Simeca Alexander: Breastfeeding and Lactation Specialist Improving Breastfeeding Confidence One Mother at a TimeJan 16, 2022 03:00PM ● By Candice Stewart
Breastfeeding and Lactation Specialist, Simeca Alexander.(Photo Credit: Chris Fuller)
Health and wellness have always been at the forefront of Simeca Alexander's mind. As a child, she knew her life's mission would lead to that field. It is with that early self-awareness that she embarked on the journey of improving lactation and breastfeeding.
Straight out of high school, Alexander pursued her BSc. in Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica. From there, she did a six-week externship with the then Ministry of Health (now Ministry of Health and Wellness). There, she met the only internationally Board Certified Breastfeeding and Lactation Consultant in Jamaica, Ms. Violet Griffith - her preceptor.
She shadowed Griffith during visits and consultations at health centers where they assisted mothers with breastfeeding, positioning, and other related matters. It was at that time that Simeca was introduced to lactation.
After completing her externship, she embarked on a journey to attaining her Master's degree in Public Health with a major in Health Management in 2018. Staying true to her self-awareness, that was the right and comfortable position for her to take.
It was during that time that her son, Caleb, came to be.
"With the birth of Caleb, I understood more than ever that knowledge of breastfeeding and lactation for newborn mothers is extremely important. I was empowered to bond more with my baby and use the tools in my breastfeeding toolkit to ensure that my baby was exclusively breastfed for six months," Alexander says in a recent interview with FunTimes Magazine.
About Nutrition and babies
"Nutrition starts from birth so anything that we can do in the beginning makes it better," Simeca tells FunTimes Magazine.
"It is the World Health Organization’s mandate to have babies exclusively breastfed for at least the first 6 months of their lives. Babies should not be given water, juice, or anything else. Only breast milk! Based on the culture that we have in Jamaica, that can be a very difficult lesson to teach," she continues.
She explains that for many reasons such as with old wives’ tales, many Jamaicans say that the baby should be given tea or glucose water. However, she notes that if that practice continues, the children end up malnourished because they’re not getting the proper nutrients.
"Breast milk is free, it is safe, and it is the perfect form of nutrition for babies. They don’t need anything else for the first 6 months of life," Alexander emphasized.
Pursuing an International Certification as a Breastfeeding and Lactation Consultant
"I am working to be among the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). The certification comes from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). They are an independent international certification body conferring the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant credential. So in the meantime, I am referred to as a specialist, " she says.
IBCLC Consultants "function and contribute as members of the maternal-child health team. They provide care in a variety of settings while making appropriate referrals to other health professionals and community support resources. Working together with mothers, families, policymakers, and society, [certified IBCLC consultants] provide expert breastfeeding and lactation care, promote changes that support breastfeeding, and help reduce the risks of not breastfeeding."
Simeca has fulfilled roughly 90% of the requirements, with only a mandatory exam left to sit. She will do so in March or April of this year.
Breastfeeding and Lactation in Jamaica
With Ms. Griffith currently being the only internationally certified consultant in Jamaica, Simeca hopes to join her, the Community Health Aides (CHAs), and nurses who are trained across the island to go into the health centers and hospitals to assist mothers with breastfeeding.
"Thus far, I’ve been going into antenatal clinics and talking with the mothers - having one-on-one discussions and presenting to them the different aspects of breastfeeding. This includes the benefit to both mother and child, the storage of breast milk in and outside of the refrigerator, how to warm the breast milk properly so that it doesn’t destroy the nutrients and doesn’t burn the baby," the breastfeeding specialist tells FunTimes Magazine.
"In addition to that, I teach newborn mothers and their partners about the positioning of the baby at the breast to ensure that they latch and get fed properly, which allows for less pain and discomfort to the mother in order to achieve successful breastfeeding," she continues.
Breastfeeding and Lactation Goals for Mothers
"My goal is to make breastfeeding as comfortable as possible for mothers who want to breastfeed. I want to teach them how to do so without any form of hindrance," Simeca tells FunTimes Magazine.
Alexander, who wants to arm mothers with enough information and practical tips to better care for their child through breastfeeding, and giving newborn mothers the tools on how to do complementary feeding, as well as how to introduce children to other foods after 6 months, says breastfeeding her son was a "life-changing and beautiful experience", and she wants other mothers to experience similar situations.
"My son is now 2 years old and I exclusively breastfed him for 6 months," she says.
In fulfilling these goals, Ms. Alexander has created a business from her passion amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. Cradle of Life Limited is focused primarily on offering breastfeeding support for newborn mothers by way of nurturing and empowering mothers along their journey. Additionally, in the latter part of 2021, Ms. Alexander was pushed even further by her passion to help mothers in need through a Foundation arm of the business.
Since the journey with Cradle of Life, Ms. Alexander has been identified as the 'breast lady'. She demonstrates with a life-size newborn doll called 'Jessica' and a knitted nipple prop. She has been highlighted in local media such as the Jamaica Observer, on Smile Jamaica, an early morning TV show, and a radio appearance on Nationwide News Network. The breastfeeding and lactation specialist has also hosted at least one breastfeeding and lactation workshop with pregnant and newborn mothers, accompanied by their partners.
"I am excited and I feel so blessed to be able to help mothers and their newborn children to experience the bonds that ought to be felt," she says.
The Jamaica Observer:
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