Los Angeles, California (August 24, 2021) The African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Prevention Initiative announces the activation of a weeklong campaign geared toward spreading awareness of Black Breastfeeding Week, which was officially recognized by the LA County Board of Supervisors in June 2021. Co-sponsored by the South LA/South Bay Community Action Team (SLASB AAIMM CAT) and the LA County AAIMM Prevention Initiative,“Support/Protect/Welcome Black Breast/Chest Feeding Everywhere” is the theme for the week with supporting sub-themes around breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and pumping. This campaign is also made possible through the support, guidance, information, and resources provided by partners BreastfeedLA, CinnaMoms  and March of Dimes. 

The terms "breastfeeding" and "chestfeeding" are used interchangeably and together to describe the action of feeding an infant human-milk. The term "chestfeeding" is offered as an alternate term for lactating persons that prefer not to use the term "breast" when referring to their own bodies. This is the AAIMM Prevention Initiative’s commitment to caring authentically about the well-being of all individuals and to inclusivity (adapted from BreastfeedLA).

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2021 Village Fund Grantee: Lydia O. Boyd, Lactation Specialist

Lydia O. Boyd is a Lactation Specialist who provides breast/chestfeeding support and education to expectant and current breast/chestfeeding families in Los Angeles County. In addition to supporting new parents during the early post-pregnancy period, she also provides care for the transition back to work or school after maternity leave, when weaning, and in the event of a pregnancy loss. Although she serves all families  regardless of race, the focus of her work is with Black-identifying families belonging to the African diaspora. 

Boyd’s 13 years of research and experience in counseling, coaching, and teaching other Black women throughout the breast/chestfeeding journey has made her especially qualified to speak to racial disparities within the birthing community and provides her with a unique perspective and position to support Black mothers, giving them a space where they feel centered and supported. “We are the mothers in the Black community,” Boyd stated, speaking of Black women. “We understand first-hand what we need.” Her work strives to provide a reconnection to the honor and pride of breast/chestfeeding that has been lost from years of oppression.

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2021 Village Fund Grantee: M. E. N. T. O. R. S.

Men Taking Over Reforming Society (M.E.N.T.O.R.S., Inc.)

M.E.N.T.O.R.S., Inc. is on a mission to provide a space of refuge for the Black community in South Los Angeles. By facilitating support services for Black parents, M.E.N.T.O.R.S. creates social networks that are healthy, safe, and informative havens of growth. Peers and experts  work together to promote better outcomes for both parents and their babies.

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2021 Village Fund Grantee: Luna and Soul Yoga Studio

One of the many things that sets Luna and Sol Yoga apart from other yoga studios is an emphasis on community which extends beyond the physical practice of yoga, to honor the roots of yogic tradition. Luna and Sol Yoga embodies the meaning of “oran a azu nwa (it takes a village)” by providing vital support to expectant mothers and their families.

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THE BIG PAUSE: The Collective Rest for Collective Power

Calling all Black/African American Breast/Chest Feeding Families:

Click to access the Survey Form

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Black Equity Collective Is Transforming the Relationship Between Philanthropy and the Black Community

"The only way that these issues will stay in the public domain, the only way we'll advance equality and justice and liberation, is if philanthropy keeps the window open." - Kaci Patterson  (AAIMM Steering Committee Member)

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The Village Fund Grantee: YOUTH WITH A PURPOSE

The statistics are alarming: 45% of children in California live in low-income households. Of that group of children, 57% are Black and 61% are Latino. Youth from low-income neighborhoods are 20% more likely to end up in prison and 61% of the incarcerated population are Black or Latino. Youth With a Purpose (YWAP) has made it its mission to weaken the school to prison pipeline and improve outcomes for low-income youth. And their plan starts at the very beginning: before birth.

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AAIMM Launches Free Pregnancy Trimester Guide With Tips and Resources to Activate “The Village”

(Los Angeles County, CA) “It takes a village to raise a child,” the African proverb states, and activation of that village begins before birth. In an effort to support healthy and joyous births for Black moms, families, and babies, the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative (AAIMM) has created a Tips to Activate Your Village Guide full of useful information and resources for each of the trimesters comprising the prenatal period and the first three months after the baby is born (the “fourth trimester”). The guide is now available for free to download from its website, blackinfantsandfamilies.org

One of the cornerstone beliefs behind the AAIMM initiative is that healthy and joyous births do not happen alone. They require an entire community of support — that means not just family and friends, but also neighbors, healthcare workers, educators, and colleagues. Everyone who influences the environment in which children are born and raised can contribute to and support the next generation being healthy, safe and happy. 

