breastfeeding – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Mon, 28 Sep 2020 19:37:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.6 https://www.kindredmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/cropped-Kindred-Black-Logo-square-32x32.png breastfeeding – Kindred Media https://www.kindredmedia.org 32 32 What Do You Know About Breastfeeding? https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/what-do-you-know-about-breastfeeding/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/what-do-you-know-about-breastfeeding/#respond Mon, 24 Aug 2020 00:21:59 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=26298 Most people are ignorant about human breast milk’s effects. You might think you know enough about breastfeeding and breast milk. But you probably don’t know that much. The burgeoning research is often hidden from view for various reasons: the widespread belief that artificial formulas are almost as good as breastmilk, that there isn’t much difference between a […]]]>

Most people are ignorant about human breast milk’s effects.

You might think you know enough about breastfeeding and breast milk. But you probably don’t know that much. The burgeoning research is often hidden from view for various reasons: the widespread belief that artificial formulas are almost as good as breastmilkthat there isn’t much difference between a breastfed and formula-fed babythat a lot of mothers can’t breastfeed, that breastfeeding is too hard.

All these are myths, except the last. Breastfeeding for a first-time mother can be difficult if she has never seen much of how it’s done and has little assistance or the child has a tongue-tie or lip-tie (which makes it hard for baby to get a good latch — but which can be remedied, often by a knowledgeable dentist).

Here are a few more things you might not know.

Breast milk helps set the baby’s “clock” or circadian rhythm, making it important for those who bottle their breast milk to feed baby morning milk in the morning, when it is full of energizers, and night milk at night, when milk has sleep-inducing ingredients.

Mother’s breasts are science labs, tailoring milk for baby’s state (exposed to an infectious agent? They produce and provide an antibody) and trait (milk is different for boys than for girls).

Always remember that most studies comparing breastfed versus artificially fed infants only look at three months. This is inadequate to discover the true differences for our species normality. In our ancestral environments the average age of weaning is up to four years (Hewlett & Lamb, 2005).

When babies don’t breastfeed or don’t for very long, there can be consequences for jaws and palates, leading to sleep problems, including apnea, and increased need for orthodontry. Even in Europe before the industrial revolution babies were breastfed for several years and children chewed on real food as they gradually weaned—all affecting jaw, palate and skull formation. Darwin noticed the larger lower jaws and straight teeth of the “primitive” people he visited in South America. This has all been discovered by an interdisciplinary team that has been comparing skulls from today to those from 300 years ago when a big shift occurred: Mothers went to work in the textile factories and as a result, stopped breastfeeding for any length of time, affecting the development of children’s jaws and palates. Giving babies soft foods also play a role. Today there are widespread sleep problems due to the narrow palate and mouth breathing.

And remember that baby’s stomach is small, human milk is thin (unlike the thick milk of predators who have to leave their offspring for hours), meaning that babies should be breastfeeding at least hourly (every 20 minutes in our ancestral environment; Hewlett & Lamb, 2005). Babies should be suckling frequently — in traditional societies, this occurs whenever they get restless. Suckling for comfort assures them that mom or the caregiver is going to protect them, meet their needs — so they can focus on growing.

I hope you learned a few things. There is much more out there about the almost magical elixir human breast milk is for baby. Let’s support moms and babies breastfeeding in this National Breastfeeding Month – and all year long!

References

Hewlett, B.S., & Lamb, M.E. (2005). Hunter-gatherer childhoods: evolutionary, developmental and cultural perspectives. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine.

Resources

Kindred’s Breastfeeding Resources

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Native Breastfeeding Week Is August 9-15: An Interview with the Founder, Jasha Echo-Hawk https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/a-closer-look-at-native-breastfeeding-week/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/a-closer-look-at-native-breastfeeding-week/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2020 02:13:09 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=26226 “Native Breastfeeding is an act of defiance to the colonial systems and their imposed ‘norms’ as well as a resilience of culture and body sovereignty, no matter the length of your experience. In decolonizing practices of motherhood such as breastfeeding, we can promote food sovereignty, body sovereignty, and the healing of the next generation. In […]]]>
Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk, founder of Native Breastfeeding Week

“Native Breastfeeding is an act of defiance to the colonial systems and their imposed ‘norms’ as well as a resilience of culture and body sovereignty, no matter the length of your experience. In decolonizing practices of motherhood such as breastfeeding, we can promote food sovereignty, body sovereignty, and the healing of the next generation. In decolonizing feeding practices, we follow the needs of our children.” Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk, founder of Native Breastfeeding Week.

Listen to the podcast interview below:



What is Native Breastfeeding Week?

The mission of the Native Breastfeeding Week community is to reflect the diversity of Native Breastfeeding experiences and/or encourage and uplift visibility of Native Breastfeeding experiences. Native breastfeeding and chestfeeding is an act of defiance to the colonial systems and their imposed norms as well as a resilience of culture and body sovereignty.

There are so many people who work across Turtle Island* to ensure all parents have the access and opportunity to reclaim their right to freely nurse their children for however long they need to or are able to.

Visit the Native Breastfeeding Week’s Facebook page to find out more about this week’s events!

This community also hopes to address the inequity and injustice of Indigenous mothers and their abilities to practice their roles in accordance to the tribal communities they descend from.

Breastfeeding is defined as “the natural feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast.” We also recognize gender non-conformity, and language also will include chestfeeding individuals.

Native Breastfeeding Week will occur during the week beginning on the second Sunday in August, which is recognized as National Breastfeeding Month in the United States.

Why does Native Chest/Breastfeeding Matter? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the current literature on breastfeeding patterns among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) mothers is scarce, thus warranting further research.

Based on the limited data, AI/AN mothers have lower rates of breastfeeding initiation (introduction of breastfeeding within one hour of birth), duration, and exclusivity relative to other racial/ethnic groups except for African Americans:

  • AI/AN rates of breastfeeding initiation (73%) among all races/ethnicities versus the average (83%)
  • Rates of breastfeeding duration at 6 months (42.4%) and at 12 months (20.7% of mothers who initiate)
  • 76% (3 out of 4) of AI/AN mothers terminated breastfeeding within 4 months of the child’s birth
  • Formula supplementation is high (97%) for those mothers who didn’t initiate.
  • There’s no regulation on how baby formula is advertised in the U.S., a reason mothers could think formula is a substitute for breast milk.
  • Pasteurized donor milk could help those babies, but it’s often not covered by either private or public insurance, and buying donor milk without insurance can easily cost thousands of dollars a month.
  • That leaves many newborns, especially those in low-income families, without access. At “safety-net” hospitals where more than 75 percent of patients are on Medicaid, only 13 percent routinely make donor milk available to premature babies in intensive care, according to a 2012 survey.
  • Lack of knowledge about breastfeeding, unsupportive cultural and social norms, concerns about milk supply, poor family and social support, and unsupportive work and childcare environments make it difficult for many mothers to meet their breastfeeding goals. It is the “political, social, and environmental factors that actually shape breastfeeding.”**
  • On a positive note, AI/AN mothers who were still breastfeeding at 6 months were more likely to still be breastfeeding at 12 months

So, this community is to put a face to the data and to share the contributions, importance, adversity, and celebration of Native breast/chestfeeding families.

Native Breastfeeding is an act of defiance to the colonial systems and their imposed “norms” as well as a resilience of culture and body sovereignty, no matter the length of your experience. In decolonizing practices of motherhood such as breastfeeding, we can promote food sovereignty, body sovereignty, and the healing of the next generation. In decolonizing feeding practices, we follow the needs of our children.

“Extended breastfeeding” is what some advocates call breastfeeding beyond years 1 or 2, but, as an Indigenous person, to continue to meet the needs of our children by chest/breastfeeding beyond infancy, we are merely upholding our traditional parenting.

Who is Native Breastfeeding Week?

Native Breastfeeding Week is a collaborative effort of Indigenous breastfeeding counselors, breast/chestfeeding advocates, community health nurses, lactation consultants, and birth workers as well as breastfeeding mothers/folx. The initial idea originated from our Oklahoma collaborator, Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk (Seminole/Pawnee/Creek/Omaha/Iowa), a community advocate, public speaker, Birth Doula, local lactivist, and unapologetic brelfie-taker. The intention was to create a space for visibility of all Native Breast/chestfeeding experiences, to learn from each other, celebrate each other, and to call attention to the context of injustice of Native parenting.

Jasha says, “Lactation is my superpower, but it also seems to be treated like a privilege and not a sovereign right regardless of whether you’re Indigenous or not.

“Colonization and patriarchy have starved most of us physically, spiritually, and culturally. It started by starving off my ancestors so chest/breastfeeding relatives couldn’t provide the first food, and they were reduced to cancer-causing rations which didn’t supply their bodies with the adequate nutrients needed for lactation…my fight will always be for cultural and community restoration of basic human rights.

“I will also fight for access so all parents who can and want to breastfeed will have that right. Anytime, anywhere, on-demand, and “extended breastfeeding” is not a taboo, but culturally relevant and respected. I want to continue reclaiming that connection to my roots as a tribal descendant of so many communities. We are fighting adversity and healing generations.”

*Turtle Island is the name many Indigenous people use to refer to the earth or North America.
**UNICEF Global Breastfeeding Scorecard

Share this article with these hashtags for Native Breastfeeding Week:

  • #NativeBreastfeedingWeek
  • #StrongResilientLatched
  • #IndigenousParenting
  • #IndigenousMilk
  • #Bodyfeeding
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Breastfeeding as Companionship: An Ancient Tradition https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/breastfeeding-as-companionship-an-ancient-tradition/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/breastfeeding-as-companionship-an-ancient-tradition/#respond Sun, 09 Aug 2020 20:04:45 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=26196 Restoring the native tradition of breastfeeding The inaugural Native Breastfeeding Week was held August 11-17, 2019. Native Breastfeeding Week will continue to be recognized each year during the week beginning on the second Sunday in August, a month that is recognized as National Breastfeeding Month in the United States. Keep up to date with Native […]]]>

Restoring the native tradition of breastfeeding


The inaugural Native Breastfeeding Week was held August 11-17, 2019. Native Breastfeeding Week will continue to be recognized each year during the week beginning on the second Sunday in August, a month that is recognized as National Breastfeeding Month in the United States. Keep up to date with Native Breastfeeding topics at www.facebook.com/NativeBreastfeedingWeek/. Read more about Native Breastfeeding Week on Kindred.


Breastfeeding as Companionship: An Ancient Tradition

Humans are deeply social beings who expect social embeddedness during development in order to optimize socioemotional intelligence. Our ancestral environment of nomadic foragers, in which the human genus spent 99% of its existence, provided what my lab calls the “evolved nest.”

Recall that human newborns, at full term, are so immature they take 18 months of post-natal growth to look like fetuses of other animals. Their brains are scheduled to more than double in that year and a half (neglected children’s brains do not grow as large). As a result, babies expect an “external womb” experience of needs met quickly. The womb provided nutrients that go far beyond what foods supply, similar to breast milk. We evolved to desire and need breast milk, a mammalian characteristic. Breast milk has all the building blocks for the immune system (food does not). Much like what happens during fetal life in the womb, breast milk provides a tailored cocktail of what that baby needs that day and at that time of day, and by gender! (Clancy, Hinde & Rutherford, 2013)

But breastfeeding is not only about what the baby ingests, it is also about the skin-to-skin experience of being on the body of the caregiver. Those who are unable to provide breastfeeding and must bottle feed can provide this skin-to-skin experience. All feeding can demonstrate how the caregiver holds the baby in mind, teaching the baby the mutual resonance of gaze and touch—looking into baby’s eyes with affection, holding baby close with sensitivity.

The evolved nest respects the basic needs of babies to be “in arms” and in the midst of ongoing community life, as well described by Jean Liedloff (1985) and in anthropological studies (Hewlett & Lamb, 2005; Hrdy, 2009; Sorenson, 1998). Positive touch, nearly constant in babyhood, is vital for the healthy development of biopsychosocial systems (Montagu, 1971). Lack of touch delays development (Ardiel & Rankin, 2010). Breast milk provides key ingredients for a well-functioning brain (Ottolini et al., 2020).

First Nation peoples around the world traditionally offered nested, companionship care, especially in early childhood but also throughout life (including vast support of mothers and nurturing the young). Those opportunities were taken away with various forms of genocidal tactics governments used (and still use) against native peoples (e.g., forced migration off their lands, child removal for boarding school or adoption, laws against traditional practices) (Dunbar-Ortiz, 2014).

Based on the limited data, native mothers have lower rates of breastfeeding initiation (within one hour of birth), shorter duration, and shorter length of exclusivity (no other foods given) relative to other racial/ethnic groups, apart from African Americans.

According to La Leche League (LLL), the foremost organization supporting breastfeeding for almost three-quarters of a century, breastfeeding refers to “the natural feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast” with the understanding that this includes chestfeeding for non-binary parents.

LLL has a website for Native Breastfeeding Week, where its rationale and origins are explained:

“Native Breastfeeding Week is a collaborative effort of Indigenous breastfeeding counselors, breast/chestfeeding advocates, community health nurses, lactation consultants, and birth workers as well as breastfeeding mothers/folx. The initial idea originated from our Oklahoma collaborator, Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk (Seminole/Pawnee/Creek/Omaha/Iowa), a community advocate, public speaker, Birth Doula, local lactivist, and unapologetic brelfie-taker. The intention was to create a space for visibility of all Native Breast/chestfeeding experiences, to learn from each other, celebrate each other, and to call attention to the context of injustice of Native parenting.

Jasha says, “Lactation is my superpower, but it also seems to be treated like a privilege and not a sovereign right regardless of whether you’re Indigenous or not.

More information on Native Breastfeeding Week is available here. Restoring ancestral traditions of breastfeeding will take some effort, including supporting parents so they can carry it out.

Related Posts

Breastfeeding’s Importance—What Science Tells Us

Breastfeeding in the USA—A Little History

Breast Milk Keeps Time and May Set Baby’s Clock

5 Things You Thought You Knew About Breastfeeding

The TREMENDOUS Benefits of Doing What is Normal: Breastfeeding

References

Ardiel, E. L., & Rankin, C. H. (2010). The importance of touch in development. Paediatrics & Child Health, 15(3), 153–156.

Clancy, K.B.H., Hinde, K., & Rutherford, J.N. (2013). Building babies: Primate development in proximate and ultimate perspective. New York: Springer.

Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2014). An indigenous people’s history of the United States. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Hewlett, B.S., & Lamb, M.E. (2005). Hunter-gatherer childhoods: evolutionary, developmental and cultural perspectives. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine.

Hrdy, S. (2009). Mothers and others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Liedloff, J. (1977). The continuum concept. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.

Montagu, A. (1986). Touching: The human significance of the skin. New York: Harper & Row.

Ottolini, KM, Andescavage, N, Kapse, K, Jacobs, M, Limperopoulos, C. Improved brain growth and microstructural development in breast milk–fed very low birth weight premature infants. Acta Paediatr. 2020; 109: 1580– 1587. https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.15168

Sorenson, E.R. (1998). Preconquest consciousness. In H. Wautischer (Ed.), Tribal epistemologies (pp. 79-115). Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.


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The Tremendous Benefits of Breast Milk: An Evolved Nest Podcast https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/the-tremendous-benefits-of-breast-milk-an-evolved-nest-podcast/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/the-tremendous-benefits-of-breast-milk-an-evolved-nest-podcast/#respond Thu, 06 Aug 2020 21:07:30 +0000 https://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=26186 The Evolved Nest is an educational, sister initiative of Kindred based on the award-winning research and publications of Darcia Narvaez, PhD. You can listen to the entire Evolved Nest podcast series here. The Evolved Nest is a breakthrough concept that integrates findings across fields that bear on child development, child raising and adult behavior.  The […]]]>

The Evolved Nest is an educational, sister initiative of Kindred based on the award-winning research and publications of Darcia Narvaez, PhD. You can listen to the entire Evolved Nest podcast series here.

The Evolved Nest is a breakthrough concept that integrates findings across fields that bear on child development, child raising and adult behavior.  The Evolved Nest promotes optimal health and wellbeing, cooperation, and receptive and sociomoral intelligences. Societal moves away from providing the Evolved Nest have contributed to the ill being and dysregulation we see in one another and society. Learn how to nest your children and re-nest yourself.

Breastfeeding is one of nine components of the Evolved Nest.



The Tremendous Benefits of Breastfeeding: An Evolved Nest Podcast

Transcript

MARY:  Hello, my name is Mary Tarsha. We are so happy to be with you again today, and I am here with Dr. Darcia Narvaez talking in this series about the evolved nest and one of the critical components and benefits of breastfeeding.  Thank you so much for being with us, Darcia.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Nice to be with you, Mary.

MARY:  To begin with, what are some of the tremendous benefits that science and research in the last few years has discovered by breastmilk and breastfeeding.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Breastmilk–it’s the elixir of life! I think we all want to have it because it builds everything you need, all the good things.  It’s got antibodies, anti-virus, anti-allergy, anti-parasite kinds of ingredients.  It’s protective over the lifespan against high blood pressure and cholesterol, cancer, diabetes and obesity.  

MARY:  Wait, so it’s protective later in life?

DR. NARVAEZ:  Yes, and let me just say at the outset that when researchers conduct experiments or correlational analyses comparing breast milk, or breastfeeding, with artificial feeding, they’re comparing three months or six months of feeding, rarely beyond that.  But, in our ancestry and in our evolved nest, breastmilk and breastfeeding goes on, on average, for four years.  So, the findings that we’re going to talk about here are from a minimal amount of breastmilk compared to what our species expects.  

MARY:  Alright, so the scientific literature and the research is looking at the effects of breastmilk with infants who just receive it for 3 or 6 months, and there are just tremendous benefits that are found. But really the nest is saying it’s important to breastfeed, if possible, even longer.  

DR. NARVAEZ: Yes, one year is what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends because they don’t think American moms can do it any longer or would be willing to do it any longer–which I think is under-crediting moms! And the World Health Organization says at least two years of breastfeeding. That’s based on lots of research on health factors.

MARY:  So breastmilk builds the immune system?

DR. NARVAEZ:  To build the immune system takes several years. Breast milk feeds good bacteria which populate your gut, where the immune system resides primarily. We know that artificial feeding does the opposite.  It doesn’t have all of the ingredients that build the brain and body in the right way and artificial food actually can populate the body with pathogenic bacteria.

