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.”
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).