Breaking breastfeeding boundaries

Shining Mountain Health and Wellness’s Registered Dietician Nutritionist, Lisa Smith leads the way at the Breastfeeding Awareness Walk held Thursday, Aug. 15. Participants were chanting breastfeeding anthems as they walked around Tribal Campus.
Shaw Marie Tso talks about breastfeeding and the Shining Mountain Health and Wellness Breastfeeding Program and what they offer the community, during the Breastfeeding Awareness Walk held Thursday, Aug. 15.
Tribal elder Misty Jefferson, with great granddaughter Vesper Abeyta, pick out chocolate or vanilla breast cupcakes to eat and enjoy after walking around Tribal Campus.
Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum
Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum
Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum

Breastfeeding is the first form of food after a woman gives birth. Native Americans often believed, and still do, that in Native American communities, being breastfeed also nourishes the soul, spirit and is believed to be a tradition that predates human history.

“We believe that breast milk doesn’t just nurture babies, it conveys a mother’s life story, including her knowledge and culture,” siad Amanda Singer, President of the Navajo Nation Breastfeeding Coalition in the news story, “Reclaiming breastfeeding in Indian Country.”

Right here in our own backyard we have breastfeeding champions of our own. Shining Mountain Health and Wellness and their Breastfeeding Program strives to be an inclusive group to support all community members, their breastfeeding and family needs.

“I’m happy and I feel great when a mom catches on with her breastfeeding,” exclaimed Shaw Marie Tso, Certified Lactation Counselor for Shining Mountain Health and Wellness.

Starting from scratch four years ago and becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Tso is now the only one left who is certified. Two years ago, Shining Mountain Health and Wellness took over the breastfeeding program, with Tso leading the way.

“We are trying to overcome culturally; the challenges people are facing in this era,” Tso explained.

Now funded by the Good Health and Wellness Grant, the breastfeeding program has monthly meetings on different topics: parenting, breastfeeding, classes for moms and new parents. Tso also gets referrals from the Southern Ute Health Center for new moms and expecting moms and is determined to make a difference in the breastfeeding game.

“We trying to promote breastfeeding normality,” explained Tso. “It’s a normal thing for babies.”

Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation has been donating breastmilk to babies in need here in La Plata County through their Mother’s Milk Bank located in Arvada, Colo.

Earlier this year Mercy Medical Center in Durango, Colo. opened up a breast milk donation facility serving as a human donation and outreach center. Now, moms are able to give to their community by donating their breastmilk to those in need right here in our own county and throughout the United States by delivering their frozen milk to Mercy Medical Center.

“I’m hoping when they see these kids who are [considered] “failure to thrive” they give them breast milk,” Tso said.

There are perks for both moms and babies when breastfeeding. Breast milk has everything a new born baby needs and according to Web MD it contains antibodies that fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding also lowers your babies’ risk for asthma or allergies.

Moms also benefit from breast feeding. It helps with losing post baby weight, helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may also lower your risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

Following the steps of the Southern Ute Growth Fund and Sky Ute Casino, with help and information from Shining Mountain Health and Wellness, the Permanent Fund is now taking steps to get a new policy put in place to for new moms who pump.

“We have a lactation room available for community members and employees to use, instead of them having to go home or pump in their cars,” Tso stated.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 30, 2010 which included Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which requires an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.

In Colorado, legislation states that a mother can breastfeed in any place she has the right to be, including the workplace.

“Through our proposed policy update, we like to see an extended time during the day to allow moms to get to and from a comfortable breastfeeding area,” Tso said.

Working hard in our community to destigmatize breastfeeding and give moms and parents the tools needed to be successful in this quest, Shining Mountain Health and Wellness is open and willing to give advice as well as receive it.

“Our doors are always open, even if you just want to come see our lactation room,” Tso said.

 

For more information on the Shining Mountain Breastfeeding Program and free breastfeeding pumps please contact Shaw Marie Tso at 970-563-2163.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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