial trauma, or race-based trauma, consists of the mental health symptoms a person experiences as a result of racism or discrimination, which has often been compared to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

Culture and Mental Health Disparities Lab (CMHD)

The psychological turmoil doesn’t just disappear with every new hashtag that is created. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines PTSD as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” NIMH lists that living through dangerous events, seeing a dead body, and feelings of helplessness or extreme fear as factors that increases the risk of developing PTSD. It makes sense that one may develop PTSD after watching death via various media outlets on a regular basis. I strongly urge connecting with a mental health professional if you believe that your mental health has been impacted by recent (or past) events.

Self-care is an area that is within ones control. It can equate to shutting the television off and taking a break from social media platforms. You do not owe it to yourself to watch videos that are psychologically damaging. It may also be helpful to refrain from sharing such videos. I have given myself permission to partake in the above forms of self-care for my overall sanity and well-being. I value my health, therefore, it no longer serves me well to engage in dialogue where I must explain why humans that look like me deserve to live. I refuse to do it and I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

My three year old is sitting next to me as I put the finishing touches on this post. She is content with her milkies and has no idea about the harsh reality of the world in which we live. In her world, infant wipes – we buy them in bulk – are the solution for cleaning up minor spills and everything else that is wrong. If only it were that easy, little one. If only… I need to have a conversation with her but I am saving it for a later date.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

May is Maternal Mental Health Month

New and expectant mothers (parents) experience a variety of changes – hormonal changes, physical changes, changes in lifestyle, changes in sleep patterns and changes to the daily routine. Pregnancy and birth can be an exciting time and it may also bring about unexpected mental health concerns. Let’s face it – bringing forth new life is stressful. The love for the newborn does not erase the sleep deprivation, isolation, added responsibilities and the inability to partake in self-care. Talk about an emotional roller coaster that seems never-ending! Unlike a roller coaster at the amusement park, this ride can last well after the first year following birth.

“Maternal mental health disorders typically occur in what is called the perinatal period. This includes the prenatal period, or time that a woman is pregnant, and the postpartum period, which is the first year after the baby has been born.”

Mental Health America

In this space we place mental health on the same platform as physical health. If one has concerns related to the heart the next step may include a visit to the Primary Care Physician to ask questions. One may even be referred to a Cardiologist, a Physician that specializes in matters related to the heart. There is no stigma associated with scheduling an appointment, attending multiple appointments, asking questions and following instructions as directed by the Physician. Mental health should work in a similar manner. What we know is that many suffer in silence due to the negative stigma associated with mental health. Not knowing where to turn for support while pregnant and fear of negative consequences if mental health challenges are disclosed during the postpartum period are factors that keep some silent.

“1 in 7 moms suffer from postpartum depression.”

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

It is totally normal to be tearful for no reason, irritable, impatient or sad during pregnancy and in the weeks following birth. This is commonly known as the “baby blues.” It usually tapers off as one starts to adjust to the changes that have taken place. If you believe that you may be suffering from more than the “baby blues” it is imperative that you reach out to a Licensed Mental Health Professional with a specialization in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) to assist with processing feelings. Concerns about mental health during pregnancy and following birth are serious matters that cannot be ignored. Visit Postpartum Support International (PSI) to search for a knowledgeable provider in your area.

By no means is this a comprehensive list. Utilize it to help yourself or someone that you know. Know the signs. Have a conversation.

I am three years into my motherhood journey and I worked with a fabulous Doula and an amazing team of Midwives to birth my daughter. At the start of each prenatal appointment I was given Beck’s Depression Inventory to complete. Moments later my responses were discussed in detail. I was also given the depression inventory to complete at each postpartum follow-up appointment. During my one month postpartum follow-up I vividly recall crying as I completed the depression inventory. Of course I was very familiar with the screening tool and well versed in mental health matters. I was also an exhausted new mother who struggled to put words to my feelings. In that moment it was all that mattered.

