Multicolor Milk Minute Logo.PNG

our latest episode:

Ep. 169- Indigenous Breastfeeding with Angie Sanchez

Share this episode with a friend šŸ‘‡

Listen to this episodeĀ here orĀ subscribe & listen on Apple Podcasts


Maureen: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the Milk Minute Podcast. I’m, I’m so excited to be recording today, Heather. 

Heather: Oh, why? Because you are the cat that ate the canary when you put out a request to the universe and then the universe actually gave you what you asked for?

Maureen: I am. I am. Because today we are going to talk about Indigenous breastfeeding practices and current issues with Angie Sanchez. And I’m just… 

Heather: Yeah, if you listen to all of our episodes, you know that at one point Maureen was like, I just wish there was somebody out there who studied Indigenous lactation.

Maureen: It’s really like, I did a bunch of cold calls and emails and got no response. And I was like, Oh God, I don’t know if I can do it anymore, which is like, it just happens, you know, when you’re trying to find guests and it’s fine, but we did it. We, we, I said it on the episode and then Angie emailed and she was like, my friend, Elise, listens to the podcast and told me to 

Heather: contact you and it was just perfect.

Yeah. So thank you, Elise. And thank you listeners for helping to bolster our show with all of the things that we want to talk about. 

Maureen: Yes. Anytime you have a friend and you’re like, they know some things about this and they should be on the milk minute. Yeah. Tell them to email us. We will probably interview them.


Heather: com. Absolutely. So before we get started, we actually want to thank our patrons up top because we’ve had an explosion of patrons and we’re so thrilled to have you and we are. Like literally over the moon, just really enjoying all of these new faces and names. So we want to send a shout out to our new patrons, Sarah Wang, Jessica Phillips, Anna, and Darian Mendoza, Kristen Clardy, Allie Knott, Abby Hughes, Abigail Lister.

Allie, Catherine, Mickey Ganshow, and Eidolon. So thank you all so much for becoming patrons. We hope you are enjoying Beyond the Boob, our new podcast, which we’re really excited about, tracking my pregnancy week by week, as with Maureen as my midwife, giving me prenatal advice, and all of my pregnancy pictures.

So I’m not really sharing much on social media these days, but I will share with my patrons and, you know, keep you. abreast of this situation. So we appreciate you guys so much. That’s a good 

Maureen: point. And I do want to apologize to patrons that it’s taken us a little bit longer than usual to give you all of the shout outs that you deserve.

Because we’ve just been a little bit behind on things, but I promise it’s coming for every single one of you. We love y’all so much. Okay, well, I want to jump right into it and just tell y’all about Angie and then we’re going to bring her on and it’s going to be so great. So Angie is an indigenous woman who grew up in her tribal community in northern Michigan.

She’s got a BA, she’s got an MBA, and she’s currently a PhD student at Michigan State University. So her research for that PhD focuses on increasing access to breastfeeding support. In indigenous communities and she got this big old grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and she’s using it to fund the NUNI project.

This project aims to train community indigenous breastfeeding counselors and local health care providers in best practices for breastfeeding and then, you know, the plan from there is that that knowledge about culturally appropriate breastfeeding practices for indigenous people continues to spread.

And meet the needs of those tribal communities 

Heather: in Michigan. Yeah, we could not be more thrilled to have her on and to just talk about her journey because it’s, it’s a nontraditional journey, which I’m obsessed with, you know, it’s not like I was, you know, us, we’re all about that. You know, everyone is always so curious about how you and I got to where we are in our careers.

And I’m telling you right now, this is one that I have not heard before. So I am really excited to actually look more into it. And I hope you all enjoy. 

Maureen: Yes. So quick reminder, if you guys want individual help from us, we both do consults. We both do them virtually and in person. Those links are always in our show notes.

Please don’t be afraid to reach out. Even if you’re not sure if we can help you, like we want to do it. We want to talk. So do that. And let’s take a really quick break to thank a sponsor. And then we come back. We’re going to bring Andy right in, hop into it. I’m so excited.

Heather: Imagine a world. Where you seek lactation care, and it’s easy, and someone greets you at the door, and they’re nice to you, and they give you a hot cup of tea, and let you sit on the couch and talk about all the issues, not just the breastfeeding issues. What a cozy fantasy. Is there anywhere that’s real? Oh, it’s real, girl.

It’s real, and I’ve been building it for quite a long time. My business is called Breastfeeding for Busy Moms, and me and every member of my team are trained in our three major tenets, which is accessibility, Kindness and personalization. If 

Maureen: you want to book a consult with Heather or anyone else on her team, you should head over to breastfeedingforbusymoms.

Heather: com. We do accept some limited insurance, and we’d be happy to walk you through it if you want to give us a call. And that number’s on Google. 

Maureen: So go sit on the cozy couch with Heather. At breastfeeding for busy moms. Love you guys.

All right, everybody, please. Welcome Angie to the podcast. We are so excited to have you on today. 

Angie Sanchez: Hello. I’m excited to be here. When 

Heather: Maureen reached out, we were really hoping that the perfect person hopped in our lap and we are so glad to have you here and that you are doing such important work. 

Angie Sanchez: Oh, thank you.

Maureen: Yeah. Well, thank you so much. And you know, I just want to start out by saying most of our listeners are white. They probably don’t really know why we’re having this conversation today. And we have a lot of really amazing stuff to talk about with your PhD project and all of that. But I think we probably want to start with a little bit of like history and context that just tells us like, why are we even sitting down to have this conversation?

Why do we 

Angie Sanchez: think it’s important? Yeah. So I had a baby six years ago. He just turned six, my first and only baby. And so, well, to back up a little bit, I, I am Ojibwe and Odawa. I am from Michigan and I was. Born and raised in my community of Ojibwe and I grew up around the reservation where my family is from and have just always connected and identified as indigenous and always, you know, been in that, that community.

