Culture

TULSA, Okla. – Lisa Vaden is an advocate for breastfeeding infants and shared her testimony during the Osage Nation Women, Infants and Children program’s Breastfeeding Symposium. She told the story of her second child’s birth in which she immediately bonded with her daughter through breastfeeding during an ice storm, which left her family with no electricity and little gas for heat.

I would’ve first had to find some water in the middle of nowhere, which was Webb City, Okla.,” she said. “We didn’t have time to prepare for a disaster, we didn’t have clean water. We went into Shidler which did have water but it was all brown.”

Vaden’s mother, who was with her at the time, helped prepare for the home delivery by melting snow and icicles for water “to keep me cleansed so that I’d be sterilized for her (my daughter). If it wasn’t for me breastfeeding, I would’ve had to figure out what I’m going to do with her, she would’ve starved and there was no water.”

Approximately 50 people attended the one-day WIC symposium at the Osage Million Dollar Event Center where testimonies and presentations were shared by several people who advocate for and encourage breastfeeding.

Gina Kelly of Osage WIC is a lactation consultant and encourages breastfeeding because it is part of making a first impression in the relationship between a mother and her child.

WIC is a federal program founded in 1972 which provides services for low-income women and children including food, nutrition counseling and access to health services.

“I’m glad that the WIC program has branched out to tell people about how, and to educate young women… how important it is to breastfeed and also eat properly,” Vaden said. “You have to eat properly, you have to have so much water, so much nutrition goes into you so whatever you eat is going into your baby.”

Bobby Tallchief, the Nation’s emergency management manager, spoke at the symposium and raised the importance of breastfeeding a child especially when disaster and/ or emergencies arise.

“Breast milk is pure, there’s no contaminants. It’s the safest, healthiest, most affordable and always available. Breast milk contains immunities to diseases and helps aid and develop the baby’s immune system,” Tall Chief said.

He added that breastfeeding is best because it could be the only food source for infants during disasters or an unexpected crisis. He spoke about the time his office responded to help Gulf Coast Osages when Hurricane Ike hit in 2008 and also cited severe Okahoma weather as examples.

During the Hurricane Ike disaster response, there was “a half-mile long line of people waiting just to get a few bottles of water, a gallon of gas, a bag of ice… that was a long-term event,” Tallchief said. “As a rule in a disaster, the local response is about all you’re going to get for the first 24-72 hours” before other agencies respond.

Tallchief recommends people should research and consider building emergency aid kits for their homes if they don’t already have one.

For more information, visit the Osage WIC program’s Web page at www.osagetribe.com/wic.

Osage WIC’s ten steps to successful breastfeeding:

Have a written breastfeeding policy routinely communicated to all health care staff.

Train all health care staff in necessary skills necessary to implement this policy.

Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth.

Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.

Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.

Practice “rooming in” which allows mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

Encourage breastfeeding on-demand.

Give no artificial teats or pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.

Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them after hospital discharge.