Maternity leave forced me to put my professional life on hold for three months. Work was irrelevant and the focus was adjusting to my new normal. I had no clue what motherhood would entail until I experienced it for myself. It was a breath of fresh air to have mental health normalized within the medical setting. My daughter’s Pediatrician, my Doula and Midwives made it routine to speak about mental health at each appointment. My sincere hope is that this standard of care is taking place in medical practices across the nation. Simply asking the question puts mental health on the same platform as every other concern that is addressed during prenatal / postpartum office visits. It is a freeing experience to be heard and I’m almost certain that those with similar experiences would agree.

I dedicate this post to a mother that I had the privilege of knowing long before maternal mental health and I would cross paths personally and professionally. She was a phenomenal individual and inspires all of the postpartum support that I provide in my practice. Back then I didn’t know; but I get it now. I understand. I wish she was here to read this. I look at her picture and with tears in my eyes I speak her name.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

My little one nurses frequently… Please send help.

The title says it all in this case. Parents with infants and toddlers may find themselves nursing frequently with no end in sight. I am one of those parents (raises hand)! As I am writing, my three year old has asked for milk for the hundredth time. She switched it up by using the Baby Shark melody (“I want my milk do, do, do, do, do, do…”) this time around. Someone, please send me a lifeline asap.

In these instances I am forced to revert back to what I know about breast / chestfeeding. It is natural for our little ones to choose human milk. The breast / chest represents safety and a sense of security to our little ones. The request to nurse isn’t always about hunger. The following diagram lists a variety of reasons why our little ones nurse.

Please keep these factors in mind as you nurse your little ones. Sometimes we all need a friendly reminder.

“Mothers breastfeed their toddlers for many of the same reasons they breastfeed their babies: they recognize their children’s needs, they enjoy the closeness, they want to offer comfort, and they understand the health benefits.”

La Leche League International

The breast / chest can be a source of connection for the parent and infant in the midst of uncertainty and a changing routine. Additionally, human milk is magic and there are several studies which prove that it is key in helping babies and toddlers to remain healthy and free of common illnesses.

“One of the most amazing qualities of human milk is how it adapts. As mother and baby are exposed to bacteria and viruses, milk includes antibodies specific to those antigens. It also contains more general disease-fighting substances that provide help in preventing many common illnesses. A mother will pass antibodies to her baby through her milk, which can actually destroy bacteria in the infant’s gastrointestinal tract before they have a chance to make baby sick.”

BreastfeedUSA

Access to human milk is invaluable during natural disasters and other emergencies as highlighted by the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC). COVID-19 has certainly presented unique challenges in that shelves containing infant feeding products are often empty. This is a valid reason why one would choose to continue producing human milk for their little one. There are several ways to make this happen – directly nursing from the breast / chest, securing human milk from a reputable human milk bank and bottle feeding expressed milk.

Life has changed as our daily routines are impacted given COVID-19. States have implemented a shelter in place mandate which has resulted in many remaining home. Jobs are remote in some cases. Schools and day care centers are closed causing parents to keep children engaged at home. Work schedules have shifted and some may find themselves working shorter or longer than normal hours. Grief may be present as many cope with loss. Our daily lives are different and our little ones are also experiencing the impact of a sudden change in routine. Indeed parents and little ones deserve a bit of self-compassion during these challenging times.

My toddler has not verbalized it, but I sincerely believe that nursing is her preferred form of self-care just as music serves the same purpose for me. This does not diminish the fact that parents may find this time to be challenging. This is a normal response. Several factors can be true at the same time. Breast / chestfeeding is normal. It is also healthy, yet exhausting at times. Admitting this does not make one a bad parent. It shows that we are human! But yes, please send us all a lifeline and help asap.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Trauma and Seeking Help in the Fight Against COVID-19

We took inventory of our most recent blog entries and noticed that they have one thing in common — COVID-19. This is no accident and certainly isn’t by chance. This virus has invaded our daily lives and there is no turning away no matter how hard we may try. We deliberately took the approach to focus on self-care, mental health and wellness these past few weeks. This particular post has sat in “draft” status for over 10 days as it is a painful one to tackle.