And we had some struggles growing up and I wanted to postpone motherhood if that was even a thing for me. And I wanted to go to school so that I could. uplift our life, my life, and sort of work at not repeating the life that I grew up in. And so, so Indigenous folks will, and I’m generalizing here for sure this isn’t everybody, but we have, I guess what we, what we would call it like connections to our ancestors.

And so we. Look to them for guidance and for help and assistance and things that we are doing. And so, somewhere along the way, I basically received instructions from my ancestors that I was going to breastfeed this baby. It came in the form of dreams that I had, and so… I just was like, all right, sounds good.

You know, that’s what we’ll do. I knew nothing about breastfeeding. I was not a breastfed baby. None of my siblings were breastfed. My parents weren’t breastfed. Actually we think my dad was, but we’re not really sure. So, cut to me having a baby, and that was the only thing I knew about, right? It was like, oh, you’re just gonna, you’re gonna have a baby.

Some other things also happened, like I knew I was gonna, there was gonna be trouble, and I knew I was gonna have a c section, and these were all, like, things that kind of came in the, in these dreams that I was having. So I had my baby. He was in NICU for a little while. And I remembered that my OB said that a lactation consultant will come around when you’re in the hospital.

And I was like, okay, sounds good. And, and outside of being asked once or twice during my OB appointments, if I was planning to breastfeed or formula feed, there was never any like instructions or teaching about breastfeeding. And so. I think I just kind of assumed like, oh, it’s a natural thing. It’s going to be easy and there will not be any troubles.

I really had no idea. I just thought you just slap them on and off you guys go. And so. My baby came home from the hospital and we started breastfeeding and it hurt and I knew that sometimes it hurts. I’m not, I’m learning now that most people think it hurts and they just assume that and expect that because that’s what people say like, Oh, it hurts, but it’s what you’re supposed to do.

I didn’t have that, but I, because I didn’t, you know, I didn’t have people telling me what it was going to be like, and I just. you know, didn’t really learn that much about it prior. And so I was told by the nurse that worked with us for our prenatal appointments that it may hurt and but after like two weeks, it shouldn’t hurt anymore.

And so two weeks came and went and it was still hurting. And I was like, Hmm, I feel like something’s wrong, but I don’t really know. And so. I started reaching out to, I was living in East Lansing at the time, East Lansing, Michigan, and so I just started reaching out to local resources, and so there was this local free resource called Lansing baby cafe and it’s like every week and they it’s free help and you just show up and If you have questions, there’s all kinds of lactation consultants there and they offer you advice and talk you through things and answer questions and so I started going there.

I went there a few times and You know, it didn’t help much. I thought I was taught a new hold and that seemed to help but then it just went right back to being painful and then I reached out to my pediatrician and to my, there was an IBCLC that worked for the pediatrician. I asked her. I was just reaching out to a lot of people as more time was passing on.

I was still in excruciating pain. And everybody basically dismissed me. It was more of like a, it wasn’t a like blatant, you know, dismissal, but it was more of a like, well, his latch looks fine. It shouldn’t hurt. And I was just like, well, it does. Yeah. 

Heather: Oh, I hate that. 

Angie Sanchez: Yeah. And so I, I’m also a very determined person when I, you know, set my mind to something.

And especially if you. tell me that I can’t do something. It’s usually my like signal to, you know, you’re going to sit here and watch me do this. And so that’s kind of how I felt was like something’s trying to make me not do this and that’s not going to happen. So I just kind of, you know, pushed through.

We ended up pumping a lot. We weren’t exclusively pumping, but we were pumping a lot more than, you know, an exclusively. breastfed baby just because it was so painful. So I started joining all the Facebook groups and those, I just, I, it was just like scrolling all the time, looking like what’s, you know, trying to look for the issues.

And one of my friends said I’m going to hook you up with a lactation consultant that I know. I was like, yeah, sure. This is probably like the 10th person that I’ve talked to, you know, it’s probably not going to be any different, but. you know, let’s give it a go. And so she, I was trying to explain to her through messenger, like, you know, chatting what was going on.

And I was like, let me draw you a picture. And so I was on my iPad and I drew a picture of what my nipple looked like after I had done breastfeeding. And right as I Drew that picture, and then I sent it to her through Messenger and I was waiting for her reply. I got back on Facebook, I’m scrolling through one of the Facebook groups and I see somebody, I see the words, looks like a tube of lipstick, and I was like, yes, just Drew, that’s what I just drew.

This is it. This is what I’m looking for. So then, yeah, I, you know, dug through the whole comment section of that and was like, He has a tongue tie. He’s, my kid’s got a tongue tie and nobody has said anything. So at this point we were, you know, he was like, I don’t know, eight or nine weeks at this time. So we had been, you know, breastfeeding that long in pain.

I reached out to Lansing, East Lansing has a breastfeeding like support group. as well. I reached out to them and asked them if they had any preferred IBCLCs and preferred providers for correcting the tongue tie. It was a local IBCLC that they referred me to and she came over and of course I had to pay this out of pocket because my insurance didn’t cover it.

Maureen: No, it never does. 

Angie Sanchez: Yeah, so we Had her come over there was it was like it ended up being like a four hour consult, right? Like she was trying very hard to help me out and we did a lot of things and she did a weighted feed and then you know and honestly I have to give her credit for this because I think she really did save me and my breastfeeding relationship because one of the first things she said was When she got there was like, first of all, is this what you want to do?

Like you, you don’t need to do this. If you know, you don’t want to do this. And I’m like, no, I absolutely do want to do this. And I was also up like head PPD. And so I was just super emotional. And then there was a point where I’d just gotten so frustrated. And I was like falling and she’s like trying a, you know, a bunch of different positions and trying to help me out.

And I lost it. And then she was just like, can I give you a hug? And like, I’m not a hugger. So it, but in that moment I was like, yes. And so, you know, she gave me a hug and it was the first time that I felt like heard basically like, this is frustrating. I need help and nobody’s really helping me. And it was the first time I felt like somebody was actually helping me.

