Demonizing Motherhood

attachment parenting, Social Justice, Women's Health

In the last few weeks/months we’ve seen a plethora of celebrity pregnancy announcements and pregnancy photo shoots. Women like Beyonce, Ciara, Blac Chyna, and Serena. All have been beautiful!!!! Yet I continue to find myself falling down the rabbit hole called “the comment section”. I can hear yall now…. “No…. don’t EVER read the comments!”. I already know this, but since I’ve done it, I may as well vent.

Never in my life have I seen so many folks hate on the miracle that is “giving life”. After noticing this in the comment sections, I began to see it in real life and realizing it applied even to my own life. Black people are quick to tell you not to have any more children no matter your circumstances, even villify you for having more than to, or go so far as to scare you away from the thought of child birth.

So here we are again, black folks policing one another for doing something as normal as being pregnant and giving birth.

Please explain to me, why are we like this?

I found myself guilty of hiding my pregnancy from those close to me and my community, at the risk of gossip and chatter. I didn’t announce that I was pregnant with Jojo until I literally had no choice. I was 30 weeks pregnant and back in my hometown where I knew someone would eventually see me. I tried to get pregnant and we planned this baby, yet I felt shame! We have programmed ourselves to be embarrassed about natural things.

If people like Ciara, Beyonce, Blac Chyna, and Serena are slandered at every turn for getting pregnant (all under various circumstances, not that it should matter anyway), what hope is there for average folks like us? Ciara was ripped to shreds by black men and women alike for her photo shoot with new husband and toddler, Beyonce accused of blasphemy and glorifying what pregnancy is/should be, Blac Chyna was called every name under the sun including a gold digging bitch, and Serena somehow hates herself and got pregnant out wedlock (all in the same sentence).

Someone explain to me why we hate ourselves so much, why do we hate the thought of our sisters bringing life into this world. Why is it so hard to believe that we might equate ourselves to goddesses for being able to sustain another life? We are doing things that are at the very root of who we are and what our bodies are made for and people hate us for it. It’s disgusting to say the very minimum. I can’t say that I’m very surprised either, I’ve expressed my disappointment in black men in previous post… They slander us at every turn and are silent when we need them. Yes, I still see you. Pretend revolutionaries, if you tear down your women… You are tearing down the base of your so-called revolution.

There is a literal criminalization of black mothers in the justice department, if something happens to our children we are directly at fault. Even if its at the hands of another, but God forbid we are pregnant and happy about it… we are heathens for that as well. Having immediate access to videos of our husbands, brothers, sisters, and children gunned down in the streets is a form of reproductive injustice. Black women are literally afraid to have children. Even with this reality, women are attempting to celebrate these moments and OTHER BLACK PEOPLE WANT TO RIP THIS MOMENT FROM THEM!

Stop it, stop contributing to the Jezebel, welfare queen, single mother rhetoric and start celebrating these women. Celebrate normal everyday women along with the celebrities. Stop judging women for doing things that are natural and normal. Don’t you dare comment on how many children a black woman has, don’t ask if they are done, don’t tell your horrific birth stories, don’t do any of it. We are already victims of sexism AND racism, don’t contribute to it. Misogynoir is real, and if you don’t know what it is, look it up.

It’s time to start celebrating our womanhood.

Josiah’s Birth Story

attachment parenting, Women's Health

I’ve been wanting to write about Jojo’s birth for a while now, I just hadn’t had the chance or really the inspiration. With so many loved ones having babies soon, I finally felt ready to share it. Especially for those hoping for a naturaL birth.

Jojo was born on October 6th a few days before a hurricane. The old wives tale states that a dramatic change is air pressure can send you into labor so I was kind of anticipating his arrival. 

That morning I got up for work and felt really sluggish… I had no desire to go to work at all. But I mustered up the strength to go. Once there I really tried to stay distracted in hopes that the time would pass by quickly. I did everything as I normally would (I’m a vet tech) this consisted of client interaction, restraints, lab work, and occasional blood draws. But my streams of activity were stopped pretty frequently by potty breaks. Not unusual at 39 weeks but it still seemed a little excessive. After about 4 hours at work I started having contractions, not painful but they took my breath away. With Micah my water broke first so I was a little unsure of what to expect from contractions. They were fairly consistent, so when I went home for lunch I told my husband I wanted him to drive me to work but be prepared to go to the hospital afterwards. After returning from lunch they became a little more intense, still not painful. Eventually my practice manager noticed I was quiet and reserved and asked if I was ok. I explained that I was having contractions but trying to work through them. She advised that I go home which I did. 

