Team Member Spotlight on Teffanie

Ckbuk-BUgAA3SlbThis week’s team member spotlight is on Teffanie, our lead community-based doula.  She serves our clients during their pregnancies by providing them with evidenced-based education and support.  She is there with them when they are in early labor until they are safely settled in their postpartum room and breastfeeding.  Here’s what she has to say:

my name is Teffanie Green I am the wife of one husband, a mother of five children and my family comes second in my life and God comes first.  I am a doula for the Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project and have an AA degree in business.   I also have a cosmetology license.  Obviously as you can see I love working with the public.  I am a loving and fun person and I am also trustworthy and straight forward  not perfect and nor does I know everything but I am a hard worker and I’m always willing to learn I believe a person shouldn’t no everything that way they can always be teachable and I believe I am a good leader because I am a good follower and it takes good followers to know how to lead and this is me every day all day.


Team member spotlight on Natasha

Natasha and her husband Chris
Natasha and her husband Chris
Our team member spotlight of the week is of Natasha.  She is our breastfeeding peer counselor here at the NEMS Birthing Project.  She supports and educates mothers in their choice to breastfeed their babies and is there with them every step of the way.   Here is what she has to say:
“My name is Natasha Long and I am a breastfeeding peer counselor at the Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project.  I have a college degree in computer programming as well as I have my certification as a breastfeeding peer counselor. I have five children, and it’s three girls and two boys.  What I love most about being a part of the NEMS Birthing Project is the fact that I have met an awesome group of women that are great to be around as well as they show everyone love and respect.  Great women to get advice from.   I love the support and education that I am sharing with the women in my community.  My biggest accomplishment is seeing how I have the opportunity to encourage women to have their own voice.  They have learned to  ask questions about what they don’t know or understand as well.  Also, I am getting more women to breastfeed for longer periods of time then they originally planned, and educating the family about breastfeeding.  The one thing that I would have in my bag are the balls that shows the size of a baby stomach and the reason is because most people are visual learners and when you can show them what you are talking about then you can get them to understand.  My goals as a breastfeeding peer counselor is to improve my communities premature birth rate, breastfeeding rate, to educate them with the knowledge and information, truths and myths about breastfeeding, and share my breastfeeding experience with them.
My goals in life are: to become financially stable, to show people in the community that you can do anything that you can put your mind to as long as you are willing to put in the work, to show my community to never give up and  to continue to fight for what they believe in.  In my free time I enjoy reading, playing softball, going to church, and spending time with my family and friends.  My favorite quote is: “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to forget is the happiest.”  My favorite scripture is: ” I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” The last thing that I want anyone to know about me is  I  am a loving, honest, trustworthy, loyal, straight to the point, caring person that believes in helping anyone that wants to help themselves.”
Interested in working with Natasha towards your breastfeeding goals?  Feel free to contact us at 662-269-3123 or instantly on Facebook.

New Favorite Blog…

Hey Birthing Project friends and fam! It’s been a hot, busy summer here in Tupelo, and we’ve been cooking up some content to keep you up-to-date with the latest news from our community.

This blog post about community birthworkers came across our Facebook feed this morning, and it is our everything right now:

Supporting Mothers at Risk
Supporting Mothers at Risk

I met a Bronx momma one Sunday to check in. We had a prenatal visit in her car one afternoon by a park. Reclining her driver seat back, I asked if I could touch her growing belly. I felt for baby’s back and head, showed her where and how to feel for them. She told me about this ache near her groin; I explained about the ligaments that support the uterus and how normally they aren’t stretched the way they are in pregnancy, that this can cause some pain but it’s normal. I kept touching her belly and my hands went instinctively to where it ached, massaging. I kept talking to momma about birth and that I understood why she was scared of the pain and gave her some advice about taking the last couple of weeks to disconnect from everything and focus on the last precious moments of having her child this close to her. I saw the tears. I heard the all-too common statement that rarely does she receive attention and touch in this way. I think about her and how she is one of many women who would not have this moment if it weren’t for community doula grants and organizations that advocate for every woman, regardless of finances.

You can read more at These Waters Run Deep–and trust us, you’ll want to read more. A true feeling of community and support makes a difference in the world of birth and breastfeeding–instead of rushing to give advice to a new mother, could you try more listening? Ask open questions and see what’s on her mind. That’s a good way to show someone that you care.

In peace,
Zola Pickett

February is American Heart Month!

Happy Friday the 13th! What a pre-Valentine’s day celebration, right? Red roses and black cats! Good luck charms aside, today’s blog post is a guest post from one of our community-based doulas, Teffanie, writing about heart health for babies and mamas. -Zola


There are so many problems that a baby could have before it comes into this world, and most people never think about heart disease. This is unthinkable for some people, but many babies face it every day. Heart defects are the most common, in birth they are called “congenital heart defects”. They affect 1 in 100 babies every year. These heart defects can affect the heart’s structure, how it work, or both. Heart defects develop in the early weeks of pregnancy when the heart is forming. Severe congenital heart defects are usually diagnosed during pregnancy or soon after birth. Less severe heart defects often aren’t diagnosed until children are older. No one is sure what causes most heart defects, but some things that may play a role include diabetes and obesity (being very overweight).

