For national Black Maternal Health Week, April 11 - 17, we're highlighting the Black maternal health crisis in Kentucky and beyond, and uplifting the work of Black birth workers in the commonwealth. For more information, visit:

Shanice Nelson's lactation experiences with her children were hard.  

She had three kids at ages 26, 27, and 29, and didn't realize it wouldn't be a "copy and paste" situation for each child, or that there were so many contributing factors that affect breastfeeding. When Shanice was pregnant with her third child, she was clinically diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety — 2 years after onset symptoms — and that greatly affected her milk supply. 

Breastfeeding can be more difficult for Black birthing people for several reasons that are products of systemic racism in healthcare. For example, hospitals in communities with an above-average Black population are significantly less likely to promote nursing than hospitals located in other neighborhoods. Black women are also more likely to experience in-hospital formula introduction, which is associated with lowered breastfeeding rates. 

Those facts, combined with Shanice’s own experiences with perinatal mood disorders and breastfeeding her own children, lit a flame under her to pursue a career as an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). But since Kentucky doesn't currently offer a lactation program or curriculum in a post-secondary institution, Shanice was forced to travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, to pursue her degree from Union Institute and University in Maternal and Child Health: Human Lactation. 

So, out of her own necessity, Shanice founded Anchored Beginnings Lactation to provide breastfeeding education and support that addresses the disproportionate statistics in breastfeeding initiation and duration rates that minority women experience. In collaboration with other maternal health and lactation professionals, she facilitates new parenting classes and groups every Tuesday at the Glow Worm Play Café in Louisville. 

Upon graduating and successful completion of her IBLCE Board Exam this fall, Shanice’s goal is to train the next generation of lactation professionals in the state of Kentucky, to ensure all Black birthing people have access to the evidence-based, culturally competent, lactation and postpartum care services and support they need to thrive. 

Follow Shanice on Instagram @MyAnchoredBeginnings or visit the Anchored Beginnings website for more information about her services, her lactation journey to IBCLC, Black maternal health, and more.