Election Week 2020

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is a day that many have anticipated. So much has taken place in the last few days and waiting on the outcome feels like an eternity. No surprise that it has stretched well beyond Tuesday. COVID-19 has impacted life itself and the election is no exception. If you are like me you are glued to the television and switching between news channels. For many the end result is a matter of life or death and the luxury of checking out is not an option. Families and communities have and still are being ravished by COVID-19. The pandemic didn’t mysteriously disappear this week despite minimal news coverage! Trust me when I say that the pandemic hits you differently when you have the experience of watching the funeral of someone you know via Facebook live. Recall that children still remain in cages, violence is incited nonchalantly and white supremacy is readily condoned. Human lives are at stake and I refuse to take it lightly.

I have a few additional counseling sessions before the week is over and I will continue to speak about self-care. As I am taking inventory of my week I admit that self-care wasn’t my primacy focus. I didn’t turn the channel nor did I enjoy the warm Chicago weather. In fact, I listened to cable news stations while driving compliments of satellite radio. I have the ability to time outings with television commercial breaks so that I can make it to the car in time to turn on my satellite radio. My three year old remains content playing with her tablet and has not complained. I stopped keeping track of her screen time this week and concluded that I am better served by keeping the battery charged on her tablet!

My saving grace is my daughter complaining that she is “sick of watching the news and those numbers.” She prefers to watch her shows on Nick Jr. and I oblige by allowing her to change the channel. In her world none of this matters but as a mother I know that the election outcome will impact her future. I smile because for once I am able to turn the channel, however, I resort to my cellphone so I don’t miss anything. This week self-care equates to keeping all of the electronic devices (tablets, laptop and cellphone) fully charged, switching between cable news stations and listening to the commentary. Mental health is my specialty and watching a personality disorder unfold has also held my attention over the course of the last four years. The personality disorder, performances and temper tantrums are on display this week and I’m certain that the nation will continue to be subjected to them in the months to come. On a serious note, my self-care regimen this week is watching democracy play out in real time because lives depend on the outcome.

Sending a special thank you to the election officials for remaining diligent in counting ballots around the clock. Their personal safety is important as they bring counting to a close. Salute to the news personalities that have worked countless hours to keep us informed with the latest information. A special shout out to all who have casted a vote in person or via mail-in ballot. This. Is. Democracy.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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