Interview with Kyla Carlos: Mother of 4, Doula, Entrepreneur, and Activist
I was sitting in a gas station while my husband refilled our tank, and as one does, I was scrolling on Instagram. And then I saw it. A photo of a woman at a Black Lives Matter Protest, standing on a street corner nursing her little baby, fist proudly up in the air. And I wept. Amidst all of the tragedy and grief, here was this image of a beautiful, strong woman, proudly giving life to her child. It was quiet, it was still, but so raw. As a mother who breastfed my baby, this image resonated with me like nothing else has. I knew I needed to talk to the woman shown in the photo, so I searched the Internet up and down until I found her. Thank you Kyla for speaking with me, and for your life’s work.
View this post on Instagram
#Repost @swaziiee with @get_repost ・・・ Black Lives Matter 🖤✊🏾 Today was overwhelming. There were protesters all down Jefferson Ave at almost every corner! It brought me to tears!! I almost didn’t make it out here today but will all my babies in tow we raised our fist & chanted #georgefloyd #nojusticenopeace #blacklivesmatter #socialjustice #blackmomsbreastfeed #BreastIsBest #BlackWomenDOBreastfeed #BlackLivesMatter #Babywearing #TwoShirtMethod #ProtectiveStyle #GirlsWithTats #MomsOfBlackBoys #ComfortNursing #NursingOnDemand #SayHerName
Kate: Where are you from?
Kyla: Hampton, VA, a neighboring city to Newport News.
Kate: How old are your children?
Kyla: My children are 12, 3, 2, and 3 months.
Kate: What were you feeling when this photo was taken?
Kyla: I was angry, hurt, and empowered. There was a lot of crying on the way there. I was overwhelmed by so many emotions after seeing so many demanding change for people that look like me.
Kate: How did you decide to become a doula?
Kyla: I decided to become a birth worker after researching how I could help other women and families. Looking back on my first three pregnancies, I know exactly how birth workers could have been of value. I encourage all mothers to reach out to birth workers for support and education. See my blog for more about my story.
Kate: How do your experiences as a birth worker intersect with the Black Lives Matter movement?
Kyla: Being a birth worker adds another layer to my fight. Often times people don’t connect maternal mortality or other injustices black women face in the health care system with the movement but it’s a part of systemic racism.
Kate: Tell me about your experiences breastfeeding your own children.
Kyla: My mother breastfeed her children and so did her mother. I’m the oldest and I had my first daughter very young so I didn’t have a group of mom friends to help me. I made the decision to breastfeed and I nursed her for three years. There have been challenges, but with the knowledge and support I’ve gained over the last 12 years I was able to nurse my second daughter for 2.5 years and my oldest son is still nursing at 30 months.
Kate: That’s amazing and much longer than the average in the US. What do you attribute to your success, and do you have any advice for expectant or new parents looking to establish long term breastfeeding relationships?
Kyla: I contribute my success to my support system. I was wrongfully fired from an employer because I would not pump in the bathroom in 2018. I would not have been able to continue my journey without my boyfriend and my mother. Breastfeeding takes patience and knowledge. It’s natural but it’s not easy. I would suggest parents be gentle with themselves, hire a Doula, and take a breastfeeding class. Contact a lactation professional if they have questions or concerns, the sooner the better.
Follow Kyla Carlos on Instagram