As Tanya Shipley, a recent Accessing the Milky Way scholarship awardee, shares her experience working through the Lactation Counselor Training Course (LCTC) thus far, I sense both enthusiasm and relief.
“I love it!” Shipley exclaims. “I am learning so much stuff, oh my gosh, I love it. I am just in awe.”
She goes on to explain that while she has always been interested in women’s health and wellness, she only became interested in maternal child health after her 35-year-old daughter’s pregnancy and birth this year.
Not unlike many women, and especially BIPOC women, Shipley’s daughter did not receive competent lactation care in the hospital.
“She was really bummed about it,” Shipley begins. “When she got home, she was having issues because she thought that she wasn’t producing enough milk. She felt like she let the baby down.”
Shipley blames some of what was lacking on her “own ignorance” as the grandmother.
At one point Shipley recalls suggesting: “Why don’t you just [give the baby] a little formula right now because she’s hungry.”
“It bothers me today because everything I am learning now,” Shipley reflects. “It didn’t have to be that way.”
Shipley circles back to how much she is learning through the LCTC. This is where I hear a sense of relief in her tone; she is now well-equipped to share the knowledge she gains with not only new families but women her age, so that they can help their children, as she explains. It’s well-known that grandmothers have the capacity to influence exclusive breastfeeding. [More here and here.]
“After I finish a module, I will call my daughter and I will share with her some of the things I am learning,” Shipley says.
Shipley recently left the entertainment industry and started volunteering for the Happy Mama Health Baby Alliance and Joy in Birthing Foundation. She also completed a birth doula workshop and finds herself exploring where she can make the biggest impact. She’s considering starting her own non-profit and providing lactation care in the hospital setting, fueled by the lack of care that her daughter received.
You can read more about grandmothers’ influence on infant feeding in For many, grandmothers are the village.