Submitted by Nikia Lawson
Recently I attended the Eat Pray Doula, DONA approved Birth Doula Training in Ubud, Bali facilitated by Katherine Bramhall, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, and Robin Lim. This week-long training included birth doula education, postpartum care, childbirth education and breastfeeding support. The skills to become an effective birth doula were definitely the goal of the training, but what I was not prepared for was the adventure of sisterhood and connection that would happen in merely a week.
This trip to Bail, Indonesia was filled with “firsts”: my 1st international flight, my 1st time using a passport, my 1st time walking through a “monkey forest” and my 1st time being on a global stage talking about the benefits of breast milk! Yes, the latter was a 1st for me and I have had many opportunities to share the benefits of breast milk in various settings.
On March 22 several of the EPD birth keepers and I attended the 7th Annual Bali Spirit festival. When we arrived, we settled in to watch the local entertainers. When they finished performing, the crew began setting up for the next performers. To pass time, the MC came to the on stage and began to share some “interesting facts.” He began his chatter with a statement about kids and parents and eye color….interesting, but nothing mind-blowing. Then the gavel landed and he stated his fact that coconut water had the same ingredients as breast milk minus one thing….breast milk contained magnesium! I gasped! The other birth keepers gasped! We immediately went into a frenzy telling everyone around us that that was not accurate information that that there is absolutely no comparison of breast milk and coconut water in terms of beneficial properties to a baby’s needs and development!
I quickly ran toward the stage and engaged him in a dialogue about how making a statement, as a fact, could have grave ramifications on the efforts to get indigenous women to breastfeed. If women feel that breast milk and coconut water are equivalents, then they may feel no NEED to BREASTFEED! They could simply contend with coconut water, which is in abundance in Bali. Also, I shared two (2) KEY/ESSENTIAL ingredients that are in breast milk that could NEVER be in coconut water. We exchanged some relevant conversation and he asked me if I would like to grace the stage and share the FACTS about breast milk that I had so enlightened him on.
After that exchange, I was introduced and I ran on the stage to share my knowledge about breast milk. Here are the 2 life-changing ingredients that I shared with him that urged him to take the stage and admit to the crowd, “I have been schooled by my friend Nikia…. and I stand corrected!”
First, breast milk contains antibodies. Any foreign object that has ever been in mom’s blood stream OR any bacteria or virus that she’s ever been exposed to, her blood and plasma cells created antibodies to neutralize them. Thus, those antibodies are present in breast milk and colostrum. Babies that get mother’s milk, get their 1st immunization to help build a healthy immune system and strengthen their sensitive little digestive systems with enzymes and antibodies to fight infection and bacteria. Second, breast milk contains human stems cells. These stem cells are life-saving; and, can possibly repair damaged, little organs due to the replication of the stem cells to build tissue and new cells. Human embryonic stem cells are very widely studied for their limitless regenerative properties and the ability to have specialized function in the new cells they produce.
Well, since coconuts are not human and do not have a blood stream, these are 2 very distinct and useful properties (not to mention that there are hundreds of other ingredients with benefits in breast milk that have yet to be identified) contained in breast milk that can never be in coconut water.
I finished my enlightenment opportunity with a lively chant: THE BREAST IS BEST! THE BREAST IS BEST! Empower the women in your life to breastfeed, because coconut water just won’t do it!
Learn how you can join the magic in Bali for Doula or Advanced Birthworker Workshop at Eat Pray Doula!
Biography: Nikia Lawson is the owner/operator of Birth Blessings Professional Birth and Doula Services, owner/Project Director of The Natural Way Birthing Project ~ Ft. Worth, and managing partner of Tarrant County Doula Associates. Nikia’s goal is to empower women to know that they are divinely designed to give birth; to learn to trust their bodies and listen to their inner spirit as they embark on their birth journey.
Nikia is a DONA birth doula, a 2010 DONA International Doula of Color Fellow and a DONA International approved, birth doula trainer and is an experienced childbirth educator and has taught classes for various community groups and hospitals since 2007. Nikia hopes to return to school complete her post graduate studies in Naturopathy and open her own maternity home for pregnant women.