Once I got home I tried to shower but the contractions were coming about five minutes apart so I didn’t stay in long. I had my husband help me out and dress me so we could go to the hospital.my mother, husband, son, and I all left for the hospital together. Along the way I text my best friend letting her know that it was time.

Once we arrived and checked in, they monitored my contractions and checked my cervix. My contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and I was about 4cm dialated. They moved me to my room where I was attached an iv, a blood pressure cuff, and fetal monitor. My CNM came in and asked that I be removed from everything and monitored at the top of every hour so I could labor naturally. 

I had an amazing nurse in my room, she encouraged me to sit on the birthing ball, had my husband alternate between Heat and ice on my back, while my mom helped my breath through my contractions.

About 30 minutes later my best friend Taylor arrived. She relieved my mom for a bit, my mom spent time with toddler. I spent a good bit of time on the exercise ball and walking around. Eventually I got tired and laid down. My husband sat on the bed and rubbed my back or held my hand as I needed him to. This gave me a moment to relax. Eventually I was so fatigued, I was just letting the contractions wash over me. The lights were turned down and the nurse brought extra blankets because I was shivering. 

At this time the anesthesiologist stopped by, he introduced himself and spoke to my husband. I’m sure I looked as if I didn’t want to be bothered. After he left my CNM left and another one arrived. The new CNM also delivered my older son so I was happy to have here there. She checked me again and at this time I was about 7cm dialated, she had me put the fetal monitor back on for a bit and checked my blood pressure and left again to make her rounds. 

The baby sitter showed up to pick up my son and my mom took him downstairs to meet her. During this time I changed positions in bed and my water broke, I groaned in pain and the nurse peeped in, I let her know what happened and she came in to put a liner on the bed and changed the sheets. Afterwards my contractions were back to back and painful. I needed to get up and move. I walked back and forth from the bathroom and took off my clothes because I was hot. 

Eventually I was so hot and uncomfortable that I was squatting on the floor between my husbands legs crying and rubbing my face on him. The squatting helped jojo make his final descent and I was ready to push. My mom called for the CNM and they made get into bed so she could check me, all she could feel was his head. 

I immediately got on all fours and pushed. He came out and sounded off. My husband kissed me and told me I pushed him out with one push, he was so proud. I did skin to skin contact while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. My husband cut the cord and held the baby while I was stitched up. I had a second degree tear. 

King Josiah was born on October 6th at 8:20. Less than 3 hours after going to the hospital.

Black Breastfeeding Week

attachment parenting, Women's Health

In leu of National Breastfeeding Week (which was last week) and Black Breastfeeding Week coming up on August 25th, I felt it was important to write about ways we can encourage breastfeeding in the black community as well as how to create a more positive experience for yourself.
A large portion of your experience begins before birth, often times black women aren’t even presented with the information to breastfeed because healthcare professionals assume black women don’t breastfeed at all. This is a preconceived racial bias that we can only combat with knowledge and adequate representation. If breastfeeding is something you are truly considering do a little research on your own and be sure to bring it up in your initial appointment. With this solid first step your doctor/midwife can refer you to the professionals that will be necessary for a positive experience should there be any complications during your breastfeeding journey. By no means does this relieve the personal responsibility of your healthcare provider, but it does get you the information that you need. In addition to arming yourself with knowledge, it may benefit you to seek out a black obstetrician/midwife. Many black women have had positive experiences when their team of health care providers represents them, and understands their needs. This also prevents racial bias, and guarantees you will get the information you need.
Be sure to let the medical staff on duty know that you want to breastfeed as well, be clear about your efforts and put them in your birth plan. I was sure to tell the labor and delivery nurse that I didn’t want them to offer my baby a bottle or pacifier at any time, and I initiated breastfeeding immediately after birth and skin to skin contact. Many hospitals are making the transition to baby friendly facilities, this includes encouragement to breastfeed and letting the baby sleep in room (instead of wheeling them off to a nursery).
Another way to create and encourage a positive and effective breastfeeding experience is building or being a part of a support system. Express to your family and friends how important breastfeeding is to you and the development of your child. Many black women choose not to breastfeed simply because they don’t know anyone else that breastfeeds or due to a preconceived lack of support amongst friends and family. Your spouse/partner will more than likely be your biggest form of support during this time. Although we understand the bonding experience of breastfeeding it may make your spouse feel disconnected. Offer different forms of support during the feeding process as a way to make your spouse feel included. If pumping is part of your feeding plan have your spouse aid you in preparing bottles and taking over feedings when you’re out or when simply when you feel touched out. If you continue to feel a lack of support, or even if you have the support necessary reach out to local breastfeeding organizations and support groups, even online forums can be helpful.
In addition to support at home and in your community be sure to utilize the information and contacts your doctor gave you! I’m sure there was a ton of it but it can be very beneficial, especially if you are having a difficult time adjusting to breastfeeding. Reach out to your pediatrician, let them know if there any feeding or latching issues during appointments. Also reach out to La Leche League, its free and they make house calls! The resources are there it’s just a matter of accessing the information.
If you are able to, please be sure to take adequate maternity to leave. I know this is a difficult request here in the U.S. where we receive minimal maternity leave and for many women it isn’t paid leave. Nonetheless adequate time at home can establish a great breastfeeding relationship, experience, and supply. Adequate preparation for returning to work also makes a huge difference, whether it be supplementing formula or pumping beforehand. If you qualify for WIC you can most definitely get formula every month, for those that do not there are many opportunities to obtain formula at discounted prices via coupons or on sale. Utilize your maternity leave to stock up! Your maternity leave is also a great time to build up a significant back supply of breast milk for baby as well! All of these things help provide a smooth transition back into the work place, because stress also has a negative impact on your supply and experience. In addition to this make sure to get adequate sleep, drink enough water, and eat well! It’s bonding time and resting time, enjoy your time, trials and tribulations with your new bundle of joy.
I know this seems like a ton but your experience is greatly affected by what you do before you even start breastfeeding, such as the support system at the hospital/birth center and the knowledge you receive! Be sure to do as much research necessary to put your mind at ease, and put together a team of supporters (health care professionals, mom, sisters, friends, spouse). I hope you have an amazing experience like I was able to have, in the next few days I’m going to post a list of products that ultimately changed my breastfeeding experience and helped make it more positive.

#sayhername

Social Justice, Women's Health

I’ve read a million stories and articles about Korryn Gaines, I’ve even watched her videos. No matter what I see, no matter what conflicting evidence I come across… I still sympathize. Why? Because she is me. I see her and understand her fear, her fear for her life and and her children’s lives. A fear of the world we live in, and a fear of the world our children will inherit. My newest fear is, I will die protecting myself and my children and the world will be silent. More importantly out black men will be silent in light of my death. They will riot and protest for other men… But they will be silent for me because I don’t fit the stereotype they have envisioned for black women. Today’s black men want to be Huey Newtons and Malcolm X but they don’t want Angela Davis or Kathleen Cleaver. They want quiet Corettas. 

Not only do black men refuse to speak on this injustice but they want to silence our dialogue! God forbid we mourn our fallen sister or we’ll have wannabe hoteps in the comments telling us why she deserved it, why she was a bad mom, and how crazy she was. I’ve seen more black men protect the image of Miss Teen USA after her use of the N-word, than I’ve seen come to the aid of Korryn. The dialogue they have created is similar to that of “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” crowds. Comment sections are plagued with compliance and respectability politics. “Well maybe she should have gone willingly”, “maybe she should have been respectful”, even “maybe she shouldn’t have had a registered fire arm in her own home”. I wish you could see my eyes rolling back in my head right now at the sheer ignorance.

What about this, “what if she hadn’t been watching our people die on camera for the last three years?” Black women (women in general) don’t just brush things off typically. So while our brothers and sisters are dying on camera, we are mourning every death. We see our family in every victim, and we still have to go on. We are suffering and making every attempt to go on with a normal life. Every death is personal to us, and the fact that this is the case for us and black men find themselves so disconnected from the death of black women disturbs and disgust us. In reality there have been three black women murdered in the last week and I haven’t heard a peep from the peanut gallery, unless it’s been in an effort to dismiss or derail a status that I have posted. I’ve even seen a few people admit to falling short then proceed to liking and commenting on post condemning Korryn. I actually prefer silence to lies.

