I am a native of Fayetteville, born at Cape Fear Valley Hospital and graduated from Douglas Byrd Senior High School. I received my Bachelor of Science in Accounting from THE best HBCU, Fayetteville State University (#attitudecheck) and my Master’s in Teaching from the University of Southern California.
I’ve formally been in lactation and received my lactation training at the very FIRST accredited lactation program, the Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative (MRT-TI) at UNC-Chapel Hill. I’ve been in the birth world for over six years and received my doula training through DONA International. I have been a lactation consultant for over 3 years and became a birth doula almost two years ago.
I like to think of myself as a lactation educator and advocate as I work hard to support ALL families while changing the narrative in lactation to remove barriers and improve rates for Black and brown families. I’m also always pushing to provide training for our healthcare providers so that our families benefit the best. My goal is to be a primary lactation resource for the entire community. It is why I value the community-based connections I have with our local Health Department, our military community, local healthcare providers and our Mayor & City Council. I was successful in collaborating with Mayor Mitch Colvin in getting Fayetteville designated as a Breastfeeding Friendly City which inspired our County Commissioners to do the same for Cumberland County. I value myself as a well-rounded lactation consultant trained in ALL aspects of clinical lactation care to include prenatal education, supporting premies, maternal and infant medical challenges, oral functional issues, latching issues and supporting our pumping parents.I have a passion for our NICU families and finding solutions to improving practices. I have partnered with Dr. Aunchalee Palmquist with the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute to do a research study centered around the experiences of Black mothers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. I believe that it is important for research about the Black community to be provided by Black researchers because, as Kimberly Seals Allers says all of the time, the answers are in the community. I also have a Pathway 3 Lactation Training program where I currently have FIVE students training to become lactation consultants. In order for the field to grow and there be representation, I feel compelled to do my part in educating our future lactation providers. This training includes community-based support along with cultural awareness to help our future IBCLCs become a part of changing the current narrative in the lactation profession.I am a milspouse to a supportive, patient husband. We’ve been together for almost 10 years and married for 9. I am the mother to 3 adult daughters, 1 adult son and my Bella. I have 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughters with a granddaughter due next March, 2020. I also have a very playful German Shepard named Callie. I breastfed all five of my children and 3 of my 4 grandchildren. I tell people all of the time, I was not trying to be a lactation superwoman…..I was just too lazy to prepare bottles of human milk when I had an extra breast to feed from. Although I breastfed my older children for over 12 months each, I was able to experience Full-term breastfeeding with Bella. We breastfed for 6 and a half years before stopping in June of 2019. My slogan that describes my role in providing lactation education, advocacy and support in our community is…..‘To know me is to know breastfeeding.’When I have a few spare moments here and there….I have several things I love to do. I enjoy learning about gardening and hope to do more of it next year, I love getting together with my family, I enjoy watching football 4 out of 7 days during football season. My favorite teams are the Carolina Panthers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and LSU Tigers. I love spring and fall and enjoying a nice glass of wine (or two) outside around the firepit with good Sister-friends. Due to my passion for family and work, I often take on more than I should so hang in there if you ask a question, need a resource, send an email, text me or call. I’m in the process of delegating more tasks to those around me to be more effective with my time. Because I am so busy during the week, I try really hard to devote my evenings and days off to family time. That includes trying NOT to take work home. So be patient with me. *Thank you for following my page, for sharing it with others and trusting me to help you or someone you know and love with their infant feeding journey. I am honored and so excited to see Fayetteville Breastfeeding Center grow and change as we focus on bringing breastfeeding support to the heart of Fayetteille.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, IBLCE 2017
Lactation Consultant, Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2015-2016
(Clinical sites included: UNC-CH, Wakemed-Cary, Womens Birth & Wellness Center, Randolph, Vidant, Rex and Cumberland County WIC)
Certified Lactation Counselor, Healthy Children, 2015
Masters of Arts in Teaching, University of Southern California, 2013
Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Fayetteville State University, 1993
Professional Association Memberships
Momma’s Village-Fayetteville, Director, 2016
Mom2Mom-Fort Bragg, Program Director, 2016
Black Women Do Breastfeed, Inc., Program Manager, 2014
International Lactation Consultants Association, Member, 2016
United States Breastfeeding Committee, Representative, 2016
North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, Member, 2016
North Carolina Lactation Consultants Association, Member, 2017
Breastfeeding Coalition of Cumberland County, Member, 2015
The Journey Begins
My experience with breastfeeding began over 25 years ago….I do not know how I came up with the idea to want to breastfeed. I had never seen another woman breastfeed her baby and no one in my family had breastfed their babies. It was just a natural instinct to want to feed my baby with what my body was producing for her. But it was difficult without having anyone who knew how to help through the challenging parts of breastfeeding. Without having support, I ended up giving formula when my daughter was about 2 months old. I went on to have 3 more children and successfully breastfed them all for 12 months each, which over 20 years ago, that seemed like forever to the rest of society. I did this without attending any breastfeeding support group meetings (none were available to me) and without ever having seen another woman breastfeed. I went off of natural, maternal instinct.
