Camie Jae Goldhammer, LICSW, MSW, IBCLC (Sisseton-Wahpeton) is a rising star in the field of lactation! Through various unexpected turns, she has allowed her career to beautifully unfold into a unique blend of social worker, lactation consultant, and breastfeeding advocate.
Camie is the Founder and Chair of the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington; one of the Founding Mothers and President-elect of the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color; and a Consultant with MomsRising, through which she helped to bring paid family medical leave to the state of Washington. Camie is also a CHEER Consultant with our American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) CHAMPS and Mississippi CHAMPS programs, and she recently designed the first-ever Indigenous Breastfeeding Counselor (IBC) training. Through these roles, Camie has spoken nationally on the effects of historical trauma on attachment, and breastfeeding and bonding.
“I very much identify and consider my work social work,” Camie shares. “I often say I’m a social worker that does breastfeeding work. I never would have expected my career to go the way it’s gone. It’s been amazing and fun. I go where it takes me.”
Camie’s breastfeeding work began with her own breastfeeding journey. No one in her family had breastfed and she felt somewhat ambivalent. However, in those first moments of skin-to-skin followed by her daughter latching, Camie was changed forever. She started learning about the benefits of breastfeeding and the disparities in Native infant mortality rates, breastfeeding rates and access to lactation support. She began dialoguing with people and started the first Native breastfeeding organization in her state, the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington. In 2013, Camie became the first Native IBCLC in Washington.
These days, Camie travels all over the country speaking about historical trauma’s impact on attachment and breastfeeding, and how breastfeeding can bring bonding and healing. She has spoken at conferences such as the International Lactation Consultant Association, the United States Breastfeeding Coalition, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, the Kellogg First Food Forum, CHAMPS conferences, and more. Camie also spends a good amount of time working for CHAMPS, teaching clinical breastfeeding and helping hospitals become Baby-Friendly.
Camie says, “I love my work for CHAMPS. It’s been a real amazing experience for me in getting hospitals to meet their goals of Baby-Friendly. Developing the IBC training through CHAMPS has been a life goal of mine. I definitely consider it to be my life’s work. I’m grateful for the support to have been able to do it.”
There are 3 versions of Camie’s course: a 45-hour course geared towards those that self-identify as Indigenous (the IBC course); a 20-hour course for health practitioners serving Native populations and meeting Baby-Friendly requirements; and a 5-hour in-person training for health practitioners serving Native populations and meeting Baby-Friendly requirements. Read the press release for the exciting launch of the first IBC course in Barrow, Alaska!
In all her spare time, Camie spends one day a week volunteering her IBCLC skills at Rainier Valley Community Clinic’s lactation drop-in groups, where she also mentors aspiring lactation consultants free of charge. It’s no surprise Camie’s amazing work has garnered media attention. Check out these beautifully written articles from South Seattle Emerald and KUOW.org.
Congratulations, Camie, it’s wonderful to have you on our team!
This week’s CHEER Champions of the Week are the gentlemen who spoke on the “Dads of Breastfed Babies” Panel at our September 28, 2017 Mississippi CHAMPS Conference in Jackson, MS. These dads stole the show by providing candid, humorous, and touching responses to ROSE moderator Tenesha Sellers’ questions. There were many laughs and even tears in the room as the engaged hospital staff listened, cheered, and asked their own questions.
Many attendees expressed gratitude for hearing the dads’ perspectives, and left comments on the conference evaluation form such as: “Father/male panel was so informative and ‘real.’ It was so amazing to hear from the gentlemen” and “Love the dads!”
Jeffrey McLaurin is the father of 7, and shared the experience of 4 of his children who were breastfed. His wife, a former WIC Lactation Consultant, led the way.
“I didn’t know the difference until I saw it for myself,” Jeffrey shared. “My youngest daughter was breastfed for 3 years. I’m glad [my wife] opened my eyes to how wonderful breastfeeding is.” Now he and his wife are encouraging their daughter to breastfeed.
What does Jeffrey think about breastfeeding in public? “You do what you have to for your child. There’s nothing sexual; just feed the child. I’ve had people look, and I look back.”
What is his advice to other dads? “Just do it. The difference between formula and breastfeeding is night and day.”
Byron Williams made the whole room cry with his heartbreaking story of his family’s hospital experience, a C-section followed by a long separation from their baby. His wife, Briana, who is usually calm, grew “very riled up, completely out of it, and angry.”
“This was the first day my child came to earth. It was bothersome, it was a broken home. No one was coming in talking to us,” Byron said.
When they did bring the baby into the room, Briana asked, “How do I know this is my baby?”
Briana developed postpartum depression and had difficulty bonding and breastfeeding. Desperate at home, Byron called Chelesa Presley, CLC, Lactation Consultant for Tougaloo College/Delta Healthpartners Healthy Start. Chelesa came over and helped baby Violet to latch on. Immediately, Byron said, Briana sat back, relaxed and smiled for the first time since having Violet.
“Yes, yes, we’re finally here,” thought Byron to himself, overjoyed. “Before it was like seeing your child and her mother, and one of the people dying in front of you. Now there was a mother and daughter in my house again. Seeing Briana being a mother again was beautiful and inspiring. It gave me something more to push for.”
“Breastfeeding was very important to us from the get go,” shared Ryan Kelly. “I was a breastfed baby. We had challenges. My wife did not produce much. It was still important to us.”
Forrest General became Baby-Friendly between the births of Ryan’s 2 children, so he and his wife got to see first-hand the differences Baby-Friendly can make. Ryan said even though they had the same OB/GYN both times, her “philosophy changed” after the hospital became Baby-Friendly.
“Natural birth was very emphasized the second time. Our second child was in our room the whole time. We wanted him there because he is our child. To take away a child is psychologically challenging. They were substantially better 3.5 years ago versus 8.5 years ago. I would never go to a hospital that is not certified Baby-Friendly or pursuing the accreditation.”
Edward Thomas is a first-time dad who said, “I made it my business that my daughter was breastfed.” He encouraged his girlfriend to breastfeed, watched videos, assisted in getting his daughter to latch on, and helped in every way at the hospital. He joked that he was so involved at the hospital that the nurses offered him a job.
“I’ve been enjoying every moment of it,” Edward shared, “Everything is overwhelming. [Breastfeeding] makes you appreciate everything so much.”
At one point early on, his girlfriend found breastfeeding challenging and said to Edward, “I never want to do this again, but I love you.”
Edward replied, “I love you, but you’re going to do it again.”
Edward’s advice to other dads? “Ask questions and research about it. You won’t get a first-hand experience until you’re in there. Just try it.”
Congratulations, dads, and thank you for sharing your powerful experiences!
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).