MARY: So many children and so many parents complain about ear infection after ear infection or some other type of infection.  It seems like every six weeks or eight weeks they’re back at the pediatrician.  Does breast milk have any influence on this at all?

DR. NARVAEZ:  Yes, starting in 2011 the Surgeon General of the USA provides tables and data showing that children are more likely to get an ear infection if they given artificial food than if they have breast milk.  Breast milk prevents various infections, gastrointestinal problems and allergies.  Breast milk is just this magical thing, and we should say that mom’s breasts are really a science laboratory in themselves.  Why? Because the child’s saliva on the nipple signals to the mother what is needed, what the child needs.  So if they’re in a growth spurt the breast will provide more fat.  If there’s an infectious agent in the vicinity the mother will produce antibodies to that, tailored for the gender of the child.

MARY:  So not only is there physiological attunement taking place between the mother and the child, but you’re even saying breast milk is specific for that gender of the baby.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Yes, isn’t that amazing?

MARY:  So what are some other tremendous benefits of breastfeeding.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Well, another one besides all the wonderful things in it like hormones, growth factors, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, fat, carbohydrates, protein and water, they come in the right proportions, in human proportions unlike other mothers’ milk, like cow’s milk. Cow’s milk has the wrong proportions, because each milk of a mammal evolved for that species. Predators have thick kinds of milk because they have to leave their offspring for a long time and go off and find food. But human milk is a thin type which means it’s supposed to be ingested frequently.  So, milk is species specific for that species’ babies best benefit.

MARY:  Very interesting.  So what we’re seeing here, if I’m understanding you correctly is that formula or artificial food is very standardized, having the same composition feeding after feeding. But when we get to breastmilk, it is really individualized for the baby–based on whether the child is male or female and what is going on in the environment. It gives the child what the child needs at that moment.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Yes, and we should also say breast milk changes flavor with mother’s diet. So the child gets used to different flavors, whereas artificial food, infant formula, is pretty much the same flavor day after day. In my view it actually sets you up for liking fast food because it tastes terrible, if you have much of a palate developed.

MARY:  And standardized too, right?  The same thing every single time versus fruits and vegetables change in texture.

DR. NARVAEZ:  And your taste palate is shaped in those first years, affecting what you want and desire to eat. It appears that breastmilk is intended to have a child’s palate get used to and prefer the foods of their particular society, through the mother eating a wide variety of foods.

MARY:  So, there’s so many physiological benefits, but what about psychological benefits.  What are some benefits to the child?

DR. NARVAEZ:  The research indicates that kids who are breasted are less likely to have mental health problems and addictions.  They tend to be higher in intelligence and they are more emotionally secure than those who are not breastfed. This is not a surprise because you’re getting all sorts of things from breastfeeding.  You’re getting a lot of touch and attention when you breastfeed and hopefully eye-to-eye contact, which builds the brain — just looking at baby’s eyes.  It’s building their brain in the way it’s supposed to be built, and so the psychological benefits are not a surprise.

MARY:  I think it’s also interesting to think about just the mechanics which are very different in terms of the bottle versus breastfeeding and how this relates to control.  Really the child has more control, correct, whenever they’re breastfeeding compared to the bottle and maybe that might not be intuitive to some listeners or even to some people who have never nursed a child.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Right, the breastfeeding baby has to work at it.  You can tell a breastfeeding baby by the big cheeks they have because their muscles have built up from having to work at getting the milk out of the breast. Also, what happens then is they get to decide when they’ve had enough.  They follow their body’s cues to stop eating.  With a bottle, it’s different.  The bottle just sort of pours down your throat and you can’t control it, and the adults decide how much you’re supposed to have and give you that much and make you drink it.  So that may be one reason that formula use is linked to obesity. Maybe it’s linked to lacking a sense of control in your life, which is not conducive to optimizing your development.  Babies need to feel like they are in charge and they can make it in the world. They build their confidence after birth by crawling up the mother’s belly, what happens under normal conditions, naturalistic conditions.  The baby will crawl up and start massaging the mother’s nipple to start the oxytocin flow, lactation letdown, so the breastmilk will come.  It’s really detrimental to not allow them that sense of agency.

MARY:  And sense of control and self regulation.  That’s very very fascinating.  What about for premature babies?

DR. NARVAEZ:  Premature babies do best on breastmilk. When mom has the baby on her body and breastfeeding, her body will produce automatically the right kind of milk composition for that baby.  The body knows what happened, if the baby came out early, the body can tell and it will improve on the premature baby’s immune system, digestion, and keep the organs that are working normally. Babies are set up for breastmilk, so it’s really helpful to all babies, but especially also premature babies. 

MARY:  Okay, I want to move now and talk about some myths.  I know there are a lot of myths within our society and some things are fuzzy and not clear.  One of the myths that you have brought up in your research is that breastfeeding is easy and instinctual.  Can you talk about that?

DR. NARVAEZ:  Yes, I hear people saying ‘oh it’s instinctual’ or ‘something’s wrong with you’ if you have trouble breastfeeding.  Something’s wrong with the mother, they can’t do it.  But it’s really something that moms have to learn to do, especially with the first baby.  You need a lot of coaching.  It helps enormously to have observed breastfeeding and how it works.  Babies have to latch on properly and sometimes babies today have lip ties or tongue ties that need to be taken care of so the baby can actually latch on. Mothers think often if the baby’s not growing and it’s their fault– they don’t have enough milk, which is another myth. But actually it’s probably that the baby has a tie that has to be snipped so that the baby can latch properly.

MARY:  We are probably talking about it more in the context of a community and how we can provide that really good nutritional and physical benefit to the infant rather than just placing blame on the mothers.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Yes, we ought to underscore the fact that breastfeeding like all aspects of the nest are a community provision.  The nest is provided by a community so in other countries. For example, in non-USA countries, in some places, they still have wet nurses. That means that if a mom’s milk doesn’t come in right away, which happens, a wet nurse provides breast milk and breastfeeds that baby, or they have other ways of providing breastmilk to moms.  It’s apparent that some mothers in the USA do have trouble with breastfeeding.  The World Health Organization suggests it’s only maybe 5% of moms in the world that physiologically can’t breastfeed. But in the States it almost seems like there’s a lot more. But I think it’s because they’re not finding the lip ties, tongue ties, and also the trauma that happens at birth can undermine breastfeeding in general.  For example, you don’t want to separate mom and baby at birth because that undermines breastfeeding success.  You don’t want to provide formula or sugar water to the baby, which a lot of hospitals do also, which undermines breastfeeding and the bonding between mom and child.  Mothers should be blaming the society for not providing the support they need.

MARY:  Oh, interesting. You were talking about the availability of wet nurses within the community– what a stress relief that must be to mothers knowing that if their milk doesn’t come in right away or something happens, or maybe they are sick and can’t nurse for a period. Their child will still receive those very good nutrients that they need.

DR. NARVAEZ:  That’s right, yes.

MARY:  So another myth that actually comes up quite often is about frequency of nursing and breastmilk, can you speak a little bit to that?  

DR. NARVAEZ:  Interesting, isn’t it?  Again it reflects the misunderstanding of babies’ development.  Their stomachs really are only the size of a quarter at birth, and so they need to feed frequently.  Because human milk is thin it passes through the body really quickly and needs to be ingested frequently.  Again it’s full of hormones and all sorts of endocrine system developers, all sorts of things that develop the body and brain in the right way. The baby should be flooded with those things all the time, so that’s why the young baby’s going to want to feed frequently.  That’s part of what helps them grow well.

MARY:  Interesting, so what about, you know we hear six months is enough, and then after that it’s fine to go ahead and move to formula or table food, something like that.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Well, this is a little more complicated.  It keeps shifting with what the recommendations are.  It used to be 12 months exclusive breastfeeding and now they’ve gone down to six, so it is complicated. Breast milk, again, should be taken in, ingested, for at least two years because of its benefits.  It doesn’t mean that the baby’s not eating something else too.  At age 5 or 6 months when they put things in their mouth they like to taste a lot of things.  They don’t necessarily eat them (but are tasting things), so I think that’s why the recommendation is now 6 months.  

MARY:  Oh, interesting.  It’s interesting to hear the history of that.

DR. NARVAEZ:  But it’s complicated.

MARY:  Yes, and how that has changed.  So not only frequent nursing within a day but then over a long period of time too.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Right, and I think maybe the six-month recommendation now is because it’s possible that moms aren’t as healthy as they should be or could be, and so their milk is not as satisfying, I’m not sure.  We are intergenerationally co-constructed. Our good development is passed generation to generation.  Things get undermined when your grandparents didn’t get good food or they went through famine–that affects how well your body works as a grandkid. There’s a lot of epigenetic programing, the “fetal matrix,” from previous generations that may be affecting some of these outcomes too.

MARY:  That’s interesting. Talk about the importance of community! We are starting to see some shifts in thinking and understanding and recognition of the importance of breastfeeding. Women are finding breastfeeding groups or even seeing in new buildings lactation rooms that brings an awareness to the community of how important it is. It also gives women and all families that support that they need.

DR. NARVAEZ:  And the United States has been a little slow in all of this in recent decades because the rest of the world has parental leave. Except for three countries, including the U.S. everyone else has paid maternal leave after a baby is born. This is really important for establishing breastfeeding and maintaining it over that first year in particular.  The United States has not implemented parental leave.  

MARY:  Oh, so you’re saying that one way that we can concretely help support families, ways to help both children and mothers is to provide them that time to be able to establish breastfeeding and bonding.

DR. NARVAEZ:  New moms in our country need lactation consultants to make things go well. We also need to educate doctors and nurses still, even in the baby friendly hospitals in the States, which is around 10 to 15%; “baby-friendly” means that it’s really breastfeeding friendly.  That is, they don’t separate moms from babies.  They don’t give formula or sugar water to babies.  They provide breastfeeding support.  Even in baby-friendly hospitals there are a lot of nurses and doctors who don’t understand the mechanics, don’t understand how to find and solve the problems when babies have latching problems. So lots more education is needed in the medical community as well as of us community members.

MARY:  It is empowering to mothers and to families to know that if the resource isn’t there immediately within the hospital or within their immediate community, they can reach out beyond the hospital in order to find those lactation consultants and experts who are available to help them.

DR. NARVAEZ:  One more thing. Under natural conditions the baby is bulked up with extra fuel before birth (under naturalistic conditions). So during those first couple days while moms are figuring out breastfeeding, baby will be fine and should be losing a little weight. Ideally baby is receiving colostrum, the early form of fuel from the breast that helps the baby thrive. Parents need time to learn what their baby is signalling and needing. Learning to pay attention to the specifics of the situation helps parents figure out how to provide what baby needs.

MARY:  It’s just incredible how breastmilk is so individualized and tailored to the baby’s needs.  So, we are at the end now of our time, but thank you so much for joining us and for the great information summarizing and explaining some of the research behind breastmilk.

DR. NARVAEZ:  Thank you.

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https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/08/the-tremendous-benefits-of-breast-milk-an-evolved-nest-podcast/feed/ 0
Nursing Narratives: Deep Listening, Safe Sharing, And Truth-Telling As Paths To Systemic Change https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/06/nursing-narratives-deep-listening-safe-sharing-and-truth-telling-as-paths-to-systemic-change/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/06/nursing-narratives-deep-listening-safe-sharing-and-truth-telling-as-paths-to-systemic-change/#respond Fri, 19 Jun 2020 03:26:26 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=25333 Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits […]]]>

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. 

– Frederick Douglass
​in a letter to an abolitionist associate, 1848


About Nursing Narratives

Read Our Five Star Reviews at Great Nonprofits!

Our first narrative of who we are is shaped by the evolutionary act of breastfeeding. Eye-gazing, skin-to-skin holding, touch, nourishing milk that changes its composition with our needs, wire our neurobiolgy for peace by reassuring us we are welcome and safe. It’s impossible to miss the connection between our lack of early bonding through breastfeeding and our confusion and denial over who we are as a human family. In her research on our Evolved Nest, Darcia Narvaez points out we are far from our evolutionary design as peaceful, cooperative species, and are now an atypical species degrading our environment on a path of extinction. We don’t remember who we are, and we’re not listening to each other.

Not listening, making excuses to not listen, dedication to perfectionism, busyness, and more turn out to be well-defined characteristics of white supremacy culture, which are also aspects of toxic masculinity, patriarchy, colonialism, malignant narcissism and Dominator Culture. Nonprofit organizations, with 83 percent white leadership, and the top 315 American nonprofits at 90 percent, are noted in social science research to be bastions of white supremacy. (See characteristics of white supremacy in nonprofit culture.)

In the Nonprofit Quarterly’s How White People Conquered the Nonprofit Industry, Anastasia Reesa Tomkin writes: “White leaders, all 83 percent of them as the statistic goes, are still refusing to defer to the leadership of people of color, even when their clients are predominantly people of color. Some might compare white nonprofit CEOs to slave masters who considered themselves ‘good,’ only looking after the best interests of the plantation by overseeing labor and resources.”

Meet the Men Of ROBE: Standing At The Intersection Of Fatherhood, Infant Mortality, Breastfeeding And Social Justice

The reflective tale below recounts my experience last June at the United States Breastfeeding Committee’s 2019 Ninth Annual National Breastfeeding Conference and Convening, where I witnessed the intentional, ongoing transformation of a mostly white professional, national nonprofit toward an equitable, diverse, and inclusive powerhouse. It here that I met the Wisdom Council members of Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, who were featured in Kindred’s Father’s Day 2020 series, Meet the Men of ROBE: Standing at the Intersection of Breastfeeding, Infant Mortality and Social Justice.

The series also features an interview with Kimarie Bugg, DNP, who, as the founder of Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, ROSE, helped to both create ROBE – and guide the USBC’s often intense and emotional process.

The feature also shares my experience in August 2019 at the Center for Worklife Law’s Breastfeeding Policy Summit, an Advanced Activists Only event, in my view, where we were educated in “playing the game” of systemic change through lobbying as nonprofits, speaking the language of partisan politicians. Through the social science research over 25 years, we learned the real barriers to workplace breastfeeding support: class cluelessness and toxic masculinity.

This tale of my visits to bi-coastal breastfeeding conferences last summer shares how deep listening, safe, brave spaces, and radical truth-telling make systemic change possible, maybe even inevitable.


“In my dream, my breastfeeding dream, I see rivers of breastmilk flowing down the streets of these distressed communities. Healing, bonding, nursing and making whole what was dissected and dismembered. My vision for men is that they benefit from supporting and protecting the breastfeeding experience in ways that help them to reclaim their humanity. My vision for ROBE, is that neighborhoods, communities, cities across this country take advantage of and benefit from this assemblage, this collection, in ways that matter to those communities.”

CALVIN WILLIAMS, ROBE WISDOM COUNCIL

Nursing Narrative Sections

Transforming White Power Structures Through Deep-Listening, Safe Spaces and Radical Truth-telling

Class Cluelessness, Corporate Goddesses, and White Supremacy Barriers to Breastfeeding

Re-entry, Recaps, and Rants

Meet the Men of ROBE: Standing at the Intersection of Breastfeeding, Infant Mortality, and Social Justice

Resources


Transforming White Power Structures Through Deep-Listening, Safe Spaces and Radical Truth-telling

The first African-American woman elected to the USBC board of directors, Bugg shared with Kindred, “There was a lot of crying and stomping and walking out of the room, and hugging, and more crying.  Lots of that.  There were times where folks truly wanted to walk out.  There were times where feelings were hurt and toes were stepped on.  It was difficult for, you know, the oppressor never wants to release power, and especially when you have no idea that you’re holding the power.  It’s the white privilege… Until you understand or are presented with the realities, then you’re not really expected to be willing to make these changes.  Some people, after addressing these concerns, were not able to make these changes, but a majority of the folks were.  That’s why it took several years, but they have truly made a phenomenal transition.” (Listen to the interview and read the full transcript here.)

– Kimarie Bugg, DNP, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere

One year ago, in a rare non-celestial event, I abandoned my chronically inflamed earth body’s orbital balance between bed-desk-garden-kitchen and cautiously drove three hours towards Bethesda, Maryland, and an international convening of breastfeeding professionals, academics and cultural change makers. Most of the careful planning for the three-day event was internal, with Krishnamurti’s perspective on illness as “just another state of consciousness” guiding my intentions to acknowledge and release any sabotaging narratives my brain offered, while reassuring my body I was listening, and all needs would be met. 

“You don’t look sick,” is a normal response to autoimmune-challenged people, which is why many of us don’t talk openly about our illnesses, but we do talk with each other. The AI strategy for navigating a break from safety begins with deep listening. Inattention, not listening, left unheard needs of living tissues whimpering towards eruptions, breakdowns, and rage. Simple attention and patient curiosity are often the cooling balm needed. AI’s ongoing lesson, and one I took my time accepting: any physical, mental or spiritual ambition begins and ends with the living needs of the body. These mindful meditation and deep listening practices also serve my ongoing inner work to understand my own enculturated racism, as I discovered last summer. (See Rhonda Magee’s The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities through Mindfulness.)

The first United States Breastfeeding Committee conference I attended in 2014 explored “Transforming Barriers into Bridges: Cultivate Your Community Leadership.” The USBC website states 2014 was the first year the conference focused on “developing capacity and commitment to achieving racial equity in breastfeeding support.” The USBC, a nonprofit coalition of over 100 organizations, signaled in this statement they were at the beginning of an organizational deep listening process. By 2019, the USBC’s Ninth National Breastfeeding Conference and Convention demonstrated – often intensely and unnervingly – an internal sea change with immeasurable, potential impact, a culturally epic phenomenon worth abandoning my preferred hermetic life to witness.

The first day of 2019’s academic presentations withered my spirit. In my hotel room I studied the labyrinth in the shape of a brain ten stories below my window and wondered if I’d made a mistake. By the second day, the energy in the ballroom accelerated, subtle at first, with ongoing finger-clicking responses and emphatic vocal agreements echoing around the room as presenters revealed structural and institutional racism, sexism, and gender-inequality as insidious and pervasive barriers to infant and mother wellness.

“This isn’t the same conference,” I whispered in the hotel’s lobby to Laurel Wilson, a USBC board member at the time and a Kindred International Editorial Advisory Board member. 

“And this is on purpose,” she smiled and replied cryptically. I promised to follow up with her after the conference and wondered to myself on the way back to my seat how such an organizational shift could be purposefully engineered.

