Milk Like Mine
Milk Like Mine is a birth and breastfeeding coalition with birth and lactation support for families of color in the Battle Creek area. We want to help mothers of color and their families in our community to succeed in birth and breastfeeding from a group that is a true representation of self: because we’ve been where you are, we live here, and we work here. We have struggled and overcome and want you to as well. Here, at Milk Like Mine we will be able to lean on each other in the community and we WILL grow. As strong as we are as people of color, our babies can be stronger and live longer. We want to make that happen with you, showing everyone that mothers of color in Battle Creek can safely give birth and breastfeed too! Currently we offer a monthly coalition meeting and a monthly Sistah to Sistah breastfeeding group open to all family members. Milk Like Mine also meets with families in need of lactation support and provides skilled care in addition to referrals to other providers if necessary. We know that representation matters, advocacy is needed, and the birthing person’s voice is important in every birth and it’s the very core to the foundation for our work in the Birthing Bellies Like Mine! branch. Our Doula Services were created to bring the possibility of having a great, satisfying and memorable labor and delivery. We strive to keep Doula Services affordable and help make lactation care accessible, personalized, and optimal. Learn more about Milk Like Mine’s work here.
Milk Like Mine is a coalition that is dedicated to addressing disparities in their community, educating families, and empowering community in order to improve maternal and infant mortality throughout Battle Creek.
The networking opportunities facilitated by Milk Like Mine are monthly coalition meetings with families of color and community members to come together to address disparities, how to overcome breastfeeding barriers, what support is needed in our community, and event planning.
Direct support for birth and breastfeeding families includes the monthly Sistah to Sistah Breastfeeding Club for women of color who are pregnant or breastfeeding as well as individual consults, and birth doula services. Sistah 2 Sistah and Birthing Bellies Like Mine create opportunities to speak freely with other mothers and be supported with advocacy and comfort measures with all things birth and breastfeeding related. Lactation support on common issues and breastfeeding supplies are also provided during breastfeeding club. Individual consultations are also available from skilled doulas, and lactation professionals offered by providers that reflect the families they serve.
Milk Like Mine also works on community advocacy to address the larger issues of health disparities in Battle Creek, specifically breastfeeding rates and infant mortality, through normalization of breastfeeding with hospitals, employers, and community members.
Successes to date:
- Established website and social media presence (Facebook, Instagram)
- Presented at Michigan Breastfeeding Network Quarterly Network Meeting in September 2019 in Kalamazoo (event details here)
- Joined Breastfeeding Coalition of Calhoun County (website)
- Became founding members of MI Milk Collective, a statewide organization of Black-led organizations working to amplify, center, and celebrate Black Breastfeeding (website)
- Participated in monthly MIBFN & Local Breastfeeding Supporters meetings (website)
- Secured $23,400 seed funding through MIBFN 310 Connect Calhoun County project to support Milk Like Mine and Sistah 2 Sistah annual efforts (website)
- Supported 1 member to participate in Breastfeeding Basics training with the Michigan WIC Division (about)
- Partnered with Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color on weekly, virtual breastfeeding support groups for people that identify as BIPOC (Facebook)
- Organized and implemented events during Black Breastfeeding Week and Breastfeeding Awareness Month
- Leveraged relationships and resources to connect dozens of Battle Creek families with birth and breastfeeding support
- Interview published by On The Ground Battle Creek
- Interview published by Scene Magazine March 2020 issue (page 6)
- Featured in The Shopper February 2020
- Launched Spilled Milk episodes for education, support and to give voice to the community (link here to most recent episode on Facebook)
- Rickeshia and Stephanie attended Hearth, Birth, Soul Birth Doula training
- Established Birthing Bellies Like Mine Doula Services
- Established the Community Birthing and Breastfeeding Services Center
- Purchased breastfeeding supplies and PPE equipment for in-person peer and professional breastfeeding support and education
- Leche Como La Mi`a
- Young Educated Empowered Mamas for teens and young moms
- Received the Juneteenth Community Service award
- Received the Who’s Who in America award
- Moods Like Mine and postpartum depression and anxiety support group
- Dad’s Like Me (formerly known as Father’s Speak) a fatherhood support group
- Expanded our birth and postpartum doula team
- 3 doulas were certified
- Doulas have been able to attend cesareans in the operating room with clients which was a big win for MLM!
- Joined the breastfeeding task force at Bronson Battle Creek
- Renewable contract with Communities in Schools for Childbirth and Breastfeeding Education
- Hosted the first annual Breastfeeding in the Park event
Leadership, Partnerships, and Members:
Milk Like Mine was established under the leadership of Rickeshia Williams, CLS, CLC, MCD, CBE and Stephanie Freeman, CLC, BD, CPD. The leadership team currently includes:
- Rickeshia Williams – Co-Founder, Facilitator, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator,
- Stephanie Freeman – Co-Founder, Facilitator, Birth and Postpartum Doula
- Anna Saup – Facilitator, Media and Marketing Coordinator, Birth and Postpartum Doula
- Rosibel Kersjes – Hispanic Lead Facilitator, Licensed Esthetician, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Aromatherapist
Additional Current Members of Milk Like Mine include:
- Jazimien Clark
- TraVonna Smith
- Rayven Felix
- Denise Young
- Talena White
- Jessie Reyes
- Keona Ackely
- Tenisha Craft
- Consuela Hubbard
- Sierra Smith
- Cynthia Wiescholek
Our Vision for the Future:
- We envision that every Black, Indigenous and family of Color (BIPOC) in Battle Creek is surrounded by interconnected, trusted, BIPOC-led community based birth and breastfeeding support.
- We envision government entities throughout Michigan, specifically in Calhoun County writing, passing, and enforcing Policies that center, honor, and uplift BIPOC breastfeeding families.
- We envision Black Breastfeeding Week celebrations every August honor the triumphs and resilience of BIPOC families who are reclaiming Black breastfeeding AND propel forward a BIPOC-led series of events to be held throughout the month of August and week of Black Breastfeeding Week.
Joint Fundraiser with MIBFN:
Yes, it’s true. Women of Color breastfeed too! In collaboration with Milk Like Mine, breastfeeding onesies, totes, shirts, and more are now available for purchase in our online storefront. In addition, we are excited to announce we have Zoom backgrounds available for download! Proceeds from the store and the Zoom background downloads will be split 50/50 with Milk Like Mine to support Milk Like Mine’s work of providing lactation support, coalition meetings for Women of Color Monthly, and mother-to-mother support groups for pregnant and breastfeeding women. MIBFN uses our portion to strengthen our policy advocacy efforts. Thank you for your support!
In solidarity with Milk Like Mine, we are proud to share the Milk Like Mine Racial Equity in Breastfeeding and Immunizations Grant Report. This project took place from October 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 with the goal of planning and implementing strategies that ensured greater equity and access to COVID-19 vaccine by Black and Indigenous families with young children who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. A special thank you to United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region for their $5,000 in support of this work.