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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color and Michigan Breastfeeding Network have been awarded $75,000 from the DMC Foundation to protect breastfeeding and mental health

MEDIA CONTACTS: 
Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color; Email: semichioc@gmail.com

Shannon McKenney Shubert, MPH, CLC, Michigan Breastfeeding Network Executive Director; Email: shannon@mibreastfeeding.org; Phone: (734) 365-6559

October 15, 2021

Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color (SEMI) and Michigan Breastfeeding Network (MIBFN) were recently awarded a $75,000 grant from the DMC Foundation with the goal of ensuring that families of color are able to access culturally-relevant, skilled support throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic regardless of economic status, providing time with lactation and mental health professionals in a safe space.

“It is encouraging that mindsets and narratives are shifting: Breastfeeding is more than a lifestyle choice,” says Lonias Gilmore, MPH, MIBFN Board of Directors. “Breastfeeding is health-promoting behavior, a public health practice tied directly with other population-level health and wellness priorities and goals, especially mental health outcomes and supports.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SEMI has continued to offer support to families both virtually and in person in birth and breastfeeding spaces despite restrictions. For birthing families, there has also been an increase in postpartum depression and mood disorders during this time of isolation and increased risk of COVID-19. An estimated 1 in 10 birthing persons experience postpartum mood disorders and mental health issues after delivery. Breastfeeding has been shown to have a positive effect on the mental well-being of both parent and baby. Lactating parents have a statistically significant lower risk of postpartum depression than those who are not breastfeeding.

"The isolation and fear created by the pandemic have been especially burdensome for Black and Brown families, and when you add in the extra pressures of birthing and breastfeeding without normal community supports, it can take a serious toll on mental and emotional wellbeing. Pairing mental health support with support for breastfeeding - which is lifesaving in health emergencies like a pandemic and also has mental health benefits for birthing parents - was a logical way for us to serve our communities' needs during this time. We are extremely grateful to the Community Foundation for helping to fund this work, " says Tameka Jackson-Dyer, BASc, IBCLC, CHW, SEMI co-founder.

Breastfeeding is an equity-centered strategy for improving mental health and access to skilled, culturally-relevant lactation support advances equitable health outcomes for families. Breastfeeding is the most cost-effective way to save infant and maternal lives, especially for families of color facing systemic racism within the healthcare and hospital systems. Breastfeeding supporters are often some of the first providers initiating conversations around mental health for families. This project meets the needs of families seeking breastfeeding support by providing a space for them to address the intersection of breastfeeding and mental health concerns. SEMI’s virtual support group, “Holding Space: Breastfeeding and Mental Health During a Pandemic,” reaches families of color statewide, providing one-on-one time with lactation and mental health professionals along with interactive time to build relationships. Making the connection between breastfeeding and mental health protection saves lives. To see breastfeeding and mental health as intertwined and dependent on one another shifts the focus to finding solutions that ensure families receive skilled lactation support that prioritizes mental health. Initiatives such as this one tailor mental health messaging with lactation support. As one participant explains, “Attending these groups has helped me reach all of my short-term goals in the middle of a global pandemic. The ladies are experts and 100% authentic. Specific mental health support was the key in me having tools to manage my stress and grief in not having the help I always thought I'd have from family and friends! I look forward to this each week! They are MY village!"

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About Michigan Breastfeeding Network
MIBFN is a 501c3 organization that collaborates with organizations and individuals to bring about actionable, system-level changes that are centered on the diverse experiences of Michigan families with young children. Our mission is to advocate, educate, and community-build alongside families and organizations for the advancement of an equitable, just, and breastfeeding-supportive culture. To learn more, visit mibreastfeeding.org.

About Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color
SEMI was founded in 2018 and was created in response to the need for skilled lactation support that reflects and represents the Black families who are pushed to the margins of our current systems. Our mission is to meet the unique needs for mentorship, fellowship, and professional 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.

About the DMC Foundation
The DMC Foundation is dedicated to promoting the welfare of the general public in the metropolitan Detroit area through the support of health-related research, education and activities that benefit the community. The DMC Foundation is a supporting organization of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Copyright © 2021 Michigan Breastfeeding Network, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Michigan Breastfeeding Network
503 Mall Court #296
Lansing, MI 48912

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