Amanda Singer, CLC is an AI/AN CHAMPS Consultant, Chair of the Navajo Nation Breastfeeding Coalition (NNBC), and member of the Navajo tribe. She has advocated for breastfeeding within Navajo Nation for years and worked as a Navajo Nation WIC Peer Counselor for 10+ years. Amanda was part of the team that advocated for “The Navajo Nation Healthy Start Act of 2008,” to support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace, which successfully became Navajo Nation law. She recently resigned from WIC to complete a degree in justice studies with a focus on women and children’s rights, and plans to apply her studies to breastfeeding advocacy.
Amanda’s work for CHAMPS intertwines with her work as Chair of NNBC. She visits communities within Navajo Nation, assesses their needs, spreads the word about NNBC, and connects families to breastfeeding resources. Now that all Indian Health Service and tribal hospitals within Navajo Nation are Baby-Friendly, Amanda’s main focuses are sustaining Baby-Friendly practices and building collaborations/a referral system between hospitals and community organizations to increase breastfeeding duration (Step 10 of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding). Her goal is to ensure families have contact with a WIC peer counselor or other support service a few days post discharge. Breastfeeding initiation rates are currently high in Navajo Nation, but at 2 weeks duration begins to drop.
When asked what dreams Amanda has for future changes related to breastfeeding in Navajo Nation, Amanda replied: “That’s a good one. I have a lot.” These dreams include: starting a breastfeeding peer counselor program not affiliated with WIC in order to increase the number of peer counselors (WIC only has 2 for all of Navajo Nation); making NNBC into a 501c3 and increasing its size so that it can support positions that are paid full- or part-time; creating a fatherhood program; and “more than anything”—transforming Navajo Nation into a breastfeeding-friendly community, which could include the elderly receiving education to become breastfeeding supporters and where “everyone works with each other for the benefit of babies.” Amanda is currently looking at the New Zealand model, which is interesting to her in part because it includes aboriginal people.
Amanda’s experiences as a WIC peer counselor motivate her to advocate for breastfeeding mothers. Amanda shares, “Some moms would be crying or on the brink of quitting because they didn’t have support. Navajo moms are quiet and don’t speak out because of issues. I would end up crying with them. I know how they felt. I breastfed my own 4 babies and have had my own hardships with breastfeeding. Support was at the hospital and at home I had no support. I want to be a voice for breastfeeding moms.”
CHAMPS congratulates our newest team member, Julia “Nikki” Hannon, M.Ed., for the incredible work she is doing to support breastfeeding within the Browning Public Schools (BPS) in Montana! Nikki will be joining our AI/AN CHAMPS project as a consultant, specifically working on drug prevention and breastfeeding in the Blackfeet community. She brings a wealth of experience in education, counseling and advocacy!
Nikki is the Student Support Coordinator for BPS’ Alternative Education Department and a descendent of Blackfeet and Little Shell tribes. She serves as a school counselor for Native American students at risk of dropping out of high school, and works to support pregnant and parenting teen students to pursue their education. Nikki says, “I am truly inspired by the young mothers who wish to breastfeed their children and I strive to create an environment which supports their decision.”
Nikki is currently advocating for a “Breastfeeding in the Workplace” policy, which she has submitted to the BPS Board of Trustees. It consists of baseline expectations required by Montana law for school districts to encourage and accommodate breastfeeding employees. This policy would lay the foundation for future protections of lactating students in BPS’ district, and could potentially result in 14 lactation rooms (1 in each building across the district) for lactating employees and students.
Nikki is also developing a local student policy to support lactating young mothers in school. This policy will mirror the employee policy with the addition of allowing students the opportunity to complete work missed due to the need to breastfeed and/or pump. Nikki shares: “The next step is to create a campaign to promote breastfeeding in Blackfeet country and to share this message across Montana's other reservations and tribal communities. We would ultimately like to see tribal resolutions and state laws adopted to support our pregnant and parenting teen population in their decision to breastfeed.”