Our hearts go out to the entire world as we are all figuring out how to navigate this new normal that does not appear to be subsiding in the near future. To those that have lost loved ones; to those on the front lines; to those battling symptoms in isolation; to those who are asymptomatic with no insight about the battle ahead of them; to the essential workers; to family members awaiting to hear news about their loved one’s prognosis; to birthing parents who were forced to give birth alone without support — We speak your name.

In the midst of the unknown there are is one thing that is certain – trauma. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines trauma as “an emotional response to a terrible event.” COVID-19 definitely qualifies as a terrible event. Shock and denial are natural responses given the magnitude of what is taking place. Exposure to trauma debilitates ones adaptive abilities following the event that the nervous system has deemed to be threatening. One may discover that they are experiencing nightmares following the traumatic event. Some may struggle to process their thoughts. Sleeping, eating and movement may be impacted in some people. Others may discover that their interpersonal relationships are negatively impacted. Everyone experiences trauma differently and responses can vary across individuals.

We would be remiss if we did not address COVID-19 and its impact on the birthing process. Regular stress associated with pregnancy and birth is normal and this virus adds an additional layer of stress. Birthing alone without the support of a partner or doula likely was not in the birth plan nor was being separated from one’s newborn or having to delay breast / chestfeeding. Giving birth in a hospital where others are being treated for COVID-19 can be an unpleasant experience for some. Navigating birth under such conditions can have a profound impact on the birthing parent and family in the days, weeks, months and sometimes years following birth.

It is imperative that one refrains from attempting to self-diagnose or suffer in silence. Help is available. We encourage you to seek mental health care with a licensed mental health professional sooner than later to assist you with navigating through the experience. We recommend that those needing postpartum support search for mental health professionals with a specialization in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) through Postpartum Support International. Most mental health professionals have moved their services to virtual formats given the current state of the nation which has made mental health care easily accessible. Psychology Today is an option where one can search to view profiles of mental health providers based upon personal preference (location, specialty, insurance type etc.). S.N. Turner and Associates has created a free, self-guided course titled, “Is Counseling Really For Me?” to answer common questions related to counseling including the differences between the various types of mental health providers. Be sure to refer to our March 20, 2020 blog entry for information related to COVID-19 and breast / chestfeeding.

Continue to take care of yourselves. Surely, we will get through this together… together, we can!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care  is caring for your emotional needs by identifying what you are feeling and moving forward in a way that honors yourself and those emotions. Self-care is one aspect of life that you can control in the midst of so much that is out of your personal control.

You have the power to choose how you indulge in self-care and when you indulge in self-care. Remember, you control your self-care narrative!

Here is a quick checklist to give you a few healthy suggestions! Enjoy!

Self-Care is an absolute MUST!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

A Sincere Thank You…

thank-you

\ ˈthaŋk-ˌyü  \

Definition of thank-you

a polite expression of one’s gratitude

Maziwa Tribe wants to take a few moments to send a sincere thank you to everyone navigating this new normal. As stated in our previous blog, life has a way of taking unexpected twists and turns. Changes are made as new information becomes available and we have all had to be flexible in our daily dealings. Next steps are out of our control but patience and vigilance is a must.

Thank you to all of the medical professionals who are on the front line and caring for those in need. Your sacrifice is extraordinary! Your diligence in navigating challenging spaces is admirable along with your ability to improvise in the medical setting.

Thank you to social workers helping vulnerable communities and ensuring that said communities are able to function and have resources to navigate during this time. Your sacrifice is remarkable.

Mental health issues can exacerbate during challenges and times of intense stress. Therapists and counselors rock – you are the professionals assisting new and existing clients with processing concerns, managing stressors and identifying ways to navigate life. This is a needed tool and you are trained to do the work!

Thank you to places of employment for taking this matter seriously and setting up the infrastructure needed to allow employees to work from home. Your quick response is praiseworthy.

Thank you to all of our educators and school administrators. Your diligence in supplying your students with online and supplemental learning materials during this time is amazing. We appreciate your ability to think outside of the box to ensure that our children are able to continue learning and not miss a beat.

