Joyea Marshall-Crowley, CBS, Protect Yourself, Protect Your Baby Program Coordinator with the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition (KBC) and coalition coordinator at the Wichita Black Breastfeeding Coalition (WBBC) had a wonderful perinatal experience in Dayton, Ohio. She shared her pregnancy and labor and delivery stories on social media, specifically advocating for midwifery care, sparking curiosities and starting conversations among her friends.
When she moved back to her hometown of Wichita, Kansas though, she realized that the health options available were lacking.
“Those options were not offered, spoken about, or supported,” Marshall-Crowley begins. “Since then, I pride myself on letting women know they have choices and are in control of their maternal healthcare.”
Marshall-Crowley’s management of “Protect Yourself, Protect Your Baby” helps provide pregnant and breastfeeding mothers of color with accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine. The focus of this project is to create a safe space to talk about vaccine hesitancies. The project includes healthcare experts of color who understand that these hesitancies come from trauma and historical incidents within the healthcare system, Marshall-Crowley explains. You can find more information here: https://ksbreastfeeding.org/covid-19-vaccine-awareness/
WBBC formed relatively early on in the pandemic. With everything shut down, Marshall-Crowley noticed that people were in a state of being still and listening. On top of that, more babies were being born, and mothers were interested in finding ways to keep their babies safe from COVID which led them to research and take more interest in breastfeeding.
WBBC is one of over 20 HealthConnect One’s First Food Equity project organizations supported in their efforts to rollout community-based projects by BIPOC leaders. [https://www.healthconnectone.org/feature-supporting-black-breastfeeding-in-wichita/]
From this funding, the #LatchedLegacy project came about.
Marshall-Crowley and other supporters uplift mothers with lactation and breastfeeding information and supplies.
“We are most proud of being a representation for women of color regarding breastfeeding support,” Marshall-Crowley shares.
WBBC has engaged in many community events this summer like The Rudy Love Music Festival, Fiesta Mexicana of Topeka, Rock the Block, and Juneteenth celebrations just to name a few.
Marshall-Crowley shares that they have received excellent feedback from the community and have been thanked many times for doing this work for the black and brown communities.
She goes on, “Since the pandemic, social media has highlighted maternal healthcare for black and brown women, and breastfeeding has entered into those conversations. The culture is undoubtedly changing and starting to include breastfeeding as a first choice for infant feeding. For Wichita specifically, there have been changes like the formation of the coalition and the creation of the “Wichita Birth Justice Society,” which highlights maternal healthcare in a full circle. As a result, women of color in our community are feeling more supported and interested in owning their own maternal health experiences.”
When WBBC started, there were no credentials in lactation within the group, Marshall-Crowley reports. Since spring though, they’ve added two certified breastfeeding specialists (CBS) working towards their IBCLC, three doula-trained workers, three Chocolate Milk Café trained facilitators, and two in the works of getting their midwifery license.
“Our vision is to become the resource and information where Black women can seek help from the coalition, people who look like them and do not have to be outsourced because of ‘credentials,’” Marshall-Crowley stated in the coalition’s HealthConnect One feature.
What’s more, the KBC accepted two of their members to the Color-Filled BF Clinical Lactation Program, so that list of credentials within the coalition will soon be updated further.
Marshall-Crowley was honored as one of USBC’s Cultural Changemaker awardees this year.
You can follow WBBC’s activity on Facebook here.