Midwifery and Racial Oppression, #BlkBFing Chat Highlights, Black Women and Medicaid Podcast and More!

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I’m going to try my best to post weekly/bi-weekly links to articles I come across. I forget that not everyone uses Facebook and Twitter, and that’s where I post most of the things I come across.

Anti-Racism and Anti- Oppression Work In Midwifery – Letter To Midwifery Today: Real Talk About Midwifery and Racial Oppression.
This powerful letter was collaboratively drafted by 97 BirthWorkers from around the globe.

While the article is gone from the Midwifery Today site, the discussion it has engendered is too important to disappear without a trace. It is important to us that your readers understand why the comparison between the anti-slavery struggle and the midwifery movement is wrong and profoundly hurtful. Even more than this, however, we hope to show that the struggle to provide a full range of birthing options must address our history of racial oppression if we really want to change birth in this country.

ChildBirth Connection Transforming Maternity Care – Urge Women To Question Elective Deliveries.

Don’t schedule elective, non-medically indicated inductions of labor or cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks 0 days gestational age.

MomsRising Blog – Breastfeeding: Obesity, Diabetes and Asthma Prevention.

Breastfeeding decreases the risks for obesity, diabetes and asthma. As a nephrology social worker, I see firsthand the consequences of obesity that can lead to diabetes and ultimately chronic kidney disease.

Healthy Black Women – Podcast on Why Black Women Should Care About Medicaid and It’s Expansion.

Twitter – #BlkBFing Twitter Chat Highlights.

Every Mother Counts via Jennie Joseph – Black History Month: Midwifery Matters.

As a Black midwife, newly arrived in 1989, I had no understanding of the history or legacy of midwifery in the USA, let alone the foundational role that African-American midwives played in the provision of maternity care for both Black and White women from slavery on upwards.

Reports Say Black Women Don’t Breastfeed… #BlkBfing

My Son - Samuel. Breastfeeding at 21 months old.

My Son – Samuel. Breastfeeding at 21 months old.

I am so happy to share with you this list of black women who breastfeed! If you check the current data on black women and breastfeeding you’ll most likely find reports saying that we do not breastfeed, we have the lowest rates, we only breastfeed for 3-6 months, etc.

I would like to know where are the studies talking about the black women that do breastfeed?

There are websites, Facebook pages, Twitter Accounts and Blogs dedicated to Black Women Breastfeeding. I’m not saying the data is wrong, but I don’t believe it’s as dire as they claim it to be either.

I know that black women breastfeed, and the evidence is right here on this website.

Some women chose to list how many children and for how long they breastfed. Some chose not to, and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean they didn’t breastfeed for a certain amount of time, they simply chose not to include that information. This list includes black women from all walks of life. Mama’s to one child, some to three, and six children. Married mama’s, single mama’s…some work, others stay home. Some nursed for 6 months – while others tandem nursed for years. Some used donor milk – others induced lactation.

Lets get started…

Marilyn

Kalina

Deesha

Toya

Jatika – and her cousin Shanetra.

@lawgurl both children

Dee 4 children: Last one currently nursing now over 2 yrs old.

Melek: Battled through biting issues and low supply from 9 months until he weaned at 12 months.

Dianthe: Breastfeeding for 4 years…on 2nd baby and tandem nursed for a year.

Monique: 13 months and counting! her mom, cousins and aunts also breastfed their children.

Angela: Breastfed all four of her children.

Natasha: 29 months and counting!

Sylvia: Tandem nursed 2.5 yr old and 3.5 yr old until she was 7 months pregnant. She weaned them at that time and is now nursing her 3rd baby.

Tiffony: Breasted my two for 2.5 years each. Was breast fed by my mom until age 3.

Jamita: nursing for almost 6 yrs. 2 yrs w/Myles, 2.5 yrs w/Myla and currently nursing Mylex 14 months.

Tamika: Breastfed for 27 months until she had to have oral surgery and was placed on medications for it.

Tiffany: Breastfed both of her older children, and planning to breastfeed her newest arrival as well.

Kimberly: Breastfed her first until he was 27 months, and currently nursing her 19 month old.

Kimberley: Induced lactation and breastfed two adopted daughters. Her oldest breastfed for 13 months but continued to receive breastmilk until she was 28mos. Her youngest breastfed for 10 mos but continues to receive breastmilk and she is 14 mos. They both come off the breast when they were teething, milk not coming fast enough and constant biting. Side note: They both received donor milk PAID FOR by Medicaid.

Pamela: Breastfeeding her son at 14 months. She plans to continue until he is 18 months.

Michelle: Currently breastfeeding her three-month old.

Tiffany C.: Breastfed her first till she was 14 months old; her second till she was 21 months old; and plans to breastfeed her new baby as long as we can!

Chalis: Breast fed her 1st for almost a year (14 years ago) & currently breastfeeding her 4 month old!

Kimberly D.: Breastfed her first until she was 3 yrs, her second until he was 3 yrs, her third until she was 3 yrs, her fourth until she was 4 yrs, her fifth until he was 4.5 yrs, and currently bf her 6th who is almost 6 months old♥

Courtney: Nursed her son until about age 25 mo, planning to let the baby still in the oven self wean.

Kornika: 10 months and counting!

Bianca: Breastfed for 6 months.

Rashanna: Breast fed all three of hers; 8 months was the longest.

Sheril: Breastfed five for a year each!

Kristal: Not only was she a breastfeeding peer helper for the WIC office, she also nursed her FAB 5…. One for 3 years… Breast ONLY!

Adiaha: breastfed two daughters. One for 2.5 yrs and the other up until one week before her third birthday.

Kanyla: happily breastfeeding for 7 months and plans to continue until her baby girl is ready to stop

I also breastfed all three of my children. My first for 10 months, my 2nd for 29 months and my 3rd 21 months and counting! At the time of this post 2/27/13 I have been breastfeeding for 34 months AND we made the cover of the 2013 breastfeeding calendar from Birth Routes.

Black Women Do Breastfeed is a Blog/Facebook page is about making the community of black breastfeeding moms visible. If you’re on Twitter follow along @BlkWmnDoBF.

Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association is a non-profit organization increasing awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding throughout the African-American community. Follow them on Twitter @BMBFA.

Blacktating features Breastfeeding news and views from a mom of color. Elita’s blog was talked about on TMZ! Check out the post here. Follow her on Twitter @Blacktating.

Did you know that Michelle Obama breastfed her daughters? Erykah Badu has breastfed all of her children and is seen breastfeeding her daughter in one of her music videos.

Then, there is this video on Black Women Breastfeeding: A Multi-generational Story.

As you can see, there are plenty of black women breastfeeding. Thousands even! We have since the beginning of time, and will continue to do so.

When I put the call out for women to have their name included I wasn’t shocked by the response, but very happy and excited that so many of you responded. Thank you so much to all who shared with us!

If you breastfed your child would you please leave a comment for others to see that black women do indeed breastfeed.

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Free To Breastfeed: Voices From Black Mothers on 2/29/12

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I am happy to join ROSE(Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere) and Moms Rising in getting the word out on Black Women Breastfeeding for Black History Month. Read the other Making HERstory blog posts!

On Wednesday, February 27th, the “Blk BFing: Making HERstory” Twitter chat will take place with the hashtag #BlkBfing. To participate, search for #BlkBfing and join in the tweeting!

Thirty Three Months of Breastfeeding

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I love this photo. I’ve looked at it every day since I took it. Doesn’t he look like an angel!? I really don’t understand how someone can think toddlers breastfeeding is disgusting.

This is the longest amount of time I’ve breastfed. Some days I’m ready to wean and other times it’s hard to imagine not nursing. I’m still undecided on weaning him myself or doing child-led weaning. I can say that he’s not ready. at. all. A few days ago he fell asleep while nursing and bit down. If you’re nursing a child with teeth, you know the pain that comes with that. I yelled ouch while pulling him off, of course he woke up, but settled right back down in my arms. My nipple was bleeding and throbbing. In that moment, I was done. I was pissed and in pain. I put some cream on my wounded nipple and he nursed on my right side exclusively for the next several days.

He always has to have both sides, probably because my supply isn’t what it used to be.  When he asked for the other side I told him it was broken. He seemed satisfied with that answer and even said he would fix it. I can’t stand nursing when I’m on my period….I feel annoyed and get the creepy crawlies. It reminds me of nursing my 2nd while I was pregnant with my 3rd.  And then there are times where he looks like such a sweet angel, sleeping at the breast, just like he did when he was a tiny baby. Oh, I don’t know what to do…lately I’ve felt like I won’t make it another three months. If I do, I’ll be nursing a 3yr old!  The only goal I had in mind this round was to nurse for 2years or so. That goal has been met. Now I need to figure out what I want to do.

Thirty Three Months of Breastfeeding…that’s a milestone for me.

Breastfeeding Myths

Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition as part of Landscape of Breastfeeding Support, photography by Anne Schollenberger Photography

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I wanted to get this post up before National Breastfeeding Month is over. It’s taken me longer than I thought it would and it’s not a perfect or complete list of myths, but a good starting point.

World Breastfeding Week was August 1-7th and even though that week is long gone people still celebrate breastfeeding the entire month. I had made a simple status update on Facebook a few weeks ago “Writing about Breastfeeding Myths.” Within minutes I had a long list from other women of some things they’ve heard or been told about breastfeeding. I’m combining their statements with my own.

Black Women Don’t Breastfeed.

This is one of the most common myths circulating around the world. I’m a Black Woman and have breastfed all three of my children for varying lengths of time. I have Black friend who breastfeed or have breastfed their babies. There are Black celebrities that Breastfeed. Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Laila Ali, Erykah Badu,and Nia Long to name a few. Black Women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time and we will continue to do so. Here is a post from Free To Breastfeed:Voices From Black Mothers reporting on Black Women from all walks of life that Breastfeed. There is also Black Women Do Breastfeed, Blacktating, Black Breastfeeding 360, Black Mother’s Breastfeeding Association.

Breastfeeding Comes Naturally For Mom and Baby.

It is true that breasts were meant for breastfeeding and that moms milk is made specefically for her baby. It is also true that baby’s are born to breastfeed. What is not true is that breastfeeding will come naturally or easy for every mom and baby. I like to think of breastfeeding as a dance between mom and baby…something the two of them learn together.

I had no problems breastfeeding my first two children, but my third was a very humbling experience. While he did breastfeed minutes after birth, I started noticing problems a few weeks in. I’ve always had an oversupply of milk and he would gag and choke when nursing. He had developed a bad latch and my nipples were cracked and bleeding. I wanted too give up so many times. Thankfully I had a supportive group of friends along with my local La Leche League. She helped me to try reclining back when nursing, and that helped with gravity so the baby wasn’t choking from my super fast flow of milk. For the latch issues we were having, I would use pillows to keep him level with my breast, or lie on my back with the baby directly on top of me nursing.

La Leche League leaders can make house and hospital calls. You can ask for help over the phone or through email. The best part of the organization? You can attend meetings before your baby is even born! There are many reasons a mom and baby may have a rough start to breastfeeding. They could have been separated after birh for whatever reason, latch issues,  reflux, thrush, colic, cesarean, over supply, low supply. A supportive network of friends, family, lactation consultants, and La Leche League Leaders can help you and your baby learn to breastfeed.

Babies Should Be On A Feeding Schedule.

