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Conversations with Lydia Boyd

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lydia Boyd.

Hi Lydia, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Breastfeeding wasn’t normalized in my family as I grew up. While my mother was breastfed, she would tell me that breastfeeding was something that white women did – we did not breastfeed our babies. Then, I had my baby at 28 weeks and she became my biggest breastfeeding supporter with no personal knowledge of breastfeeding. My mother had a twilight birth and received the shot to stop her milk production while she was still sedated. She knew instinctively that I needed to breastfeed her very small grandbaby. This was my introduction to what breastfeeding support looked like for Black families in my immediate network and age group.

After years of working in Information Technology and after a few career changes, I took a position at California Hospital Medical Center as an Executive Assistant to a perinatologist for the LA Best Babies Network; which works to address poor birth outcomes in LA County and piloted what is now known as the Welcome! Baby! Home Visitation program through First5LA. In this position, I learned about racial health disparities and maternal and infant mortality. Managing my supervisor’s email, I came across information, meetings, and data on breastfeeding rates and trainings. I took the opportunity to apply for a scholarship for a peer breastfeeding counselor training through Black Infant Health at the Department of Public Health, Pasadena. I went on to become a collaborative member for Soul Food for Your Baby and later the board of directors’ chair. Here is where I became known as one of the thought leaders within Black lactation in Los Angeles County. However, I did not have a higher certification within lactation.

In 2011, I took a position as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor with Watts Healthcare Corporation and received my certification as a Certified Lactation Educator through UC San Diego Extension Program. After years of wanting to do more, I began my journey towards becoming an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. I had to take all of the college courses in addition to most of the prerequisites. By the time I was finished with all of my clinical hours and college hours, I had to re-certify for my Certified Lactation Educator hours. In the midst of this, I had a medical emergency and we entered a pandemic. The first four days of the training was held in person, the last day was held virtual as the world was moving into stay at home orders.

As I prepared for my IBCLC exam in a pandemic, I was notified that my best friend’s brother was murdered by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The next day I sat for the International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant exam. I finished my exam. Sat in my car and cried and then drove to be with my friend. I received my passing exam results on December 17th, the day before my 50th birthday.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
No, it wasn’t a smooth road. However, I acknowledge that I have had a very privileged journey. I have an amazing social network and mentors within lactation and more specifically Black lactation. Taking the position as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor put me deep within the working poor population and has caused tremendous financial hardship for myself and my family. It has been hard to raise my son as a divorced mother making working poor wages. It has caused some depression and embarrassment. There were blessings along the way. I was able to apply for financial aid to cover my college courses. And I received scholarships to cover some of my lactation specific educational hours. I had to be creative and seek out opportunities to reach this goal.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a Lactation Consultant who ‘doulas’ my families. I support, guide and educate my birthing and breastfeeding families to make the best decision for themselves surrounding birthing and feeding options. My families are supported prenatally while breastfeeding, as they return to work or school and as they end their breastfeeding relationship. While my support is available for all family dynamics, I have an educated focus on Black families who have come through slavery in the U.S. I strive to bring healing to my community and bring our village back to a healthy place where breastfeeding is seen as positive and healthy for our families. Seeing my families embrace their awesomeness while feeding their genius babies on the best milk in town brings me so much joy. I understand that I’m a late bloomer in this field while considering myself an emerging elder. I bring a maternal touch to my families that doesn’t take the place of new grandparents but help to guide families into making breastfeeding part of their family tradition that will carry them through generations.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Leaving the Information Technology field to come into lactation is a huge risk. I knew that once I made this change, it would be very hard to come back. I had no idea how much money I was walking away. I took at 50% cut to my annual salary! That’s a huge risk. Now as an IBCLC, my next step is to make a change from a job with a pension to another organization or fully jump into private practice while launching a teaching course – The B.L.A.C.K. Course with my colleagues. Even at this age, I’ve had to question my faith, my calling, and my ability to actively participate in this next chapter in my life. But I’m here and I have to make a decision. Before the end of the year, we will see which door I take. I’m super excited to see how this journey looks and what experiences I have along the way.

Pricing:

  • In-Home Consult $350
  • In-Home Follow Up $175
  • Virtual Consult $100
  • Virtual Follow Up $75
  • Phone Consult $60

Contact Info:

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