Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2012 Breastfeeding Mother of Color of the Month: Maria Galvan-Briseno

The month of April is very dear to us because one of our founders has a birthday this month and the other founder's mother's birthday is in the month of April as well. So, it is pure coincidence the breastfeeding mother we are highlighting this month is celebrating another year of life this month as well, Maria Galvan-Briseno.  We pick her this month for all the work she is doing on the South Side of Chicago in the Latino Community.  She is a powerful force who is making so much positive, uplifting change we had to share her story with the world. We thank you, Maria, for all you do and the lactivist in you. Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce to you...

Name Maria Galvan-Briseno

Profession Certified Breastfeeding Counselor at Chicago Family Health Center

Children  Emmanuel 16, Pedro 9, and Daniel 7

How long did you breastfeed?  
With Emmanuel, I pumped my milk for a year.  With Pedro, I nursed at the breast for sixteen months and Daniel I breastfed him for thirty-two months.

How did you know to breastfeed?  
I didn't know about breastfeeding.  My mother made me do it. I was upset at her for making me but as time went on I learned how convenient it was.

Please explain to us your overall breastfeeding experience. 
I was eighteen when Emmanuel was born.  The hospital staff did not support me nor educated me on breastfeeding.  Emmanuel was jaundice and stayed in the hospital for two weeks.  I was clueless about jaundice.  I did not know what to do.  During our visits at the hospital the nurses did not mention breastfeeding to me.  I started pumping my milk for him.  He never latched on and  it made me cry knowing my baby did not want my breast.  Thankfully, my mother educated me and my husband about breastfeeding.  My middle son, Pedro, nursed for sixteen months, even during my pregnancy with my third.  Pedro was on strike for a while since my milk transitioned to colostrum.  My youngest son, Daniel, was the perfect nurser.

How are you inspired by your breastfeeding experience?
Breastfeeding has taught me to listen to my children and respect their individuality.  Each of my sons have their own unique personality, special in their own way.

Were there any obstacles you had to overcome during your breastfeeding experience? 
When Pedro was born my husband was on sick leave due to angina.  I was running around to Doctor visits and the hospital.  My stress level was decreasing my supply.  Luckily, I had support to help me continue to nurse.

How do you think being a Mother of Color effects your breastfeeding experience?
Sadly, growing up I did not see any breastfeeding mothers, just my mother.  Hispanic women come to America wanting to be the American woman so they think formula is being American.  It would have been nice to see Hispanic women breastfeed in my community.

What are some of the ways you inspire other mothers to breastfeed and get the word of encouragement out in the community?
I always ask pregnant women, "Are you breastfeeding?"  If I get, "No, I have not thought about it."  I give them a basic breastfeeding class right there.

Feel free to share anything else about your breastfeeding experience and maternal story of growth.
Breastfeeding gave me the knowledge to be good mother.  Reading books was helpful but I quickly learned that my sons had a story to teach me. I listen to them everyday and I'm still learning from them.

Maria Galvan-Briseno is the oldest of six children and the only girl.  She is a Certified Breastfeeding Peer Counselor at Federally Qualified Health Center and hospital on the South Side of Chicago.  She lives in Northwest Indiana with her loving husband and three boys who keep her very busy.  She is a lactivist who enjoys sharing her knowledge of breastfeeding to as many women as possible in the Latino and Black Communities.

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