By Dylan Deprey
A group of mothers, fathers and children formed a circle under the Carver Park pavilion. The sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds floating in the distance because a storm had just rolled through hours earlier. The scent of burning sage danced through the humid air, cleansing the park of any negative energy. A group made their way to a nearby tree.
“Big Mama,” said a woman as water was poured onto the tree. Other names were said, and more water was poured.
“Ashe,” mumbled the rest of the group, all of whom were participating in the African Tradition of Libation. Then in an almost Lion King-like fashion parents hoisted their infants as high as possible. As tiny legs kicked and heads bobbled in Milwaukee, parents across the country also lifted their children in the spirit of holistic health.
The rain was no match for the African American Breast Feeding Network (AABN) as they participated in the nationwide Lift Up Every Baby (LUEB) event on Aug. 27. It was Technically AABN’s second year participating in the event, but last years event was cancelled due to heavy rain.
The event was an opportunity for AABN to promote holistic health for newborns, children and pregnant mothers throughout the community. Since 2008, the AABN has spread awareness for the health benefits of breast-feeding as well as finding resources for pregnant mothers.
Dalvary Blackwell, cofounder of AABN, said that the benefits of breast milk single-handedly outweighed those of formula. The “living cells,” proteins, enzymes and nutrients are especially needed for mothers who deliver their babies well before the due date.
“The dialogue is different in neonatal care,” Blackwell said. “They are not asking mothers to breast feed, they are telling them to.”
She added that with the average cost of a breast pump sitting in the $400 range, the AABN provides breast pumps for mothers with children in the NICU.
Although the AABN hosted the event, breastfeeding was not solely the forefront. Instead all aspects of a healthy baby were in the spotlight. Other community resource groups like Mommy and Me Prenatal Care Coordination and Walnut Way came out to show support for healthy mothers and infants.
Chapelle Brunson, owner and operator of Mommy and Me Prenatal Care Coordination attended LUEB. She said that Mommy and Me provides state insured mothers-to-be with a prenatal care coordinator to assist them throughout before and after the birth of their child up until the age of 7-years-old. Coordinators meet with mothers at least once a month to make sure they have the all the necessities for a healthy child.
“Our main thing is to make sure you have everything you need before the baby comes,” Brunson said.
Rep. David Bowen also present for the event. He serves on the state assembly as well as on the advisory council for the AABN. Bowen said that joining the AABN was an outside-the-box opportunity for him to interact with the community as well as step out of his comfort zone.