Fast-forward 19 years later, my oldest daughter gave birth to my first grandchild and of course breastfeeding was the feeding choice because it was all that I knew. But she had some medical issues which led to an emergency c-section and I had to aggressively advocate for her to do simple things like have my grandson go skin-to-skin and feed from her within the first few hours after birth. I could not understand why I had so much opposition to something that was so biologically natural but I had not had any formal training in lactation. I was basing everything off of natural maternal instinct. She went back to college 2 months later and we struggled trying to keep her supply up while she was in classes so she was advised by a provider to use formula. I wasn’t comfortable with that because I knew that we could try to express her milk to give to my grandson. So, we went to a lactation professional (I later found out that she was an IBCLC) and she gave my daughter a breast pump. We eventually figured out a schedule that minimized how much time she was away from my grandson so that she only had to pump once a day. Six month later, at the age of 42, I gave birth to my 5th child. By this time my daughter had been breastfeeding my grandson for 6 months. I continued to babysit my grandson with the help of her sisters. They would watch my grandson and I would feed him since I had milk now. This made it so much easier than worrying about pumping, warming and cleaning bottles.
As we continued as a breastfeeding family, I realized that the very first person that I had seen breastfeeding was my OWN daughter. In 43 years, I had NEVER seen another woman breastfeed their baby. This was also during the time that social media was on the rise (at least it was new to me) and I looked online to find other women who, looked like me, breastfeeding their babies. That is when I found the group Black Women Do Breastfeed and met Shlonda Brown. She not only introduced me to an online community of Black women breastfeeding but to the whole lactation profession. I quickly decided to become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and then decided to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). I enrolled in the Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative (MRT-TI) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where I met my CGBI (Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute) family. Catherine Sullivan and the late Dr. Miriam Labbok lit a fire in me that had me hooked and I never looked back. I went on to learn about the disparities in the Black community surrounding breastfeeding rates and maternal & infant mortality and knew that I had to do my part to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding, especially Black breastfeeding.
I was given the opportunity to create a Black breastfeeding support group under the guidance of Rebecca Costella through a grant provided by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). From there we started out doing support group meetings twice a month and we have since grown to not only provide breastfeeding meet-ups, but we have a doula collective with 9 Black doulas and partnerships with Black healthcare and mental health providers to position Momma’s Village to becoming an instrumental resource in the Black community in Fayetteville/Ft. Bragg and the surrounding areas. I also was able to start a private practice lactation business called Alpha & Omega Lactation Services which has a clinic, offers limited home visits, accepts TRICARE and Medicaid, and has a Pathway 3 Lactation Training program to increase the number of Black IBCLCs in our community. We have moved our main office to 100 Hay Street on the 6th floor of the Revolutionary Coworkers space which has allowed us to connect more with the community.
We are very excited for the future impact that our Momma’s Village-Fayetteville volunteers and workers will have on the health of our community. We have had the support of some fabulous organizations such at Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association and the Cumberland County Health Department through the ICO4MCH grant. We look forward to expanding our community partnerships as we continue to invest in maternal and child health. Please join us on our journey!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton