Raising the Bar for Childbearing Families

Education and Events

Perinatal Health Mondays
Cost: Free or Donation
Date: 2024 Schedule TBA
Location: Virtual Zoom

Past Offerings:

Perinatal Health River Walk

A Facilitated River Walk for Perinatal Health Workers and Advocates

In these pandemic times, we are longing for new ways to foster connection, community, and renewal. And there is nothing quite like sharing our stories as we walk alongside one another in a natural setting. Leslie Lytle of Nurture, and Nikiya Ellis of The Diverse Doula, hosted a walk along the James River and an opportunity to share the challenges and triumphs of working in the pregnancy, birth, and early parenting sector.
At the beginning of the walk, attendants received guidance and prompts to spark conversation and connection, then the magic emerged as we walked a two-mile out and back along the James River. We paused to reflect at the half-way point, and you received another prompt to explore with new companions along the return journey. After the walk, attendees were invited to share key insights via a virtual platform, so that we could harvest what we’ve learned through this activity.
This event was for you if:
  • You work with and/or support programs for pregnant, birthing, or postpartum people
  • You’re seeking in-person connection with others working in similar spaces
  • You’re interested in exploring how to weave a better network of support for pregnant and postpartum families in our community

About the Hosts:

Nikiya Ellis

Nikiya is a mother of three, a doula, a Gardener, beekeeper and a Reiki practitioner. As a Mother and a Birthworker, She see the importance of giving all birthing people a fair chance at the birth they desire. Sankofa is a traditional African concept that translates to “Go back and get it.“ We all need to return to our roots, to reclaim the wisdom of our ancestors, to educate, inform & share knowledge to the birthing people in our diverse communities. Nikiya is a cofounder of Birth in Color RVA, which is a birth, policy, and advocacy collective focused on providing culturally-centered support to pregnant families and the birth community in RVA. Nikiya’s work connects the worlds of maternal justice to food justice; by increasing access to healthy foods for expecting mothers through collaborative programs at urban greenspaces throughout the Richmond Region.

Leslie Lytle

Leslie is a mother, wife, yoga teacher, and perinatal health advocate who thrives on connecting people with resources and facilitating growth. Leslie began working with pregnant people as a massage therapist in 1992. Inspired by the birth of her son, she became a doula in 1998, began teaching prenatal and postpartum yoga in 2000, and is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. Over 3000 pregnant and postpartum people have participated in her programs.

Leslie holds an MS in Sociology where her focus was the sociology of health and illness with additional coursework in public health. She is fascinated by the intersection of biology and culture that is ever present in the pregnancy and early parenting arenas. A member of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program Class of 2013, Leslie completed a Certificate in Non-Profit Management through Non-Profit Learning Point in 2014, is the 2016 recipient of the Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice, and is a Community Trustbuilding Fellowship fellow (2018). She looks forward to the day when Richmond will be known far and wide as a parent/baby/family friendly city.

Lactation Support Training: Introduction to Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders for Lactation Support Providers A Two Part Workshop

During this 2 part series on August 28  and September 11th 2021, trainers Sultana Karim, MA, LCPC, LPC, CCTP and Kristen Miller BA,CCCE, IBCLC covered many topics geared toward Lactation Support Providers and others providing assistance to breast/chestfeeding parents addresses this trifecta. The training focused on general education about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) and how to facilitate social support groups for lactating parents affected by PMADs, with an emphasis on the needs of historically excluded populations. Read more about the training here. 

Topics covered included:

  • Overview of PMADS
  • Predictors and Risk Factors
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Path to Wellness
  • Specific Needs of Historically Excluded Populations
  • Treatment Options and Intervention Strategies
  • Roles and Responsibilities of Social Support Facilitators
  • Launching and Leading Peer Support Groups/Peer Mentor Partnerships
  • Role-playing Scenarios and Difficult Situations
Exclusive Breast/Chestfeeding in the First Few Weeks: Why It's Important and How You Can Help

August 18, 2021
During this interactive talk and Q & A with one of Richmond’s premier lactation support providers, attendees learned:

• Why exclusive breast/chestfeeding is so important in the first few days and weeks of a baby’s life
• What normal infant feeding cues and behaviors look like
• What obstacles get in the way of establishing successful breast/chestfeeding in the early days
• Ways family members and friends can support breast/chestfeeding parents

Valerie Coleman, RN, MSN, IBCLC, FACCE, is the Program Director of Family Life Education, Women’s Health, Community Outreach, and Lactation Services at VCU Health Systems. She earned a Master of Science in Nursing from Duke University and has been a nurse for 45 years. Valerie is an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, a Certified Childbirth Educator, and a Fellow in the American College of Childbirth Educators. She was the team leader at VCUHS for the Best Fed Beginnings Learning Collaborative, a national initiative to improve outcomes for mothers and babies and for the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.

Collective Impact Training with Tamarack Institute

In this four part webinar series, co-sponsored by Nurture, CINCH, Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, and , Tamarack Institute helped lay the groundwork for Collective Impact work here in Richmond, VA. If you missed it, you can  View the Webinar Series.

COVID Webinar Series

During the month of April 2020, Nurture conducted an on-line COVID19 Survey for Pregnant and Postpartum People in the Richmond, Virginia area that yielded a robust response, with 102 respondents and an 84% completion rate. Overall, the top five highest needs indicated by respondents were for Social Support (75%), Mental Health Support (62%), Breastfeeding or Lactation Support (34%), Postpartum Support (30%), and Education/Informational Materials (23%) as of April 30. Responding to survey results, Nurture is hosting  a series of five 1.5 hour webinars during May – June, 2020 for pregnant and postpartum parents and the providers who serve this population. Utilizing a platform that allows for small group interaction and dialogue, we will review preliminary data from the survey, and engage presenters recognized for expertise in perinatal mental health and trauma mitigation. The series culminates with a focus on developing strategic approaches to maternal health and equity beyond COVID19.  Parents, care providers, policy makers, advocates, and anyone who has an interest in pregnancy, birth, and early parenting are invited to join us for one or all of the webinars in this free series.

This series is made possible by support from the Virginia Department of Health, Bon Secours Health System, VCU Health, Optima Health, Anthem Healthkeepers Plus, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, and Renew Chiropractic.

2019 Birth & Baby Fair

The Birth & Baby Fair Story

“Even in the best of situations, where babies are healthy and moms are healthy, there are still so many obstacles that one has to overcome. Having      a . . . go-to place with information, consultative services and mentorship is so important for developing and growing healthy families.”

~ Christine Isaacs, MD | Director, General Obstetrics and Gynecology Division, VCU Health

Since the beginning, one of Nurture’s goals was to serve as a hub connecting childbearing families to the resources they need to help them thrive. Local folks regularly reach out to us seeking help in finding pregnancy and early parenting related services. Through conversations and surveys with community stakeholders, a recurrent theme emerged of a “disconnect” between service providers and pregnant and postpartum parents: many new parents weren’t aware of existing programs, or were overwhelmed by the choices and different platforms available on the internet. As one of our survey respondents put it: there is a need for something that’s organized. There is so much info and nothing leads to direct information. You have to research a lot.”

So Nurture began seeking ways to bring growing families together with the organizations and businesses that serve them. In 2016 we launched the first Nurture RVA Birth and Baby Fair at Maggie Walker High School. We quickly outgrew that space and the following year moved to the Science Museum of Virginia. This annual FREE event enables the public to directly interact with multiple providers, including local hospital systems, midwifery, doula, and pediatric practices, and other organizations that support expecting and postpartum families. The 2020 Nurture RVA Birth & Baby Fair will expand to include 50 exhibitors, a Speaker Series in the Barbara Thalhimer Theater featuring local pregnancy, birth and parenting experts, and family-friendly activities on the Science Museum Lawn. We anticipate over 1000 visitors.

But parents need access to resources more often than just one day a year. Part of Nurture’s strategic plan is to raise the necessary funds for a searchable, filterable perinatal resource directory that connects Richmond area families and providers the other 364 days of the year. To learn more about our proposed directory, ask a Nurture board member at the:

2019 Breastfeeding Symposium

The 2019 RVA Breastfeeding Symposium convene 110 community members and care providers from across the Greater Richmond Area.

