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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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

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.

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

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.

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

My name is Salimah (she/her/hers). I am a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and I run Maziwa Tribe. Maziwa Tribe is a safe space that provides breast / chestfeeding support and brings attention to maternal mental health matters. My interest in lactation came following the birth of my daughter in 2017. Stay tuned because I plan to chronicle our journey in a future blog.

I am also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) specializing in individual, family and group therapy. I have provided counseling in a variety of settings including private practice, in-home, hospital inpatient / outpatient psychiatry, collegiate and various community environments. I work with adolescents, adults and families. Mental health is a career switch from the corporate arena (most thought I was absolutely insane). In my past life I worked as a Packaging Engineer for a number of years with several major consumer products companies. Navigating corporate spaces taught me the importance pursuing my passion and taking charge of my personal happiness. I exited the corporate world almost 10 years ago and I haven’t looked back.

I ventured into private practice in 2014 and established S.N. Turner and Associates (SNTA). Maziwa Tribe, the extension of SNTA that offers lactation support, was born in 2018. Its purpose is to inspire parents to embrace their breast / chestfeeding journey through empowerment, education and support. Maziwa Tribe operates under the mantra that parents have the power to choose how to approach their breast / chestfeeding journey. Of course the integration of mental health, self-care and overall wellness is at the core of Maziwa Tribe.

Motherhood was a major life transition and I had no idea that it would bring forth Maziwa Tribe. During the first year of motherhood I reflected heavily on my journey and the things that I needed along the way. I am excited to bring my personal experience to Maziwa Tribe because it allows me to continuously walk in my purpose. This blog will detail some of my personal breastfeeding / motherhood experiences (I am human) sprinkled with motivation (this is a must) and evidence-based information (I am not a layperson with a laptop and an opinion). My professional life and my personal life have collided and this is the final outcome. Mental health, motherhood and breastfeeding is a way of life for me and I invite you to join me along this journey.

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.