Here in the Big Blue Nation, we’re used to having champions. The excitement and fervor is infectious, even for someone who only knows that when the ball goes in the hoop, it’s a good thing. But that’s exactly what champions do. In their own way, they create excitement and support for something they truly love, even in those who don’t really get their cause.
When we laid the groundwork for LINK, we created a simple mission statement: to make breastfeeding easier for all Kentuckians. When we came up with that mission, we knew that we wouldn’t just be supporting individual moms and babies, but that we would be supporting everyone who impacted the experience of breastfeeding moms and babies. This would include businesses, journalist, researchers, community members, community builders, and professionals of all varieties – basically every day people who may or may not have a professional association specific to breastfeeding. And that is exactly what we look for when searching for our Breastfeeding Champions – those individuals who do something to support breastfeeding, even though they don’t have to. They help create excitement and community of support for breastfeeding. In other words, they make breastfeeding easier for all Kentuckians.
This year, we are excited to present our 2014 Breastfeeding Champion Awards to Cristin Stanley-Potter, John Lynch and Ana Maria Linares.
Cristin Stanley-Potter is a CAPPA trained labor doula and fitness instructor. She is currently pursuing certification as a postpartum doula and lactation counselor through Intuitive Childbirth. During the past 4 years, Cristin has professionally supported mothers in Pikeville and the surrounding areas through their pregnancies, labors, births and postpartum experiences. Additionally, Cristin began Mother to Mother which is a closed Facebook group for mothers and mothers to be in the Pikeville area. On Mother to Mother, women are able to give and receive support and information 24/7. The support and safe haven offered here is critical for women in an area with very little professional and cultural support for breastfeeding. Cristin also organizes social events, play dates and educational events for the women in the group.
She has three children over her own and has had three very different experiences during her pregnancies, births and breastfeeding. While she is extremely passionate about natural childbirth, she is supportive of whatever educated choices her clients make for themselves and their babies. Cristin believes that all mothers and babies deserve the very best start possible, as well as the best care possible during this special time in their lives. Not only does she believe it, she lives it and goes the extra step to make it possible for women in her community.
John Lynch, editor of Lexington Family Magazine has actively sought articles, event listings, and resources information to support breastfeeding families in Central KY since the magazine’s inception. Their June issue features Maternity-related content, and every year there are at least two offerings concerning breastfeeding. John often seeks additional content through the year when ‘hot topics’ about breastfeeding arise, so that Lexington Family Magazine can provide evidence-based information that does not fuel the flames of hyperbole. For example, the magazine ran an article on Birth Kangaroo Care in 2012 in conjunction with the Kentucky Kangaroo Care initiative. When John developed a spin-off publication, The Baby Bump, as an annual resource guide for all things pregnancy, he actively sought out information on breastfeeding resources for pregnant and parenting mothers. More than just a resource list, Baby Bump features articles in their publication, and also manages public and private Facebook pages. When breastfeeding issues arise on their Baby Bump FB page, John is sure to request expert advice for a response. Through the FB stream, and their on-line articles, Lexington Family Magazine has been able to spread their reach more broadly, expanding beyond Central KY. John and Lexington Family Magazine have made a big difference in making breastfeeding easier in Kentucky.
Ana Maria Linares is an Assistant Professor and researcher in the College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky and has played an important role in breastfeeding advocacy, both at the university level and statewide. Her love of research and commitment to mother and infant health has made a difference in the life of many of her students and co-workers by increasing knowledge and changing attitudes about breastfeeding at all levels. Her passion about breastfeeding has inspired others to advocate for breastfeeding and to continue on this work.
Some of Dr. Linares accomplishments include:
– Increasing the number of breastfeeding education hours that nursing students receive.
– Developing a survey for all nursing students to assess knowledge and the need for further education on breastfeeding.
– Incorporating a policy in the college of nursing to allow students to have break time for pumping milk during their school time.
– Working in multi-disciplinary groups to ensure those in other scientific fields understand the importance and benefits of breastfeeding.
Her work has specially focused on increasing exclusive breastfeeding in Hispanic women and she has promoted breastfeeding in the Hispanic population in KY by writing articles in the local Spanish newspaper. Dr. Linares has presented her research on breastfeeding in Kentucky at several national conferences and is publishing her work in a peer-reviewed journal. Her interest in breastfeeding research and support has recently expanded to support in the workplace and childcare centers. Dr. Linares isn’t just a researcher. She carefully plans her research so that it may inform policy change. LINK is especially excited that Dr. Linares will be joining our board of directors as we believe her involvement will greatly increase our capacity to begin implementation of evidence-based projects to support breastfeeding.