  • Place breastfeeding support into context of national and global public health efforts.
  • Understand trends in breastfeeding rates, including disparities in rates among race/ethnicity.
  • Discuss the importance of equitable and evidence-based maternity care practices.
  • Review publicly available resources and tools to assist breastfeeding advocacy efforts both clinically and in the community.
  • Learn to utilize the Ready, Set, BABY tool for prenatal breastfeeding counseling.
  • Practice how to educate about specific breastfeeding topics in a variety of scenarios.
Implementing Ready Set BABY in clinical settings
  • Generate strategies to integrate the Ready, Set, BABY into current practice settings.
Transcending Our Silos: Creating a shared vision for maternal/infant health in RVA
  • Explore opportunities for policy and systems changes within the local maternal/child health ecosystem.
  • Foster cross-sector organizational and community relationships that support evidence-based infant feeding practices.
Bongs and Boobs: A blunt discussion about cannabis use in pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Understand the current statistics of cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Understand what the latest medical research indicates about the effects of perinatal cannabis exposure on developing brains.

Read more here. 

2017 RVA Breastfeeding Symposium: First Food: The Intersection of Health, Race, Policy, and Practice
First Food: The Intersection of Health, Race, Policy, and Practice

The 2017 RVA Breastfeeding Symposium brought 206 community members, care providers, and policy makers together to examine the impact of institutional racism on breastfeeding.


  • Provide an overview of the public health and economic impacts of infant feeding practices
  • Examine the impact of structural racism on infant feeding practices and food access
  • Identify the structural and cultural barriers that prevent women, particularly minority women, from reaching their breastfeeding goals
  • Foster cross-sector organizational and community relationships that support evidence-based infant feeding practices
  • Recognize the components of a breastfeeding-friendly community

Keynote Speakers:

Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning journalist, author and a nationally recognized media commentator, consultant and advocate for breastfeeding and infant health. A former senior editor at ESSENCE and writer at FORTUNE magazine, Kimberly is widely considered a leading voice in the counterculture movement in infant feeding. As a consultant, Kimberly has led innovative community-based projects in New Orleans, Birmingham, Detroit and Philadelphia that explore the impact of “first food deserts”—communities that severely lack accessible resources to support mothers who choose to breastfeed—and developing community-partnered strategies to transform these areas into more breastfeeding supportive environments. She is currently the project director for The First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI), a W.K. Kellogg-funded pilot project in Detroit and Philadelphia to create a national accreditation process for breastfeeding-friendly communities.

Elizabeth Gray Bayne holds a Masters of Public Health from Yale University and an MFA in film from the Art Center College of Design. Her background in health outreach & communications, social marketing, design and film production allows her to take the high production value and marketing strategy that normally only large institutions and corporations enjoy and bring them to the organizations and individuals that deserve to have their stories heard, too. She is currently working on Chocolate Milk, a documentary exploring African-American women’s experiences with breastfeeding.


“The brainstorming session really helps us understand what things we are doing well, and what we need to improve upon to promote breastfeeding in our community.”

2016 Breastfeeding Symposium

Lack of consistent and/or inaccurate information among care providers is a common breast/chestfeed barrier. To address this, the 2016 Breastfeeding Symposium brought together community members, and healthcare and social service providers across many fields, resulting in 110 care and service providers from 35 local organizations being trained in Ready-Set-BABY, a prenatal breastfeeding education tool developed by the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute.


  • Place breastfeeding support into context of national and global public health efforts.
  • Learn helpful tips for facilitating counseling on breastfeeding utilizing the Ready, Set, BABY tool.
  • Practice how to educate about specific breastfeeding topics in a variety of scenarios.
  • Identify local breastfeeding barriers, opportunities, and implementation strategies.
  • Build interagency relationships.
  • Generate strategies to integrate the Ready, Set, BABY breastfeeding counseling into current practice.

“I truly enjoyed the symposium. It gave me a wealth of knowledge about breastfeeding,
as well as ideas about how to support and encourage prenatal and postnatal mothers.”

From Trauma to Triumph: Recognizing the Impact of Childbirth Trauma on Women and Care Providers
This professional development event offered insight into trauma informed care, and the importance of sensitive practices that respect and honor the needs of the parent after loss and traumatic experience.

Read more. 

Perinatal Loss: Facilitating Healing Through Compassionate Dialogue
This professional development workshop provided an extraordinary opportunity to gain a greater understanding of how perinatal loss affects families and care providers, practice mindfulness-based techniques for working with loss and grief, learn effective skills for working with the newly bereaved, and explore ways to engage community partners in the creation of a comprehensive perinatal loss support network.

Read More

A Brief History of our Community Engagement Projects.

Support Our Work

Stay up to date with Nurture!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from the Nurture team.

Thanks for signing-up!