And so. After that, she basically, you know, said, you, I think you should take them to, you know, a pediatric dentist or an ENT and have them evaluated for a tongue tie. So we did that and got his tongue tie clipped and put him on the breast immediately. So while we’re in the dentist’s office, she was like, you know, we’re going to.

Cut it and then, you know, and he’s going to be screaming and then immediately we’re going to put him on the breast. And so I want to say he was like 10 weeks at the time. So it’s now 10 weeks into breastfeeding in like excruciating pain. And it was the first, it was the first time where like we put him on the breast and it was the first time where I was like, oh my gosh, like this is what it was supposed to have been like the whole time.

Yeah. It was the first time in 10 weeks where it was like not excruciating pain. It was Just, I was like, why, you know, this took this all of this time. So after that, then everything was great. And so now I had time to focus on my baby and doing, you know, being a mother and doing those things instead of trying to figure out what’s wrong.

And that’s what led me to. Thinking about why did it take all of this in order to get to this point? It shouldn’t have taken all of that. And no, 

Heather: it definitely should not have. And that is not unfortunately isolated to you. That is a very, very common story. Like start to finish exactly the steps that you just talked about is, is, I mean, I could have told you five minutes into this conversation, your kid had a tongue tie because it.

presents this way every single time. And usually people, by the time they get to me, they’re like, yeah, this probably isn’t going to work. You probably aren’t going to tell me anything different, but here we are. And I’m like no, a hundred percent. This is not you. And like, I always try to tell people like, although your baby is perfect, this is a, your baby problem.

This isn’t a you problem. And I think like our whole society is. set up to be like, what aren’t you doing correctly? Absolutely. What is the mom doing wrong? And I’m like, sometimes these perfect babies are the ones that have the problem and it’s okay to tell parents that their baby has a little bit of a tongue tie.

It’s fine. Yeah. 

Angie Sanchez: Yep.

Maureen: Heather, when you were nursing Heidi, did you get thirsty every 

Heather: single time? Every single time I sat down to nurse, it was like the Sahara desert had taken up residence in my mouth. Same, and 

Maureen: my go to drink right now is Liquid 

Heather: IV. Oh, me too. Liquid IV makes your water work harder, because it has a hydration multiplier in it that’s great tasting, non GMO, and it actually has cellular transport technology that delivers hydration to the bloodstream faster and more efficiently than water alone.

Maureen: You can also get their immune support blend, energy blend, or even one that helps with your sleep 

Heather: health. My personal favorite is lemon lime, and I think it actually makes me drink water two times faster, which is always handy when you have a screaming baby in the room. I 

Maureen: really like the tangerine, and if you want to try that today, you can go to the link in our show notes and use our discount code milk underscore minute for 

Heather: 15% off your order.

That’s milk underscore minute for 15% off your liquid IV today. Happy drinking!

I tell all my patients who are brand new parents to put a list of soothing techniques on their refrigerator so they can both remember what they’ve already tried for soothing baby. I like to put a happy 

Maureen: tummy on that list. It’s a natural herbal wrap that soothes and relieves pain instantly and it’s so fuzzy.

Heather: It’s so great. It helps babies sleep at night, resolves colic, gas, or constipation, and it’s great because it has a little cute animal on the front for when they’re doing tummy time, which provides gentle pressure to help them get their toots 

Maureen: out. And you know what? They’re not just for babies. They have them for teens and adults, 

Heather: too.

So if you’re struggling with those period pains, get your Herbal Warm Happy Tummy Wrap today by going to happytummy. com, and if you love us, enter promo code MILKMINUTETEN for 10% off. That’s Milk Minute 

Maureen: 10 for 10% off your Happy Tummy. Thank 

Heather: you so much for supporting the show.

So, your son’s tongue tie was corrected, and instantly you felt relief, and also simultaneously felt anger that it took you that long to get answers, so. What did you do with your anger? Because I tend to take my anger and harness it into businesses and trying to make change and never sleeping and, you know, tackling it head on.

So what did you do with 

Angie Sanchez: this? Yes, I did one of those as well. I decided that I wanted to make some change. I, well, first, I reached out to some friends that I knew had had babies recently, you know, and asked them. If they tried breastfeeding, and the answer for every single one of them, and these are all like indigenous folks that I’m speaking to, and the answer for every single one of them was that yes, they wanted to, they tried, but they quit, and it was either because they weren’t making enough milk, or they didn’t know what they were doing, and they didn’t have any, they didn’t know who to turn to for help.

And I was like, yeah, that sounds… That sounds like, you know, the same problem I had really, which was I needed help and wasn’t getting the help that I needed. And so I wanted to get in this space. And prior to this, I, you know, I have an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in communications. And I’ve spent my whole career as an analyst for companies helping businesses make.

business decisions. So I’m, you know, like a numbers person, a business kind of person. So I had no, you know, health degree. I’ve never worked in this space. I just knew I needed to do something. So I reached out to a couple of friends who I knew, knew some things about breastfeeding and also knew that this was There was an issue in indigenous communities and said, let’s, you know, figure out how we can fix this.

We’re going to start a nonprofit. We’re going to do something. So another friend then was working for the Intertribal Council of Michigan at the time. And she was having this like parent coalition program, asks us to join. So we joined that. And then a few months later. She said, Oh we’re going to have this indigenous.

It was called Indigenous Breastfeeding Course at the time. It’s now changed its name to Indigenous Lactation Counselor Training. And she was like, it’s a, it’s a week long. I can, you know, pay for you to come up here, give you some mileage and pay for your hotel. And you don’t have to pay for the training.

It’s a free training. And I was like, sure, I’ll come, you know, take the training. I had no idea what I was getting into. The first day of, the first day of the training. The two facilitators introduced themselves to us. Cami Goldhammer, who is an IBCLC from Seattle, and then her best friend who facilitates the program with her, Kimberly Moore Salas she is Navajo and was from Arizona.