I know I seem as though I’m taking this entirely too personal, because I am! I personally mourn every victim, I write about and speak about every victim. Yet my brothers are SILENT! This could easily be me, even your wife or girlfriend. The fear and desperation are real. You don’t understand the desperation of the black woman, or a MOTHER’s desperation. Do you know what it’s like to raise little black children and wonder if they will be the next Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, or Michael Brown? Maybe they won’t die, but then you have to worry about them being body slammed at a pool party, maybe even at school by an over zealous police officer or a vigilante. These are real fears, and you don’t understand what it’s like to walk around with this blanket of fear. We even wonder if you will be killed for simply spending time with your family, but that fear isn’t mutual. Because we can die too, for the same things you can be murdered over. Yet our fear for your life and the need to protect you trump the fear we have for our own life.

So imagine years of trauma, systemic oppression, and excessive police force in your home. That constant fear has turned into reality. Desperate to save your life and your child’s, because why would you give your child to the same people that murdered a little boy? Women and children are not exempt in this, that’s painfully obvious. So we protect each other, and we protect our children. Because I don’t see black men protecting us. We have to protect us, by any means necessary.

The last line brings me to my final point: men quote “Any Means Necessary” but don’t understand the concept. The title alone is pretty literal. How are you a true revolutionary and you hinder women in the movement? We ARE the movement! We are the backbone of this cause, and we are moving this revolution forward. We protest for you, we riot for you, we organize, we raise your children, we love you unconditionally, and you spit on us! We coordinated this movement, women! We will continue to fight for you and you will continue to disrespect us, because you think your ego is bigger than this cause.

5 Year Goals

attachment parenting, Women's Health

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my five year goals lately. Mainly because I’ve been feeling so inspired by women that “have it all”, and I mean women that have created their own definition of success and live/love it. We are no longer living in a society where you have to follow a strict mold to achieve success and feel successful. Stay At home moms are feeling liberated and creating opportunities to work from home, women are creating and running their own (successful and thriving) corporations, among many other things! 

This personal inspiration for me started during finals week, which just so happen to be the same week Lemonade was released. Yes, the two correlate 😉 I was feeling really torn about my major(pre-nursing) and really stressing about my successes as a college student. Then I heard lemonade, during a real time of emotional turmoil. This was Bey, having it all but admitting that it all came with sacrifice and required you to live your own truth whatever that may be. 

Then I changed my major to health promotion, and my whole business plan fell into place. I ultimately created an opportunity to do MORE than I was limiting myself to with nursing, in addition to creating a business I could conduct from home. This would give me time to really devote to the home front! Something I really stressed about, I constantly felt torn between a successful career and having a large family where I could be a true presence.

So I’ve compiled a timeline of my five year goals, just to put it out into the galaxy with all the good vibes you guys give. As well as to create accountability for myself, now other people know. There are expectations out there now. My goals include both career goals and family goals, because both are important to me.

So here they are, we’ll start with year 1:

Within a year

1. Expand my DogVacay clientele, by at least 10. (I want clear and easily tracked goals)

2. Build my resume through individual projects. Put together and lead at least two major projects or events.

3. Have baby Robinson number 2!

Within 1.5 years

1. Earn bachelors degree in health promotion concentration in education.

2. Obtain doula and lactation consultant certification.

3. Obtain personal training certification.

Within 2 years

1. Launch birthing business

2. Improve credit score (720)

3. Move to either New Orleans or Atlanta suburbs.

4. Obtain job as either studio/gym/practice manager

Within 3 years

1. Buy first house

2. Have baby Robinson #3

Within 4 years

1. Begin process of adopting baby Robinson #4(which could be very lengthy)

2. Have consistent clientele with birthing business, at least 4 clients per month, and leading regular group exercise classes.