Nikki’s personal motivation to support young breastfeeding mothers began with her challenging journey to stay in graduate school while pumping for her premature daughter. She has also raised 3 young children while working at BPS, her experiences and learning often happening alongside her students. “There were several years there where my students and I would take turns using my office as a lactation room; it was just as encouraging to me as it was to them to have a safe and welcoming place that reinforced the decision to breastfeed,” shares Nikki.
Nikki would like to thank Kirsten Krane, AI/AN CHAMPS Project Manager, for encouraging her to follow this path and introducing her to CHAMPS. Welcome, Nikki, we are excited to have you join our team!
Congratulations to CHAMPS Hospital OCH Regional Medical Center in Starkville, Mississippi, the only facility in Mississippi to win the prestigious 2016 IBCLC Care Award! The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® and the International Lactation Consultant Association® are the 2 organizations to present this award. To qualify, community health facilities or hospitals must staff a currently licensed International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and complete a documented, evidence-based project to support lactation within the past 2 years.
OCH Regional Medical Center’s qualifying project was their recent skin-to-skin initiative. OCH was accepted into CHAMPS in October 2015. At that time, they were doing skin-to-skin care after birth for anyone who requested and was considered to be eligible. After they joined CHAMPS, they made the decision to track 100 samples to see why certain patients were not eligible for skin-to-skin, to determine whether they were doing everything they could to offer it to the most patients possible. In October, they also started to educate their staff on skin-to-skin as the recommended practice, and in January 2016, they started offering skin-to-skin for all vaginal deliveries and some c-sections. Prior to this initiative, OCH’s breastfeeding initiation rates were around 52%. Now, their monthly initiation rates are over 60%, and 62% in April 2016. Paula Hamilton, RNC-OB, IBCLC, CHAMPS Team Lead and Perinatal Educator/Facilitator at OCH, believes their initiation rates will increase even further once they start offering skin-to-skin for more c-section deliveries.
This is not the first time OCH has won the 2-year IBCLC Care Award. In 2014, they won it for their breastfeeding support group, which is still active. OCH also houses an outpatient lactation clinic staffed by Paula and WIC peer counselors. Any mother can come to the clinic on an outpatient basis, which creates a seamless referral system between labor & delivery and postpartum follow-up care. Other lactation support services at OCH include a beautiful employee lactation room, breastfeeding hotline, and annual Breastfeeding Fair. OCH recently joined the 4-D Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative pathway and is preparing to enter the Development phase soon!
Other recipients of the 2016 IBCLC Care Award include CHAMPS hospitals William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas and Christus Santa Rosa - New Braunfels in New Braunfels, Texas. Congratulations!!
In the past several years, 16 Indian hospitals (both Indian Health Service and tribal) have become Baby-Friendly! CHAMPS and Baby-Friendly USA Executive Director Trish MacEnroe, BS, CDN, CLC personally congratulated these hospitals at this week's AI/AN CHAMPS Conference, "The Second Indian Country Breastfeeds Conference: Sustainability and Support" in Albuquerque, New Mexico!
The 2-day conference covered topics relevant to American Indian and Alaska Native breastfeeding communities, including mothering through trauma, breastfeeding and illicit drug use, food sovereignty, sustaining the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, reforming breastfeeding education, and breastfeeding-friendly communities.
Please join us in honoring the following 16 Baby-Friendly Indian Health Service and tribal hospitals!
Blackfeet Community Hospital, Browning, MT
Cherokee Nation W. W. Hastings Hospital, Tahlequah, OK
Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility, Chinle, AZ
Claremore Indian Hospital, Claremore, OK
Crownpoint Health Care Facility, Crownpoint, NM
Gallup Indian Medical Center, Gallup, NM
Hopi Health Care, Polacca, AZ
Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, NM
Phoenix Indian Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ
Pine Ridge PHS Indian Hospital, Pine Ridge, SD
Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility, Belcourt, ND
Rosebud Indian Health Service Hospital, Rosebud, SD
Tsehootsooi Medical Center, Fort Defiance, AZ
Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp., Tuba City, AZ
Whiteriver Indian Health Service, Whiteriver, AZ
Zuni Comprehensive Health Center, Zuni, NM
Enjoy the following photos from the conference:
CHEER Champion of the week
Each Monday (besides public holidays), we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the work they have done for CHEER (Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research)/CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices).