Tina Benitez has been helping mothers and babies breastfeed for the past 30 years. In 1990, as a breastfeeding mother herself, she started working in one of the first WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counseling programs in California. In 1999, she became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and has worked in many settings such as public health; hospitals, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital Oakland; outpatient clinics; and in private practice.
In 2000, she developed, coordinated, and implemented the Alameda County and Contra Costa County WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program in collaboration with Alta Bates hospital and eight local WIC programs. It served as a model for the current State WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program.
Tina has trained and mentored many Breastfeeding Peer Counselors over the years, some of whom have become IBCLCs themselves. She enjoys her work mentoring Peer Counselors to provide mother-to-mother support in their own language. Currently, she works for the Native American Health Center WIC Program, serving as the IBCLC who coordinates their Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program. She is also an IBCLC for Alameda Alliance for Health.
Tina has a passion for helping mothers from underserved and culturally diverse communities. She believes that breastfeeding is a public health issue and that all mothers, regardless of their income and circumstances, should have access to the lactation support they need to succeed in reaching their breastfeeding goals.
Tina is a UC Berkeley graduate in Cultural Anthropology and also studied at La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City. She was a member of the California State Breastfeeding Committee, the California State WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Workgroup, and has been a member of the Alameda County Breastfeeding Coalition since 1997.
You can contact Tina at TinaB@nativehealth.org.
Story by Alameda County Breastfeeding Coalition