And the gist of this was that Cami, they’re both IBCLCs, and Cami, the one who wrote the program she developed this because she realized how two things as an IBCLC, that because of our history, indigenous folks history, with all the things that we deal with, with generational trauma and historical trauma, that there isn’t a single IBCLC of, you know, the however many thousands of IBCLCs there are.

In the United States, there isn’t a single one that’s fully equipped to be able to counsel an Indigenous person in lactation because they don’t know. The main thing for us is our history and where we come from and can’t really relate fully to the Indigenous person that they’re trying to counsel. And, Also, as an IBCLC, realize that the IBCLC credentials is super inaccessible for our people, the cost of it, the length, the commitment, the, you know, trying to find a mentor, all these things are just It’s difficult for indigenous folks to do if that’s something that they even want to do.

Right. And so she said, I’m going to write my own course, a 45 hour course, because we, nobody needs that, those credentials. We have been doing this in our communities, you know, for 10, 000 years. We have folks that know how to counsel our own people and so I’m just going to write my own course. And so that’s what she did.

So this is the course that I was embarking on and that very first day. Oh, so prior to this point, you know, several months had passed and I was reaching out to folks saying, you know, I need a medical degree of some sort in order to work in this. space later, right? Like, yeah, I’m not, I’m not going to go back and be a doctor.

Like, no, no, no way. No, I was like, I’m, I’m too old to, I could probably become a nurse, but I’m also too old to do that. Like I just, yeah. So I was like, I don’t want to do that. And then I’m like, well, I guess I could get a master’s in public health. And so I was like, you know, contemplating that, but. But then thought to myself, if I’m going to go back to school, I don’t want to go back for a second master’s degree.

So let’s figure out how we can swing this into a PhD. And so I, one of my good buddies. I was visiting her and her husband is a Ph. D. in Geography and he knew that I was struggling and knew that I wanted to go back to school and he was like, well, can I interest you in a Ph. D. in Health Geography? And I was like, what the F is that?

Like I literally was like, I have no idea what you’re talking about, you know, or what this means. He said that one of his current students that he was advising at the time was in South Dakota, mapping. Maternal infant health care resources for the tribes out there. And I was like, oh my gosh, that’s so smart.

Yeah. I was like, yes, that’s what I’m talking about. Let’s do this. So yes, he was like, well, let’s start looking up some research. And he cracked open a bottle of wine and we sat there for an afternoon and started looking up research in this space. Specific to indigenous people, programs, et cetera. And then he was like, there isn’t really anybody doing this research right now.

The research on breastfeeding in indigenous communities is few and far between. And he’s like, this I think it would be a good fit. And so I was like, sweet, sign me up. What’s next? And then he’s like, well, where do you want to go to school? And I was like, well, I live in East Lansing. And he’s like, let’s look up MSU.

So he opened up MSU’s geography webpage. And he went to the one faculty member that. was a health geographer. And her bio on the website says that she does research in maternal and infant health care disparities in black communities. And I was like, this, this right here, this is what I’m talking about.

Yeah. So I called her up. Or emailed her and a week later I was in her office and giving my little speech about why I needed to do this and I think she even like shed a tear, which was like, as I was telling 

Maureen: my story. That’s a good elevator speech. 

Heather: Yeah, she like just witnessed a unicorn being born. 

Angie Sanchez: And I mean, that’s about what she said afterwards.

She goes, you know, I’ve been looking for 20 years for somebody to do this work and like nobody wants to do it. So she’s like this. I, you know, I need you in this program. So she then helped me, you know, walk through what I needed to do to apply to the program. This was in fall of would have been 2018 then.

Yeah, I so I got in and I found out that I got in in that spring of 2019. So it was like March. And I took this, I signed up to take this indigenous breastfeeding counselor training program. And that was in at the end of April or early May. I can’t remember. But anyway, so it was just shortly after I got admitted to the program.

And again, I walked in on this first day of training. Meeting these two beautiful people who were speaking to me in my language, which is, you know, talking about their families and where they come from and like their community and like. You know, this is just like how indigenous folks get along with each other is by we relate to each other, like relationships in our communities are very, very important.

And so that first day I stood up and was like, I didn’t know this existed. This is amazing, and I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to somehow figure out a way to bring you guys. back to Michigan, because I want to do this for all the indigenous people in Michigan who want to take this training.

And this is this happen. I just got accepted to the PhD program at Michigan State, you know, but mark my words, we’re going to make this happen. And so then in fall is when I started. So it was not even a year since I had Made my declaration that I wanted to go back to school and do something in this space and I was starting school starting a PhD program and that very first semester, this grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

It was a food and nutrition grant came across my email and I said to so the woman that I interviewed with, she ended up obviously becoming my advisor. So she’s my PhD advisor. And so I was like, Hey, Sue, I think we should try this. It’s a nutrition grant and what’s the best first nutrition is breast milk.

So let’s apply. And she was like, sounds good. So we applied for it and. To be perfectly honest, I really had no, I did not think I was going to get the grant. I’ve never written for a grant in my life. It was for half a million dollars. 

Heather: Oh my God, Angie I’m so glad that you are highlighting a different path in general because I think a lot of people find that the path to an IBCLC is cumbersome and unaccessible, no matter who you are.

So I can’t even imagine you add a couple more. Disparities on top and it’s like nearly impossible. So highlighting these different paths to get there, such as like a healthcare geography, PhD is incredible. And it actually kind of just spurred an idea. Like what if we actually did a little mini series of like alternative paths to get to helping, you know, in lactation.

I do have a question though, if you don’t mind me interrupting. My own, my only bugaboo listening to this is that I am really big on people getting paid for their contributions to the community of lactation. And so, of course, anytime you have, like, a, a startup of any kind and Heavily education focused and you’re bringing in a lot of people and casting a wide net, it’s a lot harder, especially if you’re not going the traditional route of I B C L C where you can bill insurance and all of these things.

So did you get any pushback about that from, from anybody working in the indigenous community where they’re like, I, that’s nice, Angie, but like, I’d like to get paid to do this work, and how can they get paid doing it this way? 

