Once again, Black Breastfeeding Week (BBW) is here with us. On August 25, the 10th year celebration of Black motherhood and breastfeeding chocolate babies got underway. In the 6 years since I first learned about BBW, I've had the chance to breastfeed three infants.
According to the CDC's latest statistics, roughly 74% of Black infants receive breast milk. The white infants are about 86.6% and 82.9% of Hispanic infants. Unfortunately, indigenous moms are frequently disregarded; this is a challenge in itself. Therefore, the reason why we celebrate Native Breastfeeding Week is from August 11–17.
Additionally, we've discovered that young women and those who receive support like WIC or SNAP are far less likely to consider nursing for their babies than the general population. In other words, my probabilities of obtaining support and considering breastfeeding for a long time were significantly lower as a young, Black mother accessing WIC when I delivered my first child. Thus the need to understand the motivation behind Black Breastfeeding Week.
When first-time Black mothers are developing an understanding of a world tainted by racism and sexism, this data can be burdensome. To me, it absolutely was. I sought to produce every effort possible to overcome those elements. Black Breastfeeding Week helped me press forward whenever I thought of giving up on backing from larger efforts like National Breastfeeding Month.
To me, the importance of Black Breastfeeding Week has changed throughout the years. In the first year, I was a new ma, seeking to comprehend the meaning of feeding a baby with your body and dealing with the shame as well as the judgment that occurred with the public embarrassment of breastfeeding. I, therefore, learned that, even though I wasn't doing anything unusual, nursing my kid came before other people's comfort.
The following year, I felt more confident in my ability to nurse, but I still felt the need to connect with a group of individuals who were mindful of how the race of the nursing mom shapes breastfeeding stigma. I found social media communities for Black mothers to satisfy that urge.
Last year, I was worried about the pandemic and its financial obstacles—these two obstacles made breastfeeding a challenge to Black women and other people. I abandoned the "breast is best" language for those who reached out interested in nursing but finally thought that it wasn't in favor of being realistic and economically sustainable.
This year's BBW theme focuses on the new foundation. Therefore, I want to focus less on criticizing those who formula-feed their children but instead think of the best ways to ensure donor milk is available to every black woman who needs it.
And this year, I want to focus more on making donor milk available to everyone and less on criticizing those who formula-feed their children.
I was a new mother in my early 20s when I first began nursing. I knew so little about life, much less even breastfeeding.
Being one of the few Black women in my neighborhood, I felt alone. My family wasn't very supportive, and I frequently got the go-ahead to nurse in secret from other people.
Overcoming societal perceptions to continue with my breastfeeding was never a walk in the park. However, I knew I had no choice since I could not afford the baby's formula. These may have worried and stressed me at the moment; however, it was an advantage for my kid.
My grasp of health and socioeconomic inequity grew more profound as I studied more. Breastfeeding has exposed me to various social and health issues I would never have predicted.
Until I started breastfeeding, I thought that it would be easy. Either way, I accomplished my goal. I now realize nursing is complex and has numerous difficulties after six years and three children.
I recognize that the best indicator of nursing effectiveness is supported; as a result, we must create interventions specifically customized to Black mothers, especially those more prone to slip under the radar when it comes to breastfeeding.
The entire month of August is designated National Breastfeeding Month, which addresses some of the social issues related to breastfeeding. These issues include emotional tiredness, physical difficulties, and continuing stigma. However, it doesn't discuss how each of them explicitly affects Black women. Where "normal" nursing problems left me floundering, the talk that resulted from Black Breastfeeding Week reached and changed me. It was a tool that addressed what it means to breastfeed in public. By talking to others in Black Breastfeeding support groups, I learnt the phrases and legal provisions that may defend me if someone tried to turn breastfeeding into a sexual activity rather than a means of obtaining sustenance.
Black Breastfeeding Week provided me with all the resources required to understand what it means to be Black and breastfeeding. I have also understood what it means to be overworked and underappreciated in our mothering roles and to live in a society that doesn't value vulnerability.
However, I also had a chance to be in a community due to Black Breastfeeding Week. This is one of the best things that happened to me. It's critical to have our experiences highlighted and to feel grounded.
Ever since I've gained a lot of knowledge about the reproductive experiences of Black mothers, it has become evident that in addition to the regular difficulties all nursing moms have, racism puts Black women's health, including breastfeeding, in danger.
I've also discovered that millions of Black mothers give birth without any assistance or supplies needed to make breastfeeding available for its long-term advantages. I once served as that mother. Therefore I take responsibility for narrowing the gap and providing assistance to needy people.