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Breastfeeding is the best feeding for infants early in life. I understood that to be true when I was pregnant with my first son over 10 years ago. Being pregnant with him, I could not be more excited about two things: having a healthy baby and breast-feeding him. Unfortunately my first pregnancy came with complications as I was diagnosed with a rare tumor condition that left my doctors questioning if I would be able to breastfeed. This was devastating to me.

During my pregnancy I sought out several experts and professionals on both my rare tumor condition as well as breast-feeding. No one was able to answer my questions, and I felt I was going to fail at giving my child the best healthy start. I also began to question the healthcare system and available community resources on breastfeeding. As I got closer to delivery, I maintained the fortitude to get as much information about what I was going to need to breast-feed. Was I going to need breast pads? Was I going to need a pump? I also took a breast-feeding class and purchased as many breastfeeding aids imaginable to prepare me for this new venture.

On December 17, 2004 I delivered a healthy baby boy. I was blessed that I was able to slowly produce breastmilk. The next challenge was having the proper latch to successfully breastfeed. After months of endless pumping and painful latches I was able to breastfeed my son for just about three months. During my second pregnancy I was fortunate not to have the tumor issue; however, I did have the pain and discomfort from the incorrect latch, which led to nearly 6 months of breastfeeding in pain.

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Through my personal experience, I realized that women with latching issues need support in our community and that overall awareness of issues relating to breastfeeding didn’t exist. As a result, moms stop breastfeeding prematurely and infants who would benefit the most end up suffering. This experience led me to found the non- profit organization BOOBS – Breastfeeding Outreach for Our Beautiful Sisters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to community outreach and reaching low income and African American women in our community with breastfeeding education and support.

National Healthy People 2020 goals intend to have breastfeeding initiation rates at 81%. Currently, only 62% of African American mothers (particularly low income) report initiating (ever breastfeed) breastfeeding compared to 81% of non-Hispanic White mothers (www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding). Moreover, there is even a wider gap of moms who are low income that are less likely to have “ever” breastfed at a reported rate of 78% (www.childtrends.org). This is of grave concern to our community as the infant mortality for this population is higher and babies are dying at an unnecessary alarming rate. Furthermore, breastfeeding is one healthy practice that can help our babies thrive up to and past the age of 1.

BOOBS works with community partner agencies such as Cincinnati Hamilton County Head Start program, Health Care Access Now, Life Forward Pregnancy Care of Cincinnati, Healthy Moms and Babes, Smart Start program and Hayes- Porter (Cincinnati Public Schools) Elementary to provide training, education and awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding. We are constantly developing new partnerships within the area. One of our goals is to reach as many African American women on the benefits of breastfeeding across the Tri-State. And help mitigate the alarming rates of infant mortality through outreach.

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We host an annual community baby shower (interactive shower) where moms can come and gain education and awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding. BOOBS also strives to increase community awareness by participating in community events, such as community showers, health fairs and serving as a local expert on breastfeeding panels. BOOBS can provide latching counseling assistance and has a direct link to other IBCLC resource specialists in the community. BOOBS trainings, pregnant moms groups and other community events are located on our website calendar.

BOOBS will continue to grow throughout Cincinnati. We welcome community partners to work together to connect with moms and to help moms have the best healthy start for their newborns and their families. We also welcome volunteers to help with community functions and outreach. In addition, the organization is a 501 © 3 non profit organization and gladly accepts donations to help support the many outreach initiatives in the community.

For more information, please visit our website.

Janelle McClain Richardson, MHPA, CLC, PhD (2017)

contact@breastfeeding-boobs.com

513.45B.OOBS