Allana Samuel: Showing Successful Outreach in Alameda County

August 28, 2019

Allana Samuel, IBCLC
County: Alameda
Affiliation: Alameda County WIC

What programs are working to increase breastfeeding support and awareness in Black communities?

Here in our county, there are many programs that are working towards this goal. Notably, our WIC programs, Blank Infant Health and our local breastfeeding support groups like Breast Friends.

What does it mean to innovate and liberate the Black Breastfeeding experience?

This theme excites me and embodies the undergird of the work we do in AABCOT, the African American Breastfeeding Cultural Outreach Taskforce. We have a dynamic space in which we have the freedom to brainstorm and image what we, as primarily African American service providers and breastfeeding advocates, feel will help and support the Black mothers we serve. Once we identify this, we can began creating and implementing ideas that we believe will make a difference. In spite of resources sometimes being a barrier, this phenomenon is liberating and it serves to positively impact the Black breastfeeding experience here in our community.

Imagine a world where Black women and families were truly listened to, supported and invested in, how would this impact the Black breastfeeding experience?

It has been said that the solutions to a community’s problems lies within the community itself. If Black mothers are listened to — their truth, their experiences and their expressed needs — we can all get a more clear understanding of both their birth and breastfeeding experiences. Moreover, if we took this understanding and then invested in it, with Black mothers and service providers working collaboratively at the forefront great things can happen. The Black breastfeeding experience would be positively impacted in a meaningful way. There is strength and sustainability in terms of ownership, effort and celebration when a group is empowered and given resources to make positive change themselves.

What can we do to ensure that all Black women and birthing individuals meet their infant feeding goals?

We can first meet them where they are, non-judgmental and with love. Then we can prepare to ask, listen and then understand what they desire around infant feeding. Once this foundation is laid, we can journey with them one step at a time for as far as they are willing to go.