Raw emotion coupled with stark truth-telling, not features of the USBC’s mostly white privileged professionals’ conferences of the past, continued into break-out sessions. In a Mid-Atlantic Regional circle, where I sat with my Virginia representatives, Lourdes Santaballa, a lactation consultant from Puerto Rico, quipped with the certainty of an oracle, “You think we’re unique in Puerto Rico, we’re not. Everyone needs to get ready.” (In October 2017, following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Lourdes founded Alimentación Segura Infantil, an Infant and Young Child feeding program focused on increasing breastfeeding, leadership and training in marginalized communities in Puerto Rico.) 

Whatever intentional changes the USBC board began over the past four years, the result appeared to be a living container for the expression of unmet human needs. The experience felt intimidating at times with its managed anger, but alive in its honesty. A few conference attendees, waiting for their turn at open mikes, simply declared their fury at “white, straight men.” As the wife and mother of white, straight men, I had to sit with that one.

Clues of evolution in action were ubiquitous. A small note in the conference program stated, “USBC welcomes and values all types of knowledge, including academic, lived experience, communal, and beyond.”

“And beyond…” There was room for more growth, insight, and embracing of living energies still to come.

Instead of intellectually distant and self-congratulatory white power structures dictating a clinically-detached agenda, the living intelligence of human needs, and the meeting of those needs, appeared to be welcome and heard. In a few, short years, the USBC’s Annual National Breastfeeding Conference and Convening began a transformation of itself from a mostly white, professional, female event, to a vastly more inclusive, diverse, alive, steely-eyed, activist-driven, international gathering.

It would be eight months before former USBC board member, Kimarie Bugg, DNP, would share with me the inside story of USBC’s revolutionary change, initiated by Bugg and her nonprofit, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, ROSE, with “a lot of crying and stomping.”

The first African-American woman elected to the USBC board of directors, Bugg shared with Kindred, “There was a lot of crying and stomping and walking out of the room, and hugging, and more crying.  Lots of that.  There were times where folks truly wanted to walk out.  There were times where feelings were hurt and toes were stepped on.  It was difficult for, you know, the oppressor never wants to release power, and especially when you have no idea that you’re holding the power.  It’s the white privilege.

“So, we had to have those conversations, and when you know better you do better.  I talk a lot in my little presentations about Johari’s Window.  I know what I know, I know a little bit about what I don’t know, and I know nothing about what I don’t know.  So, if something has always been this normalized and you do not see in your base anything about slavery and Jim Crow and redlining and about toxic dumps being put in neighborhoods and then segregation and all of those types of things.

“If you’ve never had any need to focus on those things, then again, it’s like Pollyanna, you just have those rose-colored glasses and that’s it. For women or people of color, we’ve never had that privilege and so this was a time when we got people into the room to have those conversations just basically to help people to understand: this is my reality…

The Madonna of the Trail, an historical marker of one of the first Eastern stops along the National Old Trails Road leading to the Santa Fe Trail, and the American dream of colonizing the West.

“Until you understand or are presented with the realities, then you’re not really expected to be willing to make these changes.  Some people, after addressing these concerns, were not able to make these changes, but a majority of the folks were.  That’s why it took several years, but they have truly made a phenomenal transition.” (Listen to the interview and read the full transcript here.)

An independent nonprofit coalition of “more than 100 organizations that support its mission to drive collaborative efforts for policy and practices that create a landscape of breastfeeding support across the United States,” the USBC listened to Dr. Bugg and ROSE. They listened, eventually.

On the third morning of the 2019 USBC conference, I left the stiffing, energetic build-up in the ballroom for a walk outside the Hyatt building where, oddly enough, I was greeted on the sidewalk by a formidable, 18 foot-tall granite statue of a pioneer woman holding an infant to her breast and small child by the hand at her feet. A plaque declared her to be the “Madonna of the Trails.” The 1929 statue marks the first portion of the National Old Trails Road leading to the Santa Fe Trail, and the American dream of colonizing the West. Twelve monuments were erected in each of the states the National Old Trails Road passes, shares the online Bethesda Magazine.  

What’s her story now? I wondered. After three days of immersion in cultural equity lens perspectives, every story, symbol, and statue’s skirt seemed lifted high enough to glimpse more of the hidden-in-plain-sight truth about its origins. I snapped a photo of the statue and shared it with the women at my table. Darla Birch and Kirsten Kelley, both from the National WIC Association, kindly studied the photo with me.

Is this statue a symbol of all women, mothers, trail-blazing through uncharted territory, like the women in this conference room? Or is this a white woman who is going along with the white dominator narrative to colonize a Native American occupied land while breeding more dominators? What is her story now? Birch and Kelly studied the iPhone photo, shook their heads and decided the she was both. 

During the last moments of the conference, still considering the implications of concretized, conflicting cultural narratives, I looked up from my laptop to find the ballroom stage filled with black men: black men advocating for breastfeeding. One of the men from Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, declared:

Calvin Williams, CLC

#ReachingRnR #PeachMilk #Latchville #MilkJuleps #FeedingLikeaQueen #BluesCityBoobs #MSSipItUp #MusicCityMilk #StayWokeAndBf #GeauxBreastFriend #BlkBfing #BostonMilkParty #NotOnMyWatch #BlacktationDiaries #ConcreteROSE2019 #savingtomorrowtoday #BMHW19 #gotswampmilk #PeachMilkUSBC 2019

Posted by Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere on Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Calvin Williams’ presentation at the USBC’s 2019 conference.

“My vision for breastfeeding, is a vision for my people. Not all black people are struggling. And that has to be said because there are inane, ridiculous statistics out there like, ‘there are more black men in prison than on college campuses.’ Give me a break. But too many of my brothers and sisters are hurting each other, themselves, their families and their communities because THEY are so hurt, confused, distressed. Dissected and disconnected from their history and their own self-worth. 

“In my dream, my breastfeeding dream, I see rivers of breastmilk flowing down the streets of these distressed communities. Healing, bonding, nursing and making whole what was dissected and dismembered. My vision for men is that they benefit from supporting and protecting the breastfeeding experience in ways that help them to reclaim their humanity. My vision for ROBE, is that neighborhoods, communities, cities across this country take advantage of and benefit from this assemblage, this collection, in ways that matter to those communities.”

In 22 years of breastfeeding activism, I had not seen or imagined this moment.  My knees gave out, my body’s cue that it was impressed and needed to go into deep-listening mode, and I sat down, still applauding with the audience.

These guys are listeners. Their language, presence and love for humanity roiled the room. The last group of presenters yielded their time to ROBE’s Wisdom Council members. Everyone needed to hear more and acknowledge this final arrival at our destination: someone knew how to listen to needs and had a plan to meet them.

In the lobby after their presentation, I met the ROBE Wisdom Council team and asked for an opportunity to bring their stories to Kindred. Kevin Sherman shook my hand and pointed to Wesley Bugg, “He’s our media guy.”

We agreed to talk soon without realizing we would run into each other again, and soon, at the University of California at Hasting’s Center for Worklife Law’s Breastfeeding Policy Summit in San Francisco. At this small summit of invited attendees, we would hear from Joan C. Williams, author of White Working Class:Overcoming Class Cluelessness and the most read article ever on Harvard Business Review, “What So Many People Don’t Get About the US Working Class.” Williams and her worklife law center summit would teach us about another largely unacknowledged -ism that stood in the way of normalizing breastfeeding in America: classism.

At this summit, two months after the USBC conference, I would witness another powerful moment of collective humanity interrupting a well-laid agenda with demands for being heard, the transformation of a Southern lobbyist’s worldview in this moment, and learn the social science language needed to appeal to power-wielding partisan legislators… all while Corporate Goddess statues loomed outside of our 25th floor view of San Francisco’s financial district, daring the world to discover the hidden truth beneath their draped, ethereal forms.


Class Cluelessness, Corporate Goddesses, and White Supremacy Barriers to Breastfeeding


In July 2019, I left for a long vacation with my family to California, with plans to say goodbye to them in Dillion Beach in August, where a friend would then carry me to the Center for Worklife Law’s Breastfeeding Policy Summit in San Francisco. Traveling three hours to the USBC conference in Maryland was a test of my own deep-listening skills, but traveling with my family across country was a test of theirs. We were good at this by now as, years earlier, my son and I cared for my husband through cancer and, after my subsequent diagnosis, they became attuned to my needs to pace myself while managing AI language (symptoms). With forced practice over time, we are now proficient at moving as a well-attuned pack.

While both bi-coastal events’ goals were normalizing breastfeeding in America, their tone and scope contrasted starkly. In a USBC break-out session, worklife law experts shared stories of human reproduction rights violations in the workplace, including “mooing outside of lactation rooms,” and a statistic that is giving pause to employers: a 600% increase in lawsuits against employers for workplace violations. The Center for Worklife Law’s laser-beam focus on workplace discrimination, legislative advocacy, partisan messaging and “Playing by the Rules” guidelines for lobbying as a nonprofit, felt like an Advanced Activists Only agenda.

Jessica Lee, JD, a presenter at the USBC conference and attorney with the Center for Worklife Law, co-authored the center’s report Exposed: Discrimination Against Breastfeeding Workers, in 2018. The report analyzes breastfeeding legal cases from the last decade to document patterns of discrimination and new data on the scope of existing state and federal laws to protect against workplace discrimination. 

The center found that 27.6 million women of childbearing age don’t have the basic protections needed by all breastfeeding workers. 

In a Kindred interview, Joan C. Williams, the center’s founder and iconic women’s rights author, blames the lack of workplace support on a more insidious cultural -ism: classism, whose roots in Toxic Masculinity are the real barrier to workplace change.

“We tend to associate work-family conflict with women because they are kind of on the front lines, but it really goes back to how we define the ideal worker and in far too many workplaces today, we still define the ideal worker as someone who takes no time off for childbirth, no time off for family caregiving and no time for breastfeeding. Who does that describe? You know, it certainly does not describe most women. It describes someone with a man’s body and men’s traditional life patterns and even one of the things that we’ve seen over the past since I’ve been working on this issue for nearly 40 years,” said Williams.

“One of the things that’s really dramatic is that there’s been a shift among younger men in what they see as being a good father. Men in my generation, I’m in my 60s, thought that they were great fathers because they changed a diaper. But younger men really are kind of where my generation of mothers were, many of them. They see being a good parent is involving daily care of children and they’re willing to take some career hits to accomplish that, but there’s another group of men, many of them older, some of them equally young, who just don’t see that as being a good father, they see that as being an ineffective breadwinner and an ineffective man. 

So, this is really a conflict among men in the workplace, by people who have defined their lives by being that ideal worker. They see that as the only way to be a real man and an effective person. They are really what is blocking change.” (Listen to and read Kindred’s interview with Williams here.)

The center’s social science research findings and recommendations, well founded and presented, seemed to push the birthright of humanity – to have our needs met, to become the healthy, connected, peaceful species we were meant to be – into a madhouse of smoke and mirrors. Say these magic words to this legislator in the South to get him or her to listen to you, but say these if you’re in the West or talking with Democrats. This was grown up stuff, I admit, and that Williams and her team could enter this realm, stay sane, and report back helpful insights deemed them modern shamans of sorts, I figured.

Why don’t humans see themselves as biological beings and create public policy to serve life? Our life? Our children’s lives? Why do we not use models like the Social Wealth Index to help us understand real wealth? Why don’t we see ourselves as one family, in one world, as Kindred’s slogan pronounces?

This is Kindred’s own nonprofit mission, to provide a safe space for thought-leaders, researchers, professionals and parents, anyone, to question our atypical species’ ongoing degradation of our environment and find ways to bring to life the Evolved Nest, our human birthright coded in our living DNA.

“Children expect the Evolved Nest, provided by their community, and without it become dysregulated physiologically, psychologically, socially, mentally and spiritually,” says award-winning, developmental psychologist and researcher, Darcia Narvaez. “Too much of child treatment today has to do with minimizing babies’ needs, coercing children into shadows of their true selves, leading to societies filled with stress reactive people focused on self-protectionism instead of openness, with limited communal imaginations who are caught up in addictions of various kinds, including work. All these keep us from the social joy and wellbeing our ancestors experienced.” 

As Laurel Wilson shared in her TED Talk last year, human milk is the food that evolved humanity.

Conference agenda and Corporate Goddesses

I considered the summit’s handouts and looked out of the city-scape window where Muriel Castanis’oxymoronically-named “Corporate Goddesses” echoed ancient and modern Western dominator mythology by profanely marrying toxic masculinity and the sacred feminine, and held court over San Francisco’s financial district.

“We need to have a check-in with the women of color in the room to see if they are feeling safe,” said a voice from the opposite end of the small, packed conference room. And just like that, the living energy of humanity entered, with each woman sharing what was alive in her at that moment, what living wisdom needed to be heard, some through tears, some through anger. I listened to the check-ins as deeply as I could, but noticed, within my own being, I did not feel unsafe. My body did not contain a somatic experience of being Black in America. My heart sank and I cried.

What happened? I asked summit coordinator, Jessica Lee, months later. “The USBC conference was joyful and felt like we were all in it in a level that I had not felt before. People seemed to recognize the harms they had done and the new direction that was needed,” she shared in a phone call.

“Going into the summit I felt like we were all there. I entered into the room thinking that we were in a safe space but realized that we all might not feel safe and not be of one mind. How can we lift each other up, feeling that was deeply unsettling? Coming out of it, I realized that the folks who needed to hear the message, heard it very deeply. That moment had a great impact on some of the participants and the organizations they lead.”

One of the participants impacted by this deep-listening moment began recounting her experience in a phone call before pausing and saying, “I can’t tell you the truth of how this affected me without risking my career as a lobbyist in the South. People here don’t understand what I’m doing, advocating for black and poor communities impacted by their legislative processes. They think I’m playing the white power game, and I am.”

She agreed to tell her story, anonymously, and as she did, the interrupted call for safety at the summit revealed a deeper, darker dimension.  “I walked away from the summit reflecting upon my role in lobbying and how my success is based on how I have connections to whiteness, white supremacy and white power structures.

“I realized that I was giving myself a pat on the back for being a white savior without including the voices of people impacted by the legislation passed. When I returned to my state, we did change the organization’s mission to include a statement of solidarity, but some people left, and some people said, ‘That’s cute, but what does it really mean?”

I asked her if she had a plan for moving forward in her new state of conflicted awareness? “The answer is to keep doing it, but instead of cherry-picking legislation with a bunch of lawyers, to make sure I am building community, to meet needs, to make sure their voices are truly heard, while also keeping them from harm. It is my proximity to power that allows for the legislation to be considered. We need to have a bigger, internal conversation as an organization. We need to help our board and members.

“We will now be shifting with more intention and insuring everything that we do has intention and is more informed by community and examining how decisions are made and how much power we are allowing communities to have to push us in a direction they want to go. Understanding the class dynamics is also really important, because there are people who cannot read, barely make it to the poverty line in our state. They need to be heard as well.

“The summit helped me walk away with more clarity. I previously felt like I got it, but now I’m sitting in more of a place of learning and listening and pushing myself to do the work and do better. It wouldn’t have happened if not for that moment in the room, the call for a safety check, and listening. It was powerful.”

I left San Francisco with a growing list of questions for the Wisdom Council of Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere. Six months later, in a Zoom call in preparation for Kindred’s series on ROBE, I asked Wesley Bugg, and his mother, Kimarie Bugg, who were at the summit, what happened? We agreed that to us, the pausing of the well-oiled agenda to welcome the living energy of human needs was remarkable. 

“I definitely think that it was wonderful,” said Kimarie Bugg in Kindred’s interview this spring. “What happened was, it was time to move on when we were talking about some things that were really felt deeply, particularly they were felt by women of color. But then again, as you mentioned, someone in the room said, “But we’re not really feeling easy and good with where we are with this last agenda item.”  So, it felt good to be able to jump out of the ivory tower and to recognize that everybody truly had feelings and concerns and we weren’t going to move on without at least addressing those, or at least letting someone say something.  

“There were some tears in the room because some people specifically asked what do you have to say, because they felt that there was some serious emotion in their faces.  It was a great time.  It was good. It would be fabulous for more meetings to be like that.  Again, when people are able to get in touch with how they’re feeling in order to affect policy, that’s going to impact so many other people.  

Kimarie Bugg helped to explain my own lack of somatic response, courtesy of my white privilege, to the initial trigger for the safety check-in. “This gets extremely painful for many of us.  I’ve held many African American women in my arms who have lost babies to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and grandmothers who’ve lost daughters when they were having babies in childbirth, and that takes a toll on you.  It takes a toll to be the mother of a black son in America, just always concerned about, are they going to make it home safe, for many reasons.  It really felt good for that organization to allow that space so that everyone could go around and check in just for a few minutes, and everybody needs to do that.”



Re-entry, Recaps, and Rants


As she promised, on my return to Virginia, Laurel Wilson, USBC’s former board member who witnessed firsthand the organization’s ongoing evolution from a white professional power structure to a more consciously inclusive coalition, and who is also a Kindred International Advisory Board member, emailed her thoughts:

“My board work on the USBC was possibly the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding service I have had the opportunity to be involved with in my 27 plus year career. As I started my service, the organization was making an intentional shift to not only embrace the ideals of equity, inclusivity, and diversity but to actually look like the lactation world we all worked in,” Laurel wrote. 

“Over my three years, we became an organization that worked diligently to have the board, staff, and membership reflective of breastfeeding/chestfeeding communities in the US. It was refreshing to attend conferences and serve on a board where communities of color and LGBTQIA communities in the parental/child health field were present, heard, and honored. We focused on addressing the difficult issues of racism, implicit and explicit biases, not just in the lactation community but in our organization itself. I feel as though this organizational shift will improve the landscape of lactation.”

While the USBC’s transformation is commendable, it comes at a time when research is revealing nonprofits to be bastions of and vehicles for racism, white privilege and white supremacy. A Chronicle of Philanthropy article states:

“The fact is, we cannot easily or perhaps ever fully outrun this issue unless we embrace a hard truth: Racism and its impact are bright, red throbbing tributaries in America’s body politic.

“It is not a malady that swoops down on our country like a bad cold or an ill wind. It is part of the bones and the architecture of our country and has been since America’s inception.