Within 5 years

1. Birthing business successful enough to work full time.

2. Homeschooling all children at home

3. Start small online boutique related to birthing business. 

I realize this is all very ambitious, but I’m trying to break each goal down into smaller easy to accomplish steps. This increases my chances of success. And they all lead into another step further down the line. My big goal is to run my own birthing business from home, and being a presence at home so I can homeschool my children. This may be a small scale dream for some of you guys but for me these are things that are most important to me and ways I will feel most fulfilled.

Struggling with feelings of inadequacy…

Women's Health

Struggling with feelings of inadequacy
I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy for a very long time, at least as far back as my memory goes. It’s a large part of my relationship with my father but its also a driving factor of my amazing work ethic. Because it’s been such a big a part of my life for so long, it easily pours over into my marriage. Since getting married in September it has been a reoccurring problem for me, often times self inflicted, occasionally its onset by an outside force. With Strawberry full moon last night I was really hoping I would gain some clarity and relief from this looming black cloud (it was a Sagittarius full moon in Gemini, my opposing house), I didn’t gain any though and today I feel as consumed as ever by feelings of inadequacy. So at this point what can I do to actually to heal instead of just slapping a band aid on it?
People often think that reciting to yourself that things you do are good enough, or showering yourself with compliments is enough. That’s merely a temporary fix, if it actually does anything at all. I frequently find myself second guessing my skills as a daughter, mother, and wife. My dad and husband are both fans of backhanded compliments so it’s hard to see past the sting of the insult to see the compliment that they attempted to give. Any shot taken at my maternal instincts or wife duties immediately sends me over the edge. So my triggers are OBVIOUS, but how do you make the voices stop and see the true value of the things that you do? As I type I’m currently racking my brain about the quality of my duties as a wife and parent? Did I make the appropriate choices for my family today?
I find my self worth in my job, the services I do, and the amount of money I can make. Simply because it’s something I have direct control over, but when I decided to come here in particular circumstances I put myself in a vulnerable position. I came to El Paso without a job, I was willing to try to step outside my comfort zone for the sake of my marriage and learning to become one with my husband. Never have I made a greater mistake, my confidence plummeted tremendously. Even after I started looking for work it took months before I found something, and my DogVacay business hadn’t developed the clientele that I have now. It was just all a hot mess and a struggle, because I find value in contributing to my home. Even with my business flourishing and finding a job, my confidence has taken a huge hit.
I don’t ever want to give off the feeling that I’m leading a perfect life or attempting to be perfect, I’m not. I’m struggling and this is hard, constantly wondering if you have done all that you can for everyone. Especially when what you do isn’t appreciated and YOU don’t even appreciate your efforts. So for now…. I’m investing my time in service. Which is why I took in a foster dog, I want to use my business to give back to the community. It’s simply something to heal my heart and soul. Writing is definitely therapeutic for me, talking even when you’re not sure anyone is listening. I also have to rebalance myself and find a church family, being in balance spiritually is really important. I guess these all go along with the self care that I talked about in my previous post. When you’re a parent and a wife its easy to let your needs fall to the way side, this is something I need to start paying more attention to. I’m definitely going to write a follow up post maybe a month from now to see if any of these things have helped, and hopefully they can work for some of you guys too because I know I’m not alone in this struggle with inadequacy.

