Breastfeeding Real Talk: Virtual Support Edition
is a safe space for breast/chestfeeding parents who identify as Black or Brown to receive support and encouragement from other parents and lactation professionals from similar backgrounds who have received culturally specific lactation support training.
Respondents to Nurture’s 2021 COVID19 Survey for Pregnant and Postpartum Parents indicated lactation support as one of their top three needs. We also know that culturally representative lactation support is lacking in our community. Guided by this knowledge, Nurture applied for and received support from The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond’s COVID Relief Fund to pilot a virtual lactation support group led by and for Black and Brown parents.
Moderators for Breastfeeding Real Talk have received certification through The B.L.A.C.K. Course, a 45-hour training recently launched by Black Lactation Support Providers for professional lactation education from the Black perspective.
We are excited to welcome you to the first session of Breastfeeding Real Talk. Please join us as we learn and grow together.
Meet the Moderators
My name is Ebony Allen. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of four. At a young age, I was told by someone that I had a gift with children, like I was a “young baby whisperer.” I loved children and they loved me! I loved how simple life felt when I was having fun and providing care for children. I wanted nothing but to grow up and have many children of my own. My children are my passion and my inspiration.
My first pregnancy inspired me to breastfeed. Breastfeeding was not initially my plan. I knew very little about breastfeeding. Then I learned that breastfeeding could offer a great way for mother and child to bond and that was enough for me. So began my breastfeeding journey! It was six months of trial and error, learning and loving, my child, my body and my breast.
I was determined that my next breastfeeding journey would be better. I was equipped with more knowledge and gained experience from my first breastfeeding journey. I was excited! I was empowered! I was not expecting an aggressive Breast Cancer Diagnosis that not only threatened the possibility of having more children, due to radiation and chemotherapy, but would take away the ability to breastfeed all together.
My second pregnancy inspired me to advocate for myself and my child. Four days after being diagnosed, I discovered I was pregnant. My first question was “Can I receive treatment while pregnant?” I was told that I would have to terminate the pregnancy, in order to battle. It was also advised that I choose to receive a double mastectomy, due to the aggressive nature of my cancer and my family history with breast cancer. I declined every form of treatment that would not allow me to continue my pregnancy or breastfeed. I received a lumpectomy to remove the cancer and even that procedure posed a high risk for a miscarriage. With clean margins and a healthy fetal heart rate, for nine months, I prayed that my surgery was done with such precision to allow me to nurse my child after birth.
Finally the day came, where my miracle baby was born. Baby latched every two hours, for four days, with no visible signs of lactation from me. I could feel the changes in my breast, but could not express colostrum. It was advised that I supplement with formula, as the baby’s weight was continuously dropping with every weigh-in. It was at that point that I was again faced with a decision: I chose to listen to my body. I declined supplementing with formula and continued to latch baby every two hours. Twenty-four hours later, my milk was present and our journey began.
My third pregnancy inspired me to switch life up! I enjoyed being a working mom of three. I had an immaculate routine. I pumped by day and nursed by night. I worked out daily. I meal-prepped. I stayed on top of laundry and weekend activities for the children. Then one day, I decided to leave my job of thirteen years to stay at home with my children and we started homeschooling.
My fourth pregnancy inspired me to become a Doula. This was my first pregnancy that I had a doula to support me through my pregnancy and labor. It was a role that I had already played for so many people, just by being there for other mothers, encouraging them, educating them, advocating for them in their journeys. As a Birth Doula with Birth In Color RVA, I am dedicated to supporting and empowering birthing bodies and families during the childbearing journey.
With my personal breastfeeding journey, I aspire to inspire or help anyone in need of lactation support. Joining with Nurture has offered excellent support and resources. I look forward to how I can help support our local communities with the support of Nurture.
Shakeya Lewis is a mother of two from Chesapeake, VA. She began her path to breastfeeding advocacy in 2012 through her experience as a teen mother who overcame multiple obstacles to successfully breastfeed her daughter. A breastfeeding peer pilot program through #RVAbreastfeeds was the beginning of her education in the lactation field and her work with Nurture. Shakeya has a son, 4, and a daughter, 8, who she breastfed for a total of 4.5 years. In 2018, she obtained her certification as a Certified Lactation Counselor. Shakeya continues her advocacy through lactation support, and working as Nurture’s Resident CLC and social media manager for the Nurture and RVAbreastfeeds social media pages.
Hello! My name is Brittany, I am a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University pursuing my Masters in Clinical Social Work; I am also a birth doula and a perinatal mental health advocate. My passion is working with pregnant/postpartum birthing individuals and children age 0-5. During my career I have had the pleasure of working in the fields of public health, birth work, and now social work, learning the importance of support, care and access and its effects on family outcomes. Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding is such an important part of the postpartum journey and I am honored to work alongside such a beautiful team to create this safe, supportive, and informative space for you all. Talk to you soon!
Two ways to join!
A Facebook Group: moderated by Black and Brown lactation support providers for evidence-based information and support throughout the week.
Weekly Virtual Meet-ups: moderated on Zoom by Black and Brown lactation support providers, offer a virtual safe space to ask questions, meet other parents, and share your breast/chestfeeding journey in real time. You are welcomed to drop into the virtual meet-ups at any time during the fall session, but registration is required.
Fall 2021 Virtual Meetup Schedule:
Tuesdays, August 24 – December 21, 2021 | 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Saturdays, August 28 – December 18, 2021 | 1:00 – 2:00 pm
*Before joining a Zoom meeting on a computer or mobile device, you can download the Zoom app. Otherwise, you will be prompted to download and install Zoom when you join the meeting.