Angie Sanchez: There wasn’t any pushback, but when I wrote for the grant, I specifically wrote in their funds for this.

So I wrote in there, I need to pay these folks who are taking the training, and I need to give them gas money. And I wrote in there that we needed so in our communities, we always have our kids with us. Right? So it’s very when we are working in the non indigenous spaces and let’s say we have a meeting.

Look, it’s frowned upon if I bring my kid with me. But indigenous communities, we always have our kids with us. They’re always with us. And so we are regularly, you know, like when we do ceremonies, we don’t like there’s nothing that’s just for adults. It’s, this is, you know, our kids are with us, and so this grant was written with Indigenous communities in mind, and so I was like, Many of the parents who are going to want to take this course probably have kids themselves and, you know, childcare is going to be a barrier.

So let’s take care of that. So what I did was I wrote in there in the grant that I needed to hire a person that would be in the room. That’s just kind of like entertaining the kids and corralling them. Not necessarily like we’re not going to take them to a different room. We’re not going to do any of that stuff.

They’re going to be here in the same room. The kids are always going to be able, you know, mom is going to be within reach or, you know, within earshot, but somebody needs to come and kind of help corral the kids. And so for a lot of the folks taking the trainings, it was a little bit uncomfortable at first because they were like.

You know, trying to shush their kids. And we were like, no, nope, we don’t, we don’t shush kids. Right. You know, that’s why we have microphones. If the facilitators need to get louder, they can get louder. Right. So you know, by day two, then everybody’s like, okay, this is cool. My kids can be running around here, make it all kinds of noise and it doesn’t matter, which is another, 

Maureen: it’s so wonderful, like.

You know, and it’s like, okay, this one tiny story, this one small issue is a really great way to just reinforce, you know, to everyone listening, this is why we need indigenous breastfeeding professionals and why we need people who are indigenous. To be the ones behind projects like this, you know somebody outside of the community would not have thought, Oh yes, everybody needs to bring their kids.

I’ll pay for childcare. And, and there’s just another barrier to getting that education, to getting the kind of support and help that they need. Like, I don’t know, it’s, it’s really incredible. To hear you talk about that stuff and remind people that cultural norms are going to be different. And yes, that plays into health care and support and postpartum support and all of that.

Heather: Yes. Yeah. And also, can I just add that historically, when lactation education was just beginning, Passed down from generation to generation. Part of the way we did that was by witnessing people breastfeed as children. And we’re watching our parents troubleshoot and we’re watching grandma help. And we’re, you know, we’re getting that information from a very young age.

So it’s not as far of an intellectual leap when you’re postpartum and you suddenly feel like you have to get a PhD in breastfeeding to feed your baby. Yes. So I agree. I think it’s 

Angie Sanchez: great. Yeah. And so that was another thing that kind of. Spurred this for me and the work that I’m doing because I, so I’ve grown up knowing and hearing about boarding schools and residential schools.

I’ve grown up hearing stories about how blankets full of smallpox were given as gifts to our people so that they could kill those folks off and how boarding schools and residential schools was also a form. of state sponsored genocide. Like they were really basically just trying to Get rid of indigenous folks and they knew and by they, meaning the United States government and churches, Catholic Church and the other church organizations that were running these boarding schools knew that this is how we do it.

We got to make them lose their culture and if they lose their culture, then we’re going to be getting rid of the problem. And so. With that history of boarding schools and residential schools and everything else. So again, these are things that we’ve grown up knowing and learning about, but it’s not general knowledge.

Like you don’t learn about this and in schools. And so we know these things took place. And so that’s what I started thinking about. I’m like, Why is it that, like, my mom wasn’t a breastfed baby? Why is it that she doesn’t know anything about this? And why is it that I’m not learning this from my mom? And the reason is because, like, a hundred years ago, they say it’s about 90% of school age.

Children, indigenous Children, 90% of them were in boarding schools and they would take them like kidnap them. It was literal, like families to give their kids to them and threaten them. They were going to go to jail if they didn’t, you know, send their kids to this boarding school. And so now you have All a generation or generations of indigenous folks who are growing up in this church school, which is nothing about our cultures, right?

And so, and they’re not growing up by their families anymore. They’re not seeing all these things, so they’re not seeing their siblings being breastfed because they’re in this boarding school and they’re going to sleep at night in a cot in a room with like a hundred other students and, you know, crying themselves to sleep because they don’t have mom or dad or grandma or auntie or whoever was in their community that they, you know, would previously have gone to for comfort.

And so that was another thing, another reason why I felt like it was important to do this because That is a part of our culture that got stripped away from us. Breastfeeding is a part of our culture that got stripped away from us. Motherhood, parenting, this whole, you know, kind of system got a wrench put in it by the United States government and churches.

And I want to facilitate us going back to that, to that way of life where we care for our community members that same way. So that in a few years or however long it takes. Could be a couple generations that people are learning about birthing and parenting and breastfeeding and all these things related to rearing Children and families.

They’re learning that from their own community, not, you know, some book or some pediatrician or all the other places, you know, where people pick things up. They should be able to learn that from their own community, but also These things, especially breastfeeding, but for many indigenous folks, it’s, you cannot separate our ceremonies from our ways of life.

Like, so just taking a walk in the woods. And going to the water and like saying prayers by the water and giving thanks for the water. That’s like a five minute ceremony that we would have that most other people when they’re going for a walk in the woods, don’t really consider as being ceremony, but for us it is.

And so we view a lot of things as ceremony that other non Indigenous folks. You know, don’t view a ceremony and breastfeeding is one of those things like this is a a ceremony that we have a right to reclaim in our community and Yeah, I just wanted to be a part of 

Heather: There’s a wonderful children’s book called I’m in Charge of Celebrations and it’s written by an indigenous woman and I’ll look it up and I’ll link it in the show notes because I read it to my kids all the time.

