No Mom Left Behind

No Mom Left Behind Campaign

Families in Flint still do not have access to clean water. Yet, many Flint families are still having to choose between providing human milk for their infants/young children and working to support their families. In a capitalist society, like the U.S., both parents work in 46 percent of two-parent households out of sheer necessity and continue to face financial hardship (1). We know that across Michigan, 38 percent of families, a total of 1.5 million Michiganders, struggle to make ends meet even while working (2). This is an even more common reality for Black families with over 200,000 Black households in Michigan living and working under financial hardship conditions due to economic and systemic barriers that limit their earnings and make them more likely to experience poverty (3).

Especially in light of the ongoing water contamination crisis, breastfeeding parents in Flint are doing their best to continue to express milk while at work for their children and attempting to work with their employer to find lactation solutions. While 87 percent of families in Michigan initiate breastfeeding, that number is considerably lower in Genesee County with only a 55 percent initiation rate (4, 5). At the two-month mark, the statewide breastfeeding duration rate has dropped to 65.9 percent and duration rates are even lower in Genesee County at 20.3 percent (6,7). The two-month mark also coincides with when many parents have already returned to work. Once a parent returns to work, breastfeeding rates fall dramatically, negatively impacting breastfeeding success. Additionally, 20 percent of mothers cite returning to work as the reason they did not begin breastfeeding at all and another 20 percent state that going back to work was the main reason they stopped breastfeeding (8).

Breastfeeding benefits everyone in every sector of today’s world, including employers. Breastfeeding-supportive employers see a 3-to-1 return on investment through increased productivity, increased employee retention, and lower employee absenteeism (9). Under the 2010 Federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision of the Affordable Care Act, employers must provide reasonable break time for employees to express their milk in a clean and private space. Despite this provision, however, federal accommodations fall short and exclude many employees who do not meet these qualifications, leaving gaps in coverage that disproportionately affect Black and Indigenous families. Based on current exclusions, over 1 million Black women are not protected under the Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision (10). Other systemic barriers also exist for lactating families, including lack of access to quality breast pumps due to insurance restrictions and the lack of paid family leave which forces many mothers to return to work only 2-3 weeks after delivery.

In spite of systemic barriers, community-based organizations like YOLO Breastfeeding are working within their community to integrate solutions to help support breastfeeding families amidst systems, like the workplace, that are not built for breastfeeding success.

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Why YOLO?
YOLO Breastfeeding was founded in 2015 and was created to fill a gap in community-based lactation support in Genesee County and surrounding areas. YOLO partners with many organizations in Genesee County and, during the COVID-19 crisis, YOLO continues to provide in-person care as well as virtual consultations.

As the only Black IBCLC in Genesee County, Shonte’ Terhune-Smith, BS, IBCLC, knows and centers the importance of strong community collaboration and values the intentionality that goes into cultivating relationships with all of those that work in Maternal-Child Health in Genesee County. According to Shonte’, “The health of Black families will be generationally changed by empowering Black-led organizations to be the solution to the issues of systemic racism impacting Black maternal health outcomes.”

Highlights of YOLO’s work over the last year include:

  • Provided 153 Lactation Consultations
  • Provided 29 one-on-one, virtual breastfeeding classes
  • Provided 1 church group virtual breastfeeding class for 5 expecting women.
  • Provided 4 breast pumps to Hurley lactation department.
  • Assisted Hurley lactation with furnishing the breastfeeding pod that will be available in the hospital in February. YOLO provided the cubie, the baskets for the cubie shelves, and a bench.
  • Provided 2 virtual childbirth classes.
  • Dropped off breastfeeding supplies to 11 clients’ homes. Also loaned out the Medela hospital grade pump to 5 families
  • Partnered with Metro-Detroit Hypno-Birthing group to provide breastfeeding education to 10 of their classes, which included a total of 12 families.
  • Working on the “All I Do Is Win” curriculum for providers.
  • Completed filming the mini documentary and photos that discusses breastfeeding while black during a pandemic.
  • For the virtual mini-breastfeeding Thinkific class, there were 30 sign-ups.
  • Training outline created for Breastfeeding in Color and The Village.
  • Completed filming the mini documentary and photos that discusses breastfeeding while black during a pandemic.
  • Developed social media promotion for Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
  • Working on 2 new educational campaigns for families to be distributed to physician offices and community organizations.
  • Created a faith-based box to be provided to at least 4 churches for birth and breastfeeding promotion and education.
  • Created a daycare box to be provided to a specific number of local daycares for staff promotion and education. Different tailored boxes will be provided to families.
  • Launched weekly Trap Chats weekly on YOLO Breastfeeding’s Facebook page, which discusses different pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, mental health, and more. The four videos have a total of 1,555 views.
  • Developed and launched a 5-day, 45 hour course titled, “Birth and Breastfeeding Specialist”
  • Developed and launched a 5-day, 45 hour course titled, “Reviving The Village”
  • Supported 21 birthing families with doula services

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What is the #NoMomLeftBehind fundraising campaign?
Shonte’ has heard a clear need from families to fill the doughnut hole in breastfeeding support left by the ACA. Some families cannot step away from work because they aren’t covered by the law. For other families who are covered by the law, there is not a clear system for accountability. Despite this, Black babies in Flint are still dying. There MUST be something put into place while Congress works on the PUMP Act to ensure that moms can actually pump and work.

What will the donations be used for?
Our goal is $50,000 to purchase 100 hands-free pumps for Black and Indigenous families in Flint and across Genesee county who do not have access to express milk while at work.

If you are interested in purchasing a pump and shipping it to YOLO Breastfeeding, reach out to hello@mibreastfeeding.org for shipping information.

Your support is crucial for breastfeeding employees in Flint. Human milk is one way to safeguard the future of Black and Indigenous working families both during and after COVID-19 and the continuing lead-water contamination crisis. Thank you for your support!

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References

  1. Pew Research Center, “Raising Kids and Running a Household: How Working Parents Share the Load,” 4 November 2015 available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2015/11/04/raising-kids-and-running-a-household-how-working-parents-share-the-load/
  2. Michigan Association of United Ways, Alice in Michigan: A Financial Hardship Study, The Alice Project, 2019, American Community Survey, available at: https://www.unitedforalice.org/demographics/michigan
  3. Ibid.
  4. Sauter H and Haak P, Hardy J. 2021. 2019 Birth Year Maternal and Infant Health Summary Tables. Lansing, MI. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Lifecourse Epidemiology and Genomics Division. 
  5. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Breastfeeding Rate and Duration Ad-Hoc Reports, March 7, 2021. 
  6. Sauter H and Haak P, Hardy J. 2021. 2019 Birth Year Maternal and Infant Health Summary Tables. Lansing, MI. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Lifecourse Epidemiology and Genomics Division. 
  7. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Breastfeeding Rate and Duration Ad-Hoc Reports, March 7, 2021.
  8.  Sauter H and Haak P, Hardy J. 2021. 2019 Birth Year Maternal and Infant Health Summary Tables. Lansing, MI. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Lifecourse Epidemiology and Genomics Division. 
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Business Case for Breastfeeding, available at: www.womenshealth. gov/breastfeeding/programs/business-case/index.cfm.
  10. Shierholz, Heidi. 10 December 2018. “Millions of working women of childbearing age are not included in protections for nursing mothers.“ Economic Policy Institute available at: https://www.epi.org/blog/break-time-for-nursing-mothers/
Contact Us

(734) 365-6559

hello@mibreastfeeding.org

503 Mall Court #296

Lansing, MI 48912

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