Breastfeeding seminars

Board of Commissioners proclaims World Breastfeeding Week and honors Black Breastfeeding Week, highlighting disparities and benefits for babies and mothers

August 10, 2022

Veronica Blay, with her husband, Ted McAuley, had made a decision: she would breastfeed their baby when she arrived. But these plans were quickly tested.

Blay realized breastfeeding would take longer than expected.

“I need help,” she said, calling the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

WIC referred her to Sabrina Villemenay, Certified Lactation Consultant and WIC Program Supervisor.

Blay felt better instantly.

Villemenay met with Blay and McAuley and walked them through how to properly latch the baby on, while making sure Blay was also comfortable.

“I was feeding my baby but at the expense of myself,” Blay said of her experience before receiving help. “I was in constant pain.”

Today, she uses the education and advice she received from Villemenay to feed her baby.

“Finally feeding my baby without being in tears,” she said. Blay said she and her husband are grateful for the WIC program and hope it continues for mothers who share a similar experience.

Blay shared her story as part of a virtual presentation to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on Thursday August 4 – proudly holding her sleeping baby in front of the camera – as part of a World Breastfeeding Week proclamation maternal in Multnomah County.

“His face is the result of being well nourished,” Blay said. “For the first time in a very long time, we can finally get some sleep.”

In addition to proclaiming August 1-7, 2022 as World Breastfeeding Week, the Council also honored Black Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated the fourth week of August each year. WIC, with county Racial and ethnic approaches to community health (REACH), gathered to share highlights of the county’s work to support breastfeeding.

“Multnomah County has recognized the physical and mental benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers, as well as the importance of reducing racial disparities in health care and birth outcomes,” the county said. of Multnomah. proclamation.

Villemenay’s efforts to help Blay and his family are one of the many services the WIC and REACH program provide to nursing/breastfeeding families in the community.

The Oregon WIC program is a special supplementation and nutrition program for women, infants, and children. This public health program supports income-eligible households with pregnant women, postpartum women, and/or infants and children up to 5 years old.

WIC offers nutrition education classes, breastfeeding/breastfeeding promotion and support, breast pumps, monthly benefits for certain healthy foods, and referrals to other support programs.

The Multnomah County REACH Program collaborates with other local programs, in this case WIC, among others, and works with them to implement and focus on three main areas: physical activity, community connections and clinical services; and nutrition, including breastfeeding.

This year, this collaboration occurred during a year when many community members experienced a severe shortage of infant formula, threatening infant nutrition. WIC and REACH worked to set up mobile breastfeeding tents in the community, host a breastfeeding campaign photo shoot to promote breastfeeding, and add breastfeeding spaces in Rockwood as well as Portland International Airport .

Villemenay praised REACH and the African American Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon (AABCO) to place mobile breastfeeding tents with the community. The large pink pop-up tents included rocking chairs and served as a safe space for changing diapers, nursing/nursing, pumping or even just resting.

In an effort to normalize breastfeeding, REACH ran a breastfeeding photoshoot campaign. And, recognizing that active contributors, including family members and partners, are key to the success of sustainable breastfeeding, REACH organized barbershop talks to include and involve fathers, male partners and family members in the breastfeeding journey.

“According to the CDC, black mothers have the lowest rate of breastfeeding initiation and duration in our nation,” Villemenay said.

Cherish Wanter, WIC Nutrition Program Specialist for Black, African American, and Native American Communities, shared REACH’s success in promoting lactation space in the Rockwood Town Center Redevelopment in partnership with the Town of Gresham. At the end of this month, REACH and AABCO will create the lactation space for the community.

Wanter listed REACH and County’s Healthy Birth Initiative and the Black Parents Initiative like some of the programs that have worked with the Port of Portland to add two lactation rooms to Portland International Airport.

Other planned REACH and WIC efforts to support breastfeeding/breastfeeding include focusing on changing employer policies and systems and making other environmental changes. The employer-driven Breastfeeding Campaign aims to normalize breastfeeding by providing community support and encouragement to Black mothers. At the legislative level, REACH is considering language for a bill that would address disparities in black maternal health by requiring implicit bias training for prenatal health professionals.

Plans for a bias bill in Oregon follow similar legislation approved in California, the first state to require implicit bias training. Implicit bias is a form of bias created by an individual that affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors. REACH’s proposed implicit bias bill would require hospitals providing prenatal care, alternative birth centers and primary clinics to implement an evidence-based implicit bias program as specified for all healthcare providers involved in the follow-up of patients in these establishments.

Nekisha Killings, Certified Lactation Consultant and Prenatal Equity Strategist, hosted a virtual town hall following the board meeting with REACH and WIC. Killings discussed the role of implicit bias in birth and breastfeeding support.

The Board of Commissioners shared its gratitude to programs such as REACH and WIC, which have worked diligently to highlight the physical and mental benefits of breastfeeding, touching on personal experience.

“It’s hard enough being a new mom,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran. “What REACH does, and what these programs do, is empower and support you.”

Commissioner Susheela Jayapal recalled her own breastfeeding struggles and said, “It may seem hopeless.” But, she noted, “the job this team is doing is changing that.”

Curator Jessica Vega Pederson said breastfeeding isn’t always the most convenient or easiest thing to do, “but it’s such an important thing, and all we can do to help breastfeeding people in so many ways is incredibly valuable.”

Curator Lori Stegmann said: “I want to thank you all for being here and always raising awareness about the importance of food.”