Black Breastfeeding Week: Here's Why We Need It.
One is 18 months out, while the other is 18 weeks in 😍
What a privilege to have this picture of me, in real time, providing nourishment for two of my babies, both in and outside of the womb.
When Wisdom was born, I nursed for 2 years and was shamed by most of my family because no one before me had chosen to breastfeed and it didn’t make sense to them. With Courage, I have nursed for the last 18-months and I have served as a milk donor, helping to provide supplements for my girls and 3 other babies.
Although I love the benefits of feeding in this way, so much more has come from my experience.
Growing up in foster care, without the nurturing of a mom and being completely detached from what it meant to be a mother, it was a very slow and hard journey for me to connect. The utter reliance that a baby has on you when you’re nursing taught me to surrender my own longings for a mom and to step into the role of being one.
Breastfeeding was and has been my saving grace.
I struggled so much those first couple of months as a mother, learning, healing and growing, but nursing quickly became my most cherished time with my children. It taught me what mothering was all about, an unspoken lesson that I needed so badly that could only come by experience and it has been instrumental in helping me to bond with my babies. I can’t wait to baby number three and to start on the journey with them.
What is Black Breastfeeding Week?
Every year, August 25th-31st, Black women and breastfeeding organizations and movements alike come together to celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week. This week was created to draw attention to the different challenges Black women face when they breastfeed, while also celebrating the fact that they indeed DO.
For decades there has been a misconception about the Black woman and the way she chooses to nurture and feed her children. This week is so special because it highlights hundreds of thousands of women's experiences, their stories, their challenges and celebrates their triumphs when it comes to feeding their little ones.
You may be wondering in your head, why Black women? And why do we need our own week to highlight something as trivial as breastfeeding? Well, read on to find out....
Five Reasons Why We Need Black Breastfeeding Week:
High Black Infant Mortality Rate
The Black infant mortality rate is greatly contributed to by babies being too small, too sick or born too soon. The CDC estimates that increasing the rate of breastfeeding among black women could decrease the black infant mortality rate by 50% .
High Rate Of Diet-Related Disease
Many of the health conditions that plague the Black community are ones that breastfeeding has been shown to prevent; such as SIDS and childhood obesity.
Lack of Diversity in Lactation Field
There is a lack of diversity amongst breastfeeding professionals which feeds into the incorrect idea that Black women don't breastfeed, when they do. This supports covert racism in Black maternal health and contributes to cultural divide.
Photo courtesy of Upworthy.com
Unique Cultural Barriers Among Black Women
The history of breastfeeding in the black community has a lot of trauma which also feeds into the culture of breastfeeding while Black today. Black women who were enslaved were often forced to breastfeed their slave owners children while their own babies starved and oftentimes died, a fact that is difficult to reconcile and forget. Check out this poem featured on Upworthy.com to gain perspective on this very painful truth.
Desert-like Conditions in Communities
Food deserts and lack of resources, grocery stores and transportation mean that women do not have access to healthy food that support breastfeeding.
To read more facts and truths about Black Breastfeeding visit this post.
*Stats and facts courtesy of Black Breastfeeding Week & the CDC.
Recently, Health.com highlighted "6 Black Moms Took To Social Media to Share Their Stories" and I am so honored to be featured. You can check out my story and the powerful narratives of 5 other amazing Black mamas at the link above.
I am so thankful this week exists and we get to celebrate the miracle of breastfeeding, and in-spite of how tired I may feel or how inconvenient it may be, I love seeing other beautiful women in all shades and stages of motherhood doing the same.
Was there anything in this post you didn’t know or hadn’t heard before?
Let me know in the comments and let’s begin to amplify the disparities in Black Maternal Health.
with strength, courage and wisdom,