Breastfeeding Exclusive New Year 2020 - Colleague Corner
Colleague Corner – Tina Sherman
Tina Sherman is Campaign Director for the Breastfeeding and Paid Leave Campaigns at MomsRising, an online and on-the-ground organization of more than one million mothers and their families nationwide dedicated to increasing family economic security, decrease discrimination against women and moms, and building a nation where businesses and families can thrive. She was recently elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the United States Breastfeeding Committee.
Tina has dedicated her professional life to supporting and empowering moms and families. She has served as a legislative aide in the United States Senate, has worked with several child and women’s advocacy organizations, and is a certified birth doula. With formal training in public policy and a heart in serving and supporting women and families, Tina is committed to ensuring that public policies reflect the needs of real families. Her commitment is not only professional, but also deeply personal. As a woman of color and mother, she has witnessed first-hand how the intersection of social support and public policy directly affect a women’s ability to start and maintain a successful breastfeeding relationship.
Tina and her husband JP are raising four boys ranging from 4 to 13 years, including 10 year old twins. She is active in her small town and serving on the Town Planning Board and the County Women’s Commission.
CGBI: What guided you to work in the field of birth and breastfeeding?
When I was pregnant with my oldest, I happened to be pregnant with alongside two of my friends. One of the women gave birth in the same hospital system that I did. Both of us African-American, similar backgrounds, similar education, but our experiences – the reception we received from staff, the support from the providers – they were like night and day. She was not a “paying“ patient and assumptions were made about her needs and wants.
My other friend was pregnant with her second child when she found out she was going to be in a wedding around her due date. Her first birth was one of those births that we all dream of. She went to work, worked throughout the day-stopping occasionally for a contraction, and then came home, had dinner and decided it was time to go to the hospital. Shortly thereafter the baby was born. This is why I was shocked when at 20 weeks she suggested scheduling an induction for her second birth so that she could attend the wedding and her doctor agreed, no questions asked. I didn’t know anything, other than my own experience, about birth and labor and breastfeeding, but I knew enough to fear messing with success. After discussions with me and some research, she rethought her decision to schedule an induction, and also fired her healthcare provider, seeking one that would be partner in her care and have her highest health in mind.
These two experiences coupled with my own shed light on the lack of support and education provided to mothers and families and helped to shift my focus on how I broadly support families.
CGBI: Tell our readers something about yourself they wouldn’t otherwise know.
My full first name is Austina. I’m named after my dad, Austin. My parents are childhood sweethearts and when my mom was in elementary school she was doodling his name. When she looked down she saw A-U-S-T-I-N-A and thought that was the perfect name for her daughter. I always thought that was a sweet story, but then remind my mom that I am glad she married my dad, because if not that could be awkward. Hah!