The Tips to Activate Your Village Guide was created to support expectant parents in their efforts to engage their own Village, and as a helpful resource for folks who may be a part of an existing Village. "We are excited to share this resource to support Black families — especially pregnant women and birthing people — and activating a village of support at every stage of pregnancy and childbirth,” said Dr. Melissa Franklin, LA County AAIMM Initiative. “The toolkit was informed by the collective wisdom of our AAIMM Prevention Initiative partners.” 

While there are myriad apps and brochures dedicated to tracking the physical development of babies both before and after birth, not many specifically relate to the concept of activating one’s village and system of supportive persons and resources. Some of the tips in the guide include: create a birth plan, find a doula, join the Black Infant Health program, advocate for respectful care, and check in with your partner. The guide goes further than just offering tips, however. It also offers links to resources and programs — many, if not all of which, are absolutely free. 

The AAIMM initiative just wrapped up a successful campaign for Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) for which it created over 25 well-attended virtual events, launched a video series that received over 10,000 views on social media, and created a downloadable toolkit of creative pieces on its website’s hub for BMHW. In addition to making the Tips to Activate Your Village guide available on its website, the AAIMM Steering Committee encourages people to share the link to the guide on social media platforms using #WeAreTheVillage. 

As the initiative continues its work, there are plans to roll out more collateral pieces as part of its continued effort to educate people about Black infant and maternal mortality as well as bring about more equitable birth outcomes. “We are currently building more resources and programs, all centered on supporting access to healthy and joyous births for Black families, in particular those resources and tips that are often not talked about," said Dr. Melissa Franklin, LA County AAIMM Initiative

The Los Angeles County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Initiative is a coalition of the LA County Health Agency (Department of Mental Health, Department of Public Health, and Department of Health Services), First 5 LA, community organizations, mental and health care providers, funders, and community members. The purpose of the initiative is to address the unacceptably high rates of Black infant and maternal deaths in Los Angeles County and ensure healthy and joyous births for Black families in LA County. Through a series of comprehensive coordinated strategies, AAIMM works to reduce the gap in Black/White infant mortality rates by 30% by 2023. For more information, and to find out how you can support the initiative, please visit www.blackinfantsandfamilies.org

Click HERE to download the Trimester Guide. 
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San Fernando & Santa Clarita Valleys COVID-19 Panel: A Vaccine Conversation For African American Families
Held Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 from 10am-12pm

During this event we discussed concerns and explored options related to the COVID-19 vaccine with a panel of local medical and legal experts. It was an opportunity for our community to ask questions in a safe space. Panelists included:

•         Valley Presbyterian Hospital

•         General Counsel, Tamala Choma Esq.

•         Director of Women’s Services, Marcia Lynch, RN, MSN

•         Los Angeles County Department of Public Health – Tina Franco, MPH, Health Educator

•         September Williams, MD, Physician-Writer & Bioethicist

•         Kaiser Permanente – Sharon K. Okonkwo-Holmes, MD. Family Physician and Physician Lead for the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Council

Panel discussion was moderated by Aqueelah Russell from Northeast Valley WIC

View the event recap below: 


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KJLH Women's Health Expo - Sponsored by the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative

The LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative will be sponsoring the KJLH Women's Health Expo, to be held on Saturday May 8th. This years Expo will be held virtually, and it is the 3rd year in a row the AAIMM has sponsored the event.

AAIMM will be presenting a panel, "Activating the Village: Everything You Need to Know". Featuring our own Michelle Sanders of the LA County AAIMM Doula Program, and hosted by Tammi Mac.

The discussion will explore the benefits of using a doula, the difference between doulas and midwives, the different types of birth experiences women/birthing people can have, and how pregnant women/birthing people can access free services. 

Find out about: getting the support of a doula, home visitation, mental health support, and having a joyous birth.

Click HERE to listen to the Black Infant Health Program panel presentation and enjoy the rest of the events focused on Black women’s health!
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