Andrea Borda, SB is a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor II for the Mississippi Department of Health’s District 5 WIC program in Hinds County. She began working for the MS Department of Health WIC program in 2008 as a Peer Counselor I, and advanced to a Peer Counselor II in 2011. She is currently studying to become a Certified Lactation Counselor. Andrea teaches breastfeeding classes, provides information to mothers prenatally, and helps mothers to breastfeed once they have their babies. She works closely with local hospitals, especially CHAMPS hospital University of MS Medical Center in Jackson, MS. Andrea recently participated in a CHAMPS site visit at Merit Health Woman’s Hospital in Flowood, MS, where her input was much appreciated!
Originally from Colombia, Andrea is bilingual in English and Spanish, and a great resource for the growing Hispanic population in her district. CHAMPS asked Andrea about her perspective on working with Hispanic mothers, and Andrea replied: “Our big barrier is formula. Sometimes mothers come to the United States and think that if they receive free formula, they have to use it. So we explain that the natural way is to breastfeed, and we explain the benefits of breastfeeding…We also talk about everything about [the birthing] experience, including skin-to-skin. It’s something they haven’t heard about before; it’s something new. They are open and really like the idea to try it. We approach people with new information and they really like it.”
Andrea is excited about the changes she is seeing in Mississippi, with more hospitals on the pathway to become Baby-Friendly. She would like to see breastfeeding become the norm; for her community to become educated, knowledgeable, and supportive of breastfeeding; and for breastfeeding rates to increase. She shares: “It would be great if everybody exclusively breastfed. But just getting them to try [breastfeeding] would be great. They are afraid to try. When we are pregnant we hear [about] everyone else’s experience. But to have your own experience is different. We want to give people the chance to try. If it doesn’t happen with the first baby maybe they will try with the second one.”
What does Andrea love most about her job? “To help people. When a mom comes and says thank you so much—just to hear that is…amazing. To help mothers is a nice feeling. That’s what I love about it.”
Jennifer is a student at Blackfeet Community College in Browning, Montana and an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe. She recently attended an AI/AN CHAMPS Breastfeeding Clinical Skills course held at Blackfeet Community College, and she is a photo model for CHAMPS’s reframing breastfeeding education work in the American Indian/Alaska Native community.
Jennifer shares: “I attended [the CHAMPS breastfeeding] training because for a long time, I felt I was the only one who felt that breastfeeding was much more important than it seemed to be around Browning. Especially in the Native community. I enjoy breastfeeding and love to share my experience and thoughts with others.”
Jennifer has one daughter, Camrynn Bear Medicine, whom she successfully breastfed for 2 years and 7 months! Jennifer graduated from Browning High School / Blackfeet Learning Academy last year, where she balanced being a student and nursing mom. Browning High School / Blackfeet Learning Academy does not have a formal policy to protect lactating students, but plans are underway. Nevertheless, Jennifer says she felt “totally safe” as a nursing mother at school. She sometimes breastfed her daughter in class, though she feels sure nobody noticed. Other times, she would step out momentarily to breastfeed in a private room. “I think a formal policy to protect nursing mothers at school/work is necessary, a great idea! Some people don't understand breastfeeding, I believe a policy will help with that,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer is pursuing studies to become a coroner. She enjoys swimming and has been learning how to hunt for the first time this year. She also loves breastfeeding: “It’s been one of the most amazing journeys of my life, breastfeeding my daughter. It taught me a lot, things like commitment and perseverance…My favorite part of breastfeeding was the bond I was able to share with my daughter, I'll never forget this experience.”
Linda Tuggle, RNC-OB, BSN, is Clinical Director of Maternity Services at Methodist Olive Branch Hospital (MOBH) in Olive Branch, Mississippi. MOBH recently began their Baby-Friendly journey and is in the Development phase of the 4-D pathway. Linda was nominated as CHAMPion of the Week for her role in getting the Baby-Friendly process going and for her outstanding leadership regarding Baby-Friendly!
“It makes me very proud to know we are doing the right thing for our patients!” Linda shares. “We are a three hospital system, so we hope to be the first in our system to become designated."
Linda shares that she is fortunate to work within a patient- and family-centered culture at MOBH. She says, “When I presented [the idea of Baby-Friendly] to senior leadership, they were excited and supportive of our efforts. I also have a very engaged staff who have breastfed themselves so they are willing to provide this for our patients. They witness the improved patient outcomes; this is an incentive for them to continue this process.”
Linda says that by beginning to implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, they are already seeing improvements in their breastfeeding rates, and their skin-to-skin rates for vaginal deliveries are also improving. She credits CHAMPS with helping them to achieve these improvements through education, support, and the sharing of ideas.
Linda has been a labor and delivery nurse for 24 years. Now that she is Director, she says she misses “being at the bedside every day,” but “enjoys the ability to provide everything my staff needs to render safe, high quality, evidence-based care to our patients.”
What personally motivates Linda to do this work? She says, “Having breastfed myself and witnessing the bond and love that occurs with this process, I didn’t need much convincing. I also understand the benefits of breastfeeding—that was enough to sell me on it! I will continue to support my team on this because I know it’s best for our moms and babies.”
Dorothy (“Dot”) Clowers, BA, CLD works both as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor 2 for the Mississippi Department of Health District IV WIC program, and as a certified labor doula. She is also a La Leche League (LLL) leader and a volunteer breastfeeding and babywearing educator for Starkville Pregnancy Center. Dot recently participated in a CHAMPS site visit to North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point in West Point, MS, where her input was very valuable and appreciated!
Dot shares: “My jobs and hobbies are my passion; I always heard it was possible. I'm incredibly thankful every day. In all these roles I offer support, encouragement, and information to women. I think I am most grateful to my teachers and mentors who constantly inspire me. I love learning and sharing what I've found.”
Dot’s various roles intertwine and complement each other. As a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor 2, Dot offers breastfeeding education and talks with moms prenatally about their pregnancy and WIC breastfeeding services. After delivery, she often visits them in the hospital or at home to help with latching and to issue breast pumps when needed. As a doula, Dot serves women and their partners during pregnancy, labor, delivery and early postpartum. She provides them with physical, emotional and informational support, and helps them make informed decisions.
“Everyone likes to tell a pregnant lady what they should be doing,” Dot says. “I love hearing as the moms shift through all these often conflicting ideas and a settle upon a way of feeding their baby that works for them. Any decision means more when you reach it yourself, and I love to answer questions and just be present as needed through their pregnancy. You have to be dedicated to make it through those first days of breastfeeding. I recently read 90% of moms have breastfeeding struggles the first week. I'm thankful my job exists so I can help with that as I can. As it should be, the moms are so proud to be giving their babies the healthiest, happiest start through breastfeeding.”
Dot’s first-born son, Colt, recently turned 2, and Dot is proud to have reached her goal to breastfeed him for 2 years. She attributes her success to: the support she received from the hospital during the first few days; her husband, Kade; her family and mother; LLL moms; her coworker Jennifer Briggs, CLC, for making it easier to pump and return to work; her own WIC Breastfeeding Counselor 3 Bonnie Myers, CLC, who, she says, inspires her daily; and her son himself. It truly takes a community to support a breastfeeding mom!
Congratulations, Dot, for the wonderful work you are doing and for your own breastfeeding journey!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each week, 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).