From Melissa ” My favorite- Nursing on demand or using nursing to soothe your baby will make the baby fat.  Actually said to me by a Pediatrician”

Breastfed babies need to feed on demand. Newborns will frequently breastfeed every hour or more because they are building up their milk supply. Breastfeeding is supply and demand. The more baby breastfeeds the more milk your body will make. A Breastfed baby will also nurse more often because breastmilk digests more quickly than formula. This is a really good thing! Every single time you nurse your baby, your body releases the love hormone Oxytocin. Sending love, and calm throughout you and your baby. What an amamzing bonding experience!

You Only Need To Breastfeed For The First 3-6 Months.

From Faith “I love that some people actually believe that a child will NEVER wean unless you stop them. The thought of my 15 year old still wanting to nurse is hilarious.”

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. And after those six months introducing solids while still breastfeeding for up to two years of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months and then for one full year or longer. Breastfeeding beyond infancy has many health benefits. Kellymom has excellent resources on all of the benefits. I breastfed my 1stt for 10 months, my 2nd for 29 months, and my third is almost 27 months and still nursing. Many women here in America and around the world nurse their children for at least three years. It’s completely normal!

Breastfeeding Will Spoil Your Baby.

Food spoils, not your baby. You carried that baby and all he/she knows is the sound of your heartbeat, your voice. When a baby is born they need to be held and nursed frequently. They feel safest in the arms of their mother. Every time you nurse your baby there is a physical and mental bond that takes place. Your baby has a biological need to want to be with you and Mother and baby are designed to be together, especially in those first few weeks and months. The two of you are learning each other. There is nothing wrong with that.

Breastfeeding Should Only Be Done In Private.

There are so many great things about breastfeeding. It’s free, always ready and warm. In the event of a natural disaster there are no bottles, water and formula to worry about, so you would never have to worry about your baby going hungry. It is your legal right to breastfeed your baby in public. At first I was terrified to nurse in public. I felt like it was a shameful thing to do. It was growing up in church, and worrying about being modest at all times. I knew women in church breastfed, but never actually saw them because they would sit huddle up, backed-turn, blanketed up. My oldest is now seven years old, and I will never forget one of the first times I needed to nurse her in public. I felt ashamed to nurse her at the table when we were out to eat with our church group. There were men at the table afterall, and we were in public! Christians are supposed to be modest. You can read about What The Bible Says About Nursing In Public here. I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet to breastfeed her. It was disgusting and my food was cold when I came back. One of my friends mentioned that she felt bad for me and that was why she used formula. It is this type of thinking that makes people feel shame for nurturing their baby anytime no matter where they are, or who they are with. Another time my daughte rwas about 4 months old I had a meeting in the mall with a woman to talk about a work from home job. My daughter started to fuss and I was so nervous, I tried bouncing her to soothe her, but that wasn’t working. The woman looked at me and said “if you need to nurse your baby, go right ahead” I felt such relief! That was all it took for me to feel comfortable, and empowered even to nurse my baby right there in the malls food court.

With my second daughter I had no trouble nursing her in public. No one knew what I was doing unless they were starring at us. I’ve nursed in the mall, at church, on the beach, at the park, the library, the zoo, and even in the store while grocery shopping. There are many baby carriers on the market now that allow you to wear your baby and carry on with your life, hands free. It’s pretty easy to wear your baby and nurse at the same time.
Now when I notice a mom nursing in public I’ll either catch her eye and smile or walk up to her and let her know that she’s doing a great thing. Breastfeeding in public is simply meeting the needs of your child.

Men Are Not Supportive of Breastfeeding

This is definitely NOT TRUE! My husband has been supportive of breastfeeding from the beginning. I know of many men that support their wives breastfeeding.

A little back story…
I supplemented with formula for about 6-8 months with my first daughter and she nursed for ten months. When I had my 2nd daughter and went past the year mark, my aunt told me she was proud of me. She didn’t have the information back then that I have now. I know my mom wasn’t used to it. She asked with my 2nd daughter and again with my son(my 3rd)when I was going to stop. I talk to my dad all the time about all the benefits. Because to them, it wasn’t normal.

My husband has been great. He didn’t know much about it at the time, but he said that he always knew he wanted his wife to breastfeed his children. But it was a big deal to him for me to nurse without covering up. He was worried that people would look and stare, or that some man would try to catch a glimpse of his wifes breasts. I started wearing a tank top under my clothes, that way I could nurse anywhere without a cover. I thought my husband may have problems with my son, because some people have a problem nursing boys longer rather than girls. So there were a few times where he said something like…”maybe you could wean him?” He made those statements over a year ago….our son is 27 months old now and we’re still going strong with breastfeeding and my husband is 100% on board. I love hearing him tell his friends and co-workers about breastfeeding. I love it when he notices a mom nursing in public before I do! It wouldn’t surprise me if he could offer a little breastfeeding support to families.

Some men want to be supportive but don’t know hot to be. We need to tell them exactly what will help.
Here are a few ways that men can be supportive of breastfeeding…

  • Get rid of the idea that breasts are only for your pleasure.
  • Attend breastfeeding support meetings before and after the baby is born.
  • Make sure your wife has something to drink, pillows and books, lap top or whatever she would like to do while nursing.
  • Change the diapers and bring the baby to her in bed or whereever she is sitting.
  • Ask her what you can do to help support her in breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Prevents Allergies

From Tarrah “I was told by our ex pediatrician that bc he couldn’t digest dairy that i had to stop….i was devastated then i found out i could have cut out dairy myself and he would be fine….we switched drs immediately”

I’m sure I’ll get many people to disagree with me on this one, but I’m speaking from personal experience on this one. My husband has asthma and allergies and so do I.
Ive had to eliminate dairy from my diet with all three of my children, and all three of them have asthma. If your family has a history of asthma and allergies, there is a pretty good chance your baby will also develop allergies. One of the most common is an allergy to dairy. It’s amazing to me how many in the medical field still don’t know that if a baby has an allerigc reaction to diary then mom just needs to cut it from her diet. It can take up to 6 weeks to leave moms system completely and you have to be careful with food labels because a lot of times we don’t realize how much dairy we are eating on a daily basis. Eating Without Casein is a great resource page for learning how to eat dairy free. So I do not agree that breastfeeding can prevent allergies in a family with a history of allergies.

I think these next two can go together.

No Medicine or Drinking While Breastfeeding

From Erika “The myth that a mom can’t take medication at all while nursing.”  And Patricia ” Mom can’t make enough milk.  and NO WINE!” 

Dr Hale has done research and writen many articles on the safety of medications and alcohol consuption while breastfeeding.
Many women think if they are on anti-depressants that they can’t breastfeed or need to wean. I took a low dose of Lexapro (20mg) with all three of my babies. My midwives and Dr’s were both comfortable with it. I have friends that have also used different medications and successfully breastfed their children. As far as alcohol goes….I like to have a glass of wine every now and then. Some women drink a beer – they say it helps to boost their milk supply….other than drinking for recreational purposes. Consult with your doctor first.

Every Mother Can and Should Breastfeed

From Dana K “Flipside myth – breastmilk is best for all babies. // I heard this from a very prominent lactivist who told me I shouldn’t give my son the “poison” formula. She claimed to know more about my son’s fatty acid oxidation disorder than I or my geneticists know and I just wasn’t doing everything I could for him. My son would have died had I continued nursing him. my situation taught me to be a lot more compassionate with my lactivism. (VLCADD, if anyone is wondering)”

There is a small percentage of women that can’t breastfeed. It goes way beyond nipple confusion, low milk supply, and tongue tie.
All of those issues are things that can be corrected with help. I had never heard of VLCADD ((very long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency) until I met Dana. Instead of me spouting off on something I don’t know much about I’ll let her post tell you more about her son Klaw’s condition. We really need to be more sensitive to those women who so badly wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t. We are so quick to judge a mom for not breastfeeding when we may not know the whole story. That doesn’t help anyone.

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There are a ton of myths floating around out there about breastfeeding. This is a small list. What are some that you’ve heard or had personal experience with?