Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color (SEMI)
MIBFN and SEMI began partnering in early 2020 with SEMI serving on the 2020 Community Conversations Advisory Council. This partnership has since blossomed in many ways – to include the #InvestInDetroitBreastfeeding fundraiser and almost all SEMI members presenting on the Great Lakes Breastfeeding Webinars. In mid-2020, MIBFN and Milk Like Mine were so honored to also layer SEMI into the ongoing MIBFN 310 Connect Calhoun County Phase II project as lead conveners of the Virtual Support Group for families of color in Detroit and Battle Creek. MIBFN’s partnership and solidarity with SEMI runs deep and we are so honored and committed to their community-based, equity-driven efforts in Southeast Michigan.
Mission: To meet the unique needs for mentorship, fellowship and profession growth of IBCLCs of Color in the Southeast Michigan region in order to supply our community with equitable access to culturally appropriate lactation support and advocacy.
Vision: Southeast Michigan families of color receive access to equitable and skilled lactation support by bridging gaps in our community.
Commitment to Community: SEMI is actively involved in collaborative efforts to support breastfeeding with other organizations of color in the SE Michigan region, such as Birth Detroit and Metro Detroit Midwives of Color. We also use our position and platforms to teach equitable lactation support practices to mainstream dominant culture healthcare providers who serve families in our community, as well as provide breastfeeding education and support to families of color.
Addressing Racial Inequities and Black Breastfeeding Rates: As an organization, SEMI endeavors to meet the unique needs for mentorship, fellowship and professional growth by IBCLCs of Color in the Southeast Michigan region, supplying the community with equitable access to culturally-appropriate lactation support and advocacy. SEMI’s members are trusted in their community to provide professional support from within the local community. To quote their members, “We are the families we serve.”
SEMI provides breastfeeding education and skilled birth and lactation support for families in the Metro-Detroit region. Their International Board Certified Lactation Consultants provide consultations with families to protect, support, and promote breastfeeding. In the face of COVID-19, SEMI members have worked diligently throughout the pandemic, addressing fears from within the community about birth and infant feeding options. During the pandemic in response to lack of access to breastfeeding education, SEMI developed a prenatal breastfeeding class curriculum to be provided to BIPOC community members, facilitated by Black IBCLCs. These classes are weekly and free of charge to those seeking breastfeeding education prior to giving birth. They also offer Holding Space: Breastfeeding and Mental Health Support during a Pandemic which is a weekly breastfeeding support group co-facilitated with mental health professionals that is accessible to BIPOC community members (Saturdays at 3pm EST, message SEMI for log-in information).
Additionally, Mama’s Mobile Milk arose out of a real need from within the Detroit community to counter the detrimental, long-lasting effects of separating infants from their breastfeeding parent due to NICU hospitalization, temporary foster care, and custodial issues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are restricting NICU patients to one visitor only. This structural barrier limits the ability for families to provide human milk for the most-fragile babies who need the life-saving properties of human milk. Research has demonstrated that racial disparity in care begins in the NICU. Black preterm infants in the NICU receive poorer care than white infants, including racial disparities in NICU use of human milk for Black infants. To meet the needs of these infants who so desperately need human milk, SEMI has developed a program to deliver milk to NICU infants and other infants separated from the breastfeeding parent in order to promote breastfeeding, speak out against maternal/infant separation, and fight racial injustice. Mama’s Mobile Milk specifically addresses health equity for Black families while fighting the high rates of maternal and infant mortality rates within the local community. SEMI has created a sustainable model for providing human milk to families, making it possible for Black families and communities to thrive.
Current Service Model & Support Services:
- Free weekly virtual prenatal breastfeeding classes for women of color residing in Southeast Michigan
- Holding Space: Breastfeeding and Mental Health Support During a Pandemic
- Individual virtual consultations
- In-home breastfeeding support
- Mama’s Mobile Milk
Leadership & Members: Jennifer Day – Feed The Babes, Michigan Breastfeeding Network, and Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color; Tameka Jackson-Dyer – Coffective, LLC, CrazyMilkLady Lactation Support Services, Metro Detroit/Wayne County Breastfeeding Coalition, and Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color; Micia Eddins – Detroit Health Department WIC Program; Sekeita Lewis-Johnson – Mommy and Me Lactation Consulting Services, Lactation Education Resources, and Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color; Shonte’ Terhune Smith – YOLO and Genesee County Breastfeeding Coalition; Renee Pearson – Ascension St. John Hospital; Mia Roetherford – Henry Ford Health System; Keana Wright
SEMI and MIBFN collaborated on the #InvestInDetroitBreastfeeding fundraising campaign, which took place from April 16, 2020 to May 9, 2020. In order to continue seeing families, SEMI needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and other sanitation items as well as lactation supplies such as breast pumps and nursing supplies. We joined with SEMI to provide financial support and the material donations they needed to do their work. Monetary contributions directly supported paid compensation for their work in addition to the necessary lactation supplies they provided families such as breast pumps and kits both manual and electric, nipple shields, and scales. The following donations of supplies were also accepted: N-95 masks, foot covers, hair covers, safety glasses, gloves, disinfectant cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer. Your support was crucial for continued birthing and breastfeeding support for Detroit families in the midst of this deadly health pandemic. Click here to view a recap report of the fundraiser.
We stand in full solidarity with Indigenous families and colleagues as we protect and promote cultural humility in our ancestral practices and reclamation as Black and Indigenous communities as we work toward decolonization.