As a mother of 5, American Kathryn Wiley knows the profound effect a mother can have on her young. Armed with the knowledge that Haiti has the highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, Kathryn started a movement. In 2011, she purchased Rockin’ Baby, and decided to evolve the company into a “Mother to Mother” business.
Bloom Maternity is estatic to sell the Rockin’ Baby slings and pouches and we just love their mission: For every sling purchased, Rockin’ Baby will donate a new sling to a mother in need, and educate them on its importance.
So we reached out to Katheryn to ask her some more questions about Rockin’ Baby’s “Mother to Mother” Movement and what she discovered while visiting Haiti.
Why did you choose Haiti for your Mother to Mother Movement?
I have traveled all over the world, and to many 3rd world countries. I have now been to Haiti 6 times, and each time the people and the place really impact me. They have so much joy, despite their situation. When I decided to purchase Rockin’ Baby from its founders in Los Angeles, I thought it would be great to add a social aspect to the business. Toms Shoes has always inspired me with their success, and a one for one business model was my goal. I immediately thought of Haiti and the fact that the women do not carry their babies there. This is interesting since their roots are in Africa where they carry their babies primarily. I contacted some midwife organizations, as well as maternal programs in Haiti and asked them their opinion of Rockin’ Baby donating slings to the women there. It was accepted in such a resounding way, that there was never another option. I felt almost responsible to be successful in my Mother To Mother movement, and thrilled that after my first trip, I can say it was accepted with open arms and grateful hearts!
How many times have you visited Haiti, and what has impressed you the most about the mothers there?
I have been 6 times; spending about 4 months there over the years. The mothers are strong, amazing, tenacious women. I definitely think of them when I begin to complain about my load as a woman in America. They have to overcome so many obstacles, including poverty, loss, disease, and so much more…but, they do it with such grace and joy. I absolutely am inspired by these strong women. It is critical I Rockin’ Baby’s Mother to Mother Movement that the Haitian women are portrayed in a positive light; not one that would imply that they are waiting for a hand out!
How many slings have you donated?
I took 300 down in August for my first sling drop. I have several more hundred to take. I am working on sending my next shipment down, as they are out, and need more immediately. I only took 300 because I could not hand carry anymore. Shipping to Haiti is going to be the biggest challenge, that I am working to overcome right now. I have several contacts in Haiti, and so much support on the ground to distribute and educate the women about the slings. The issue is getting them in their hands. Next Spring, I hope to send a team of Mother/Midwives to Haiti to distribute a few thousand. We personally fit each woman in August, and that is the plan for every one we donate. It is critical that the women understand the use of the slings and how to properly wear their babies.
What are some of Haiti’s greatest needs currently?
Wow. That is a big question. They basically survive. When they wake up in the morning, it is about finding food for the day for their family. They fight cholera, malaria and other diseases such as dengue fever (break bone fever) on a daily basis. All of their clothes come from people who have donated to Haiti, and there are a lot of donations being sent. These people went through the most devastating event January 12, 2010, and they don’t even have time to process that because they just have to survive. It breaks your heart to the point of being emotionally paralyzed.
Culturally, what have you found most intriguing about motherhood in Haiti vs. the US?
The struggle. These women have to fight for their lives, and their families lives in a way that bonding/attachment becomes secondary to survival. The program, Heartline Women’s Program that I donate through is focusing on cultivating the bond between babies and mothers. Exclusive breastfeeding is not common, but they, as well as many other programs in Haiti, are working diligently to educate the women of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. Without it, women use old formula (that is super expensive) and contaminated water. That is why their babies become so sick and malnourished. The slings will aid so much in breastfeeding, because they can take their babies with them everywhere, versus leaving them at home (sometimes by themselves, or with other young children) so the mothers can get work to make money for food. These babies end up not being fed, and are in harms way without their mothers. Mothers are the primary caregiver for the whole family. Empowering these women, and keeping their babies safe is an unbelievable way to help these mothers.
Any personal insights that you’ve walked away with?
My first intuition that donating slings to mothers in Haiti was not just right, it is critical for decreasing a high infant mortality rate. The midwives who live and work in Haiti believe that Rockin’ Baby can create a cultural shift and benefit mothers and their babies in a way that could change their society. That was amazing to hear. I am charged with that goal.
What are some of their greatest needs currently?
Proper nutritionproper housing, educating the women about attaching tot heir babies, and absolutely, slings.
How can we help from home?