“Confronting this hard truth and, more important, reducing the effects of racism and inequality require that we at foundations and nonprofits address institutional barriers throughout society. It also requires introspection — from those in leadership positions, especially — to acknowledge and understand the roots and reality of interpersonal intolerance and division.”

Sadly, this year’s USBC conference, along with most conferences, was cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown. The USBC’s website’s tools for equity, diversity and inclusion education are vast, and a great starting point for their members and the public. With 100 organizations in their network witnessing their progress, it will be interesting to discover if their process is replicable, sustainable, or even welcome in state and local coalitions.

Later this spring, as our nation began to emerge from the shock of COVID-19’s deadly sweep, many thought leaders, like Kimberly Seals Allers, also a presenter at the Center for Worklife Law Summit, began to wonder if our quarantine time could result in rethinking our values? Perhaps the forced pattern interrupt of our unsustainable daily lives could result in attuning our attention to our own needs? Other countries have healthcare, paid leave, maternity and paternity leave, midwifery models of care, that also support breastfeeding goals of families. Why couldn’t American people have these social safety-nets too?

Oh, that’s right, because activists need to tread lightly on the toes of legislators entrenched in white power – while black mothers die in three times greater rates than white mothers – by learning language that will not alienate them, and lobbyists need to learn to function with existential, internal conflict torn between placating white supremacists and serving communities of color impacted by legislation. Meanwhile, American workers are held to a lethal Toxic Masculinity Model that guides them into early graves, while we spend more money on healthcare than any nation on earth and have the worst health outcomes, highest maternal and infant mortality rates, and the next generation wonders, maybe for the first time, what does sustainable living look like? Is it too late?

And don’t get me started on those damned Corporate Goddesses…


Meet the Men of ROBE: Standing at the Intersection of Breastfeeding, Infant Mortality, and Social Justice


On May 20, 2020, Mothers Jones published the article, Breonna Taylor Is One of a Shocking Number of Black People to See Armed Police Barge Into Their Homes, describing how police officers barged into Breonna Taylor’s home on March 13, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky, in the middle of the night and discharged a spray of bullets that struck and killed the 26-year-old EMT. 

Six days later, on May 26, 2020, George Floyd, and unarmed African American man arrested for passing a bad check, was murdered by white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who held his boot on Floyd’s neck after Floyd begged for breath and cried out for his dead mother to help him. The murder of Floyd, while he was handcuffed and face-down on the pavement, captured in a nine minute-long, now viral video, sparked protests for justice, beginning in Minneapolis the day after his death and expanding in over 400 cities throughout all 50 U.S. states and internationally.

There are no words in me for this moment, only the heavy acknowledgement of the song humming ceaselessly under my own rage. It is grief. And perhaps a hope that all activists stepping forward will enter into a deep-listening practice with their own bodies so that we all may go the distance this historic moment will require of us. May we all be blessed with family and friends to hold us up so we can move through this transition together as a well-attuned pack.


In June, one year after meeting ROBE’s Wisdom Council members at the USBC’s national breastfeeding conference, Kindred’s social justice team wrapped up our review of 100 pages of transcripts and six hours of audio interviews with ROBE and Kimarie Bugg, while, thirty miles from my Virginia farm, Confederate statues – a cultural symbol of a permanent deaf ear to human needs – were being dragged through the streets, dumped in lakes, and beheaded in the former capital of the South.

The Frederick Douglass quote at the opening of this post warns, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Douglass wrote this in a letter to abolitionists in 1848.

Maybe we’ve met our limit as a human family, of what we will endure. Maybe we will start listening now, and make a condition of future leadership good listening skills. David Metler, Kindred’s social justice editor, often quotes Atul Gawande, cultural “change happens at the speed of trust.” How long will it take to build the trust needed for lasting change?

David, and Reshma Grewal, Kindred’s Spirit-in-Resident research student from the University of California at Santa Barbara, sat down with ROBE’s Wisdom Council members this spring with the intention of discovering how their deep-listening, trust-building, safe space-creating, and truth-telling strategies allowed them to train fathers to be advocates for breastfeeding and healthy birth in the African American community. Their personal stories, and how they transformed themselves first, before serving their communities, provides a living model for sustainable social justice reforms and life-affirming cultural change. 

Despite current trends, the revolution will not be Tweeted, because this is not who and what we are as a species. We will need to make time to sit in safe circles, in person or virtual, as our ancestors did and we are designed to do as reality-creating storytellers, to begin the deep-listening process that can eventually rewire our neurobiology, ignite our heart wisdom, and help us become the embodied models of peace our children need us to become. Our other option is to emulate the deaf, silent, granite cultural symbols of an Old Story, and allow our apathy, inattentiveness and denial to continue to erode our spirits and planet.

We hope you will make time to listen to ROBE’s stories, and let us know your thoughts of how Kindred can continue to serve you, and the New Story of the Human Family.

You are welcome to join our virtual campfire discussion here.


RESOURCES

Kindred’s Equity-Diversity-Inclusion Resources

Kindred’s Black Mothers and Fathers Resources

The Evolved Nest.The Evolved Nest is a breakthrough concept that integrates findings across fields that bear on child development, child raising and adult behavior.  The Evolved Nest promotes optimal health and wellbeing, cooperation, and receptive and sociomoral intelligences. Societal moves away from providing the Evolved Nest have contributed to the ill being and dysregulation we see in one another and society. Learn how to nest your children and re-nest yourself.

Saving Tomorrow Today: An African American Breastfeeding Blueprint. A new report from Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, ROSE.

Center for Worklife Law. The Center for WorkLife Law is a research and advocacy organization at UC Hastings College of the Law that seeks to advance gender and racial equity in the workplace and in higher education. WorkLife Law focuses on initiatives that can produce concrete social, legal, and institutional change within three to five years.

Our current major initiatives include programs for advancing women leaders, eliminating barriers for pregnant and breastfeeding workers and students, preventing Family Responsibilities Discrimination, and helping companies prevent or interrupt bias in the workplace and create more stable schedules for hourly workers.

United States Breastfeeding Committee.The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) is an independent nonprofit organization that was formed in 1998* in response to the Innocenti Declaration of 1990, of which the United States Agency for International Development was a co-sponsor. Among other recommendations, the Innocenti Declaration calls on every nation to establish a multisectoral national breastfeeding committee comprised of representatives from relevant government departments, non-governmental organizations, and health professional associations to coordinate national breastfeeding initiatives. The USBC is now a coalition of more than 100 organizations that support its mission to drive collaborative efforts for policy and practices that create a landscape of breastfeeding support across the United States.

Center for Nonviolent Communication. See a list of human needs here. Learn deep-listening skills here as well!

Summary of Racial Identity Development. How far are you down your path?

Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture. See how closely related Toxic Masculinity, Patriarchy, Narcissism, and White Supremacy are on this website.

Dismantling Racism. An online workbook.

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Georgia Lactation Consultants Score Major Win at Georgia Supreme Court https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/05/georgia-lactation-consultants-score-major-win-at-georgia-supreme-court/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/05/georgia-lactation-consultants-score-major-win-at-georgia-supreme-court/#respond Mon, 18 May 2020 21:31:10 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=24927 Editor’s Note: Congratulations Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, ROSE, and Georgia families! Learn more about ROSE in an interview with their CEO, Kimarie Bugg, here. Learn more about Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, in the Black Men, Breastfeeding, and Social Justice Series here. Listen to Joan C. Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law, talk […]]]>

Editor’s Note: Congratulations Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, ROSE, and Georgia families! Learn more about ROSE in an interview with their CEO, Kimarie Bugg, here. Learn more about Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, in the Black Men, Breastfeeding, and Social Justice Series here.

Listen to Joan C. Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law, talk about classism, racism and sexism as barriers to breastfeeding for families in Kindred’s podcast interview here.


Georgia Lactation Consultants Score Major Win at Georgia Supreme Court

Decision allows legal challenge against unconstitutional licensing law to proceed 

ATLANTA—In a major victory for economic freedom in the Peach State, the Georgia Supreme Court this morning ruled that a constitutional challenge to the state’s new lactation consultant license will go forward. This decision gives hope to Georgians who want to teach women how to breastfeed without an expensive, difficult to obtain license and protects the right to challenge economic liberty restrictions of all kinds.  

Reversing a trial court decision that had dismissed the case in 2019, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that it has “long interpreted the Georgia Constitution as protecting a right to work in one’s chosen profession free from unreasonable government interference.”

Listen to Joan C. Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law, talk about classism, racism and sexism as barriers to breastfeeding for families in Kindred’s podcast interview here.

Although lactation consultants have worked safely throughout Georgia and the United States for decades, in 2018, the General Assembly adopted a first-of-its-kind law requiring that consultants obtain the equivalent of an advanced degree before continuing to work in the field. The law would force some 800 professionals to quit their jobs and spend several years and thousands of dollars earning a state-issued license. If a consultant works without a license, she would be subject to fines of up to $500 per day.  

“This decision is a watershed,” said Renée Flaherty, the IJ attorney representing the plaintiffs. “The court made crystal clear that the Georgia Constitution protects the right to earn an honest living free from unreasonable restrictions, putting every government official in Georgia on notice that they must respect people’s rights to provide for themselves, particularly in these difficult economic times.” 

The lawsuit began in June 2018, when Mary Jackson—a lactation counselor at Grady Memorial Hospital—and Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), the nonprofit Mary helped found to educate families of color about breastfeeding, challenged Georgia’s licensing law. Mary and ROSE help new mothers and babies learn how to breastfeed, but the new law would prevent them from doing so without obtaining the equivalent of an advanced degree. The state has agreed not to enforce the law against unlicensed lactation consultants during the litigation.  

“Women have been helping other women learn how to breastfeed for millennia,” said IJ attorney Jaimie Cavanaugh. “The state cannot constitutionally require a license this onerous for an occupation this straightforward.” 

“All we want is to continue doing our jobs,” said Mary Jackson. “I have been helping new mothers and babies learn to breastfeed for more than 30 years. Georgia has some of the worst rates of breastfeeding in the nation. The government should be encouraging us, not putting us out of the job .” 

The case now returns to the Fulton County Superior Court to reconsider the state’s motion to dismiss. 

Institute for Justice Attorneys, Renée Flaherty and Mary Jackson, are available for interviews via teleconference. Contact Andrew Wimer, IJ Assistant Communications Director, at awimer@ij.org or (703) 298-5938 to arrange. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2020 
CONTACT: Andrew Wimer, awimer@ij.org (703) 298-5938 

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The “Magic Of Our Fears And Tears” – An Interview With Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/05/the-magic-of-fears-and-tears-an-interview-with-kimarie-bugg/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/05/the-magic-of-fears-and-tears-an-interview-with-kimarie-bugg/#respond Mon, 11 May 2020 04:42:15 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=24804 About Meet the Men of ROBE: Standing at the Intersection of Fatherhood, Infant Mortality, Breastfeeding, and Social Justice Part II in Kindred’s Series In this series, Lisa Reagan talks with the Wisdom Council members of Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, invites Kindred listeners and readers to hear their personal stories and understand the critical need for […]]]>

About Meet the Men of ROBE: Standing at the Intersection of Fatherhood, Infant Mortality, Breastfeeding, and Social Justice


Read Our Five Star Reviews at Great Nonprofits!

Part II in Kindred’s Series

In this series, Lisa Reagan talks with the Wisdom Council members of Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, invites Kindred listeners and readers to hear their personal stories and understand the critical need for ROBE’s vision for black fathers. In this interview, Kimarie Bugg, DNP, founder of Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, ROSE, and the inspiration for the founding of ROBE, shares her personal journey and vision for improving black families’ health outcomes through diversity, equity and inclusivity training for professionals.

In Part I, III and IV of the series, ROBE Wisdom Council members share their extraordinary stories of creating a new “generative” path to fatherhood, one that prepares black fathers to become crucial advocates and supporters “to increase breastfeeding rates and decrease infant mortality rates within African-American communities.”

While ROBE’s wisdom council members seek to “educate, equip and empower” new fathers, they, and the fathers they serve, face racial and gender inequality, structural racism, and a persistent cultural myth of black fathers as absent fathers – a damaging and racist mythology contradicted by CDC data that shows: 

  • Most black fathers live with their children. There are about 2.5 million who live with their children, and 1.7 million who don’t, according to the CDC.
  • Black dads who live with their children are actually the most involved fathers of all, on average, a CDC study found.

For more academic insights into breaking stereotypes of black fathers, see Understanding the Positive Impacts of African American Fathers, or any work by Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., who has been deeply immersed in the study of fathers and families for over two decades. 

About Kindred’s Editor: Oral history has its roots in the sharing of stories throughout the centuries. It is a primary source of historical data, gathering information from living individuals via recorded interviews. Lisa Reagan’s interviews of thought-leaders, researchers, activists, parents and professionals serves as an oral history of the organic conscious parenting/family wellness movement in the United States and globally since 1999. Follow her podcasts, and this series, on Apple Music/iTunesSoundCloud and here on Kindred.


Part I: Meet ROBE. An introduction to Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere with founders Wesley Bugg, JD, and George Bugg, MD.

Part II: Meet ROSE: Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, the inspiration for ROBE. ROSE’s Chief Empowerment Officer, Kimarie Bugg, DNP, shares her story of transforming her 40 year nursing career into a diversity, equity and inclusion nonprofit to train health care professionals, breastfeeding consultants and families.

Part III: Black Fathers, Cultural Myth and Reality. Listen to stories of ROBE’s Wisdom Council members, Calvin Williams and Kevin Sherman, below.

Part IV: The Fatherhood Narrative: What Support Circles Reveal About Fears and Hopes. An interview with Carl Route, Jr, and Gregory Long, Wisdom Council Members of ROBE.


Subscribe to Kindred’s newsletter and don’t miss the upcoming interviews for the Black Men, Breastfeeding, and Social Justice Series



Part II: Meet Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

Dr. Kimarie Bugg

A national treasure for her leadership in breastfeeding and equity education, in this Kindred interview, Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC, shares her story of discovering her love for caring for babies and mothers as the granddaughter of a Southern lay midwife who cautioned her to become a “real nurse” when she grew up. Born in South Bend, Indiana, Kimarie’s childhood visits to her grandmother in Arkansas shaped her understanding of racism with first-hand experiences not found in South Bend, like moving off of sidewalks with her grandmother to let white people pass.

In 1978, Kimarie became a mother of twins and a registered nurse while living in the state of Texas. In her Kindred interview, she shares her experience of calling La Leche League for help with breastfeeding her twins as a young mother and discovering the organization’s leaders and local hospital, at that time, did not return calls to “people who lived in my area code.” Her challenging and isolating experience breastfeeding twins inspired her to help mothers until, as a nurse, she became known as the “breast nurse.”

Her pursuit of a doctorate in nursing, 40 years of breastfeeding education, and integration of her early and ongoing awareness of racial disparities, led her to found Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, ROSE, in 2011. A recipient of a million-dollar W. K. Kellogg Foundation grant, ROSE is tasked to: “Address inequities in breastfeeding rates among African American women by creating communities across the United States who promote and support breastfeeding through culturally appropriate capacity building of community members, public health professionals and healthcare systems.”

In her recent president’s letter to ROSE members and supporters, Kimarie shares, “Through our passion for eliminating the disproportionate negative impact of [Black] maternal and infant mortality, breastfeeding initiation and duration, and all the maternal, paternal and child health systematic injustices to which we have dedicated our lives, we are labeled hostile by some.  To them, we say, ‘we are not hostile, we are passionate about disrupting the political determinants of health’ in the communities where we live, work, play and worship…

“We will not be satisfied with just Black representation. We listen to Black mothers. And we will fight for their rights to have true power in the information, care and engagement they receive from institutions and systems. This is our calling and our covenant to you. We will continue to address the root cause of social injustice and make a culture shift towards an anti-oppressive culture. And we will actively engage it until we can run no more, at which point we will gladly pass this baton of passion, this birthright, this struggle, to the next-gen mothers, the next-gen servant leaders, who will carry our power further than I can imagine. Our magic is in our fears and tears, our sisterhoods and our LOVE. (Emphasis editor’s. Read Kimarie’s letter from the president here.)

ROSE’s first years as a nonprofit focused on eight states in the South, and in later years, the organization utilized these insights and professional training programs to restructure the nation’s organizing hub for state and local coalitions: the United States Breastfeeding Committee, USBC. The result of this restructuring is a transformed and dynamic nonprofit, a website rich in educational materials, ongoing educational webinar trainings for state and local organizations, and the visible impact of transforming the USBC’s annual conferences into a vibrant, progressive and diverse activist networking celebration. 

In their 2016 Legacy Award statement, the USBC writes of Kimarie, “Her collaborative power and willingness to help everyone around her grow, to ‘know better and do better,’ has significantly contributed to the changes at the USBC, and our strides to be a welcoming and more inclusive organization. As Kim likes to say, ‘being at the table changes the conversation.’ The leadership of the USBC thanks Kim for being at the table, breaking bread with us, and having a rich and transformative conversation that now includes many people and communities around the country.”

With our world in crisis from the personal to the planetary, and our future as a species uncertain, Kimarie Bugg’s story shows us how one person found the “magic” in her own “fears and tears” and transformed her trauma into a passion and vision that sparked real cultural change. I invite you to join me in sitting gratefully at her feet around our virtual campfire here on Kindred and listening, deeply, to her story.

Click on the title below to go to that section:


The “Magic Of Our Fears And Tears” – An Interview With Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

TRANSCRIPT EDITED FOR CLARITY


Falling In Love With Babies And Mothers

LISA:  Hello everyone and welcome to Kindred.  This is Lisa Reagan and today I’m talking with Kimarie Bugg, and she is the Chief Empowerment Officer and Change Leader at Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, also known as ROSE.  Welcome and thank you for coming. Let’s start with your background and where you were coming from long before you started ROSE. 

Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

KIMARIE:  Thank you for having me.  I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana.  I know most people didn’t know much about that until very recently when the former mayor ran for president but also the University of Notre Dame is there.  

During the summers growing up I was allowed to go with my father, who was from Arkansas, to visit his mother.  His mother was in Marianna, Arkansas, and she was a lay midwife. At the age of 12, my paternal grandmother allowed me to help her with women coming to her home to labor and deliver their babies. My task was to take the baby and clean the baby up.  So, that’s how I fell in love with babies.  Also, at the time my grandmother expressed to me that she wanted me to be what she called a “real nurse.”  That started me on a path to nursing, and again, at the same time, my mom in Indiana was an LPN, a licensed practical nurse; but that’s really how I came to fall in love, especially with babies. And I’ve been a perinatal nurse for the last 40 years or so, but also working with labor and delivery and babies.

