By Addison Grimm
Vital Village Networks, Community Mobilization Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA
Shenell Ford got her start in the world of lactation through choosing to breastfeed her children. Overtime she was drawn to opportunities related to peer lactation support. While working as a peer counselor, she studied and obtained her CLC certification, and continued on to pursue her IBCLC. However, the journey was by no means easy, because the IBCLC pathway has numerous barriers. After not passing her IBCLC exam the first time, Shenell almost internalized the disappointment but then recognized that systemic and structural barriers are part of the problem. She looked inward and asked herself “what am I put on this earth to do?” Through hard times she realized that lactation kept pulling her back in. Trying again, she said to herself “whatever I have to do, that's what we’re going to do,” and she passed her exam!
Today, Shenell is a vital member of many transformative projects throughout the community of Springfield, and across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Between serving as Mayoral Aide in Springfield, working at UMASS as a lactation consultant, contracting with the State providing breastfeeding training, being a member of the Black Breastfeeding Week Committee and being a Mass Breastfeeding Coalition board member, Shenell is always busy! However, when not spending time with her kids she makes her private practice, Heart2Heartbeat Lactation & Wellness, the center of her focus. Her virtual services include an introductory session, prenatal consults, postpartum support, breastfeeding classes, professional development training, and advocacy. It is important to Shenell that her practice not only offers lactation support, but also support to the dads, partners, friends and family who will be in the baby’s life.
When asked about the source of her continued motivation, for Shenell the answer is simple: “The desire to continue, to be able to provide opportunities for families to advocate for themselves will always be something I will do, and I am humbled to do it.”
Visit Shenell’s website and learn more about her work here!
Or reach out to her via email or social media
Daily Milk hosts articles, posts and ideas from various members of our breastfeeding coalition!