Thank you to those who are working in the post office, grocery stores, restaurant drive-thru windows, Uber / Lyft, grocery / food delivery companies, FedEx / UPS / Amazon, local drug stores, garbage pickup, pharmacies and banks. You are essential and we thank you for your dedication. Thank you for keeping us all going and supplied with necessities during this time.

Thank you to production workers who are behind the scenes. You are the producers of the supplies that we all need to keep on keepin’ on. The items on the grocery stores do not magically appear on the shelves without production workers to produce the items and delivery drivers to transport it to stores.

Thank you to all of the retail outlets and stores that have increased wages for your workers who are working diligently during these tough times! We highlight your ability to display humanity by appreciating the sacrifice made by your employees.

Thank you to police officers and firefighters. You are essential and we thank you.

Thank you to parents who are working from home. It is a challenge to balance work conference / video calls while entertaining children. Parents, you rock! Who knew that you can work, home-school and do chores simultaneously during the workday!

Thank you to all of the artists, entertainers and DJs for taking your talent to social media platforms for the world to see. Your talents are absolutely amazing and we thank you for keeping us entertained and grooving through the tough moments. You have allowed us to connect with friends and enjoy a shared experience with millions online from our couches.

ps– We hope that we have not forgotten anyone. If so, add a comment and we will make updates! We are in a grateful space and want to ensure that no one is forgotten. Hugs!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

You Deserve A Mental Health Break

A focus on mental health is an absolute must. The last few weeks have certainly given us a friendly reminder that life can take unanticipated twists and turns. The magnitude of this global pandemic has certainly taken the nation by surprise and the bulk of it still remains out of our personal control. Many states across the nation have stressed that citizens remain indoors to avoid spreading the virus. The State of Illinois is currently under a “shelter in place” order. For many of us this equates to working from home, engaging in distance learning, communicating via electronic devices and only venturing outdoors to obtain necessities. A new normal is underway and will likely impact how we function and conduct business as a nation post COVID-19.

This is a stressful time for many. Stress can show up in many forms including, worry about our personal health and the health of family and friends; examining our own mortality; and difficulty sleeping and eating. It is quite acceptable that other emotions have suddenly emerged – anxiety, fear and sadness to name a few. Intense feelings are normal given current circumstances, however, it can make existing mental health struggles worse. Please contact a mental health professional if you have concerns.

This is a dynamic where we can highlight all that is wrong. At Maziwa Tribe, we believe in providing solutions. We have a few recommendations that can help ease the stress of navigating during uncertain times. Please indulge as you see fit.

Media – Media is a tool that serves a multitude of purposes – both positive and negative. It is acceptable to take a break from news and social media outlets as the constant stream of information can be emotionally disturbing. Set time limits for watching news outlets and be sure to get information from reputable sources. Take it upon yourself to modify social media settings to hide triggering words, posts and videos. You can also choose to refrain from engaging in threads that bring about distress and angst.

Human Contact – There is a side of many of us that craves human contact. This is not possible in many states due to social distancing, however, it does not mean that one has to do without human contact. Tap into technology to reach out to others and utilize your creative skills to video chat with friends to celebrate milestones, communicate and check in. Several entertainers and DJs have live streamed their concerts via social media. Watching an Instagram live stream from your favorite artist can be a way to connect with friends while engaging in a shared experience or hobby with other fans.

Scheduling – Many are working from home and are forced to adjust to a new routine by default. This new routine may include binge watching a sitcom nightly, napping during the workday or homeschooling children while attending conference calls for the 9 to 5. Late nights may be a factor as one does not have to report to the office. Do your best to set up a daily schedule of some sort. It does not have to be rigid. A basic outline of how you’ll spend your time will suffice and at minimum help you to focus on priorities in between completing chores and homeschooling.

Gratitude – Adopting an attitude of gratitude can be a challenge. Do your best to find reasons to be grateful for all that is going well in your life. Giving energy to the office technology that is not working optimally from the home office is unproductive and damaging to your emotional wellbeing. Try shifting your focus to expressing gratitude for having a job and the ability to make a living from home in the midst of a pandemic.

