By: Nicki Reid, Bilingual BA
I remember our breastfeeding journey like it was yesterday. I had my fair share of questions and concerns.
Was my baby latching correctly? How would I know this? Am I producing enough milk? Was my baby feeding enough? Am I positioning the baby optimally? Am I even breastfeeding right?
Mamas, can you relate?!
While I can look back and smile and chuckle about it now, let me tell you — it was no laughing matter then. From dealing with intrusive hospital staff, to racist healthcare practitioners, experiencing engorgement and not having our son latch, sore nipples, sleep deprivation and everything else in between. Despite the challenges that we encountered along the way, breastfeeding was and is still one of my favourite parts of my motherhood journey for a few different reasons. I personally love the bonding that happens between a Mama and her babe. It is amazing to see the precious newborns find their way to their Mama’s breast shortly after they are born. As per WebMD, in addition to breast milk providing the ideal nutrition for infants, it contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor. Breastfeeding is also beneficial to the Mama because it not only burns extra calories and helps to lose the pregnancy weight faster, it also helps the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth via the release of the hormone oxytocin.
Four years and two babies later, our breastfeeding journey recently ended- #BitterSweet. Our son breastfed until he was 15 months old, while our daughter breastfed until she was 22 months old. The Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. breast milk only for feeding your baby) from birth to 6 months and continued breastfeeding for up to 2 years or more after introducing solid foods.
I was beyond pleased and thrilled to be able to breastfeed beyond 6 months for both of our babies, but I was a part of a small percentage of Mamas who do. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, 75% of White women and 80% of Hispanic women choose to breastfeed. By the time their baby turns six months old, only 27% of Black mothers continue to breastfeed, as opposed to 44% of women overall.
With all of these amazing benefits for both Mama and baby, why aren’t more Black women breastfeeding?
According to Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, the incredible Black women who created Black Breastfeeding Week 8 years ago, there are several reasons that account for this discrepancy. The high black infant mortality rate, high rates of diet-related disease, lack of diversity in the lactation field, unique cultural barriers among black women, and desert-Like conditions in Black communities. For a more in depth explanation, check out: Top 5 Reasons We Need A Black Breastfeeding Week.
Black Breastfeeding Week was born out of a necessity to raise awareness around and address the racial disparities preventing Black women from breastfeeding their babies and also to invite more women to breastfeed by providing them with the support, resources and information they need to do so successfully. August 25th — 31st 2020 is Black Breastfeeding Week and the theme this year is Revive. Restore. Reclaim. Check out Black Breastfeeding Week for more information.
Please note, while there has been a dedicated week to Black Breastfeeding, the advocacy, resources, information, and support is year round!
Happy Breastfeeding Mamas!
Nicki Reid, Bilingual BA
Certified Transformational Coach | Certified Essential Oil Specialist |
Certified ARōMATOUCH Practitioner | 200 YTT , Wholesome Mind Health Coaching
For more information about breastfeeding, reach out to your midwife / doctor or visit the following sites: