Here’s the Facebook page with more information about Black Breastfeeding Week.
I support this initiative 1000% as a Black woman, a mother who breastfed her son until he was 42 months, and the daughter of a mother who wanted to breastfeed, but the choice was taken away from her by hospital staff who gave her a “little pill” in 1973 to dry up her milk. My mother had no idea she was unable to breastfeed me as a newborn until they told her that her milk was gone, a few hours after I was born.
There are many statistics and opinion pieces “out there” on the Internet that I don’t have time to link, but a quick search will show the lower-than-WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeeding rates in the Black community and all of the negative implications of those lower rates.
It is also a fact that we live in quite the segregated society, both online and offline and the many positive messages and initiatives about breastfeeding have not gotten in any way, shape or form into many Black people’s lives and communities. Part of my work week is spent in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a high poverty and predominantly people of color community, and I can literally count on less than one hand the number of women I’ve seen breastfeeding in the last five years. And I work with families who have young children.
We need to spread the word and build support!
I am linking this piece by Kimberly Sears Allers who spoke to some criticisms voiced by mainstream breastfeeding advocates. It’s a very important read and frankly, I am annoyed that there is criticism in the first place.
I also want to point out this piece by Stacia L. Brown who pushes us to think about single mothers of color and breastfeeding. My mom was one, and I can’t help but think that her status impacted her experiences as a post-partum mom.
Rather than coming from a place of defending it, I am here to say that I am happy it exists and that I LIVE Black breastfeeding week all year long. I offer support, encouragement and information to any woman who’s interested in breastfeeding, particularly young women of color.
I don’t have time to argue with people about philosophical ramifications of any initiative designed to support women and children and save lives.
My positive experience with breastfeeding happened primarily because I educated myself a LOT before I gave birth (and I had the resources to do that) and because I had support in my life to do so, and to do so past one month or six (!).
Here is a picture of my son when he was 2 years and 7 months, breastfeeding in St. Croix, USVI
It’s political, and very very personal!
Feel free to share your breastfeeding story, your favorite links and resources and/or questions and concerns about breastfeeding in the comments section below.