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.

Father’s Day

attachment parenting

Father’s Day is especially special for us this year for several reasons: this is our first married Father’s Day and we’re expecting baby Robinson number two! 

Since we’ve moved here we’ve had a pretty rough time all around, it sucked but we don’t love each other any less. When we talked about having children we have always pictured a large family for ourselves. We want to have 3-4 then adopt our youngest. And in this day and age 4-5 children sounds crazy, but having children is a physical representation of the love between the two of you. 

For us it’s important to share this abundance of love that we have for one another. Because we literally love each other so much it’s overwhelming and its spilling out, so why not pour it into our children as well as a child in need. 

So today I’ve been pretty emotional over just the presence of my husband. Because he shares these sentiments with me and understands Gods plans for us and the expansion of our family. He has been nothing short of amazing in this calling of parenthood. So today I wanted to make every effort to cater to him (even though I should every day) because being a father isn’t easy, being a husband isn’t easy, and leading a family is not easy. I want him to know that he is appreciated and loved, by his family here and now and the family that is to come.

We’ve talked a lot about adoption and the route we want to take as well as how long we want to wait to start working on number three. I know we should have baby Robinson number two then talk about it, but a family like that deserves some planning 😉 and a significant amount of commitment. 

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.

Free the Nip

Women's Health

I find it particularly easy to write about things I feel strongly about. Which makes perfect sense because clearly you should have a lot to say about those topics.
One topic that I feel strongly about is breast feeding, public breast feeding to be more precise. For some odd reason such a natural act comes with a lot of stigma.
A few months ago the following picture went viral:

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Although I don’t see the offense in the picture a lot of people did!

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I was completely shocked by the lack of empathy and support. Especially from our black female demographics. Why is it that we are so quickly to tear each other apart as women or black people? When we are two minorities most often oppressed? And why would society be offended by something as natural as breastfeeding? Yet praise sexualized artist such as Nicki Minaj and even the everyday woman dressed provocatively. I could get into our trained way misogynistic thinking or patriarchy but that would take way too long for this post.
I can admit that I’m a little more modest than a majority of my peers but I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at another woman feeding her child! Other women tend to feel offended because they’ve been brainwashed by there male counterparts and years of upbringing that the breast are only to be viewed in a sexual matter. (And if you see a woman feeding her child and you think of sex, you have bigger problems.) we are the only mammals that feel any hesitance about feeding our babies.
My breast aren’t for men to ogle or women to judge but for my children to eat and gain nutrients. In many countries the average age of weaning is four! But here in America women are afraid to breastfeed at all. Black women have the lowest amount of breast feeding mothers, is it because of the lack of support in the community? Children who breastfeed also typically have higher IQ’s, could this possibly contribute to our lacking in the classroom? Why don’t we stop bashing each other and start supporting one another.
No one should feel ashamed of publicly feeding there child no matter the place or time. It’s always an appropriate time for baby to eat with or without a cover.
Respect your fellow women and encourage her Breastfeeding by making her feel comfortable. No matter how natural breastfeeding is it’s never an easy feat.

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