Jordyn’s Birth Story

attachment parenting, Women's Health

I realized earlier today that I hadn’t shared Jordyn’s birth yet. It always takes me a long to get around to it just because I need to come down from all the excitement of having a new baby.

The Stats:

Jordyn Olivia Reign

Weight: 7.1 lbs

Length: 20 inches

Time: 5:55am

Date: 03/06/2018

So with Jordyn I had contractions for about two weeks and I was super uncomfortable during that period. So I spend most of those days resting when I wasn’t working. I also did my doula training during that time. I was really excited about it and it was something that I didn’t want to miss, so I tried to stay as chill as possible so I could make it to the training. The following week (week 37) I picked up shifts at work and I wound up working a double that Saturday. That’s when the contractions started to pick up but they were still too far apart for me to go into the birth center. So the next day we had dinner with my dad and I just relaxed… the contractions were a consistent seven minutes apart and had increased in intensity but never got closer together. On Monday the contractions were the same, so we spent the day cleaning just to be on the safe side. We didn’t want to bring baby home to our house in disarray. We went to my moms to wash laundry and walk the dog around the neighborhood, and I also made a request for my mom to make crab salad. I knew that day was going to be the day because I was particularly moody. I had gotten upset because a girl the grocery store commented on my size 😒 anyways I walked at least a mile around the neighborhood and spent the rest of our stay on the birth ball. I almost felt like the contractions were slowing down at that point.

So we went home and I ate some spicy ramen noodles and participated in extra curricular activities in an effort to get the contractions going again 😂 I took a hot shower and shaved my legs because I KNEW Jordyn was coming soon. I laid down and tried to watch tv but I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. So I took a Tylenol and went to sleep. I would wake up periodically to go to the bathroom and looking back I think the contractions were waking me up and I was so tired that I didn’t notice. Around 4am I woke up because I realized I was in pain longer than I was getting actual sleep, then I got the urge to get on my hands and knees to relieve the pressure I was feeling. My husband sat straight up and looked at me and said “it’s time to go isn’t it?”. I got out of bed and got dressed between contractions which were coming about every 3-4 minutes at this point. My husband got the boys dressed and called my mom and the midwife. He raced us to my mothers and dropped the boys off with her and we got on the road. By the time we were out of my moms neighborhood the contractions had already sped up to two minutes apart and the birth center was at least 55 minutes away. I turned on the seat warmer and leaned the seat back in an effort to slow them down.

While I was still in a manageable amount of pain I sent out messages letting everyone know it was time. I played Rihanna on the way there as an ode to my own little Pisces and it put me in the perfect mind state for labor. Shortly after changing the music I started to get hot and nauseous, I assume I was transitioning because my contractions were on top of each other at this point. I cracked the window and told my husband I felt as though my bag of waters were bulging, so he called the midwives again to let them know that they should be prepared for us. Before completing the phone call my water broke! I had about five more contractions and I felt the urge to push, my husband tried to discourage me from doing so as we were only five minutes away from the birth center but I couldn’t help it. He called the midwives for a third time to explain what was going on and they assured him that they would be ready for us. I immediately took my pants off and hoisted myself over the seat and pushed…. and I felt her head, I was preparing to push again when I remember one of my doula sisters advising against pushing. So instead I started breathing Jordyn out and with each breath she came. I heard her whimper and whine a bit, and I told my husband that she was here.

Now I had never seen my husband cry before that night, he was overwhelmed with both joy and worry. He was literally my calm in the storm because he kept driving through all of that and got us to the birth center. He pulled up and ran straight to the door, where he discovered they were NOT ready for us. Luckily I had already done the hard part. He had the bring me a wheel chair and help me out the car, he put on my shoes and covered me up, then they wheeled me inside.

Although her arrival was chaotic my experience was amazing up until that point. We arrived at the birthing center to find that the midwife I had issues with before was on call. She wasn’t prepared for our arrival despite the fact that we called several times, she had zero regards for my dignity when taking me inside. Had my husband not been there they probably would have wheeled me inside bare footed and bare assed. After getting us into the birthing suite she wouldn’t let me sit on the bed because she was unsure if they would be keeping me and she didn’t want to be bothered with changing the sheets again. And then she tried to pull my placenta out instead of allowing me to birth it myself. Although I was visibly uncomfortable she ignored my concerns.

God had a plan by having me give birth before arriving because I can only imagine what things would have been like had she been with me during the labor and delivery process. I got to do things my way, and I had a level of confidence that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. A great deal of that confidence can be attributed to my girl squad, old and new members. They truly made me feel like I was capable of anything and there was no doubt that I could deliver that baby myself.

Jordy is clearly a special little girl 😍😍😍

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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.

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.