LISA:  When did you first decide that there was a need for an organization like ROSE?

KIMARIE:  The very first job that I had was the same year, 1978 I became a mother, a wife, and a registered nurse all in 1978.  What happened during that time is, when I had my children I was living away from my family.  In my family, everyone that had babies were breastfeeding, but they were in Indiana and I went to school in Texas and got married in Texas In Texas, I did not know anyone that was breastfeeding. After I had my babies, I attempted to call La Leche League and in that time, you had phone numbers that indicated where you live.  

A lot of people don’t understand that now, but if your number was 284 you knew exactly where that house was, on what street, on what side of the tracks it was.  So, I never got a call back from La Leche League because I lived on the side of the tracks where people who look like me lived.  – Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

 A lot of people don’t understand that now, but for example if your number was 284 you knew exactly where that house was, on what street, on what side of the tracks it was.  So, I never got a call back from La Leche League because I lived on the side of the tracks where people who look like me lived; is what my beliefs are.  

I truly struggled with breastfeeding.  Also, I had just graduated from nursing… I had twins too, let me say that.  I did not find out until 11 days before they were born that there were two of them. In 1978 they weren’t doing all of those tests to find out about gender… gender reveals, and things.  I struggled trying to breastfeed them and, as I mentioned, I was also a nurse and I had started working on pediatric inpatient and was toeing the party line when women asked about help with breastfeeding. I was told by the nurse that preceeded me that “we didn’t have time for that.”  So, I didn’t learn much about breastfeeding or anything in nursing school.  I didn’t learn anything when I went to the pediatric inpatient in Temple, Texas.  I won’t name the hospital, but it is currently designated as Baby Friendly and I was really happy to see that, but I didn’t get any help with breastfeeding there, and I couldn’t get any assistance in the community.  

I decided at that time that I didn’t want other women to be as miserable with their breastfeeding journey as I was, so I started to learn about how to help other women with breastfeeding on the floors.  Very quickly I became known as the “breast nurse.” 

I moved from Texas in 1980 to Atlanta, Georgia and came to a hospital here and was also known as the “breast nurse” because when people had questions with breastfeeding everybody would sort of turn and look to me.  So, I just started really reading and trying to figure things out and it just kind of worked.  It was more of a passion of doing the breastfeeding, lactation management work and still being a pediatric nurse practitioner and working with sick children, as I also did.  It was an extreme passion for many years.  

Then I was laid off from Emory School of Medicine as a nurse practitioner in 2011 and that’s when I decided with a couple of colleagues that what we really wanted to do was live by our passion and to truly put together an organization that would address the breastfeeding disparities we were seeing in the different ethnicities, because, again, the breastfeeding gap of “who started” and “who continued” breastfeeding was about 30% difference in black and white communities and the gap was not narrowing. Many of the people we saw were breastfeeding so we did not feel those statistics were very correct, but we wanted to see what was going on with those. That’s why we got together and started ROSE.


CRASH: Culture, show RespectAssess/Affirm differences, show Sensitivity and Self-awareness, and do it all with Humility

LISA:  Over the years you’ve served state and national breastfeeding organizations and have held this topline view of what’s going on. Your work at the United States Breastfeeding Committee, USBC, for example, seemed to come during a time when there was a tremendous transition in that organization.  What was your vantage point from there and what did you see happening?

KIMARIE:  It actually started probably in the early 1990s because we got a grant from HRSA to train healthcare professionals in the eight southeastern states.  We were a team of a physician, myself as a nurse, and a dietician, and we were doing training and meeting other health care professionals in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and both the Carolinas.  

At that time, we were also realizing that healthcare professionals did not have lactation management training, so a lot of their information was coming from a place of, “We are an expert of nursing medicine and you know taking care of diabetic children and mothers, but we don’t know anything about breastfeeding”.  So, they were kind of not helpful at all in trying to help families to breastfeed. That is a lot of what we learned and what we started to address.  That experience really kind of stayed with me, knowing that if healthcare providers don’t know anything about breastfeeding and they’re not helpful that will really destroy the whole initiation and support that families could get if they run into any problems at all.  

When we had this opportunity to put this organization together, one of the reasons why it was different than a lot of things that were out was our connections to physicians, nurses, and dietitians that we had met over the years that were truly in leadership positions in all of these states We were able to call on them to say, “These are some things that we need to do to improve breastfeeding rates, duration rates in especially the southeastern states.”  That’s some of the things that we got together early on. 

The USBC is connected to all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and the territories, and was directly working with them to develop resources. In the beginning, ROSE received a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and one of their “must dos” was to work with the USBC.  So, I decided to run for the USBC board of directors and I became the first African-American woman on the board of directors for USBC. 

One of the things that we instituted at that time was what we called the CRASH Committee (Culture, show RespectAssess/Affirm differences, show Sensitivity and Self-awareness, and do it all with Humility) which was the diversity, equity, and inclusion, but we started with those as the soft conversations before we could get to what they are truly doing a phenomenal job of now, which is truly talking about racism, structural and systemic racism. 

Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

At that time, the USBC was going through lots of change and it was the great time for ROSE’s work in 2013, pretty much right after getting started in 2011. As a board of directors, we really thrashed out policies and procedures and programs and how to restructure the breastfeeding coalitions in all of the states and how to restructure the USBC, who has a lot of reference power and authority because they work with the federal government, the state governments, and the local coalitions.  We had the opportunity to really work on a lot of that structure with the board of directors, which led to some phenomenal change.  

One of the things that we instituted at that time was what we called the CRASH Committee (Culture, show RespectAssess/Affirm differences, show Sensitivity and Self-awareness, and do it all with Humility) which was the diversity, equity, and inclusion, but we started with those as the soft conversations before we could get to what they are truly doing a phenomenal job of now, which is truly talking about racism, structural and systemic racism.  So, we started with the easy conversations with the DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion), and now they have definitely moved on. That organization has been really phenomenal and at the forefront of lactation support in the landscape of this country.

LISA:  Yes, they have been.  What I would like to talk about for a moment is, the conflict within the breastfeeding community between white professional women and breastfeeding activists.  Did you witness from your vantage point there what I had witnessed in 22 years of being a breastfeeding advocate, ­ that there’s all kinds of splintering that goes on within what you would think from the outside would be a movement, holding hands and everybody is working towards the same goal advocating for breastfeeding. But then you actually get in there, as an activist, and you find that professionals, who tend to be mostly white, are very territorial.  

Over the years, I have seen that trying to bring together professionals and activists and moms, and different groups in a cohesive way was very difficult.  I was talking to your son, Wesley, and your husband, George, who are the founders of ROBE, Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, and Wesley was saying they were surprised that they were not necessarily welcome into the breastfeeding movement because of the territorial nature of some professionals in the field who just didn’t want the competition.  I found that to be remarkable, that he also noticed what had been my experience.

KIMARIE: That is very true, and I guess one of our major strengths is the fact that we have just been unapologetically who and what we are.  And when we address the issue, the concern, it’s always been through our own lens and not expecting or even caring truly about how other folks felt. But then let me premise this with the fact that, early on, I talked about the grant that we received. In that grant we were trained by the mothers of the lactation community and Dr. Ruth Lawrence, Dr. Audrey Naylor, Dr. Miriam Labbok, so the heavyweights, the folks who wrote the articles, the folks who wrote the books. And they were completely and totally the wind beneath our wings. 

 These were older white women who were not in for all of that in-fighting and all of that stuff. They gave us a lot of guidance on directions to go and things that needed to be done and how to do it, and also were instrumental in getting us into rooms that we would not have been able to get in on our own.  We are truly, truly thankful and grateful for their assistance, but with that said also being a nurse – nurses are my tribe, are wonderful and territorial also, and so you kind of come to expect a lot of that sometimes.  

We knew that was out there, even with, for example, the IBCLC exam.  I took the exam in 1987 and I think the first exam was 1986, and I was in IBCLC for five years, and there was no return on investment for me and my community and the things I wanted to do. So, I didn’t retake the exam and had no need for it. However, recently I did because we’ve come to a different point and again that was five years after 1987, and now here we are 2020 and a lot of the young black women that I work with are very interested in being IBCLCs and so I did retake the exam so that I could help to mentor them. 

Yeah, it’s definitely been like that, and that’s one of the reasons why I got into the USBC, because one of the Constellations and Learning Communities that they have is lactation support providers, and that constellation includes peer counselors all the way through breastfeeding medicine physicians.  My husband was a charter member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and that was because those women that I mentioned earlier are the founders of the American Breastfeeding Physicians and so they also got him to be a charter member too. 

We’ve just been where the action was, as far as working through the lactation landscape, and being there has just made a difference and continue to help us get into the rooms and the places we needed to do and really push our agenda forward.  And that was the other thing, they didn’t feel threatened because of the population and the target that was out concern, and they had no intention or didn’t care at all about working with our specific target population.


Crying, Stomping and Hugging: Behind The Scenes Of Organizational Transformation

There was a lot of crying and stomping and walking out of the room, and hugging, and more crying.  Lots of that.  There were times where folks truly wanted to walk out.  There were times where feelings were hurt and toes were stepped on.  It was difficult for, you know, the oppressor never wants to release power, and especially when you have no idea that you’re holding the power.  It’s the white privilege. – Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

LISA:  I remember the USBC’s 2014 national conference, the focus on building these cultural bridges. The conference featured lots of different presenters that were so inspirational and so moving who taught us, “This is how we built our bridge into our Native American community or the Samoan community.”  The conference illustrated that the bridge has to be someone in that community that understands the language of the community, the needs of the community, what’s really happening on the ground, that is trained and given resources.

Then there is this process that has to happen with trainers needing to listen to the person who returns from the community. There needs to be this reciprocal teaching that’s going to happen of learning about the racism, oppression, inequity, implicit bias, the structural racism.  This listening has not been something that white professionals have been receptive to.

But something happened in the USBC world because the 2014 conference and the 2019 conference were two different conferences – and the change was remarkable.  It was just remarkable.  The energy was the energy of activists, and the anger of activists and the room was very dynamic and diverse. Then ROBE spoke at the very end of the conference. I had never heard black men advocate for breastfeeding in this way. 

That change, right there on the ground, that it really happened was such a wonderful, miraculous event to witness.  I say that because I’ve been around for a long time and I can be pretty cynical, but that change was real.  Can you tell us a little bit about what was behind the scenes that made it possible?

KIMARIE:  There was a lot of crying and stomping and walking out of the room, and hugging, and more crying.  Lots of that.  There were times where folks truly wanted to walk out.  There were times where feelings were hurt and toes were stepped on.  It was difficult for, you know, the oppressor never wants to release power, and especially when you have no idea that you’re holding the power.  It’s the white privilege. 

So, we had to have those conversations, and when you know better you do better.  I talk a lot in my little presentations about Johari’s Window.  I know what I know, I know a little bit about what I don’t know, and I know nothing about what I don’t know.  So, if something has always been this normalized and you do not see in your base anything about slavery and Jim Crow and redlining and about toxic dumps being put in neighborhoods and then segregation and all of those types of things. If you’ve never had any need to focus on those things, then again, it’s like Pollyanna, you just have those rose-colored glasses and that’s it. For women or people of color, we’ve never had that privilege and so this was a time when we got people into the room to have those conversations just basically to help people to understand: this is my reality.  

If you’ve never had any need to focus on those things, then again, it’s like Pollyanna, you just have those rose-colored glasses and that’s it. For women or people of color, we’ve never had that privilege and so this was a time when we got people into the room to have those conversations just basically to help people to understand: this is my reality.  – Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

When I was eight years-old walking in downtown Helena, Arkansas with my grandmother, white men were coming down the sidewalk and we had to get off the sidewalk into the street, and I’m trying to figure out at eight years-old what the hell is going on here, because in Indiana that’s not something that had ever happened to me.  After being belligerent about it, my grandmother made a vow then never to take me downtown in west Helena, Arkansas again because I did not understand what was happening and she didn’t know what would happen to me.  So, it’s about putting it out there and seeing who was willing to listen and at least hear it and then start to make some small inroads into why and how this has happened like this and then what is it that we can do to change. 

One of the speakers that we had come to present to us early on was Dr. Joy DeGruy.  Are you familiar with her?  She does this phenomenal presentation on Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. It is amazing.  So speakers like that and Dr. Camara Jones who does another presentation on health equity and achieving health equity and talking again about the different types of racism, and Dr. David Williams who’s at Harvard and has done some phenomenal economic presentations on the differences in the wealth gap in African Americans and white people.  My dad, for example, when he came home from the war was not able to get a GI loan because he was black.  A lot of people don’t even understand that.  

Until you understand or are presented with the realities, then you’re not really expected to be willing to make these changes.  Some people after addressing these concerns, were not able to make these changes, but a majority of the folks were.  That’s why it took several years, but they have truly made a phenomenal transition.


Nursing Narratives: Training Professionals, Health Care Workers and Nonprofits in Equity Awareness

The staff asks us all the time, how do you engage “these women”, and I’m doing my air quotes because that’s code for women of color, African American women, Hispanic women. When they say “these women” you know who they’re talking about.  Working on those codes, working on their biases, helping them to understand. – Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

LISA:  There’s a very large body of science and research into how nonprofits have been bastions of white privilege minimally and white supremacy outright in some cases because of the boards being white, and monied, and just staying on forever, like you said – they don’t release power, they hang on to it and don’t make efforts to expand and change, invite board members outside of their circle.  So, that again this ROSE training was implemented at USBC,  and it looks like it is trickling down to different organizations.  Can you give us and idea of what a ROSE training  for professionals would look like? 

KIMARIE:  The bottom line is to help folks to understand there’s a lot of things that were not true that we learned growing up and that our implicit bias leads us to believe in a lot of stereotypes that are not true.  So, we need to look at what it is that we should do, especially as professionals, and to make sure that we are helping the families that we serve reach health equity.  That’s all it’s about.  I can’t really talk about the love of Christ like I would like to in spots like that, so what I have to just talk about is the fact that we are called in our professions to serve, and in order to do that we have to look at our own biases and get those out of the way.  

One example is how culturally inappropriate it was for so many years as a nurse in postpartum areas: most of us would line up the ice buckets and take them to the mother’s rooms when we were serving different populations of women, and that it is insulting to Asian women, to give them a bucket full of ice and water right after they have a baby.  That is culturally inappropriate because they only drink hot stuff and hot foods because of their culture. We would set those pitchers of ice water in there and that offended them.  So, it is imperative we learn what is offensive, and it’s not about us changing who we are, it’s just about while we are with certain groups and people and organizations that we act appropriately.  

In the African American community, for us, it’s all about relationships. What we find a lot of times in the hospitals is they will say things like, “Well, we have these breastfeeding support groups for the NICU mothers and none of the black mothers ever come.”  

And so I say, okay, “Tell me about how you advertise or how you invite them.”  

“Well, here at the clerk’s desk there’s a flyer. There’s a piece of paper on the wall that says Breastfeeding Support Group at 10 o’clock every Tuesday morning.”  

To help them to understand that that is offensive and not acceptable to black women is something that is easy for us to do.  Our community is all about building trust in relationships, because in this country for so many years we didn’t have that.  In order for me to want to participate in something like that you’d have to come to me and ask. “Hey, Mrs. Jones (the mother of this 28-weeker), there is a breastfeeding support group that we would love for you to come to and this is the time and these are the dates.”

Then you have a much better time, or it’s more possible for you to get that woman to come and to participate. So many different little things like that could make a difference.  The staff asks us all the time, how do you engage “these women”, and I’m doing my air quotes because that’s code for women of color, African American women, Hispanic women. When they say “these women” you know who they’re talking about.  Working on those codes, working on their biases, helping them to understand. That’s one of the things that we’ve done a lot of in our organization: we bring the equity to projects and programs and help folks to really engage their target populations because a lot of times these are folks with grants and programs and projects that they need to infuse into the communities that they know absolutely nothing about and so part of what we want, of course, is for breastfeeding rates and initiation to be increased. If they are legitimate, we are definitely willing to help to facilitate a lot of that.  

It is just ongoing to help folks to learn about cultural humility, what Dr. Jane Murray talks about.  You’ll never be culturally competent in someone else’s culture; however, you can continue to learn.  It’s a lifelong process and if you do at least have the cultural humility to ask, “How is it that I can serve you and make sure that you reach your specific breastfeeding initiation and breastfeeding duration goals?”  What the CDC has shown is that 60% of women who start breastfeeding don’t meet their goals, and I’m willing to say that it’s higher than that in the African American community for many reasons, many barriers, many challenges.  But, that’s a really sad commentary that 60% of women are not meeting their goals.

LISA:  Yes, it is. And they do set the goals in the beginning; we know that. It’s just all the hurdles in between.

KIMARIE:  Absolutely.  And one of the biggest hurdles had been getting out of the hospital successfully breastfeeding.  Now with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative being funded by the CDC, the number of Baby-Friendly Hospitals has tripled since probably about 2011, right when we were starting.  That was the first initiative that took 90 hospitals through the Baby-Friendly process.  Now there are over one million babies that have been born in Baby-Friendly Hospitals, and there are like 600+ Baby-Friendly Hospitals, where in 2010 it was in the single digits, probably.


Creating Bold, Brave, Safe Spaces: Inviting Our Humanity Into The Room

That safe space is something that needs to continue to happen, but we need to have bold spaces or brave spaces now, where I can truly bring out the fact that, “Yeah, in our family there are still these things that are going on, but I want to do better so I want to know about this in the African American community.” – Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

Kindred’s interview with Jennie Joseph

LISA:  You’re talking about relationships and how important relationships are in the African American community. The first time I heard about Jenny Joseph, who is a British midwife that came to the United States and set up practice in Florida, I kept hearing about her fantastic results with her patients and how their rates of maternal morbidity were so low compared to national rates.  A few years ago on phone conference, I’m listening to Jenny Joseph speak and I’m waiting and waiting for the big secret, the big secret of how she did this. What I don’t realize is my brain is in a white privilege academic thinking mode.  I’m waiting for there to be something complicated, and then when she says “it’s relationship we found” to be the key to reduced maternal morbidity. The people coming through her door are seen and they are heard and it is understood that they may have taken three buses to get there, and it’s understood what they have to face to have a healthy baby and the relationship that is built is what makes the difference in the maternal morbidity rates in her clinic.  

