Julie's Village Advocates for Moms-to-Be
Julie Hamilton is a mom before anything else, when she speaks about her three children her entire face lights up. That is one of the reasons she is so proud to advocate on behalf of other moms. After some difficulty following the birth of her twins, Julie started her own non-profit, Julie’s Village, an advocacy organization aimed at supporting pregnant women in their decision whether or not to breastfeed.
“Our number one goal is preparedness,” Julie says. “When I was pregnant, nobody talked to me about breastfeeding or what to expect.”
Since the twins were Julie’s second pregnancy, nurses and doctors wrongly assumed that she did not need to prepare again. When Julie struggled she assumed it was her fault. She constantly worried her babies weren’t getting the nourishment they needed which resulted in even fewer hours of sleep than normally comes with newborn twins. She soon became depressed and medical issues even followed.
“All of this could have been avoided if I had just gotten the support I needed,” says Julie.
Now Julie is determined other moms-to-be don’t suffer the same way she did. One of the ways she is doing that is by battling some of the myths associated with breast feeding like it’s natural so it should be easy or it’s going to hurt. She also works to have mom understand barriers she may face and make a “How-to Roadmap” so she is prepared when the time comes. Above all else though, she advocates women build a support team.
“The biggest thing people can do for a new mom is provide support,” Julie tells me. “If you know a mom-to-be offer her encouragement as she begins breastfeeding. Being her advocate, asking questions for her, finding the proper tools and even giving her time by helping around the house - are some of the best ways to be part of her team.”
Julie’s Village is currently working as an outreach project to get these important ideas out into the community. The org teaches not only women, but medical providers what moms need from a mother’s point of view. She has helped develop a Mother’s Guide to Breast Feeding for hospitals and worked with the group NashVitality in order to get “Breast Feeding Welcome Here” decals put up at local businesses all over East Nashville. In addition, she has spoken on the United States Breast Feeding Committee and serves on several local boards including the Tennessee Breastfeeding Coalition.
In the end, Julie’s hope is that 100% of moms will have all the information and support they need to make their own choice. She knows that even though starting the journey of being a new mom is an amazing rewarding experience, it can be tough. Going forward though, Julie’s Village will be there to make it just a little bit easier.
“I was putting up my Christmas tree when I got the phone call,” says Teri Johnson-Hiett, referring to the moment she found out she had breast cancer. It was right around Thanksgiving in 2005, eight short months after losing her mother at age 51 to the same disease. Teri was only 29.
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