Breastfeeding class educates, creates community for teen mother

Terriana watches her son, Dontrez, work on his crawling skills.
Terriana watches her son, Dontrez, work on his crawling skills.(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Feb. 14, 2020 at 10:25 PM CST
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Pregnancy is a whirlwind experience, but for teens, it can be isolating. 3.2 percent of Lincoln teens gave birth in 2018, and one specialist is here to encourage them in their motherhood journey.

Terriana Thompson was just 16 when she learned she was pregnant with her son, Dontrez. From the beginning of her pregnancy, she was committed to breastfeeding. She liked the benefits of it, like the fact that it reduces risks of asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes and Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. But breastfeeding wasn't always the easiest choice.

"I felt like a robot, every time he would cry because he was hungry, I would cry because I didn't know what to do," Thompson said, sitting on the couch in a back room at they Clyde Malone Community Center, bouncing Dontrez on her knee.

Thompson said she's overjoyed now, but at the time, pregnancy was daunting.

"I was happy, but I was terrified and scared," she said. "I felt like I was alone. I was freaking out."

Soon she would learn, that was far from the truth.

Certified Community Breastfeeding Educator Dania DeLone was connected with Thompson through someone at her school. Instantly DeLone knew, she would walk Thompson through every aspect of this pregnancy because DeLone was also pregnant as a teenager.

"Just talking with her and meeting with her the first time, I knew her head was on straight.," said DeLone. "Just because we get pregnant at such a young age doesn't mean we don't have our heads on straight; doesn't mean our life is over."

DeLone facilitates four different classes for expecting mothers, ranging from pregnancy to a support group for breastfeeding teenagers. But DeLone's teaching style is a bit more "hands-on"

"I will get you ready for labor and delivery, we can talk about experiences," said DeLone. "I will go with you to your doctor's appointments, your OB appointments... There isn't a time of day when you can't call or text me."

One of DeLone's main focuses is to make sure African-American moms have a chance to breastfeed in an environment that encourages them.

"Black infants are 21 percent less likely to be breastfed than their white counterparts," said DeLone. "We do statistically know that white women will initiate breastfeeding and be more successful with breastfeeding because they have a circle of women to turn to.

Data from the CDC shows 60 percent of moms quit breastfeeding sooner than they planned. The CDC says certain factors make the difference in whether and how long babies are breastfed: hospital practices, education and encouragement, policies or supports in the workplace and access to community supports.

That's exactly the kind of world DeLone is trying to create for new-mom Thompson.

"There was times where I wanted to quit," said Thompson. "I wanted to just switch to formula, and she really just, she basically didn't just let me give up."