It was just humbling but it was also frustrating because I’m thinking, “How are you going to do that? How are you going to reproduce that?” I know Jenny’s out there trying to teach people now, how this relationship-building process is reproduced, but this is more than just a cultural shift.  This is an internal human heart shift.

KIMARIE:  Absolutely yes.  She’s definitely one of my favorite people, and she does it with ease because that’s the spirit that she has, but as I teach all the time, it’s about transparency.  It’s about owning your thoughts, your concerns.  It’s about creating safe spaces and now what I’ve been talking about more is we don’t want to just create safe spaces because we’ve been there for years now.  Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, we have the fierce sense of urgency of now, and so we’ve got to push this envelope and we want to have brave spaces.  We, ROSE, want to have a room where we can get to and have different people actually talk and ask the questions that they need to ask, their burning questions, and to be able to come out of it feeling good that there are no stupid questions.  

For example, we’ve been working on these spaces quite a bit, to have these brave spaces. One of the things that comes up often is, “Why is it that black women get offended when I say ‘can I touch your hair?’” That happens a lot in the African American community.  Did you know that, that women come up to us all the time and say, “Can I touch your hair?” That is extremely offensive for black women.  That’s good that you ask this question in the brave space.  That means that you have noticed that that is offensive and you’re asking why, so those are the types of things we want to do. That safe space is something that needs to continue to happen, but we need to have bold spaces or brave spaces now, where I can truly bring out the fact that, “Yeah, in our family there are still these things that are going on, but I want to do better so I want to know about this in the African American community.”

“Tell me,” somebody asked me once, “is it true that black people do the Electric Slide at funerals and at weddings?”  And I had to laugh about it, but it’s just like yes, and they say, “Well that’s just been a burning question on my heart and I didn’t know who to ask.”  It was just funny.  It’s funny for them, it was funny to me, but it’s true.  So those are the kinds of spaces that we need to have to be able to share so that we know.


COVID-19’s Impact on Black Mothers and Community

Birth has already been pretty traumatic in this country for black women because maternal mortality, especially here where I am in Georgia, is higher here than it is anywhere else.  Birth is already traumatic and for them to be alone, of course, is just really a lot worse. – Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

LISA:  We are in the middle of quarantining for the Covid-19 and you were saying that this moment is highlighting the issue of black maternal mortality because of what is happening.  How is that going? 

KIMARIE:  Some of the stuff that is happening right now is that in places where black and brown women are delivering their babies, the hospitals are deciding to separate mothers and babies just randomly. Because of Covid-19 they’re saying that when women have babies we’re going to separate them, put the babies in the nursery, put the mother in a room by herself so the babies don’t get Covid-19 until the mother has been tested, and you know those tests have been five days long.  

The problem that we see, and again this is because of the people who are calling me, and I’ve had calls from six states, is that it’s happening in areas of town where the majority of the women who are delivering at those hospitals are black and brown women.  Some of the things that we’ve asked recently is that, this week specifically, that USBC and also Moms Rising address this.  There’s also been some guidelines that have come down from the CDC just this week also that addresses this.  The American Medical Association is also addressing it.  These are all folks that advocates have been calling all week.  ACOG has put out a statement just yesterday and there’s an article in the New York Times about this also. But this is what I’ve been working on for the last six days and lots of other people also.  

Also, women have been going on to labor and deliver alone because the hospitals are saying they cannot have a support person with them, but I’m being told that was happening a lot in New York. Governor Cuomo addressed that yesterday and said that it would not happen anymore with labor and birth, but that is happening again in many inner city hospitals where women are delivering alone.  That is extremely traumatic.  Birth has already been pretty traumatic in this country for black women because maternal mortality, especially here where I am in Georgia, is higher here than it is anywhere else.  Birth is already traumatic and for them to be alone, of course, is just really a lot worse.

LISA:  La Leche League and a number of other breastfeeding organizations have also advocated that you continue to breastfeed your infant during this Covid-19 virus because it is more traumatizing for the child to not be held and nursed and to miss out on that, and those are all up on Kindred if you want to take a look there, kindredmedia.org.  


Putting Our Humanity On The Agenda

This gets extremely painful for many of us.  I’ve held many African American women in my arms who have lost babies to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and grandmothers who’ve lost daughters when they were having babies in childbirth, and that takes a toll on you.  It takes a toll to be the mother of a black son in America, just always concerned about, are they going to make it home safe, for many reasons?  It really felt good for that organization to allow that space so that everyone could go around and check in just for a few minutes, and everybody needs to do that.  – Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC

Listen to Joan C. Williams, director of the Center for Worklife Law, share her insights into classism, racism and sexism as barriers to breastfeeding policy.

LISA: Let’s go back to safe spaces because I also witnessed something else remarkable last year, and you were there. This past August in San Francisco, you and I attended the Center for Worklife Law Breastfeeding Summit, and this is a part of the University of California at Hastings and this event was about worklife law, of course, but really about language and how to use different words in different states depending upon whether they are Republican or Democrat or super conservative or somewhere in the middle. We found at the conference there is a certain way to speak to people in order to get them to care about breastfeeding and supporting breastfeeding.  These are sophisticated activist tools that both were exciting to find but also made me despair, a little. 

What were your thoughts about how we have to be careful with our language in order to advocate for breastfeeding depending on geographically where we are? And, I know you know what moment I want to talk about, because there was another moment that we stopped the conference and we went into more human place with each other. 

KIMARIE:  I think that is something that we had to do in the past.  It has changed dramatically, but I would definitely say that geography matters.  The way that you talk about it in California where breastfeeding rates are 95% are very different from how you can talk about it in Mississippi and Louisiana that have the lowest rates in the country.  It has gotten a lot better in the last five years because the federal government has been very involved with women’s health and HRSA (United States Health Resources & Services Administration) in developing language and resources, and also because so many articles and information have been coming out of just about every area also.

LISA:  Right, and it is different in these states.  You and I are both in the South, so we have an idea.  But there was a moment in this summit that for me, was remarkable. I felt like a sacred witness at this moment. I guess you may have to be a Southerner to appreciate this, but there was a moment in the conference – and again this is a very well put together very intellectually driven conference – and something happened and the room shifted and someone in the back raised their hand, and said, “I’m not feeling safe and I think we should go around the room now and ask the women of color if they feel safe, and everyone checked in on their level of feeling safe.”  To me that was remarkable.  I tried to speak, I tried to contribute but I couldn’t get my voice.  I was choking up and I felt like that moment brought our humanity into the room, because we all did the pausing and listening practice that wasn’t on the agenda, but it really did bring the heart into the room, to have that level of consideration for where are people right now.  Do you remember that moment?

KIMARIE:  I do.  I definitely think that it was wonderful.  What happened was it was time to move on when we were talking about some things that were really felt deeply, particularly they were felt by women of color. What was on the agenda move forward but then again as you mentioned someone in the room said, “But we’re not really feeling easy and good with where we are with this last agenda item.”  So, it felt good to be able to jump out of the ivory tower and to recognize that everybody truly had feelings and concerns and we weren’t going to move on without at least addressing those, or at least letting someone say something.  

There were some tears in the room because some people specifically asked what do you have to say, because they felt that there was some serious emotion in their faces.  It was a great time.  It was good. It would be fabulous for more meetings to be like that.  Again, when people are able to get in touch with how they’re feeling in order to affect policy, that’s going to impact so many other people.  

This gets extremely painful for many of us.  I’ve held many African American women in my arms who have lost babies to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and grandmothers who’ve lost daughters when they were having babies in childbirth, and that takes a toll on you.  It takes a toll to be the mother of a black son in America, just always concerned about, are they going to make it home safe, for many reasons?  It really felt good for that organization to allow that space so that everyone could go around and check in just for a few minutes, and everybody needs to do that. 

We need to put time into these agendas, and especially at times like this with this Covid-19, where we can truly say to people, “How are you really feeling?”  There was a woman that I met many years ago, her name was Bobbie Avery, and she said to me one day, she held my hand and said, “How are you doing?” and I said, “I’m doing fine, yada, yada, yada,” and she held my hands and she looked in my eyes and she said, “Now, how are you really doing?” and I just started to bawl. I just cried and I cried. I’m like, “I had to run home and put on these high heels and this skirt and I really wasn’t finished, and this is happening with my kids, but I know I needed to be here.”  And that was my first meeting, but she made me feel so safe that I just had to come out to her.  I have done that over and over and over again because she made me feel so good, and like Maya Angelou said, “You don’t remember what people say, you don’t remember what they do, but you remember how they made you feel.”  So, I want to be sure to make people feel like that too.  That’s why I always attempt to take time to truly listen to people and to look at them and to give them some space to be able to talk, and we need to do that these days because there are so many hurting people at home right now.

LISA:  What else would you like for our listeners to know about your work before we go?

KIMARIE:  Well, just that we are really grateful to be able to do this work.  We have had some phenomenal partners, HealthConnect One and Moms Rising, and 1000 Days and especially, of course, the United States Breastfeeding Committee. There’s so many wonderful people, organizations and people in this country who are doing the work in the communities, and we’re really thankful because that’s where we have to go to address issues and barriers and challenges.  It is true that we have to have connections to the community, and so I’m really thankful to be able to do that.

LISA:  Thank you so much for sharing your story, for the work that you’re doing. I am just blown away that you have been almost a lifelong activist it seems, 40 years, right?  Thank you so much. I’ll let our listeners know that you can go to breastfeedingROSE.org for ROSE and breastfeedingROBE.org for Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, which is also an organization that was created by ROSE.  So, thank you so much again for coming on today. I appreciate your time and all you’re doing.

KIMARIE:  Thank you so much for having me.


RESOURCES

Kindred’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resources

Kindred’s Features on Equity, Racism, White Supremacy and the Dominator Culture

Kindred’s Black Mothers and Fathers Resources

What Is Equity?

Equity has three interwoven components: a lens, a mirror, and an outcome. 

  • It is a lens through which we view the world to inform and guide the design of our strategies and activities to build a “landscape of breastfeeding support.” 
  • It is also a mirror through which we view ourselves and our organizations, examining our internal structures, culture, and policies and their impact on how the lens is applied and the outcome achieved. 
  • Lastly, it is the outcome we seek to achieve, i.e., equity is realized when life outcomes are equal, in a statistical sense, regardless of one’s identities. 

Equity work can take the form of actions designed to address historic burdens as well as to remove present-day barriers to equal opportunities. It can be accomplished by identifying and eliminating systemic discriminatory policies and practices, but also by transforming structures towards access, justice, self-determination, redistribution, and sharing of power and resources. Above all, it requires an inclusive approach that maximizes engagement of the communities impacted. 

Allegories on race and racism, by Camara Jones, A TEDx Talk

How Racism Makes Us Sick, by David Williams, PhD

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, by Dr. Joy DeGruy

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https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/05/the-magic-of-fears-and-tears-an-interview-with-kimarie-bugg/feed/ 0
Black Men, Breastfeeding, Infant Mortality And Social Justice https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/03/black-men-breastfeeding-and-social-justice/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/03/black-men-breastfeeding-and-social-justice/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 19:22:22 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=24399 The Men of ROBE: Standing at the Intersection of Fatherhood, Infant Mortality, Breastfeeding and Social Justice About Kindred’s Series: In this series, Kindred listeners and readers are invited to our virtual campfire to hear the Wisdom Council members of Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, share their inspired personal stories and vision for their national nonprofit […]]]>

The Men of ROBE: Standing at the Intersection of Fatherhood, Infant Mortality, Breastfeeding and Social Justice

About Kindred’s Series:

Read Our Five Star Reviews at Great Nonprofits!

In this series, Kindred listeners and readers are invited to our virtual campfire to hear the Wisdom Council members of Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, share their inspired personal stories and vision for their national nonprofit work.

In this series, Lisa Reagan is joined by Kindred’s social justice editor, Dave Metler, in Detroit, MI, and our Kindred Spirit Research Student, Reshma Grewal, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, who helped to expand our inquiry into our own personal experiences and perspectives.

In this first interview, Wesley Bugg, JD, and George Bugg, MD, founders of ROBE, share the nonprofit’s origins and overview. In forthcoming interviews, ROBE Wisdom Council members share their extraordinary stories of forging a new “generative” path to fatherhood, one that prepares black fathers to become crucial advocates “to increase breastfeeding rates and decrease infant mortality rates within African-American communities,” disparities that largely stem from structural and institutional racism.

While ROBE’s Wisdom Council members seek to “educate, equip and empower” new fathers, they, and the fathers they serve face racial and gender inequality, structural racism, and a persistent cultural myth of black fathers as absent fathers. A damaging and racist narrative rarely questioned when presented by politicians, contradictory CDC data shows: 

  • Most black fathers live with their children. There are about 2.5 million who live with their children, and 1.7 million who don’t, according to the CDC.
  • Black dads who live with their children are actually the most involved fathers of all, on average, a CDC study found.

As the United States Breastfeeding Committee shares on their website, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, and infant mortality rates among all developed countries and is the only country where the maternal mortality rate is increasing instead of decreasing. Stark racial and ethnic disparities persist in rates of pregnancy complications, pregnancy-related deaths, preterm and premature birth, infant mortality, SUID and SIDS. In the U.S. today, African American women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes and have a preterm birth rate nearly 50 percent higher than white women.

In the U.S. today, African American women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes and have a preterm birth rate nearly 50 percent higher than white women.

Maternal, infant, and child health outcomes, including breastfeeding rates, are impacted by issues of intersectionality. Deep inequities in social determinants of health, structural racism, and the lack of access to health care and preventive services are among the many factors impacting outcomes in communities of color and low-income communities. Policy changes are needed to influence upstream determinants of health and address the inequities that keep too many families of color from achieving their full potential.

Breastfeeding is the optimal source of nutrition and immune protection for babies, and a robust source of primary prevention for many infant and maternal conditions. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly states that infant feeding should no longer be considered a lifestyle choice, but rather a public health imperative because of the many short and long-term benefits to mother and child.

For more academic insights into breaking stereotypes of black fathers, see Understanding the Positive Impacts of African American Fathers, or any work by Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., who has been deeply immersed in the study of fathers and families for over two decades. 

This Kindred series will also explore:

  • The individual stories, and histories, of the ROSE and ROBE founders and team members
  • How engaging black fathers in birth and breastfeeding support roles is an effective, and needed, tactic for addressing the United State’s epidemic of black mothers dying in childbirth and low breastfeeding success rates.
  • How ROBE addresses and dispels cultural bias and myths surrounding black families.
  • How white professionals in the lactation field were not initially welcoming to black men as breastfeeding advocates. The “turf war” in the breastfeeding professionals field continues and this acknowledged cultural feature is explored as a barrier to breastfeeding success.
  • How research shows nonprofit organizations have historically been bastions of white professionals, even white supremacy, and how the transformative programs of Reaching Our Sister’s Everywhere, ROSE, and ROBE offer equity training for organizations.

About Kindred’s Editor: Oral history has its roots in the sharing of stories throughout the centuries. It is a primary source of historical data, gathering information from living individuals via recorded interviews. Lisa Reagan’s interviews of thought-leaders, researchers, activists, parents and professionals serves as an oral history of the organic conscious parenting/family wellness movement in the United States and globally since 1999. Follow her podcasts, and this series, on Apple Music/iTunesSoundCloud and here on Kindred.


Black Men, Breastfeeding, Infant Mortality and Social Justice Series

Part I: Meet ROBE – An Interview with Founders, George Bugg, MD, and Wesley Bugg, JD

In this first interview of the series, Kindred’s Social Justice Editor, Dave Metler, and Editor, Lisa Reagan, talk with Dr. George Bugg and Wesley Bugg, JD, founders of ROBE, Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere.

Subscribe to Kindred’s newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our upcoming series, Black Men, Breastfeeding, and Social Justice Series

In this podcast interview you will meet Dr. George Bugg, a neonatologist, and his son, Wesley Bugg, a nonprofit attorney, who have sparked a national movement to explore the healing power of black men supporting breastfeeding as a path to healing fatherhood and addressing critically needed social justice reforms.

Lisa Reagan met the ROBE founders and program leaders at the United States Breastfeeding Committee’s National Conference in June 2019 and again at the Worklife Law Center’s Breastfeeding Summit in August 2019. (see photos below)

ROBE’s mission is to educate, equip, and empower men to impact an increase in breastfeeding rates and a decrease in infant mortality rates within the African-American communities. Visit their website at www.breastfeedingrobe.org.


Upcoming Interviews in the Series


Part I: Meet ROBE – An Interview with Founders, George Bugg, MD, and Wesley Bugg, JD

Wesley Bugg, JD

Wesley Bugg is a 2016 graduate of the University of Miami’s School of Law (JD, LLM), and 2013 graduate of Emory University (BA). He is currently the deputy director of Court Vision International Inc., a nonprofit that promotes youth advocacy and conflict resolution. His current interests include legal compliance and business development, especially for startups and small nonprofits where these tasks are often expensive and difficult. In this spirit, he serves ROSE as the Legal Compliance Officer and financial assistant, aggregated into his role as Financial and Legal Operation Coordinator.


George Bugg, MD

Dr. George Bugg is currently the chief of the neonatology service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA, and the neonatal director of the Emory Regional Perinatal Center. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (BA), Meharry Medical College (MD), and Emory University (MPH). He is a founding member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and was trained in lactation management at Wellstart International. He and his wife, Kimarie Bugg, are the proud parents of five children.

Listen to the interview withe Wesley and Dr. Bugg above.


Part II: The “Magic of Fears and Tears” – An Interview with Kimarie Bugg, DNP

Kimarie Bugg, DNP

Kimarie Bugg, DNP/FNP-BC/MPH/IBCLC/CLC, is Chief Empowerment (CEO) and Change Leader of Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, Inc (ROSE), a nonprofit corporation developed in 2011, to address breastfeeding inequities and disparities in the African American community.

A national treasure for her leadership in breastfeeding and equity education, in this Kindred interview, Kimarie Bugg, DNP, RN, MPH, IBCLC, shares her story of discovering her love for caring for babies and mothers as the granddaughter of a Southern lay midwife who cautioned her to become a “real nurse” when she grew up. Born in South Bend, Indiana, Kimarie’s childhood visits to her grandmother in Arkansas shaped her understanding of racism with first-hand experiences – like moving off of sidewalks with her grandmother to let white people pass – ­that she did not encounter in South Bend.