HSP During Pregnancy 

Women's Health

Being a hyper sensitive individual while pregnant
 
For a hyper sensitive person, the world can seem overwhelming a majority of the time, and many situations quickly become exhausting. For me it’s difficult to even sit through an emotional movie because I quickly become exhausted and my emotions are raw, an exceedingly gory movie cranks my anxiety to such a high that I cant tolerate it. My husband and I watched the purge and I was plagued with anxiety for days. I am easily exhausted by the outward emotions of others, especially abrasive personalities. By no means do I hide from confrontation but I would just rather not be bothered with it. Being hyper sensitive in today’s world, where violence is a normal part of the evening news and knowing you are a person that carries the weight of the world on your shoulders is AWFUL, it literally feels awful. It’s like walking around covered in Velcro and every time you meet someone, watch the news, or check social media you pick up something. Imagine all that you have picked over the course of just a day. I have learned different techniques to cope with it and I manage to mask most of my feelings until I can make it home for the day to decompress.
But this task of masking my ocean of emotions and managing to shake off the emotions of others has become increasingly difficult. Why? Well because I’m pregnant and hormonal. This isn’t my first pregnancy but this time around I’m have a more difficult time than with my first son. Maybe it’s because of school or being in a different place… who knows really. Nonetheless this has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life, most of my typical techniques aren’t working for me and I’ve been reduced to staying at home unless it simply cannot be avoided such as work or taking my husband as a way to deflect other people away from me. My Velcro is working double time and I end my day with twice as much stuck to me than usual. The week of Memorial Day we had a death in our family, a little before that I was planning to visit my family because my dad was getting remarried (something that I’m not unhappy about, I’m just still coming to terms with it because my parents have been married 20 years and are recently divorced), I needed to find somewhere for our dogs to go because my husband had drill that weekend, then I needed to adjust my plans to go to a funeral, trying to get on a plane to go home to mourn with my family became so overwhelming that I couldn’t even catch the flight. I had all these things stuck to me and I just couldn’t shake them off to function. I was exhausted by the thought of doing anything and my anxiety was at an all time high. Add this to the influx of emotions and hormones I was already dealing with and it makes for a pretty miserable time.
            Work also over stimulates me, especially when I work long shifts. Typically I’m an animal loving person but when I’ve had my emotions rubbed raw all day, been constantly touched by other peoples pets and try to come home to my own toddler and dogs, I just want SPACE! We’re just at a place where everyone is really clingy right now, I find myself at the center of a dog pile every night. But I have learned a few techniques this time around that have helped a little… I just have to stay on routine.
So when it comes to going out and running errands…. I have to go out at the earliest time possible when I know I wont run into very many people. This has been hard and a lot of times I have to send my husband to do things like going to the grocery store because it has become simply overwhelming to go in the afternoon or evening. I also try to spend a few minutes after work to decompress… take a hot shower (my only alone time), take my time eating, read or write a little. I just need to make sure I have scheduled time to slow down my mind. In the morning I make sure I take time to have my coffee and do some writing to set the tone for the day, then Micah and I will take some time to go for a walk before we settle into our home school routine. I’ve also taken time to talk to my family about my need for personal space right now, I’m not really as interested in snuggles and cuddles as I usually am. Sometimes this one is particularly difficult, I frequently find myself shooing the dogs back to their own bed or peeling a toddler off of me. Sometimes I just need a nap to recharge, otherwise I’m incapable of doing anything. I also have to limit my social media time and how often I watch the news. Especially before bed or early in the morning, it directly effects what kind of day I’ll have. I just have to make a genuine effort to take care of myself, otherwise I would burn myself out.. If you have any tips that you use to manage your HSP while pregnant or not, feel free to share!

My Labor and Delivery Preparation 

attachment parenting, Women's Health

I have personally seen an increase in mom shaming, especially those who shame expecting new mothers for maintaining an exercise routine. They are accused of being vain and neglecting the well being of their child. This is a far reach from the realities of exercising during pregnancy. Maintaining a regular exercise routine (if approved by your doctor) is very beneficial to you and baby, even more so if you intend on having a natural birth. I am a firm believer in the female bodies naturally ability to give birth without any significant exercise routine, but if you have been sedentary and unhealthy throughout your pregnancy you may have a particular difficult time compared to those who are active and eat better. After speaking to women who have delivered multiple children, it has become pretty clear that there is big difference between going into your birth physically and mentally fit and just winging it.
One of the things that made the greatest impact on my pregnancy was maintaining my activity level through the beginning of my pregnancy and adjusting my activity level as needed through the rest of it. Luckily I was able to maintain my running schedule up until I was 30 weeks, even after that I was still able to squats and other exercises using only my weight for resistance. I also participated in pregnancy PT because I was in the Army, I understand every program isn’t the same but the one at Ft.Huachuca was AMAZING! We did zumba, yoga, pool aerobics, weight lifting, and running. They also included a classroom portion every Tuesday. This time around running hasn’t been on my side because I’ve been having some crazy round ligament pain but I have been able to do some strength training. I haven’t put any focus on increasing strength but more so on toning and endurance. I think of exercising during pregnancy as training for a major athletic event, which my first pregnancy actually was. I felt this urge to be mobile during labor, there was nothing natural about laying on my back during labor. It also improved how I dealt with pain by significantly increasing my pain threshold and changing how I viewed the pain of childbirth itself. Engaging my abdominal muscles with strength training as well as my pelvic floor during workouts also mad my pushing process much more productive. I only pushed twice while on all fours, and that was enough to get my little guy out.
Another way I prepped for labor… research, research, and more research. Knowing what to expect from my body put my mind at ease before labor and made it easier to relax during labor. Not only did I read (I’ll actually provide a list of books that I found insanely beneficial) but I took classes, watched movies, and watched youtube videos. I obviously wasn’t a birthing pro and there were things that didn’t go as planned but it made a huge difference in my birthing experience.
I genuinely hope that this inspires you to get a sweat in a few times a week in order to prepare for birth experience(remember only if your doctor says it’s ok!), it will make a big difference. If you’ve already been exercising I commend you! Don’t let anyone shame or discourage you from doing so. I don’t know where we developed this mind set that caring for your body and baby is somehow vain.