It was given to me as a gift, but it’s about just that and she’s basically just walking through her world and she’s creating celebrations along the way. She’s like, today is rainbow celebration day because I got to see a double rainbow and it’s beautiful. It’s like the art is absolutely beautiful and it really does.

And I think that you know, it’s interesting to think about also simultaneously in time, while that was happening to indigenous people, what was happening with breastfeeding in the white community. Yes. It was also was. Yes. It’s also not great, but completely different. Yeah, it’s a, it’s a big 

Maureen: double whammy there of not only losing cultural knowledge about breastfeeding, but then also losing medical knowledge about it in the world outside of there.

Heather: Right. Yeah. So that became like a hundred miles of layers between indigenous people and breastfeeding. And certainly I’m sure it was very far from ceremonial feeding a baby at that point. Yes. So, yeah. So with your Ph. D. Work and are you finished by the way? Or are you a B. D. Or, 

Angie Sanchez: I am neither. I because we got this grant, we’re doing things a little bit backwards.

So normally the course would be you take your courses, then you write your dissertation proposal and then you go do the research and then, you know, Well, I, because we got this grant, I started doing the research right away. So I did the research for this fall. I’ll be doing my comps and doing my dissertation proposal.

And then in the spring, I’ll be writing my dissertation. So the hope is to graduate next spring. So spring of 24. 

Heather: Oh my gosh, you’re going to be so busy. I mean, you’re already so busy, but. What is happening next? Or what is your hope for the next step? So you’ve you’ve got this grant, you’re working with people at the ground level, and you’re collecting data along the way.

What data are you hoping to collect? And then what changes are you hoping to make as a result of that? 

Angie Sanchez: So the data that I’m trying to collect is understanding the reasons for why folks in our communities Why their breastfeeding journeys didn’t go the way that they wanted it to, right? So, like I said, every time I asked somebody why, you know, they, if they breastfed their babies and they all said they quit because they didn’t have anybody to turn to and they weren’t making enough milk and you know, what I’ve learned since then is that the second part, I’m not making enough milk, like it’s few and far between when somebody is actually legitimately not making enough milk.

It’s just a thing in our head, and we’re like misreading cues from the baby and assuming that, you know, our pump output equals what the baby’s getting, and there’s just so many factors that go into why Somebody thinks that they’re not making enough milk when really that’s probably not the case and they don’t know that they just think that so then they’re just like, Oh, well, I guess I got to give the baby formula because they’re always hungry all the time.

So I must not be making enough milk. So then they give formula and then that makes output go down because they’re not, you know what I mean? It’s this like spiral of death to the milk production. And then the other thing was about not having anybody to turn to. That is the thing that I want. To turn around.

I want indigenous folks to have in their communities somebody that they know of that’s become the like go to person for this kind of work. You know, like our society is now set up in a way that like it. We’re never going to go back to the way it was 100 years ago, meaning, you know, where we have communities that so, you know, 100, 150 years ago, when somebody had a baby, they would have had a baby like in a birthing lodge, and there would have been lots of aunties there and grandmas and mom and sisters and friends who would be there and helping teach all these things, right?

Now, like just the way society is, we don’t, we don’t necessarily have that, and we can’t really go back to it because people need to make money, people need to work, people, you know, this capitalist society we live in kind of prevents that from happening. So we have to rethink how, how we do that community care.

And so the way I see that happening is kind of what you alluded to earlier, which is is paying folks to do this stuff, right? So some of us do, so some of us do do this work anyway. We do the work whether we’re getting paid or not, but that’s not really fair and they should be getting paid to that. So we need to kind of refigure the system so that it works, so that we get to take care of our community members, but also that’s not putting us at a disadvantage because now I can’t work because I’m, you know, over at this house every single day helping this new mother Right.

Take care of their baby and take care of their house and, you know, teach them things that they need. So that’s kind of what we’re doing in the middle of doing is just trying to figure out how to, how to change that system a little bit. So, you know, we, a few of us that took that first indigenous lactation counselor training in 2019.

Have stayed together, you know, on the social networks and we started a collective of like birth workers in general because we have a lot of doulas in our communities to and postpartum doulas and just kind of started thinking out loud. Like dreaming, what does this look like? How do we make this happen?

And so, we formed a collective, we’re called Sacred Waters Collective, and everybody brings a different area of expertise to this group of people. Like I said, some people are doulas, some people are postpartum, some people are lactation. counselors. Some folks are just policy people like some of our folks.

We have like 32 for sure trying to think off the top of my head that our policy people that are at the state every single day having meetings and talking to people and advocating for the work that we’re doing. Our sacred waters collective group is trying to become at least for Michigan and like the surrounding areas.

The go to resource for tribes For IHS clinics within tribes for indigenous folks, no matter where they live, whether they live in their home community, or if they’re just, you know, urban live in Detroit or Lansing and Grand Rapids, we want Sacred Waters Collective to be the go to like, here’s where we start, like, we’re going to contact them, I need a lactation counselor, I need a doula.

And then from there, we can, you know, sort of source it out to somebody in their area that’s That can help them, but like I said, we have to figure out a way to pay them because, you know, we have, somebody has to, people need to live, right, and you can’t, even though we would, we have a sense of duty to our community members to do this work, it’s not always possible just because of, you know, like I said, it’s the, it’s the, I, I have to live too, I got bills to pay too, for sure, and so, yeah, we have to make it 

Heather: sustainable, it’s easy, it’s, It’s also our profession is more at risk for that happening because of the type of people that are drawn to it.

Yes. It’s typically women, typically very caring people, very nice people, maybe not like bulldog personalities. It’s very like sweet. Like, can I help you? I would say Maureen and I are the atypical lactation consultant. We’re just like, all right, what’s going on? Like, what kind of policies can I change? And like, yes, we’re getting paid and like all these other things, but I think it’s, it’s kind of easy to discount it as like, Oh, they’re just being nice.

