By: Nicki Reid, Bilingual BA
The 9th annual Black Breastfeeding Week will be taking place from August 25th to 31st. This movement was born out of the need to acknowledge and address the racial disparities preventing Black folks from breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and body feeding their babies, as well as encourage more Black parents to nurse by providing them with the support, resources, and information they need to do so successfully.
This year, the theme is: The Big Pause: Collective Rest for Collective Power, and I think that is something that can resonate with all of us.
After all, it’s been almost a year and a half since the hustle and bustle of life as we once knew it came to an end. Some families went from constantly being on the go; running from work to extracurriculars, homework, housework, errands, etc, to being homebound. Like many other families, we were forced to restructure our lives in order to acclimatize to our “new normal”. To some, this was the blessing that they longed for because it meant that they could finally rest; not so much for others. Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and more, families were faced with the challenge of managing their workloads from home, in addition to being responsible for teaching their children and helping them to adjust to this virtual existence, in the end finding themselves busier than ever.
Take a moment to reflect upon:
What does pausing look like for you? What does it entail? What does rest mean to you? What does it look like? What does personal and collective power mean to you? How might resting help us get there? What else arises for you?
I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, experiencing mommy burnout and operating from a full cup. My takeaway: I am a better mama, wife, and human being when I get the rest I need and deserve.
One of the best things that I did this last year was go to therapy. My therapist helped me to realize that one of the reasons I was feeling burnt out was because I was operating from a colonial and capitalistic mindset. Despite living in an unprecedented global pandemic, a part of me felt the need to operate from a “business as usual'' lens responding to everyone right away and still providing the same level of care to others, while operating with less support than I had previously.
I had to decolonize my time, take on less in my life, give myself permission to say “no” to others so I could say “yes” to me, grant myself more space and grace, manage expectations of myself and others by setting boundaries, and acknowledge that I only had the capacity to focus on the essentials.
Looking back at how colonialism impacted our ancestors, they were always working because they were forced to. Reclaiming my time is one way I take back my power and honour my ancestors. REST IS RESISTANCE! If we are not mindful, these oppressive systems will leave us burnt out or having lost our lives. We MUST reject them as they are catalysts for the disparities we encounter today. We deserve to experience joy and rest when we need to, because we are not robots. From experience, if you don’t create the time to rest, your body will do it for you (that is not something you want to experience). Covid has shown us that we can exist at a slower pace and still survive.
I invite you to imagine:
What does slowing down to pause look like for our community? How could we use this opportunity to reclaim our power both individually and collectively?
If you’re still in the breastfeeding phase of your journey, when you’re nursing, do you find yourself multi-tasking or are you present? How might a supported and well rested breastfeeding parent who is in a better position to manage their mental health show up to their nursing session? How might this impact the quality of the bond between them and their baby? How might this ripple out into the community?
Finally, I want to leave you with an exercise:
Put one hand over your heart and another over your belly. Take a moment to breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth, slowly.
Repeat after me:
Repeat as necessary.
In the words of Audre Lorde,“caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
To learn more about Black Breastfeeding Week, visit Top Five Reasons We Need A Black Breastfeeding Week.
For information, resources, and support about maternal health, visit Mommy Monitor.
Nicki Reid, Bilingual BA
Certified Transformational Coach | Certified Essential Oil Specialist |
Certified ARōMATOUCH Practitioner | 200 YTT , Wholesome Mind Health Coaching