Stay in your place…

Uncategorized, Women's Health

In the wake of the storm that is Ayesha Curry, I find myself disturbed by several things… The amount of men that thought they needed an Ayesha Curry only days ago, the fact that these same men now believe she needs to shut her mouth and stay in her lane, the fact that she has frequently been compared to Lebrons wife, and the fact that single men feel as though they should have any say in what a woman’s place actually is(and the nerve they had to say it on tv). 

Not long after I spoke on the blatant sexism of all of this, one of my Facebook friends felt it necessary to explain what Ayesha Curry’s tweet was unnecessary as well as my opinion. Both should have kept to ourselves. Ah… Yes another man feeling the need to silence a woman. 

It’s not the difference of opinion that bothers me, but the fact that men still believe they have the right to tell women where and when their opinion is needed or wanted. And the fact that everyone aspired to “have” an Ayesha Curry until she proved herself a tad too outspoken. See men (black men in particular) are all about the revolution until their woman is a little too outspoken for them.

Society also feels threatened by her disassociation with this American Sweetheart image she has been branded with. Light skin women are typically expected to be passive, quiet, and permissive. Things she has proven herself not to be on several occasions. She has proven time and time again that she is a proud black woman and refuses to shrink herself down into some mediocre Box in order to be conducive to her husbands image. She actually took one for the team in terms of his image, if she hadn’t tweeted so “recklessly” Steph Curry would have been eaten alive the next day. His poor sportsmanship would have placed him at Cam Newton status after the super bowl. He snapped on a referee and spit out his mouth guard. But that hasn’t been the topic of conversation ironically. 

The problem doesn’t lie with her opinion itself, because reality is we all think pro sports are rigged. We all think sports are about politics, she’s not the first to say it by any means. But the fact that a black woman spoke out against the establishment is the true problem. It’s the fact that she couldn’t sit back quietly and be pretty without drawing attention to herself. She spoke her mind, and that’s a dangerous thing in white misogynistic America.

The black mothers stigma

Uncategorized, Women's Health

            As a mother and aspiring birth educator, I feel pretty strongly about breastfeeding. Although growing up I never saw an example of a mother adamant about breastfeeding. My own mother didn’t even breastfeed us, so I’m not sure where I got the notion that I would breastfeed. I assume that it was an experience kind of like deciding I would have a natural birth. We never talked about those things growing, I just assumed everyone had a medicated birth and everyone used formula. Then I saw “The Business of Being Born” and it opened me up to another world of parenting. At the time that I saw this I was already a sophomore at Southern Miss and I was in an English class with a pretty radical teacher (radical in comparison to me at that time), she talked about feminism and the right to choose what kind of experiences you would have in life. These experiences included child birth and parenthood. I discovered then that there are different ways of doing things.
            Even after deciding that I would personally breastfeed and doing a great deal of research, I didn’t see a ton of representation as far as breastfeeding. What I saw around me was typically white women breastfeeding, my friends with children formula fed, my family members formula fed, and I was formula fed. I didn’t understand why, with all the information about how beneficial it was, why weren’t black women breastfeeding. Even on tv shortly after the baby is born they pop a bottle into the mouths of those little brown babes. Why? Is it the lack of support at home? Could it be the lack of media representation? Why are black women lagging in the breastfeeding race? Why is there a negative connotation associated with black women and breastfeeding?


