In 2018, a group of individuals converged upon the MIT Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon each with the goal to inspire, educate, and inform communities about the necessity and power of lactation support for breastfeeding families. Our vision of using creativity, art, and story-telling to normalize breastfeeding, increase BIPOC in the lactation and maternal health fields, and support families along their journeys, won the Hackathon Community Connections Award by Ameda. That recognition and support has propelled our ideas into reality faster than we could have ever imagined!
WAETIE SANAA COOPER BURNETTE
It was 10 years ago when the AME Bishop, Cecelia Williams Bryant, stopped abruptly in the middle of her sermon to almost 500 parishioners at Bethel AME Church, in Jamaica Plain, MA, to call forth Waetie-Sanaa Cooper Burnette as a leader. At the time, Waetie-Sanaa had been experiencing repeated miscarriages, and, after the service, the only question she had to the Bishop was: "Will I have children?" The Bishop said, "Yes, you will have children, but what I am speaking of is much bigger than that." Waetie-Sanaa had no idea what THAT was about, but she left at peace. Her son was born later that year and a daughter three years later. They would breastfeed 7 years consecutively while she worked part time in the evenings as a caterer at the the Seaport Hotel, in South Boston, and coached parents of children under three and pregnant clients as a Home Visitor and Recruiter with Early Head Start, Randolph.
The combined real world training of being in the field with families of all walks of life balanced her many years prior studying for a Masters in Theological Studies (MTS) in Women's Health and Spiritual Formation at Andover Newton/ Yale Divinity School. Furthermore, a scholarship to become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) from Vital Village provided an early investment in practical breastfeeding support skills and a platform to write on the Daily Milk Blog gave her the initial exposure to begin writing as a maternal health blogger. Once named a Rose Community Transformer and Community Champion, she then took bigger leaps with unusual and innovative content on the BreastPowered.org Facebook page which has drawn a worldwide following. While Waetie-Sanaa was named a Mellon Mays Fellow at Wellesley College because of her potential to become a great liberal arts professor, she has thoroughly enjoyed using interdisciplinary methods to teach the world about the needs of breastfeeding families using art, politics, humor, religion, class, history, race, and popular culture from as many angles as possible. She looks forward to joining Boston University School of Social Work's incoming class this fall where she will focus her studies on how interventions with families and community support can reduce adverse childhood experiences (aces) and improve perinatal mental health.
This lovely woman has scented calming oils in her long dredds. Dominique Bellegarde is married to her chief and is mom to 4 beautiful children (2 boys ages 12 & 6, 2 girls ages 8 & 2) each of whom she breast-fed for over 18 months. She is currently nursing her youngest girl. Dominique calls herself the 'Woman of the community leaving a Legacy.” She has reached out to many families in the Haitian community and is always lending a helping hand from giving hugs, to providing community resources, to empowering mothers with encouraging and motivating words of affirmation. Dominique is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) who has worked with Women, Infant & Children (WIC) for more than 10 years as a peer counselor helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals from home and hospital visits to supportive text messaging and video chats. Dominique has received a Peer Counselor of the Year award and teaches a Breastfeeding class every other week at Codman Square Health Center for pregnant women and their partners. She also co-facilitates the well-known Baby Cafe at Codman Square Health Center with IBCLC Jenny Weaver. Dominique graduated from UMass Boston with a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services. She is currently focused on becoming a certified lactation educator and is working towards her IBCLC requisites.