Listen and download the interview now. Read the transcript.


Part III: The Men Of ROBE: Standing At The Intersection Of Fatherhood, Infant Mortality, Breastfeeding And Social Justice

Calvin Williams is a co-author of and Master Trainer for the “On My Shoulders” fatherhood curriculum, an innovative, evidence-based program that equips fathers for success in relationships with their children and co-parenting partners. He previously served as the Director of Fatherhood Services at Public Strategies Incorporated in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Before joining Public Strategies, Mr. Williams was as the Program Director for the Lighthouse Youth Services REAL Dads Program, and for the Services United for Mothers and Adolescents Fatherhood Project, both in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a founding and current board member with the Ohio Practitioners Network for Fathers & Families, a statewide training, advocacy and support organization for fatherhood practitioners.

Kevin Sherman

Kevin Sherman was released from prison after spending 30 years incarcerated. He was born and raised in New Orleans uptown. At an early age he got into street crime, which led him to being shot then incarcerated at the age of 15. While incarcerated he began to educate himself and became a spokesperson for young men entering the prison system. Once Kevin was released, he continued his work with the youth by ensuring every young man and woman has the opportunity to avoid the pit-falls of the so-called street life. Kevin has an exceptional background as a youth and adult mentor, as well as a fatherhood and substance abuse peer facilitator. In 2015 Kevin led the Unity Project in Baton Rouge as the Youth Program Director. There he taught adult basic life skills and empowerment courses, parenting classes, mentored 250 youths and assisted them in obtaining a GED and facilitated instructional and valuable trips to Angola Prison. Kevin now facilitates the Male Fatherhood Program for Healthy Start New Orleans and NOLA for Life. He also is a Community Outreach Worker for Healthy Start.

Listen to the interview and meet Calvin and Kevin.


Part IV: The Fatherhood Narrative: What Support Circles Reveal About Fears and Hopes

Carl L. Route, Jr.

Carl L. Route, Jr. and his work has been featured on Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) with host Lisa Ling, on “Our America” segment titled “Incarceration Generation”. He is the author of of two books, Born Captive, Made Free (2011), and Boy, Man, Father (2018).

Carl is a Community Activist, Criminal Justice Reformer, Responsible Fatherhood Advocate/Ally/Author, & Advisory Council member with Community Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc., Community Transformer and Wisdom Council member at Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere (ROBE). He is also a volunteer with Georgia Department of Corrections and Georgia Department of Community Supervision as an I Choose Mentoring Support Mentor, Certified Healing Communities Station of Hope and Community Stakeholder/Partnerwith Georgia Prisoner Reentry Initiative and member of former President Barack Obama’s initiative, My Brother’s Keeper Fulton County Task Force, and an Ambassador with the Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Carl is the founder of Young Fathers of Metro Atlanta, Inc, a Certified Responsible Fatherhood & Family Life Coach with the National Partnership for Community Leadership. Lead Facilitator of an Access and Visitation pilot program for fathers on Child Support in Georgia’s largest transition center, a model for programs now facilitated at all 13 of the state’s transitional centers.

He has been a featured speaker at Harvard University Law School Speakers Forum (2018). See his presentation here.


Gregory Long

Gregory Long is a stay-at-home dad who has homeschooled his two wonderful sons since 2006. Prior to that, he worked in the technical field at Comcast for 16 years as a Technical Trainer for the Prince George’s County Maryland system. In addition to homeschooling, Greg is a graphic designer and videographer/producer. He has done graphics work for Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, the DC and Maryland Breastfeeding Coalitions and other local businesses. In 2008, Greg filmed and produced the first documentary on kidney disease for the D.C. chapter of the National Kidney Foundation featuring an African American transplant candidate. In 2007, Greg began facilitating Fatherhood Matters, a component of the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Childbirth Education Series intended for dads. He meets with expectant fathers to discuss the vital role a father plays in a child’s life, which includes providing practical support for breastfeeding.


Listen to Greg Long and Carl Route, Jr, share their stories in this podcast.

RESOURCES

Kindred’s Equity-Diversity-Inclusion Resources

Kindred’s Black Mothers and Fathers Resources

Saving Tomorrow Today: An African American Breastfeeding Blueprint


Subscribe to Kindred’s newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our upcoming series, Black Men, Breastfeeding, and Social Justice Series


Calvin Williams, CLC

#ReachingRnR #PeachMilk #Latchville #MilkJuleps #FeedingLikeaQueen #BluesCityBoobs #MSSipItUp #MusicCityMilk #StayWokeAndBf #GeauxBreastFriend #BlkBfing #BostonMilkParty #NotOnMyWatch #BlacktationDiaries #ConcreteROSE2019 #savingtomorrowtoday #BMHW19 #gotswampmilk #PeachMilkUSBC 2019

Posted by Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere on Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Caption: Calvin Williams speaking at the United States Breastfeeding Committee’s National Conference and Convening in Bethesda, MD, in June 2019.

Calvin Williams’ presentation from above:

“My vision for breastfeeding, is a vision for my people. Not all black people are struggling. And that has to be said because there are inane, ridiculous statistics out there like, ‘there are more black men in prison than on college campuses.’ Give me a break. But too many of my brothers and sisters are hurting each other, themselves, their families and their communities because THEY are so hurt, confused, distressed. Dissected and disconnected from their history and their own self-worth. 

“In my dream, my breastfeeding dream, I see rivers of breastmilk flowing down the streets of these distressed communities. Healing, bonding, nursing and making whole what was dissected and dismembered. My vision for men is that they benefit from supporting and protecting the breastfeeding experience in ways that help them to reclaim their humanity. My vision for ROBE, is that neighborhoods, communities, cities across this country take advantage of and benefit from this assemblage, this collection, in ways that matter to those communities.”


Photos of ROBE presenting at the United States Breastfeeding Committee’s National Conference and Convening 2019, in Bethesda, Maryland. Photos of ROBE by Lisa Reagan. Group photo of attendees by USBC.

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Nurse Your Baby Through Coronavirus, La Leche League Recommends https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/02/nurse-your-baby-through-coronavirus-la-leche-league-recommends/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/02/nurse-your-baby-through-coronavirus-la-leche-league-recommends/#respond Wed, 19 Feb 2020 15:52:10 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=24151 Continuing to Nurse Your Baby Through Coronavirus (2019-nCoV; COVID-19) and Other Respiratory Infections The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) currently in the news is a rapidly evolving global medical situation with limited information available at this time. La Leche League International (LLLI) respects the efforts of international health and medical organizations and associations to maintain up-to-date information […]]]>

Continuing to Nurse Your Baby Through Coronavirus (2019-nCoV; COVID-19) and Other Respiratory Infections

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) currently in the news is a rapidly evolving global medical situation with limited information available at this time. La Leche League International (LLLI) respects the efforts of international health and medical organizations and associations to maintain up-to-date information and recommendations as understanding of the virus is developed. LLLI will continue to track the development of the current global health crisis.

With over 60 years of breastfeeding experience, La Leche League International stands firm in encouraging all families to recognize the importance of breastfeeding in providing immunological protections to the breastfed child. Most often, babies who are being nursed remain healthy even when their parents or other family members fall ill with an infectious illness. There is a growing body of research showing babies benefit from multiple and diverse immunologic proteins, including antibodies, provided in human milk, particularly through direct breastfeeding.

Those who become infected shortly before giving birth and then begin breastfeeding, and those who become infected while breastfeeding, will produce specific secretory IgA antibodies and many other critical immune factors in their milk to protect their nursing infants and enhance their infants’ own immune responses. At this time, these immunologic factors will aid their infants’ bodies to respond more effectively to exposure and infection. Following good hygiene practices will also help reduce transfer of the virus.

If someone who is breastfeeding becomes ill, it is important not to interrupt direct breastfeeding. The baby has already been exposed to the virus by the mother and/or family and will benefit most from continued direct breastfeeding.

Disruption of breastfeeding may lead to several issues:

  • significant emotional trauma for the nursing baby or toddler,
  • a drop in milk supply due to the need to express milk,
  • later breast refusal by the infant due to the introduction of bottles,
  • a decrease in protective immune factors due to lack of direct breastfeeding and expressed milk not matching the infant’s needs at a particular time, and
  • an increased risk of the infant becoming ill due to lack of immune support from direct breastfeeding.

The last point is of critical importance: when any member of the family has been exposed, the infant has been exposed. Hence, any interruption of breastfeeding may actually increase the infant’s risk of becoming ill and even of becoming severely ill.

Anyone who believes they may have COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus; 2019-nCoV; SARS-CoV-2) is encouraged to follow good hygiene practices, such as thoroughly washing their hands and wearing a protective mask to prevent spread of the virus. If someone becomes ill enough to require hospitalization, the baby should be allowed to continue breastfeeding if at all possible, keeping in mind the above list of possible results from any separation or disruption of breastfeeding. In an extreme circumstance, if an interruption of breastfeeding is deemed medically necessary, hand expressing or pumping the milk is encouraged. In such cases, the expressed milk, which contains multiple immune factors, may be fed to the baby to help prevent the baby from getting the infection or to help reduce the severity and duration of an infection if the baby does get sick.

The World Health Organization (WHO) offers guidance and other information on coronavirus in multiple languages on the WHO website. UNICEF also provides information for breastfeeding through COVID-19 infection. Links are included in the references below.
All of the information above also applies to families at risk of or experiencing influenza and other respiratory viruses.

Contact Information: zion@llli.org
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

See the press release here.

REFERENCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 28 January 2020). About 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019 – nCoV). Accessed 29 January 2020 and 12 February 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 17 February 2020). Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Pregnancy. Accessed 18 February 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/pregnancy-faq.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 15 February 2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. Accessed 19 February 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

Chen H, Guo J, Wang C, et al. Clinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records. Lancet 2020; published online Feb 12 2020 at https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30360-3

China National Health Commission. Transcript of Press Conference on Feb 7, 2020 in Chinese. Available at http://www.nhc.gov.cn/xcs/s3574/202002/5bc099fc9144445297e8776838e57ddc.shtml

Lam, C.M., Wong, S.F., Leung, T.N., Chow, K.M., Yu, W.C., Wong, T.Y., Lai, S.T. and Ho, L.C. (2004), A case‐controlled study comparing clinical course and outcomes of pregnant and non‐pregnant women with severe acute respiratory syndrome. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 111: 771-774.

Scientific American (12 February 2020). Disease Caused by the Novel Coronavirus Officially Has a Name: COVID-19. Accessed 12 February 2020 from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/disease-caused-by-the-novel-coronavirus-officially-has-a-name-covid-19/

Shek CC, Ng PC, Fung GP, et al. Infants born to mothers with severe acute respiratory syndrome. Pediatrics 2003; 112: e254.

UNICEF (February 2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What parents should know. Accessed 18 February 2020 from https://www.unicef.org/stories/novel-coronavirus-outbreak-what-parents-should-know

Wong SF, Chow KM, Leung TN, et al. Pregnancy and perinatal outcomes of women with severe acute respiratory syndrome. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2004; 191: 292–97.

World Health Organization (WHO; 20 January 2020). Home care for patients with suspected novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection presenting with mild symptoms and management of contacts: Interim guidance 20 January 2020. Accessed 29 January 2020 from https://www.who.int/publications-detail/home-care-for-patients-with-suspected-novel-coronavirus-(ncov)-infection-presenting-with-mild-symptoms-and-management-of-contacts

World Health Organization (WHO, 2020). Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Accessed 12 February 2020 from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Zhu H, Wang L, Fang C, et al. Clinical analysis of 10 neonates born to mothers with 2019-nCoV pneumonia. Transl Pediatr 2020; published online Feb 10 2020. DOI:10.21037/tp.2020.02.06.

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Milk: The Food That Evolved Humanity, A TEDx Talk https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/02/milk-the-food-that-evolved-humanity-a-tedx-talk/ https://www.kindredmedia.org/2020/02/milk-the-food-that-evolved-humanity-a-tedx-talk/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2020 18:57:53 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=24069 Does a baby’s first food really matter? Human milk has an inescapable connection to human evolution – filled with genetic components, bioactive factors, stem cells, and bacteria to populate the human microbiome. Discover how unique this amazing fluid is and why human milk is designed specifically for humans. Laurel Wilson, IBCLC, RLC, BSc, CLE, CCCE, […]]]>

Milk: The Food that Helped Evolve Humanity

Does a baby’s first food really matter? Human milk has an inescapable connection to human evolution – filled with genetic components, bioactive factors, stem cells, and bacteria to populate the human microbiome. Discover how unique this amazing fluid is and why human milk is designed specifically for humans.

Laurel Wilson, IBCLC, RLC, BSc, CLE, CCCE, CLD is an international speaker, pregnancy and breastfeeding specialist, consultant, educator, and author. Laurel is the co-author of two books, The Attachment Pregnancy and The Greatest Pregnancy Ever; original editor of The CAPPA Lactation Educator Manual; as well as a contributing author to Round the Circle: Doulas Talk About Themselves.

Her passion is blending today’s recent scientific findings with the mind/body/spirit wisdom to help professionals and families realize the magnitude and importance of the perinatal period. Her 17 years as Executive Director for Lactation Programs with the Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association formed the foundation of her inquiry into the science of human milk. She acted as a board director for the United States Breastfeeding Committee from 2016-2019 and currently serves as an advisor for InJoy Health. Laurel is a member of Kindred’s International Editorial Advisory Board.

Laurel has been joyfully married to her husband for nearly three decades and has two wonderful grown sons, whose difficult births led her on a path towards helping emerging families create positive experiences. She believes that the journey into parenthood is a life-changing rite of passage that should be deeply honored and celebrated. www.motherjourney.com This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.


TRANSCRIPT and REFERENCES

Courtesy of Laurel Wilson

Cockroaches, flamingos, emperor penguins, cows, and humans, we all make milk like fluids for our babies. Milk is the magic of mothering. Birds make something called crop milk in the back of their throats for their newborns. And Pacific beetle cockroaches and toxeus magnus spiders make fluids for their new little hatchlings. So, making milk is not unique to mammals, but delivering it through the mammary gland is. Mammalian milk has evolved 310 million years to nourish and protect baby mammals. The human body has adapted over time to make milk that helps humans flourish. Breastmilk is an evolutionary food. It has helped humans succeed in inhospitable places, during traumatic times, and in habitats that would not otherwise have been possible. None of us would be here if it weren’t for breastmilk.

I have more certifications around breastfeeding and childbirth than most people know exist. I am a board-certified lactation consultant, a certified lactation educator, a registered lactation consultant, and even have my degree in lactation consulting, yes it is a thing! And yet, it’s actually a wonder that I stand before you today, to talk about breastfeeding. As a little girl I can’t say I was fascinated by babies and mothering like most of my friends. I did not willingly babysit as a child, didn’t find little ones adorable like all of my girlfriends. And while I had babydolls, I was more fascinated by the ones that could talk and eat and poop and how that worked, less so about taking care of them. I never thought about growing up and mothering, breastfeeding. My main plan, after being a princess, I mean let’s be honest, was that I was going to be the next Diane Fossey and work with gorillas in the jungle when I grew up. That was clear to me. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps who worked with chimpanzees when I was little. But I fell in love, young. I got married, young. He was in the Air Force and we were stationed at a military base in Guam. In spite of my best efforts I got pregnant, very young. Not only was I surprised by a pregnancy, I had a particularly difficult delivery. I was scheduled for a C-section because my baby was breech. The night before, he turned around and was head down, ready for a vaginal delivery. I didn’t want to have a C-section, but the military doctor had already be woken up, so we were doing it his way. Early motherhood was extremely difficult, and much of that difficulty for me was breastfeeding. But there was something in me that made me do it anyway. The delivery of my second baby was just as traumatic and I suffered massive postpartum depression and difficulty breastfeeding a second time around.  I loved both of my boys, deeply with an almost ache, and I loved the closeness I felt with my boys when I fed them. But I can’t say I loved breastfeeding. It wasn’t until several years later when working as a childbirth advocate that I discovered how truly instrumental breastmilk is that I fell in love with breastmilk. It was when I discovered milk’s ancient origins and role in human health that became all goolgy eyed about milk.

So, let’s go back in time, when humans were first evolving. Breastmilk both nourished the baby and kept the mother and baby together for longer periods of time to ensure continued protection and increase survival rates. But not only did the mother’s presence increase the baby’s odds, it was the fact the fact that her milk was customized to meet the specific needs of her baby. Human milk is customized.  Human milk changes based on the foods she is eating, the bacteria she and her baby are exposed to, the viruses she comes in contact with, and even where she lives. Mother’s provide a custom brew, like a milky microbrew, produced just for her specific baby.  Milk goes through its own evolution every day to optimize the baby’s growth and development. Through this primary food, humans have had the capacity to progress and change -TO EVOLVE.

As mammals evolved, their milk delivery systems transformed. Not all mammals developed breasts. For example, some mammals give birth to eggs which hatch, like the platypus. 

The milk of the platypus leaks out of their glands onto their fur and the babies lick the fur! I remember feeling touched out when I was breastfeeding I can’t imagine feeling licked out. Humans, however, developed the magnificent mammary gland. We have remarkable evolutionary breasts. It is partly through this evolution of the mammary gland and the evolution of milk that has allowed humans to prosper on most continents. 

When early humans crossed the Bering Straight, researchers theorize that their breasts adapted to this low sun light environment by allowing the mammary gland to deliver higher amounts of vitamin D to babies. Human milk normally has very little vitamin D because we make it through sun exposure, not from our food. This genetic adaptation protected the vulnerable babies until they could grow teeth and eat seal meat and fish rich in fatty acids. This evolutionary change can still be found in the descendants of those that made this ancient journey.

There are so many extraordinary things we are learning about human milk. Many parents think they know a lot about human milk. That it’s perfect nutrition, reduces cancer risk for parent and child, improves immune function for the baby, reduces the risk of countless diseases. However, there is a story that is not being told. Most babies will wind up drinking the milk from another animal by the time they are six months old, ¾ of them according to the CDC. Pharmaceutical companies make formula out of cow milk and plant milk instead of human milk. Because of this, we may now be outsourcing one of our most critical resources during this important period. Babies need milk during the critical 1000 days, between conception and age 2. It is at this time when all of the body’s system develop and our genes are the most vulnerable to our environment.  Researchers are now coming to terms with the fact that our first food helps to determine the trajectory of our health. Our early foods communicate instructions either for health or lack thereof. 