            Maybe two years ago shortly after I gave birth to my little boy a pretty controversial picture came out. Controversial is really very relative because by no means was controversial to me, especially as a proud breastfeeding mama. Nonetheless it was a picture of a young lady breastfeeding after graduation in her cap and gown. She was dragged all over twitter, more concerning (or just as concerning) than the blatant cyber bullying, her tormentors were primarily black! A few months later another picture came out, some how less controversial in content but still very similar pictures. This picture featured another young lady also in her cap and gown at her college graduation, breastfeeding. This particular picture was some how deemed adorable and inspiring. What was the difference? One thing, the first young lady was black and the latter was white. How could two pictures be viewed so differently though? How could other black people be so unsupportive of this black graduate simply because she was breastfeeding?


            A lot of women choose not to breastfeed due to myths that they’ve heard such as: the baby wont get enough to eat, breastfeeding is for poor people, breastfeeding leads to breast cancer, and breast are only for sexual pleasure. Although breastfeeding in the black community is on the rise, we still lag behind our counterparts of other races. I’ve narrowed down a few possible causes:
· Lack of support in hospitals (as well as health care providers and WIC counselors)
· Lack of support systems at home
· Lack of representation
· Lactation support isn’t available in that area
· Employment related barriers
· History of racial injustice in relation to breastfeeding
Typically the larger the black demographic is in a hospital, the less likely they are to encourage breastfeeding. Maybe due to the predisposition that black women don’t breastfeed. (more likely to encourage formula less likely to encourage rooming-in). There is also a lack of Baby-friendly hospitals, these are less likely to be prevalent where black women are the majority. They are more prevalent where black women have a less than average population. (For those who are not familiar baby- Baby Friendly Hospitals: The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding.) There may also be Lack of racial sensitivity to why black women may not want to breastfeed.


The lack of a support system could be maternal or spouse related. Many women have mothers who did not breastfeed, and don’t encourage it. Spouse are often afraid they wont be able to bond with the child if the mother breastfeeds, making them less supportive because they feel as though they cannot contribute to the child’s nourishment. Friends who did not breastfeed, therefore they offer little support when they breastfeeding journey gets tough. Lactation consultants, such as La Leche League offer free of services. But if you are not informed, often times you don’t know who to turn to for information and help.
There is definitely a lack of black representation within the media, which may in turn be due to the overall lack of representation when it comes to women of color or due to the actual lower numbers of women who breastfeed. We often see models and celebrities taking glamour shots of them breastfeeding or advocating on talk shows but I see very few black celebrities doing so. This is with the exception of Tia and Tamara on their reality show, and occasionally on Instagram.
There are also a variety of work related barriers, considering many work environments are condusive to long term breastfeeding and maternity leave laws that have long been outdated compared to other countries. Limited maternity leave doesn’t allow adequate time to establish a regular nursing routine and full time employment is counter productive in many cases of breastfeeding, causing mother and child to be apart long hours everyday. For those that prefer to pump, many employers don’t provide an adequate space or amount of time to do so, in addition to an unsupportive boss or generally unsupportive environment it makes it especially hard for women to continue breastfeeding after returning to work full time. 

A wet nurse is a woman who breast feeds and cares for another’s child. Wet nurses are employed when the mother is unable or chooses not to nurse the child herself. Wet nurses were used heavily during slavery but continued on even after the abolishment of slavery. Early wet nurses faced malnutrition and starvation of their own babies because long work hours away from home kept wet nurses from nursing there own babies. During the 1960’s-1970’s many women stopped breastfeeding altogether due to the negative connotation. Yet many southern families hired wet nurses well into the 1980’s.


How can we change the way we view breastfeeding in the black community, and how can we make it the norm? The best way to start would be peer to peer support, connecting with other moms who have breastfed or are currently breastfeeding. Then a support system within the home. A greater representation in the media would also be very beneficial, if more black mothers in the limelight talked about their breastfeeding experience it would encourage our everyday moms. Community support also plays a huge role in breastfeeding success, from hospitals, social services and increased access to lactation services. And finally support in the work place, the laws are there but they must be enforced. We need to fight for our rights to breastfeed and be encouraged to do so.