Like the nice people will take care of it. And it’s like, no, no. The nice people need to be not charged a competency tax. That’s what needs to happen here. So I’m really glad that your research is highlighting all of those gaps in care and it sounds like you’ve got a lot of programs in your future that are going to be put in place and I’m sure tweaked along the way.

Because that’s what you do. That’s what you do. You just start it. It’s a mess. And then you tweak. 

Maureen: At least that’s how we start things. And I, I just wanted to highlight too, you know, you mentioned you’ve got research going on, but you’ve a lot of resources available. I mean, so I, of course, in preparation to talk again, went to your website.

I went to look at the NUNI project and I was like, Oh my gosh, you have a webinar series. You have all this stuff that we can just look at right now. If we need help, you know, and that’s really incredible. 

Angie Sanchez: Yeah. So the new knee project is what I ultimately called this project. The funding that we got from Michigan health endowment fund.

I needed a short kind of name because when we put in the application, the name of the project was so long and it was again, I was going to get it. So I was like, eh, that’s a good title. Right? Sure. Let’s submit it. And we got it. And I’m like, Oh no, we can’t call it that. So duty is. In Ojibwe word, which means he or she suckles at the breast.

So he or she breastfeeds. And so in the area where I’m from in Michigan, many folks speak Anishinaabemowin, which is the language of the tribes in this area. The Ojibwe and Odawa people speak Ojibwe and Botawatomi people also, the language is very similar. They have their own language, but it’s. It’s very similar.

And so that’s what I call the project. So part of the funding was to build this website. So we built the website. We used it initially. So when we were doing the trainings, so we wrote in the grant to bring the indigenous lactation counselor training to Michigan to six different indigenous communities in Michigan, and we use the website initially for like registration.

So we would like You know, tweet it out or Facebook post this training’s coming up in this community. If you’d like to take it, here’s where you go to register. And so in the program, one of the communities had to back out at the last minute and it was too much and too late to try to organize, to move to a different community.

Right. So just last minute we were. Thinking it through, I was thinking it through with Kami and Kim, and I’m like, Hey, why don’t we do a webinar series that are for healthcare providers? Because during all of these trainings, I would constantly get emails. and requests from non Indigenous, like nurses or pediatricians or home visitors, you know, folks who do this work and who have Indigenous clientele, WIC folks and peer counselors, all that kind of stuff.

Yeah, they’re 

Heather: like, can you help us not screw this up? 

Angie Sanchez: Right, basically. So they were like calling saying, can we take this training? And I was, you know, the answer was, no, you can’t. Cause this is not a, this is not a cultural sensitivity training. This is a training. to teach indigenous folks foundation electation education so that they can take care of their own communities.

So this isn’t for you. So because I was getting so many requests, I’m like, what if we just did a series of webinars and sent this to all those folks who were requesting to take the course and we can Teach them some culture and here’s how, you know, here’s how, here’s how you are screwing it up. Let’s figure out how to fix it.

And so that’s what we switched to just off the cuff and we recorded some webinars and was like, let’s, all right, here we go. Now we’re going to post them on the post them on the website. So those are still there. 

Maureen: Awesome. Yeah, we will definitely link that because we have a lot of health care providers that listen to the podcast, you know, a lot of other lactation professionals, nurses, everything.

And I will absolutely go watch some of those too. I’m very thankful that you guys made those. 

Heather: Yeah. Yeah. And before we get out of here, do you have any other resources that you wanted to share or did you want to drop any of your socials so people can follow you if they will, if they want to? Or a way to ate.


Angie Sanchez: Yes. So the new Uni project is my, my dissertation project, and it just focuses on lactation resources. So you can check that out. It’s just uni N O O N I. Project. com. Sacred Waters Collective is our bigger group that does a little bit more stuff. And obviously, you know, NUNI Project partners with Sacred Waters.

Sacred Waters partners with NUNI Project. But I’m also on You know, like an officer of, of the Sacred Waters Collective, that website is sacredwaterscollective. co and that we actually just like two days ago, got our nonprofit status approved. We partnered with Michigan Breastfeeding Network for another grant, a different grant to get us organized so that we can, like I said, become that go to resource for folks looking for.

Places to secure resources for their indigenous clientele. So by the time this airs, we will have a donation button on the Sacred Waters Collective website. It’s not there now, but it will be. And yeah, if folks want to go there and donate because, you know, like I said, we, most of the work that we do, we’re doing it for free.

And so, like, right now we have a client where We gave her money to pay her doulas because she didn’t have, you know, she needed assistance. So we’re like, yep, here you go. And we just sent her money, said, do, do what you want with it. And then also she wanted to take a breastfeeding course. And so we asked any of our members, if they wanted to do lactation course with her.

And then we paid that person on behalf of the client, right? So she didn’t have to pay for. lactation course. She just got to get the help that she needed. And so these funds, if anybody wants to donate, that’s what you’d be supporting is us taking care of our community members. We do it for free. 

Heather: What if they’re in Canada, just above Michigan?

Angie Sanchez: So we don’t have any As far as I know, we don’t have any, like, regulations saying, you know that the funds can be used, you know, or can’t be used for folks in Canada. We do, like, I did train a bunch of folks from Canada when, when we were doing the Indigenous Lactation Counselor courses in Michigan last year.

We had lots of our Canadian relatives come over to take the training, you know. 

Heather: Okay, good, because we didn’t want to forget about our Canadian friends, because we get emails from them a lot where they’re like, does this apply 

Maureen: to me? 

Angie Sanchez: The, so the Indigenous Lactation Counselor Training Program, they have a Facebook page too.

They teach the course in whoever requests them, right? So they go into communities that ask them to come there. And so they teach all over the United States, Canada, and the Pacific Islands. 

Heather: Cool. Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I feel like we’re going to have to have another interview in the future where we do a follow up and see how everything is going.

And maybe we’ll let you finish your dissertation first so you can breathe a little bit and then, and then we’ll see how we can help and what’s changed. And I’m always curious about any data. I mean, you had said there, there’s not a lot of breastfeeding data in indigenous folks. And I’m like, I bet, because there’s 

Maureen: not.

