In August 2020, Open Arms Perinatal Services Breastfeeding Program became the Open Arms Lactation Support Program. We are making this change to be inclusive of the many identities of lactating families, which encompass LGBTQ+, as well as cis-gender heterosexual parenting people. Open Arms Lactation Support Program will provide trusted and trained Lactation Support Peer Counselors to assist all those who are lactating, pumping to feed their babies, pumping to donate to others, or receiving breast milk from donors.

For more information on how we can support you please contact us at lactation@openarmsps.org or call 206-866-0729.

Open Arms experienced Lactation Support Peer Counselors provide no cost, community-based lactation support to families. They prepare them for their feeding journey by providing education during pregnancy. Once the baby is born the Lactation Support Peer Counselors help initiate breast/chestfeeding within the first 24 hours of life and conduct check-ins every day for the first week, and frequently for the first six weeks. Lactation support continues throughout the first year

COVID-19 RESPONSE: Open Arms is taking necessary steps to protect our clients, employees, and community. We realize that parents still need lactation support. Lactation Support Peer Counselors are currently being matched with clients and conducting visits via phone and video conferencing with urgent in-person support being provided on a case-by-case basis.

Please see our COVID-19 Resource Page for information and resources to help your family.

Meet our Lactation Support Peer Counselors

Shevonne Tsegaye

African American Community

Mary Concepcion

Pacific Islander Community

Elizabeth Montez

American Indian/Alaska Native Community

Shevonne is a community-based birth doula, Lactation Support Peer Counselor, advocate, and birthing justice activist. After birthing and breastfeeding her own three children, she realized her passion for supporting other parents on their journey into parenthood and the postpartum period that follows. While providing perinatal and lactation support, Shevonne respects and protects parents space while providing a calm, nurturing, and judgement free environment. She offers practical, evidence-based information to support them in making informed decisions and believes in the importance of making sure birthing and lactating parents feel heard and supported throughout the entire perinatal season.

“When I see my precious son gaze into my eyes and grin that milky grin — the same eyes that looked into mine minutes after he careened out of my body; the eyes that convinced me that my only job was to keep this child thriving with the miraculous resources given to me though my body — not much else matter.”

– Salma Hayek

Mary Concepcion is a Lactation Support Peer Counselor proudly serving King County, with a special focus on the Pacific Islander community. “Be who you needed when you were younger.” is a phrase that Mary takes to heart.  Her past struggles as a new mom breastfeeding twin girls was the catalyst for her becoming a Lactation Support Peer Counselor.  She is a mother to three amazing daughters: teenagers and a full-fledged tweenager.  In another life Mary served her Air Force community as Key Spouse for the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron in Hawaii supporting families of frequently deployed combat Airman. She operated an in-home child care center in partnership with the US Navy at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. Mary is currently and IBCLC candidate and working towards her license as a massage therapist. She looks forward to combining lactation and perinatal support with body work to better serve babies and parents. She looks forward to connecting with caregivers during this beautiful journey of feeding babies. Her goal is to raise the breastfeeding rates of the Pacific Islander community.

“The natural power of breastfeeding is one of the greatest wonders of the world. It’s about real love. It’s about caring and celebrating the wondrous joy of nurturing a new life.” 

– Anwar Fazal

Elizabeth Montez is a member of the Perinatal and Lactation Support Collaborative team as a Lactation Support Peer Counselor and Supportive Pregnancy Health Educator. Elizabeth is a lactation professional (Lactation Support Peer Counselor, Lactation & Postpartum Educator, IBCLC candidate), a postpartum doula, a perinatal mental health advocate, a retired professional chef and eternal food justice advocate. She’s the mother of two sparkling humans, a member of the urban Native American and Latinx diaspora, a proud descendent of the Anishinaabe people of Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians. After battling birth trauma, a failure to thrive diagnosis, a hidden tongue tie, barriers to care and postpartum mood disruptions, she realized that birthing people and their families deserve more. Her personal journey includes actively decolonizing her life, and restoring supportive community to families is a key part of that. Every time folks come together in collaboration and support, it creates strong medicine to restore the connection and strength that our families need to thrive; this work weaves us back together, and Elizabeth is honored to be a thread in this beautiful tapestry of humanity.

“Food justice starts at birth, feeding babies can be a revolution.” 

– Elizabeth Montez

Timeline

Let our Lactation Support Peer Counselors join you during your lactation journey…

Those who identify as African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, or Pacific Islander are invited to join our Lactation Support Program from pregnancy through the 1st year of life.

Want to get connected with a Lactation Support Peer Counselor?

We have a new referral form that is fillable online.

This online form will be our new primary way to receive referrals. Clients are welcome to self-refer with this form. If you are unable to use the online form, referrals can still be made via email referrals@openarmsps.org, fax 206-257-4146 or by calling the Intake line at 206-866-0729.

Open Arms staff will usually reach out within five days to complete an intake conversation.

If you are a provided and would like to receive email updates about our Lactation Support Program please email lactation@openarmsps.org.

Are you pregnant?

Open Arms offers many programs to serve pregnant families. You may qualify for our Supportive Pregnancy Groups, Birth Doula Services or Community-Based Outreach Doula programs.

Click here to find out about all the programs that we offer to support families.