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Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition hosts 3rd annual ‘Night Out’ in celebration of National Breastfeeding Month and World Breastfeeding Week

Written by  IntheNOLA.com
At IntheNOLA.com, we are BIG supporters of breastfeeding (we loved the #NOLANursingNook at Essence Fest this year with Nurse Nikki). Providing even more support for breastfeeding mothers is the Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition (GNOBAC), whose “mission is to increase awareness of the benefits of and support for breastfeeding in the lives of mothers, children and families in Louisiana, and to partner with other organizations in creating a community that values the support and promotion of breastfeeding as the standard for optimal infant health and development.”
Jennifer Macias, Executive Director of GNOBAC, became involved with the organization after not receiving breastfeeding support at her job. “I was working for a company that was not breastfeeding-friendly due to a lack of understanding and information,” she explained. “However, this is the ‘norm’ in our community. I knew I wanted to make a change and GNOBAC was the conduit with which I was able to assist other breastfeeding mothers and bring valuable education to our community.”
 
Teresa Arrington, GNOBAC Board Member and Interim President, echoed Jennifer’s sentiments. “I’d always believed in the importance of breastfeeding and I fell in love with what GNOBAC stands for - normalizing breastfeeding and supporting New Orleans families!”
 
GNOBAC’s presence is a welcome one in New Orleans. “As the Executive Director and Certified Lactation Counselor for GNOBAC,” Jennifer explained, “I am able to assist with education for breastfeeding to families and businesses, and I am part of the tide that is creating the change to normalize breastfeeding in our culture. Over the years, GNOBAC has provided crib cards and infant tape measures to local hospitals to reinforce breastfeeding education for their staff as well as their patients and we create a breastfeeding campaign along the transit lines to help promote and normalize breastfeeding each year. In addition, we also have ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here’ campaign, where we go door to door to local public establishments and have them pledge to support breastfeeding in their businesses. Over 150 signed pledges have been accumulated to date! We also participate in Community Health Fairs that provide an open forum for information and services to new moms.”

GNOBAC will be hosting its 3rd Annual Night Out on Thursday, July 28 at Southport Hall (200 Monticello Ave.) to help continue to support its mission and in celebration of National Breastfeeding Month (August) and World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7). “We always have so much fun at this event!” smiled Jennifer. “New Orleans funk rock band Noisewater will entertain you all evening and your taste buds will be satisfied by local cuisine provided by Copeland’s of New Orleans, Bravo! Cucina Italiana, Reginelli’s Pizzeria, Royal House Oyster Bar, Zea’s, Cypress Cafe & Catering, Melius Bar & Grill, and more! Kendra Scott will also host a trunk show where 20% of the proceeds will benefit GNOBAC in addition to our silent auction, which is available online as well as at the event.”
 
Jennifer added, “Attending this fundraiser for GNOBAC is vital to the organization. In previous years, this fundraiser has been the single most important event for the coalition to raise funds for our projects. Our sponsors and donors, especially AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana and Ochsner Health System, have been very supportive and our gratitude to them is unending. This event would not be possible without them. I would encourage moms to get out and let their hair down for a night to celebrate all they do for their families!”
 
Both Jennifer and Teresa had their ‘rounds’ with breastfeeding, which made them all the more invested in GNOBAC. “With my first child, I went from a supportive breastfeeding work environment to a completely unsupportive one,” said Jennifer. “I was offered to pump in the bathroom, harassed about ‘still’ nursing my son who was 14 months old, and scrutinized for every second of my legally afforded two 15-minute breaks that I used for pumping. Even though I no longer work for that company, I don't regret working there for two short months. The culture of that employer taught me how much our community truly needs the education of the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of support in the workplace.”
 
She continued, “With my second child, breastfeeding was more difficult. We had latch issues, trouble gaining weight, reflux, and gas. As a breastfeeding professional, I still needed to seek help.  We overcame the obstacles and we are doing wonderfully now. I encourage mothers to attend breastfeeding classes and support groups while they are pregnant to gather as much information as possible. Seek out, interview, and select a pediatrician who is supportive of breastfeeding. It's important to surround yourself with people who are going to be supportive of your decision to nurse your child. Be confident with your decisions as a mother. And finally, trust in your body. A woman’s body was designed to create and sustain life. There may be challenges ahead, but there are plenty of resources available to help you through it.”
 
For Teresa, although breastfeeding came easily, an unexpected tragedy hit her family. “My breastfeeding experience was blessedly easy with my son,” she said. “Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly when he was 9 months old. One thing that helped me to deal with my grief was to know that I could use his life and story to help others, and breastfeeding played a part in that. I was able to become a milk donor for the Mother’s Milk Bank of Austin, and knowing that his milk helped to save other lives really soothed the hurt. I was blessed with a daughter in 2011 and my breastfeeding experience was very rocky with her. She refused to latch well in the first two weeks after birth and I felt like such a failure because I couldn’t understand how a self proclaimed ‘breastfeeding pro’ could struggle so much with something that was so natural and easy the last time around. Thanks to lots of dedicated help from the Ochsner lactation consulting team, she and I got the hang of breastfeeding for the months that followed.”
 
Teresa added, “At about 7 months old, she started to refuse me completely, and though I worked with a certified lactation consultant, we were never able to overcome that hurdle. I think that having to formula feed for one of my children actually gives me great perspective. So many people in the breastfeeding community are unable to relate to the emotional roller coaster that comes along with those wanting to breastfeed and having the process simply not work for whatever reason.”
 
Teresa concluded, “I would love to be an encouraging voice for all women who are considering breastfeeding. I also want to be here to support women with the breastfeeding related struggles that they may find difficult - the painful engorgement, the leaking, the supply shortage, the latching issues, being chained to a breast pump, the inability to get away for long periods. It is my wish that we can create a community in which every mother was educated about breastfeeding, and where moms who decide to breastfeed have the support they need to be successful with it.”
 
For those of you interested in supporting breastfeeding in our community, consider becoming a member of the Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition to help further their mission. And, of course, we hope to see you out at the 3rd Annual Night Out!



WHAT: GNOBAC’s 3rd Annual Night Out
 
WHEN: Thursday, July 28 (7:00pm-10:00pm)
 
WHERE: Southport Hall (200 Monticello Ave.)
 
BUY TICKETS!

Last modified on Friday, 15 July 2016
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