I don’t have children yet, but like most people, I learned nearly everything I know about parenting from my parents.
I grew up watching them and learning from them. I have taken note of their good strategies and of the things I might do differently with my kids. My husband and I will mash together our experiences of having been parented and morph them into our own version of parenting someday.
However, being a caregiver for my mom, Holly, immediately before and after her double-lung transplant gave me unique insight into caring for another person. My dad, Ed, and Aunt Shari were also part of the care team. We worked together to carry out responsibilities both related to and separate from my mom’s immediate care.
Black women have the lowest rate of successful breastfeeding in the United States. On average, we also breastfeed for the shortest period of time across racial and ethnic groups—just over six weeks. The complex cultural and institutional barriers that undermine our success are exactly why the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee is now commemorating the seventh annual Black Breastfeeding Week.
Given the tremendous health benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mother, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidance encourages willing and able mothers exclusively nurse during the first six months of a child’s life. For far too many Black mothers, however, cultural stigma and a lack of access to quality healthcare and family-friendly workplace policies systematically prevent us from holding the power to decide for ourselves.
Next month, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 will kick off a program intended to reduce the number of infant sleep-related deaths in Jackson County.
Set to begin Sept. 15, the Direct On Scene Education — DOSE — program will see District 3 firefighters and paramedics removing potential hazards from infant sleeping environments and handing off education kits when they respond to both emergency and nonemergency calls at homes where a child younger than 1 resides or where a family is expecting.
“Basically it’s an avenue for first responders to educate family members, parents, babysitters, grandparents on safe sleep practices for infants,” said Fire District 3 firefighter-paramedic Kelly Harrington. “And these are not safe sleep practices that just kind of came out of the box, out of anywhere. They’re years and years of study, and also years and years of study on infant-related deaths.”