We can push this movement forward. I feel the momentum (especially since traveling to Haiti in August!), and would like it to become viral like Toms did. It is less about the success of Rockin’ Baby, and more about the benefits mothers around the globe will have in bonding with their babies/toddlers!
As a mother purchasing a Rockin’ Baby sling today, you are actually giving the gift of life to another mother and her child in Haiti (and eventually beyond). The impact is huge! Now mothers can learn that slings can be part of their daily lives, no matter how they struggle with their basic needs. In turn, these babies will be healthier, more attached to their mothers and begin a life more fulfilled and optimistic. From you, to them.
Mother to Mother.
Archive for nursing/breastfeeding
1. Talk to mothers who have enjoyed breastfeeding success.
2. Watch someone else breastfeed.
3. Talk to your partner about breastfeeding.
4. Spend some time researching breastfeeding.
5. Talk to your employer if you plan to breastfeed when you return to work.
6. Set up a breastfeeding area prior to giving birth.
When you purchase a Bravado bra from Bloom Maternity, you’ll receive this and more breastfeeding tips by Bravado.
With both my babies I decided to nurse. Nursing can be one of the most wonderful and stressful things associated with having a baby. Unfortunately with my first child, my experience was just frustrating.
All went well for the first 12 hours. However the nurses were concerned that my little Sunbeam wasn’t providing a wet diaper and encouraged us to give him one of the 2 ounce formula bottles that they kept stock in the room with us. I caved. That was my first mistake.
Those formula manufacturers are quite crafty by providing nipples with large holes. The result was an infant who quickly didn’t want to work for his milk, thus resulting in not wanting to nurse because Mommy’s milk didn’t come from the “nipple of free flowing milk.”
Luckily with my second baby my eyes never laid eyes on one of those 2 ounce bottles. I don’t know if the hospital changed it’s policy, or if the nurses were a little more patient and respected my decision to exclusively nurse. However we did come prepared by bringing a #1 Dr. Brown’s nipple and bottle to the hospital just in case feeding the baby formula was our last resort.
I came across this article today and it really hit home with me. I was a complete failure at breastfeeding. I felt like with my first child I was bombarded at the hospital with too much information about how I should breastfeed.
With my second I was a lot more successful, I lasted about 6 weeks. With number 3 I thought surely I can do this, no problem. I was engorged within days and threw my hands up in defeat. I really wanted to breastfeed but the demands of my daily and personal life just made it so difficult. That, coupled with a lot of mis-information and lack of support made my decision to stop the breast and switch to formula very easy.
It is amazing to think how our ancestors survived. It was breast or death! They had no excuses like I did. I hope I can support all of those breastfeeding Moms out there. I like to think that Bloom provides it’s customers with the equipment and emotional support that they need to continue to breastfeed. Although in the end, it is ultimately a Mother’s decision to breastfeed or not to breastfeed.
Before I had my first baby I created a breast feeding arsenal and filled it with every imaginable tool I’d ever need including tubes of Lansinoh, nursing bras, a nursing bracelet to keep track of feedings, and boxes of traditional, bulky nursing pads. Just days before my daughter was born I heard about a product called Lilypadz. Hedging my bets and wanting to make my intro into breast feeding as painless as possible (Ha! AS IF!) I bought a pair and threw them into my handy box of nursing supplies too.
It’s a good thing I did. My breast feeding experience would have been a whole lot less pleasant without Lilypadz. I did try traditional nursing pads because I had some on hand but I hated the bulky, scratchy pads because they leaked, chafed and make me look like Madonna during her unfortunate cone-bra experiment.
But once I used Lilypadz, I never went back to traditional nursing pads. Why would I? Lilypadz are comfortable, reusable and, most importantly, effective. And as any nursing mom who’s had an embarrassing breastmilk leak in public knows, effectiveness in a breast pad is worth its weight in gold.
Lilypadz adhere, gently, to your skin and halt the flow of breastmilk. They keep your breasts from leaking and, because your nipples aren’t sitting in soaking wet cotton for hours on end, there’s no chafing either.
Lilypadz are reusable so, at $25 per pair, you end up saving money in the long run because you don’t have to keep buying disposable nursing pads. I got at least 4-5 months of wear out of each pair I purchased. Lilypadz are also easy to clean: just wash them in hot, soapy water and dry them thoroughly after each use and be sure to boil them for a few minutes every few days. You’ll be amazed that their adhesive stays effective and holds up over several months of use.
Now, whenever my friends get pregnant, Lilypadz is my go-to baby shower gift!
Lilypadz are available in our store and online at Bloom Maternity.
Madonna image courtesy of OC Register.