When a baby receives food that is not from their own species, it’s body has instructions for a different development. Human milk contains genetic information, for humam, microRNAs and MRNAs that tell genes to turn on and off; stem cells that embed themselves in a baby’s organs for future needs. Human milk also populates the baby’s microbiome, which is made up of all of the bacteria, fungi, and protozoa than live on and within us and keep our body functioning. Breastmilk contains nutrition for the baby but it also contains food just to feed the bacteria in a baby’s gut. Human milk is even made up of hundreds of sugars whose sole purpose is to feed the bacteria in the baby’s gut. These sugars, called HMOS, are found in abundance in human milk, but they are particularly absent in cow’s milk. With human milk, babies are colonized with pathogenic bacteria in their guts instead of healthy bacteria.  Current research now suggest that the human microbiome helps dictate our mood, releases hormones, communicates with our brain, affect cardiac and other organ system health, and it is suspected that it influences pheromones. This means milk may help influence who we fall in love and mate with. So parents if you have ever wanted to influence who your kids marry, breastfeed them!

Milk is powerful. It helps to determine who we are, potentially for many generations out.

In adopting another animal or plant’s milk, we are, in essence, outsourcing the baby’s food. I worry that most people have no idea what this really means. As a culture, we have become complacent about outsourcing this evolutionary resource. We have gotten used to outsourcing our lives. We no longer need a memory, we have google. We don’t need to read a map, we have Waze. We don’t even need to have sex with a person, there is internet porn. We don’t need to walk anywhere, we have Uber, Lyft, electric scooters.  We don’t need to breastfeed, we have formula. Right? Our outsourcing has put our evolution in the hands of big pharma instead of our own very capable hands. 

We ARE getting better at breastfeeding in the US. But the pressure is real for most families. Many US families return to work by two weeks after delivery, and many new parents work in jobs where breastfeeding and pumping is treated as a burden by their employers. Formula companies have power, they have money, and they profit off of the need to outsource feeding our children. In spite of international recommendations and research, billions of dollars are spent every year to make it easier to formula feed than to find better ways to support families to breastfeed. Just as we evolve biologically, we evolve culturally. Today, providing babies breastmilk is not as easy as it should be.  We need a cultural evolution offers a better model and a better solutions for making human milk available for all families. We need things like real access for every lactating parent to breastfeed at work. We need to listen and respond to family needs, particularly in our under-resourced communities and within our communities of color. We need to increase access to help to new parents. More donor milk, and less shame around cooperative, peer to peer, milk sharing. The human mammary gland is powerful. I ask you to think twice before you outsource that power, the potential power of our evolution, to someone else. And now that you know, if you are ever in trouble, if you ever have a problem, just squirt a little bit of breastmilk on it. I am Laurel Wilson, thank you.

References:

Animal Milks

Chen, Z., Corlett, R. T., Jiao, X., Liu, S. J., Charles-Dominique, T., Zhang, S., … & Quan, R. C. (2018). Prolonged milk provisioning in a jumping spider. Science362(6418), 1052-1055.

Dong, B., Quan, R. C., & Chen, Z. Q. (2019). Prolonged milk provisioning and extended maternal care in the milking spider Toxeus magnus: biological implications and questions unresolved. 物学研究, 9.

Dumont, J. N. (1965). Prolactin-induced cytologic changes in the mucosa of the pigeon crop during crop-“milk” formation. Zeitschrift für Zellforschung und Mikroskopische Anatomie68(6), 755-782.

Hu, X. C., Gao, C. Q., Wang, X. H., Yan, H. C., Chen, Z. S., & Wang, X. Q. (2016). Crop milk protein is synthesised following activation of the IRS1/Akt/TOR signalling pathway in the domestic pigeon (Columba livia). British poultry science57(6), 855-862.

Schiemer, C., Halloran, A., Jespersen, K., & Kaukua, P. (2018). Marketing Insects: Superfood or Solution-Food?. In Edible Insects in Sustainable Food Systems (pp. 213-236). Springer, Cham.

Vandeputte-Poma, J. (1980). Feeding, growth and metabolism of the pigeon, Columba livia domestica: duration and role of crop milk feeding. Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology135(2), 97-99.

Warren, W. C., Hillier, L. W., Graves, J. A. M., Birney, E., Ponting, C. P., Grützner, F., … & Yang, S. P. (2008). Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution. Nature453(7192), 175.

Wheeler, D. E. (2009). Eggs. In Encyclopedia of Insects (pp. 311-312). Academic Press.

Williford, A., Stay, B., & Bhattacharya, D. (2004). Evolution of a novel function: nutritive milk in the viviparous cockroach, Diploptera punctata. Evolution & development6(2), 67-77.

Evolution of Mammalian Milk

BLACKBURN, D. G., HAYSSEN, V., & Murphy, C. J. (1989). The origins of lactation and the evolution of milk: a review with new hypotheses. Mammal Review19(1), 1-26.

Capuco, A. V., & Akers, R. M. (2009). The origin and evolution of lactation. Journal of biology8(4), 37.

Goldman, A. S. (2002). Evolution of the mammary gland defense system and the ontogeny of the immune system. Journal of mammary gland biology and neoplasia7(3), 277-289.

Hinde, K., & German, J. B. (2012). Food in an evolutionary context: insights from mother’s milk. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture92(11), 2219-2223.

Lemay, D. G., Lynn, D. J., Martin, W. F., Neville, M. C., Casey, T. M., Rincon, G., … & Pollard, K. S. (2009). The bovine lactation genome: insights into the evolution of mammalian milk. Genome biology10(4), R43.

McClellan, H. L., Miller, S. J., & Hartmann, P. E. (2008). Evolution of lactation: nutrition v. protection with special reference to five mammalian species. Nutrition research reviews21(2), 97-116.

Oftedal, O. T. (2012). The evolution of milk secretion and its ancient origins. Animal6(3), 355-368.

Power, M. L., & Schulkin, J. (2016). Milk: the biology of lactation. JHU Press.

Skibiel, A. L., Downing, L. M., Orr, T. J., & Hood, W. R. (2013). The evolution of the nutrient composition of mammalian milks. Journal of Animal Ecology, 1254-1264.

Tao, N., Wu, S., Kim, J., An, H. J., Hinde, K., Power, M. L., … & Lebrilla, C. B. (2011). Evolutionary glycomics: characterization of milk oligosaccharides in primates. Journal of proteome research10(4), 1548-1557.

Walzem, R. L., Dillard, C. J., & German, J. B. (2002). Whey components: millennia of evolution create functionalities for mammalian nutrition: what we know and what we may be overlooking. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition42(4), 353-375.

Wiley, A. S. (2015). Re-imagining milk: cultural and biological perspectives. Routledge.

Human Milk Changes According to Infant Need

Skibiel, A. L., & Hood, W. R. (2015). Milk matters: offspring survival in Columbian ground squirrels is affected by nutrient composition of mother’s milk. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution3, 111.

Unique Components in Human Milk (mRNAs, oligosaccharides, stem cells) and Response to Environment

Oliveira, D. L., Wilbey, R. A., Grandison, A. S., & Roseiro, L. B. (2015). Milk oligosaccharides: A review. International journal of dairy technology68(3), 305-321.

Golan‐Gerstl, R., Elbaum Shiff, Y., Moshayoff, V., Schecter, D., Leshkowitz, D., & Reif, S. (2017). Characterization and biological function of milk‐derived miRNAs. Molecular nutrition & food research61(10), 1700009.

Hoashi, M., Meche, L., Mahal, L. K., Bakacs, E., Nardella, D., Naftolin, F., … & Dominguez-Bello, M. G. (2016). Human milk bacterial and glycosylation patterns differ by delivery mode. Reproductive sciences23(7), 902-907.

Katayama, T. (2016). Host-derived glycans serve as selected nutrients for the gut microbe: human milk oligosaccharides and bifidobacteria. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry80(4), 621-632.

Vitamin and Bering Straight Research

Hlusko, L. J., Carlson, J. P., Chaplin, G., Elias, S. A., Hoffecker, J. F., Huffman, M., … & Scott, G. R. (2018). Environmental selection during the last ice age on the mother-to-infant transmission of vitamin D and fatty acids through breast milk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences115(19), E4426-E4432.

The Critical 1000

Binns, C., Lee, M., & Low, W. Y. (2016). The long-term public health benefits of breastfeeding. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health28(1), 7-14.

Cusick, S. E., & Georgieff, M. K. (2016). The role of nutrition in brain development: the golden opportunity of the “first 1000 days”. The Journal of pediatrics175, 16-21.

Mameli, C., Mazzantini, S., & Zuccotti, G. (2016). Nutrition in the first 1000 days: the origin of childhood obesity. International journal of environmental research and public health13(9), 838.

Pietrobelli, A., & Agosti, M. (2017). Nutrition in the first 1000 days: Ten practices to minimize obesity emerging from published science. International journal of environmental research and public health14(12), 1491.

Epigenetics and Milk

Alsaweed, M., Lai, C. T., Hartmann, P. E., Geddes, D. T., & Kakulas, F. (2016). Human milk miRNAs primarily originate from the mammary gland resulting in unique miRNA profiles of fractionated milk. Scientific reports6, 20680.

Eidelman, A. I. (2019). Epigenetic Basis for the Beneficial Effect of Breastfeeding.

Hartwig, F. P., de Mola, C. L., Davies, N. M., Victora, C. G., & Relton, C. L. (2017). Breastfeeding effects on DNA methylation in the offspring: A systematic literature review. PloS one12(3), e0173070

Hock, A., Miyake, H., Li, B., Lee, C., Ermini, L., Koike, Y., … & Pierro, A. (2017). Breast milk-derived exosomes promote intestinal epithelial cell growth. Journal of pediatric surgery52(5), 755-759.

Indrio, F., Martini, S., Francavilla, R., Corvaglia, L., Cristofori, F., Mastrolia, S. A., … & Loverro, G. (2017). Epigenetic matters: the link between early nutrition, microbiome, and long-term health development. Frontiers in Pediatrics5, 178.

(Below also info on evolution of human milk)

Ivell, R., & Anand-Ivell, R. (2017). Neohormones in milk. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism31(4), 419-425.

Karlsson, O., Rodosthenous, R. S., Jara, C., Brennan, K. J., Wright, R. O., Baccarelli, A. A., & Wright, R. J. (2016). Detection of long non-coding RNAs in human breastmilk extracellular vesicles: Implications for early child development. Epigenetics11(10), 721-729.

Langley-Evans, SC. Nutrition in early life and the programming of adult disease: a review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2014 Jan 31. doi: 
10.1111/jhn.12212.

Lemas, D. J., Young, B. E., Baker, P. R., Tomczik, A. C., Soderborg, T. K., Hernandez, T. L., … & Patinkin, Z. W. (2016). Alterations in human milk leptin and insulin are associated with early changes in the infant intestinal microbiome. The American journal of clinical nutrition103(5), 1291-1300.

Lester, B. M., Conradt, E., LaGasse, L. L., Tronick, E. Z., Padbury, J. F., & Marsit, C. J. (2018). Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior in the human infant. Pediatrics142(4), e20171890.

Melnik, B. C. (2015). Milk: an epigenetic amplifier of FTO-mediated transcription? Implications for Western diseases. Journal of translational medicine13(1), 385.

Melnik, B., & Schmitz, G. (2017). Milk’s role as an epigenetic regulator in health and disease. Diseases5(1), 12.

Melnik, B. C., & Schmitz, G. (2017). MicroRNAs: Milk’s epigenetic regulators. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism31(4), 427-442.

Verduci, E.; Banderali, G.; Barberi, S.; Radaelli, G.; Lops, A.; Betti, F.; Riva, E.; Giovannini, M. Epigenetic Effects of Human Breast 
Milk. Nutrients 2014, 6, 1711-1724. 


Victora, C. G., Bahl, R., Barros, A. J., França, G. V., Horton, S., Krasevec, J., … & Group, T. L. B. S. (2016). Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. The Lancet387(10017), 475-490.

Wagner, C. L., & Eidelman, A. I. (2018). The Impact of Vitamin D on the Maternal and Infant Epigenome: The Role of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.

Stem Cells in Breastmilk

Aydin MS, Yiğit EN, Vatandaşlar E, Erdoğan E, Öztürk G (2018). Transfer and integration of breast milk stem cells to the brain of suckling pups. Scientific Reports 8:14289.

Cregan MD, Fan Y, Appelbee A, Brown ML, Klopcic B, Koppen J, Mitoulas LR, Piper KM, Choolani MA, Chong YS, Hartmann PE (2007). Identification of nestin-positive putative mammary stem cells in human breastmilk. Cell and Tissue Research 329:129-136.

Hassiotou, F., Beltran, A., Chetwynd, E., Stuebe, A. M., Twigger, A. J., Metzger, P., … & Hartmann, P. E. (2012). Breastmilk is a novel source of stem cells with multilineage differentiation potential. Stem cells30(10), 2164-2174.

Hassiotou, F., & Hartmann, P. E. (2014). At the dawn of a new discovery: the potential of breast milk stem cells. Advances in Nutrition5(6), 770-778.

Hassiotou, F., Heath, B., Ocal, O., Filgueira, L., Geddes, D., Hartmann, P., & Wilkie, T. (2014). Breastmilk stem cell transfer from mother to neonatal organs (216.4). The FASEB Journal28(1_supplement), 216-4.

Hassiotou F, Mobley A, Geddes DT, Hartmann PE, Wilkie T (2015). Breastmilk imparts the mother’s stem cells to the infant. FASEB Journal 29:876.

Kakulas F (2015). Breast milk: a source of stem cells and protective cells for the infant. Infant 11(6):187-191.

Matsushita T, Kibayashi T, Katayama T, Yamashita Y, Suzuki S, Kawamata J, Honmou O, Minami M, Shimohama S (2011). Mesenchymal stem cells transmigrate across brain microvascular endothelial cell monolayers through transiently formed inter-endothelial gaps. Neuroscience Letters 502:41-45.

Molès, J. P., Tuaillon, E., Kankasa, C., Bedin, A. S., Nagot, N., Marchant, A., … & Van de Perre, P. (2017). Breastfeeding-related maternal microchimerism. Nature Reviews Immunology17(11), 729.

Molès JP, Tuaillon E, Kankasa C, Bedin AS, Nagot N, Marchant A, McDermid JM, Van de Perre P (2018). Breastmilk cell trafficking induces microchimerism-mediated immune system maturation in the infant. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology 29:133-143.

Patki, S., Kadam, S., Chandra, V., & Bhonde, R. (2010). Human breast milk is a rich source of multipotent mesenchymal stem cells. Human cell23(2), 35-40.

Pichiri, G., Lanzano, D., Piras, M., Dessì, A., Reali, A., Puddu, M., … & Coni, P. (2016). Human breast milk stem cells: a new challenge for perinatologists. Journal of Pediatric and Neonatal Individualized Medicine (JPNIM)5(1), e050120.

Weiler IJ, Hickler W, Sprenger R (1983). Demonstration that milk cells invade the suckling neonatal mouse. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology 4:95-98.

Witkowska-Zimny, M., & Kaminska-El-Hassan, E. (2017). Cells of human breast milk. Cellular & molecular biology letters22(1), 11.

Zhou L, Yoshimura Y, Huang Y, Suzuki R, Yokoyama M, Okabe M, Shimamura M (2000). Two independent pathways of maternal cell transmission to offspring: through placenta during pregnancy and by breastfeeding after birth. Immunology 101:570-580.

Microbiome and Human Milk 

Azad, M. B., Konya, T., Persaud, R. R., Guttman, D. S., Chari, R. S., Field, C. J., … & Becker, A. B. (2016). Impact of maternal intrapartum antibiotics, method of birth and breastfeeding on gut microbiota during the first year of life: a prospective cohort study. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology123(6), 983-993.

Dallas, D. C., & German, J. B. (2017). Enzymes in human milk. In Intestinal microbiome: functional aspects in health and disease (Vol. 88, pp. 129-136). Karger Publishers.

Rosenberg, E., & Zilber-Rosenberg, I. (2018). The hologenome concept of evolution after 10 years. Microbiome6(1), 78.

Lackey, K. A., Williams, J. E., Meehan, C. L., Zachek, J. A., Benda, E. D., Price, W. J., … & Mbugua, S. (2019). What’s Normal? Microbiomes In Human Milk And Infant Feces Are Related To Each Other But Vary Geographically: The INSPIRE Study. Frontiers in Nutrition6, 45. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2019.00045

Lynch, S. V., & Pedersen, O. (2016). The human intestinal microbiome in health and disease. New England Journal of Medicine375(24), 2369-2379.

Martin, C. R., Osadchiy, V., Kalani, A., & Mayer, E. A. (2018). The brain-gut-microbiome axis. Cellular and molecular gastroenterology and hepatology6(2), 133-148.

Neuman, H., Debelius, J. W., Knight, R., & Koren, O. (2015). Microbial endocrinology: the interplay between the microbiota and the endocrine system. FEMS microbiology reviews39(4), 509-521.

Turroni, F., Milani, C., Duranti, S., Ferrario, C., Lugli, G. A., Mancabelli, L., … & Ventura, M. (2018). Bifidobacteria and the infant gut: an example of co-evolution and natural selection. Cellular and molecular life sciences75(1), 103-118.

Yamada, C., Gotoh, A., Sakanaka, M., Hattie, M., Stubbs, K. A., Katayama-Ikegami, A., … & Okuda, S. (2017). Molecular insight into evolution of symbiosis between breast-fed infants and a member of the human gut microbiome Bifidobacterium longum. Cell chemical biology24(4), 515-524.

Pietrobelli, A., & Agosti, M. (2017). Nutrition in the first 1000 days: Ten practices to minimize obesity emerging from published science. International journal of environmental research and public health14(12), 1491.

Cost of Marketing of FormulaSave the Children. Don’t Push It: Why the formula milk industry must clean up its act . 2018 https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/content/dam/gb/reports/health/dont-push-it.pdf?Source%20Code=&cid=esm–bms_001-5R44428VW&utm_campaign=bms_001&utm_medium=earnedsocial&utm_source

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