Animals – Perhaps you have always wanted a pet. This time may be a great opportunity for you to foster an animal from a shelter. Shelters across the nation are always in search of volunteers to temporarily foster animals. Doing so is a win-win for you, the animal and the shelter.

“Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.”

National Institutes of Health

We encourage you to speak with a mental health professional if you have questions about mental health or are in need a space to process your new normal. Stressful situations can exacerbate mental health issues and you do not have to suffer in silence.

S.N. Turner and Associates has created a free, self-guided course titled, “Is Counseling Really For Me?” to answer common questions related to counseling to help you to understand if you would be a good candidate. Additional resources are listed below for reference.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information and Resources

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – National website

Psychology Today – Search for mental health providers (therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists) throughout the nation

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Emotional Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Headspace – Guided meditation and mindfulness app for every skill level

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

COVID-19 and Breast / Chestfeeding – Here is what we know.

We want to ensure that information related to COVID-19 and breast / chestfeeding is compiled in one location for convenience. This is a challenging time for everyone as the nation was taken by surprise at the magnitude of this global pandemic. There are more questions than answers at this time and changes occur daily making it difficult to decipher fact from fiction.

A common theme found throughout the resources below is the recommendation to continue to breast / chestfeed throughout an illness. Breastmilk is magic and there are several studies which prove that it is key in helping babies to remain healthy and free of common illnesses.

“One of the most amazing qualities of human milk is how it adapts. As mother and baby are exposed to bacteria and viruses, milk includes antibodies specific to those antigens. It also contains more general disease-fighting substances that provide help in preventing many common illnesses. A mother will pass antibodies to her baby through her milk, which can actually destroy bacteria in the infant’s gastrointestinal tract before they have a chance to make baby sick.”

BreastfeedUSA

This list below complies breast / chestfeeding information from several reputable sources. Please take the time to read, examine the information and take notes. COVID-19 is a new illness but there is lots to be gleaned from experience in managing other illnesses (influenza, rotavirus, the common cold). We are learning as we go. It is important to note that updates are made as information becomes available resulting in daily changes to policies, procedures and methods of operation. We ask that you make it a priority to continuously check the sites below for updated information.

World Health Organization (WHO) – Q&A on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding – Published March 18, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Information about Coronavirus Disease 2019

La Leche League USA – Coronavirus and Breastfeeding

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine – ABM Statement on Coronavirus 2019

KellyMom – Should breastfeeding continue when mom is sick?

KellyMom – COVID-19: Current Recommendations at a Glance – ADDED March 28, 2020

Harvard Medical School – COVID-19: Separating Infected Mothers from Newborns: Weighing the Risks and Benefits – ADDED April 4, 2020

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients – ADDED May 4, 2020

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family pediatrician or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

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Where do you turn for support?

“60% of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to.”

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The above statistic from the CDC speaks to why breast / chestfeeding may stop earlier than planned. How long a mother breastfeeds her baby is influenced by many factors including:

  • Issues with lactation and latching.
  • Concerns about infant nutrition and weight.
  • Mother’s concern about taking medications while breastfeeding.
  • Unsupportive work policies and lack of parental leave.
  • Cultural norms and/or lack of family support.
  • Unsupportive hospital practices and policies.

Support is imperative as one embarks on the journey of breast / chestfeeding.  The above facts indicate that support is not always available.  The Office of the Surgeon General (US) states that, “mothers are also uncertain about what to expect with breastfeeding and how to actually carry it out.  Even though breastfeeding is often described as ‘natural,’ it is also an art that has to be learned by both the mother and the newborn.”

The above information is the basis for a much needed dialogue.  It isn’t being presented as a scare tactic but as a start to identifying what can be done to combat the issue. Maziwa Tribe believes in highlighting issues and identifying tangible solutions to combat said issues. A mindset shift is required in society, health care settings, places of employment and within our personal familial and social arenas.  Arming oneself with knowledge is a start to generating healthy conversations about the benefits and normalization of breast / chestfeeding. 