You’re going to have 

Heather: it. You’re going Yeah, there’s not a lot of breastfeeding data period about anybody. So this is 

Angie Sanchez: awesome. Yeah. Yeah, I’m excited. So yes, I’m happy to come back and do a follow up podcast. Whatever works. Awesome. 

Maureen: Thank you so much for taking time to tell us about all of this today. This was such a good conversation.

I’m so excited about your work. I’m like, I’m really excited to see, you know, the culmination of your PhD project and all of that. So we’re going to be following along. Absolutely. I hope everybody out there donates to the Sacred Waters Collective. We will link that in our show notes. I’m sure even just a couple of dollars goes a really long way for small organizations like 

Angie Sanchez: this.

Yes. That would be super appreciated. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. 

Heather: Absolutely. Have a great day. Okay. Wow. So there’s Angie for you and just yet another amazing person in the lactation field who was like, you know, what’s broken everything. I’m going to go fix it. 

Maureen: I, I mean, we, we love someone who just jumps in head first with no plan, because that’s what we do every time.

And you know what? I think it turns out great, everybody. I think the Noonee project looks amazing and everything else that she’s doing. Please, please go donate to her projects. Especially go to that Sacred Waters Collective website and donate because bringing breastfeeding support, birth support, all of that to people who can’t afford it, to indigenous communities.

It’s so important and it really does change health 

Heather: outcomes. It sure does. All right. Well, that was really fun for me and I know it was fun for you and I hope it was fun for Angie and as much fun as you can have when you’re in the middle of your PhD. But let’s take a minute to thank a sponsor before we get to our favorite segment, the award in the alcove.

If you’re pumping milk away from your baby at all, at work, or wherever you go, you deserve a Bougie product to make that easier for you. You 

Maureen: deserve a series chiller. And frankly, I could not live without one 

Heather: right now. The Series Chiller is an excellent way to store your breast milk safely, and it keeps your breast milk cold for 24 hours.

It is the 

Maureen: only thing I use to transport my breast milk to and from work. While I’m working, it’s got a sleek and beautiful design, lots of great colors, high quality materials, and 

Heather: manufacturing. Series Chill also has other products that you might want to check out too. My personal favorite is the Milk Stash.

They have a great nipple shield 

Maureen: that actually changes colors, and it’s not clear like all the other ones. And you know how we feel about that. If you want to have your very own Series Chiller, please go to the link in our show notes and use code MilkMinute15 

Heather: at checkout. That’s MilkMinute15 for 15% off your Series Chill products.

Enjoy. All right, welcome back, everybody. Today’s award goes to Lindsey K. from our Facebook group. Poor Lindsey. Lindsey says, Six ounces down the drain. Sad emoji. Next time, I will not allow my two year old to help. Knew this group would understand. Luckily, I have some stockpiled, but it hurt. He even said, Mama, you sad?

Yes, buddy. I’m moving on, though. Oh, God. Yeah, Lindsay, we want to congratulate you and award you on not kicking your two year old out of the house and for being so gracious to just clean it up and move on because that’s what we do as moms. Yes. 

Maureen: I’d like to give you the keepin your cool award because it is really hard to manage when your toddler messes up and that precious, precious milk gets 

Heather: wasted.

Lindsay, our heart goes out to you. And I do like it when people say spilled milk is for the babies in heaven. That just does make me feel a little bit better. 

Maureen: Awesome. Well, should we read a not so quick Apple review? Actually, this one’s kind of long. Yeah. Okay this one comes from Eugene and Abby, and it is five stars.

Thank you very much. It’s titled Educational, Inclusive, Authentic. With the Milk Minute, Maureen and Heather do what so few healthcare professionals can do, provide evidence based lactation and parenting education, while also meeting learners and clients wherever they’re at in their experience. Their conversational style is authentic, approachable, relatable, opening the door to more learning.

I started listening at the recommendation of a local LC who didn’t have time to see me as frequently as I needed in my daughter’s early days and weeks. Although I’m on baby number two, I still felt so new to the process and overwhelmed by the frustration of poor latch, sleep deprivation, tongue and lip tie, et cetera, and trying to decide if I needed to switch to exclusive pumping.

I started listening to the episodes. about those topics and soon found myself starting over at episode one inhaling all of the information that H& M had to offer. Was I planning to breastfeed a toddler and get a nipple piercing? No, did I still learn a lot from those episodes and get some belly laughs from H& M?

You bet. Also highly recommend their individual consultation service to further tailor the support to your individual needs. Highly recommend. Thanks, Maureen and Heather from your next door Maryland neighbor. 

Heather: Aw, hey! That was a really nice one. Thanks! That was really nice. She, she, she had it all in that review.

Maureen: Yes, yes, and we just want you to know we read every single review on Apple and the other places too, but I sometimes forget they exist. So, if you listen on Apple Podcasts, please leave us a review. You know, we, we 

Heather: just love to hear it. And it helps other people find us on Apple because that’s how algorithms work, I guess.

That’s what they say. I guess. I don’t know. Anyways, we gotta go. 

Maureen: All right. Well, thank you guys so much for listening to another amazing episode of the Milk Minute Podcast. The way 

Heather: we change this big system that is not set up for lactating families, especially Indigenous families, is by educating ourselves, our loved ones, and our families.

And our friends. 

Maureen: If you loved this episode or any other episode we’ve ever made, please tell your friends about it, tell your healthcare providers about it, or consider joining our Patreon. You can get ad free early episodes of The Milk Minute and exclusive access to Beyond the Boob. That is at patreon.

com slash Milk Minute Podcast. And 

Heather: if you want to peep Maureen’s new merch that she made for the podcast, it’s on our website. I forget that we did that. Yeah. Milkminutepodcast. com. Go see all the new fun t shirts and stickers and all the other cool stuff that Maureen has created specifically for you.

Yeah. All right. Bye bye. Bye bye.


Get behind the scenes access and exclusive perks when you support us on Patreon!