If you are trying to become pregnant or you are currently pregnant, you can cut down on the risk by:
**Not smoking
**Not drinking alcohol
**Talking to your healthcare provider about any medicine you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal products/supplements
**Maintain a healthy diet and exercise 30 minutes a day, if you can
**Go to all of your prenatal visits

After birth, your baby may be tested for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) as part of newborn screening before your baby leaves the hospital. All states require newborn screening, but not all states require screening for CCHD. You can ask your healthcare provider if your state tests for CCHD.

These are some signs to look for after you have had your baby that may be symptoms of heart defects:
**Fast breathing
**Gray/blue skin coloring
**Fatigue (feeling tired all of the time)
**Slow weight gain
**Swollen belly, legs or puffiness around the eyes
**Trouble breathing while feeding
**Sweating, especially while feeding
**Abnormal heart murmur (extra or abnormal sounds heart during a heartbeat)

If you see any of these signs, call your baby’s healthcare provider right away.

photo credit: Love via photopin (license)

Faith on the Winter Solstice

The day has arrived, cold and frosty like so many others.

This day, however, is short-lived. It is the Winter Solstice, the night of the year where darkness, stillness, and quietness reigns over the northern half of our globe. There are a flurry of international, intercultural holidays around the Solstice, but the Solstice is an event unto itself.


Continue reading “Faith on the Winter Solstice”

Breastfeeding, Pumping, and Working for Change

I recently came across this article about exclusively pumping breastmilk to bottlefeed babies, and the consequences it may hold for children. Possible health consequences (increased chance of contaminationforemilk/hindmilk imbalance, increased risk of ear infections) aside, this quote from the original article over at Being A Mom brought up another consideration in the discussion about exclusive pumping:

“There’s also a danger that moms will go straight for the pump and never even attempt to breastfeed their babies, and that the availability of efficient pumps will make it more difficult to argue for the importance of legislated maternity leave.”

bfing mom

Pumping is an option for mothers who MUST work to support their family, but exclusive pumping is not the ideal situation that women should strive for. Whenever women are viewed as employees first and mothers second, then the health of babies and families will suffer. Instead of making breast pumps more portable for use while working, we should return the focus to ensuring that mothers and babies receive the best start from birth. We can achieve this goal by:

  • Placing the baby on the mother’s chest after birth for skin-to-skin bonding
  • Providing patient, one-on-one support to mothers and babies breastfeeding for the first time
  • Helping the mother find breastfeeding peer support in her community once she leaves the hospital
  • Continuing to educate our friends and loved ones about the benefits of breastfeeding in order to reduce the stigma around it
  • Providing adequate, paid family leave to allow mothers to rest, heal, and establish a tight bond with their baby before returning to work

For more information about the advocacy work being done around increased family leave, visit Moms Rising to learn more about how you can contact your U.S. Senators about the FAMILY Act.

In Peace,

Quality, Equality, and Healthy Happy Babies

Friday, November 21, 2014 was the first state meeting of the newly-formed Mississippi Perinatal Quality Collaborative (MSPQC for short). Dr. Charlene Collier & the State Department of Health brought together doctors, nurses, LCs and hospital staff in order for everyone to have a seat at the table and discuss the best ways to reduce pre-term birth, reduce infant mortality, and improve birth outcomes for mothers and babies.

MSPQC logo--isn't it beautiful?
MSPQC logo–isn’t it beautiful?

There were several breakout sessions during the day, divided into three groups: family & public health care, maternal healthcare, and neonatal healthcare. I was present representing the Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project, so I was sitting in on the Family & Public Health sessions throughout the day.


Our chapter of the Birthing Project was invited by Dr. Anne Merewood of the CHAMPS breastfeeding initiative to be a part of the discussion as community health workers (doulas, breastfeeding peer counselors, and social supports). During the Mississippi CHAMPS breakout session, I was able to share some of my experiences that I have seen doing birthwork here in Tupelo and the surrounding counties. Inequality in maternal healthcare and breastfeeding is still very real, which is why it was so good to see healthcare workers stepping up and coming together to make a commitment to better, more equal practices for every mother and child.

Cathy Carothers, of Every Mother, Inc., opens the CHAMPS breakout session and introduces the speakers.
Cathy Carothers, of Every Mother, Inc., opens the CHAMPS breakout session and introduces the speakers.

After an incredible day of learning, the people who had attended the meeting gathered to decide which issues that the statewide collaborative would focus on. It was decided that hospitals & healthworkers would be supported in becoming Baby-Friendly certified (with the help of CHAMPS), shaping up the support available to families with babies in the NICU, reducing severe hypertension (high blood pressure) in pregnancy, and practicing the “Golden Hour” of skin-to-skin bonding between mother and baby after birth. Definitely some worthwhile practices!

Sassy Kleenex from Mother's Milk Bank of MS! Love 'em.
Sassy Kleenex from Mother’s Milk Bank of MS! Love ’em.

Some choice quotes from MSPQC 2014:

“We’re about to have more c-sections than routine births in Mississippi. Could we turn that around, please? … Policy changes in hospitals make a difference.”Mary Currier, MD, MPH, Mississippi State Health Officer, Mississippi State Dept of Health

“Having a patient and family representative in the room changes the conversation in every way.”
Jim Conway

“Change is disturbing when it’s done to us. Change is exhilarating when it’s done by us.”
Rosebeth Kantor