We are well aware that breasts are celebrated in magazines and across several other forms of media, however, the nursing of an infant in pubic spaces continues to be met with opposition by some. For every grimace that I have received I can cite instances where I felt supported. One occurrence stands out – I recall walking downtown not too far from my home. My daughter was about six months old and was nursing in her carrier. An employee saw us walking by her clothing store and invited us to come into the store. We were presented with options – sit and nurse in the main area of the store or in a fitting room for more privacy. She even returned with a bottle of water. The support felt absolutely amazing and I wrote a letter to the store owner.

Progress has been made across the United States because laws are in place to protect nursing parents.  Federal law passed in 1999 made it legal to breast / chestfeed openly on federal property and in federal spaces.  Of course there were states that held out on writing specific laws. In 2018 Breast / chestfeeding in public became legal in all 50 states. What does this mean?  It means that you are able to nurse your baby in public (restaurants, stores) or in private spaces as you desire without having to cover up.  The law does not classify openly breast / chestfeeding as indecent exposure although there are some individuals that do. No worries because everyone is entitled to their opinion, right?

Baby friendly hospitals are another form of support. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI ), “launched in 1991, is an effort by The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that all maternities, whether free standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support.  According to BFHI, “a maternity facility can be designated ‘baby-friendly’ when it does not accept free or low-cost breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles or teats, and has implemented 10 specific steps to support successful breastfeeding.”  Such hospitals that hold the Baby Friendly distinction are verified by a third party to ensure compliance.  Hospital staff are trained to provide care to nursing parents and babies stay close to their parents.  It is important to note that this distinction does not mean “anti formula” as supplementation is utilized when medically necessary. Parents who desire to breast / chestfeed are urged to inquire about Baby Friendly Hospitals, seek them out and ask questions when researching a birthing space. 

Sometimes those closest to you can provide opposition as it relates to supporting your personal breast / chestfeeding goals.  Their comments are negative and can result in shame which can cause doubt about the ability to provide adequate nourishment to your infant.  Maziwa Tribe urges you to find your Tribe of supporters.  Your Tribe will be those that cheer you on during the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between.  Your tribe will fully honor and respect your personal goals for breast / chestfeeding.  These individuals will shield you from negativity as you navigate your journey.  They are an absolute must for this journey.  Seek them out and hold them close.

We wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of positive energy.  This is reflected in the development of our Affirmation Cards for Breastfeeding Support.  We encourage you to check them out and to incorporate them in your daily breast / chestfeeding walk. Our 30 card deck is the ideal gift for yourself, a new parent or expectant parent. Be sure to also view our list of resources to add to your tool box of breast / chestfeeding knowledge.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk

Three Years and Counting…

“Breastfeeding is a gift that lasts a lifetime.”

— Unknown

I am a mother, social worker, therapist and lactation counselor. I never envisioned that lactation would become such a major aspect of my life following the birth of my daughter in 2017. The books I read throughout pregnancy made breastfeeding look relatively easy. By no means did it look comfortable; but it certainly looked relatively easy. Latch the baby on after birth and life goes on. Simple… Simple was not my story – I will spare the details for now. Let’s just say that I focused on one hour at a time in addition to living my life in three-hour increments. We were the little engine that struggled for a variety of reasons.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation1 of exclusive breastfeeding for six months was a stretch. The continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer was indeed asking too much of me at that time. I would have laughed if I knew then that I would still be breastfeeding three years later! Yes, three years and counting! There is no foreseeable end in sight and my little one is living up to the meaning of her name – one who succeeds.

I bring the above experience with me in the lactation work that I do with parents. “Have you ever done this?” is the question that I am almost always asked by those experiencing challenges early on. Being able to say “absolutely” makes me proud. I get it – been there and still doing it!! My testimony is proof that the journey may not mimic the textbook. And guess what? It is ok! 

1 https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Reaffirms-Breastfeeding-Guidelines.aspx

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk