The Maziwa Tribe Blog Turns 1

On February 11, 2020 I posted my first blog post introducing myself. A blog was on the to-do list for ages and I recall being extremely proud of taking the step. Those who know me know that I have always loved reading and writing. My high school English teacher (we are still in contact) taught me how to write a properly cited research paper. I credit my parents for my love of reading because our home was always full of books! The library is one of my favorite places and I hope to visit again in 2023! We’ll see what the future holds.

I am amazed that one year has passed. I am getting close to the anniversary of the point where life paused and the world shifted. So much happened in 2020 and my first blog post would have had a different title had I been able to foreshadow the remainder of the year. Mental health is my specialty and my work multiplied a hundredfold. Mental health professionals did not get specialized training on how to help our clients navigate 2020. Keep in mind that we were simultaneously experiencing the same events that our clients brought into our counseling spaces. I did my best to provide coping strategies within this space knowing that the only certain aspect of my world was my nursing toddler and her ongoing request for my milk!

“My professional life and my personal life have collided and this is the final outcome. Mental health, motherhood and breastfeeding is a way of life for me…”

Salimah

The above quote was taken from my first blog post. Mental health, motherhood and breastfeeding continues to be a way of life for me one year later. These three areas come naturally (after years of practice) which leaves me no other choice but to write about them. Each area comes with challenges that I will save for a future blog. I am grateful for every reader, every comment and every person that has hit the share button. I am human and I may miss a comma here and there. My only hope is that I have educated and inspired my readers. For me, that’s enough to keep on writing about mental health, motherhood and (breast/chest/human) milk!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

The Four Year Milestone

So much taking place in the world which gives me a variety of topics to write about. Today I am choosing to practice exactly what I preached in my April 1, 2020 Emotional Self-Care post. I am making the deliberate choice to control my self-care narrative.

Today is January 16, 2021 and I am nine days away from having a four year old. The time has flown by quickly and it feels like we were just discharged from the hospital. Her birthday, January 25, also represents the fourth year of our breastfeeding journey 🎉🏆!!! We had challenges immediately following birth and I would have had unpleasant words for anyone on January 25, 2017 had they told me that I’d still be nursing my daughter four years later. To utter such words would have been the ultimate form of disrespect resulting in the end of a relationship! At that point in time we lived life in three-hour increments and it was asking too much of me to even focus on the next day.

Time flies fast! The three-hour increments turned into a day. The days turned into weeks. The weeks turned into months and the months turned into years. I am amazed that the four year milestone is quickly approaching and we are still at it! I vividly recall setting our breastfeeding goal for six months. We were supposed to be done in June 2017, however, the art of breastfeeding somehow became easier and we never stopped. Fast forward to 2021 and my baby (she will always be my baby) is content with nursing a few times a day. She knows what she wants and will not hesitate to grab her milkies when she needs a quick snack. All challenges have disappeared and I have zero complaints about this leg of the journey.

I am beyond grateful for our journey; yet I recall our humble beginnings! You couldn’t pay me to be grateful in January 2017 and six months could not come quick enough. Grateful is the feeling because the choice to breastfeed my daughter has created new opportunities for me. I had no idea that I would become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and would assist other babies, parents and families. A blog certainly was not on my radar in January 2017 nor was a Monthly Breastfeeding / Chestfeeding Subscription Box. Who knew!? I simply hoped to shower every few days, catch a quick nap and survive the next three hours. Anything beyond that was not important. I also cannot forget about the friendships and professional relationships that I have built in the last four years. Breastfeeding is still a way of life for me because it has positively impacted every aspect of my life. The unbreakable bond with my baby and the unwavering desire to breastfeed her was the catalyst that sparked it all!

There are still those that respond with negativity when proudly state I breastfeed my daughter. Said people existed at every part of the journey. They really frown when I state that my baby still nurses as she approaches four years old. I am not offended and will respond by dropping facts about breast / chestfeeding. My teachable response often results in silence by the other party. Their silence is not my concern as I have done my part by educating. I admit that I wasn’t always in this space. My outward confidence was not the best early on given our struggles, however, I remained steadfast and never waivered on my goal to nourish my baby.

In closing, it is imperative to remember that the duration of your breast / chestfeeding journey is between you and your little one. It is your personal choice to determine what works best for you and your dynamic. My personal experience highlights the importance of choosing a supportive tribe. I will forever and always preach about the need to surround yourself with a positive and affirming breast / chestfeeding community. Such communities exist. Do yourself a favor and seek them out! You won’t regret it.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Pandemic Holiday Blues. Tis the Season.

The holiday season can bring on a variety of emotions. November marks the start of events that seem to keep rolling throughout December and into the New Year. The end of the year is compromised of work potlucks, increased family and friend obligations and festive gatherings that seem to last forever. Fast forward to 2020 and those colorful festivities of yesteryear have been replaced with more life altering challenges than we can count.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In March it was much easier to reframe the experience. Here we stand many months later and seeing the glass as half full can be a stretch. Life is different and the loss of life cannot be ignored. There is an ugly side to the pandemic and this factor alone can make it extremely difficult to get into the holiday spirit. I spoke about trauma in April 2020. Many do not recognize that experiencing a pandemic is traumatic. In my practice I have heard several verbalize that they “don’t know what happened but something is off.” I find myself helping said individuals to recognize that their disclosure is a direct result of the pandemic. The pandemic is the “what” that is causing the mind and body to be “off.” Overall functioning is compromised causing one to be in constant survival mode. Being in survival mode makes it difficult to socialize, work, sleep, relax, think, recall / retain information, tap into creativity and focus on relationships. This automatic response to the pandemic (trauma) does not simply disappear during the holiday season because the calendar says that it is December.

It is important to acknowledge that the holiday season isn’t a festive time for everyone. There are some who dread the season because it automatically brings on feelings of sadness and grief. Such feelings alone can exasperate mental health concerns without even factoring in the pandemic. Adding in the pandemic plus other environmental stressors (housing insecurity, food insecurity, job loss, financial difficulty) can compound an already unpleasant dynamic. Please seek out a therapist if you find yourself feeling that something isn’t right with your functioning. Help is available and a licensed clinician can help you to find direction in the midst of the chaos. Remember that it is ok to not be ok.

Please also consider the following:

Connecting with those that bring out the best in you can put you in a healthier and happier space. Seek to connect with family, friends or your chosen tribe given that in-person gatherings and travel may not be an option. It can be helpful to utilize a virtual platform to create a new holiday experience. This by no means replaces the in-person festivities, however, it gets a step closer to maintaining social connections and avoiding social isolation. Yes, (insert the name of your favorite virtual platform here) fatigue is real because it has been the primary means of communication since March! Do yourself a favor by limiting use and taking breaks as needed. Consider picking up the phone to remain connected and remember that disconnecting from virtual platforms (phone included) is totally acceptable too!

The calendar is a reminder that December is here, yet the holiday season looks and feels different. There isn’t much that can be done with changing the calendar as the days will continue to move at their standard pace. The 2020 holiday season may be a great opportunity to deviate from old traditions by creating new memories and experiences. Creating new experiences can bring about positive feelings and positive feelings can help to elevate ones mood. The overall goal is to create good memories which help to smooth out the not so pleasant memories. A deliberate attempt to introduce a few good memories here and there is good for the soul.

Self-care is still a must. 2020 has forced us to redefine what was previously classified as self-care. Restrictions are still in place which limits indulging in some pre-pandemic activities. Redefined self-care equates to granting yourself a bit of self-compassion by meeting yourself wherever you are. Remember that it is totally acceptable if all you did this year is survive. 2020 has taught us that survival is a big deal. Make it your priority and everything else will fall into place at a later date.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

Resources are below to assist you in connecting with a therapist in your area.

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Election Week 2020

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is a day that many have anticipated. So much has taken place in the last few days and waiting on the outcome feels like an eternity. No surprise that it has stretched well beyond Tuesday. COVID-19 has impacted life itself and the election is no exception. If you are like me you are glued to the television and switching between news channels. For many the end result is a matter of life or death and the luxury of checking out is not an option. Families and communities have and still are being ravished by COVID-19. The pandemic didn’t mysteriously disappear this week despite minimal news coverage! Trust me when I say that the pandemic hits you differently when you have the experience of watching the funeral of someone you know via Facebook live. Recall that children still remain in cages, violence is incited nonchalantly and white supremacy is readily condoned. Human lives are at stake and I refuse to take it lightly.

I have a few additional counseling sessions before the week is over and I will continue to speak about self-care. As I am taking inventory of my week I admit that self-care wasn’t my primacy focus. I didn’t turn the channel nor did I enjoy the warm Chicago weather. In fact, I listened to cable news stations while driving compliments of satellite radio. I have the ability to time outings with television commercial breaks so that I can make it to the car in time to turn on my satellite radio. My three year old remains content playing with her tablet and has not complained. I stopped keeping track of her screen time this week and concluded that I am better served by keeping the battery charged on her tablet!

My saving grace is my daughter complaining that she is “sick of watching the news and those numbers.” She prefers to watch her shows on Nick Jr. and I oblige by allowing her to change the channel. In her world none of this matters but as a mother I know that the election outcome will impact her future. I smile because for once I am able to turn the channel, however, I resort to my cellphone so I don’t miss anything. This week self-care equates to keeping all of the electronic devices (tablets, laptop and cellphone) fully charged, switching between cable news stations and listening to the commentary. Mental health is my specialty and watching a personality disorder unfold has also held my attention over the course of the last four years. The personality disorder, performances and temper tantrums are on display this week and I’m certain that the nation will continue to be subjected to them in the months to come. On a serious note, my self-care regimen this week is watching democracy play out in real time because lives depend on the outcome.

Sending a special thank you to the election officials for remaining diligent in counting ballots around the clock. Their personal safety is important as they bring counting to a close. Salute to the news personalities that have worked countless hours to keep us informed with the latest information. A special shout out to all who have casted a vote in person or via mail-in ballot. This. Is. Democracy.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

The Essentials

While pregnant I read every book I could get my hands on that was related to birth. I am an avid reader so reading books was the norm. The internet and social media spaces catering to birth and breast / chestfeeding were was also my go-to sources. I was armed with information and the text made breast / chestfeeding look easy. Certainly I thought I had it covered between the detailed descriptions, footnotes, the diagrams and links to further reading. I was the expectant mother that clicked on the links within the links to see what else I could discover.

I was grateful to have given birth in a hospital that had a phenomenal (and I mean PHENOMENAL) breastfeeding program that included a team of Lactation Counselors, a weekly drop in breastfeeding clinic and a monthly support group. I was surrounded with care throughout my journey and I am eternally grateful. We had issues; issues that could not be solved via book or Google. Nothing compared to the hands-on support that I received following the birth of my daughter.

Getting help is a must during the early stages of breast / chestfeeding. A Lactation Counselor is an expert trained to assist with lactation concerns. When in doubt, find one! Let’s put this into perspective. You would not call your trusted auto mechanic to fix household electrical issues. It seems logical to contact an electrician — one who specializes in electrical concerns.

It is ESSENTIAL that you educate yourself about breast / chestfeeding. This means researching and obtaining information from reputable sources. Trust and believe that I heard my share of old wives tales and false information based on uninformed opinions. Those spreading this nonsense are usually first to offer advice. Research and connections to knowledgeable individuals will help you to decipher between fact and fiction. Arming myself with factual information certainly helped me to tune out unwanted, unhelpful and absurd information. Consider enrolling in a class during pregnancy in preparation for the arrival of your little one(s). Let’s normalize planning and preparing to breast / chestfeed in the same manner utilized to flawlessly execute baby showers, gender reveals and other celebratory events.

It is ESSENTIAL to surround yourself with a tribe of supporters that “get it.” This is imperative as these individuals will be the ones to cheer you on and support your personal breast / chestfeeding goals. Let’s also normalize surrounding a new parent with postpartum support by way of preparing homecooked meals, washing dishes, running errands and caring for the older children while the new parent focuses on their newest addition.

It is ESSENTIAL to recognize that you do not need to suffer in silence. Mental health is imperative to your overall wellness. Seek out a Therapist. Seek out a Psychiatrist (a Medical Doctor that specializes in mental health and can prescribe medications) if needed. And yes, there are psychotropic medications that can be taken during pregnancy and while breast / chestfeeding.

It is ESSENTIAL to plan ahead. Planning ahead by lining up key individuals will set you up for success along the journey. Therapists and Lactation Counselors are ESSENTIAL WORKERS. Remember that you do not have to wait until you are in crisis to enlist assistance. Reach out to your tribe early on to outline the type of support that you are seeking. Invest in yourself by starting the planning process early. You will not regret it!

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Black Breastfeeding Week 2020

This week marks Black Breastfeeding Week! Revive. Restore. Reclaim! is the theme for 2020. In my June “Breathe, Thrive and Grow” post I wrote that I planned to tackle the systemic racism and implicit bias connected to Black breast / chestfeeding parents during my Black Breastfeeding Week post. As I began writing I decided that this post would take a different turn because I do not have the mental capacity to discuss systemic racism. Instead I want to detail my personal thoughts on the 2020 theme and ways that each word can be put into action.

Revive – In this space breast / chestfeeding is a way of life and is discussed daily. The entire month of August brings it to the forefront for the rest of the world.  I especially look forward to the last week of August because the spotlight is placed onto Black mothers (parents).  Revive means that one activates or gives life to something. Human milk is life sustaining and Black Lives Matter. Giving life to breast / chestfeeding means that we continue to verbalize our needs and engage in dialogue beyond the last week of August. This means that we present factual information backed by science to dispel myths as we hear them. To revive our breast / chestfeeding experience means that we nurse out loud. Seeing is believing and witnessing another Black woman (parent) nursing is a major action that has proven to be supportive, uplifting and empowering.

Restore – To restore means to make like new. Restoring our breast / chestfeeding experience means that we normalize it in our communities and within the spaces that we frequent. We can also do this by educating ourselves and our families, seeking out reputable sources and making connections with those sharing a similar mindset. I highly recommend adding breast / chestfeeding to the list alongside all of the other steps required to prepare for a newborn. Restoring the experience equates to taking a breastfeeding class during the prenatal period and identifying a tribe of supporters that will support your personal breast / chestfeeding goals. Your tribe should include the following: other Black nursing mothers (parents), a Pediatrician that understands lactation and a Lactation Professional. Normalize switching providers and finding a new tribe if you do not feel supported. Seek out Black Medical Providers as you see fit. They exist!!!

Reclaim – Black mothers (parents) have a complicated history with breastfeeding. I discuss it in my June “Breathe, Thrive and Grow” post. Acknowledging this history is a must because the experiences have been passed down for generations. History cannot be erased and failure to acknowledge our complex, strained historical relationship with breastfeeding means that the behaviors will be repeated. Making the choice to breast / chestfeed is an act of resistance against racism. It is a healthy choice in a world where Black mothers (parents) are often robbed of the right to nourish our offspring from our bodies. I outlined several instances within my June blog. Making the choice allows us to gain empowerment through positively reframing an experience that was once deemed to be negative. Shifting from pain to purpose allows us to reclaim an entire experience that should not have been stolen from us to begin with.

Black Breastfeeding Week 2020

Salute to all of the Black breast / chestfeeding moms (parents)! I see you and I stand in solidarity with you! I salute the Black mom frantically pumping during her half hour lunch break. I salute the Black mom actively tandem nursing twins. I salute the Black mother just starting the journey and the Black mother currently nursing a toddler. I see you and I understand! Thank you to all of the Black Medical Doctors, Nurses and Lactation Professionals that allow us to feel heard, understood and safe within medical settings. Representation matters. Thank you to the tribe of supporters who support us in meeting our personal breast / chestfeeding goals. It takes a village to make this way of life possible.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

Below you will find a list of references where you may obtain additional information about the need for Black Breastfeeding Week, slavery and its impact on Black breast / chestfeeding parents, systemic racism, food deserts in the Black community, racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding and Black infant mortality. This is by no means a comprehensive list but it is a good starting point at expanding your learning. Reading and researching is fundamental. Start here.

(n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.slaveryfacts.org/classroom/breastfeeding-master-s-babies-the-wet-nurse-slave

Allers, K. S. (2014). Top Five Reasons We Need A Black Breastfeeding Week. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://blackbreastfeedingweek.org/why-we-need-black-breastfeeding-week/

Food Deserts*. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://foodispower.org/access-health/food-deserts/

Freeman, A. (2020). Skimmed: Breastfeeding, race, and injustice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=28151

Jones, K., Power, M., Queenan, J., & Schulkin, J. (2015, May). Racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410446/

Picheta, R., & Howard, J. (2020, August 20). Black newborns 3 times more likely to die when looked after by White doctors. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/18/health/black-babies-mortality-rate-doctors-study-wellness-scli-intl/index.html

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Subscription Box Countdown

UPDATE September 1, 2020 — The Peace, Love & Breastmilk Monthly Subscription Box is available. Please click on the links below! 💙

I am eagerly preparing to launch the Peace, Love & Breastmilk Monthly Subscription Box on September 1, 2020!! 🎉✨🎁 The time has flown by and it’s hard to believe that it is weeks away! The idea written on scrap paper in March 2020 will soon become reality. I am excited!

I will celebrate year four (yes, 4) of my breastfeeding journey in January! 🏆 The start of my journey came with challenges that required me to do lots of reflection about my needs and my infant’s needs. In between brief naps (recalling the newborn stage) was tons of reading, lots of research, several visits with Lactation Counselors, midnight chats within online support groups and trying products to figure out what worked for us. In 2017 I had no idea that the challenges and findings would result in the development of a monthly subscription box three years later.

Here is a sneak peak at what is in store for subscribers. Launching September 1, 2020! Arriving to your doorstep Fall 2020!

The Peace, Love & Breastmilk Monthly Subscription Box will bring breast / chestfeeding necessities to your doorstep! Staying home is common practice these days and convenience is imperative. Each box will contain five to six items to support lactation, mental wellness and self-care. Subscribers will be provided with a monthly reminder that overall wellness is important. Look for empowerment, education and support in every box plus an element of surprise!

Breast / chestfeeding can come with challenges. I get it! Mental wellness and self-care can become a low priority. I truly understand! Thank you for allowing me to help you navigate this important time of your life. Thank you for welcoming the Peace, Love & Breastmilk Monthly Subscription Box into your home! Thank you for trusting me to meet your needs. Here’s to saying yes to self-care and mental wellness throughout the breast / chestfeeding journey!

For more information do not hesitate to click on the links found above. You may also visit all of the social media platforms.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

World Breastfeeding Week 2020

I am blown away at how quickly 2020 is flying by. 2021 is on the horizon and the future remains unknown. What I do know is that breastfeeding remains a constant in my household and is celebrated daily. It is a way of life for me! I am mommy to a nursing toddler, I wear cool swag to normalize breast / chestfeeding and I frequent circles where lactation is discussed regularly. I always look forward to the month of August because the month brings awareness to the rest of the world. August starts with World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and ends with Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25-31). Breast / chestfeeding is in the spotlight throughout the month and I couldn’t be happier!

Each year World Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy (WABA) establishes a theme. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2020 (WBW2020) is: Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet. Objectives for 2020 are:

  • Inform people about the links between breastfeeding and the environment/climate change
  • Anchor breastfeeding as a climate-smart decision
  • Engage with individuals and organisations for greater impact
  • Galvanize action on improving the health of the planet and people through breastfeeding

“Breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe: produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste.”

World Breastfeeding Week 2017

Sustainability and its correlation to breast / chestfeeding is an area that is seldom discussed. I am guilty as I primarily focus on providing direct support to nursing parents. Medela emphasizes that “there are no preservatives or risk of contaminants in breast milk and it’s generally not processed in any way… Feeding at the breast also recuses waste – from production to feeding, no products are needed, just mom and baby’s bodies.” Expressing human milk can require additional supplies (bottles, breast pump, storage bags), however, “it’s still much more earth-friendly than formula feeding” because the majority of these products are reusable.

The above insight is additional evidence that human milk is magic because it benefits infants, children, parents and the planet. Access, education and support are vital components of the equation that must come from a variety of sources – public policy, lactation professionals, partners, families, medical settings and workplace environments. It certainly takes a village to make breast / chestfeeding successful.

“Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both children and mothers. And it forms part of a sustainable food system. But while breastfeeding is a natural process, it is not always easy. Mothers need support – both to get started and to sustain breastfeeding.”

World Breastfeeding Week 2020 Message (WHO, UNICEF)

In closing, I encourage you to research for yourself, uplift a nursing parent and keep the conversation moving beyond the month of August.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

Breathe, Thrive and Grow.

I am writing this on the heels of my May 27, 2020 post titled, “Exhausted.” Lots of changes have taken place in communities across the nation since my previous post. Several posts remain in “draft” status as my intention is to remain on task by discussing all that has taken place during the month of June. Our nation is currently in the midst of a movement. In the words of National Radio Hall of Fame Inductee, Joe Madison, “the difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice.” Salute to the foot soldiers on the frontline of the movement while the nation is in the middle of an active pandemic. You are indeed making a huge sacrifice as COVID-19 did not magically disappear. Your activism is needed. I see you. I hear you. I support you.

“The difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice.”

Joe Madison

Many of us are still exhausted; yet we are only half way through the current year. This month two memorial services for Brother George Floyd were televised. We also witnessed the killing of Brother Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police. He was laid to rest yesterday. The month of June presented the notion that Black men are suddenly hanging themselves from trees in an attempt to complete suicide. I refuse to believe that these lynchings are the result of suicide. Dr. Stacey Patton discusses this eloquently in her article written for the The Washington Post. Throughout June I have continued to provide mental health support to clients in a virtual format and have discussed all of the above events almost daily. The weight of the last few months is readily apparent with pain and powerlessness serving as the overarching theme.

During the first week of June I stumbled across a photo of an unknown nursing parent on social media. The photo was shared by a number of people but details about the parent and origin of the photo were unknown. I shared the photo but initially hesitated to do so as I had no way of giving credit to the owner of the photo. Within a few days the parent, Autumnn Gaines, was discovered thanks to social media. The photo was taken by Autumnn’s wife, Jania Gaines, and is being used here with Autumnn’s permission.

The photo and caption sends a much needed message, however, I cannot turn a blind eye to the racial disparities that exist for Black breast / chestfeeding mothers (parents) that impede our ability to provide our offspring with human milk. Breast / chestfeeding isn’t always an option for us. Studies show that Black women (parents) breast / chestfeed at lower rates when compared to other ethnic groups. It is imperative that we unpack the following: 1) structural racism in healthcare settings where access to quality healthcare isn’t always guaranteed; 2) medical settings that discourage Black women (parents) from breast / chestfeeding by solely offering supplemental feeding products; 3) working in environments where one does not have the option of maternity leave; 4) inadequate support; and 5) a complicated history where our enslaved African ancestors served as wet nurses to the slave owner’s children leaving our children to go without the nourishment of our milk. For some, a sense of pain and powerlessness is a theme starting the moment that our children are birthed into the world. I will explore this further in August as we celebrate World Breastfeeding Month and Black Breastfeeding Week.

“At the root of what’s happening to black women and their birth outcomes, as well as their disparities with breastfeeding, is an issue about racism and bias.”

Kimberly Seals Allers

This month I am grateful for Autumnn’s photo. It was a breath of fresh air to stumble across it while aimlessly scrolling through social media. Breast / chestfeeding is life-sustaining and the photo speaks volumes with very few words. Timing is of the essence and the photo was posted at a time where many Black people feel powerless. When I look at the photo I see a mother that has made a powerful choice in determining how to nourish her son in a world where some parents are robbed of this choice. Autumnn represents another mother that debunks the myth that Black women (parents) do not breast / chestfeed. I see a mother that is unbothered and unashamed to feed her son in a public setting. Note that some parents have experienced ridicule for choosing to nurse openly in public. Lastly, this photo represents a mother that has made a healthy choice for herself, her son and her family. June is Pride Month and I celebrate Autumnn and her family.

“I’ll feed him, but you have to let him Grow.”

Autumnn Gaines

Black lives matter and making the choice to breast / chestfeed is a good start to closing the racial nursing gap. It serves as an example of finding empowerment through positively reframing an experience that was once deemed to be negative. Shifting from pain to purpose is a very necessary step. It is also necessary to exist in a world that provides support so that our people can breathe, thrive and grow.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

References

Jones, K., Power, M., Queenan, J., & Schulkin, J. (2015, May). Racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding. Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410446/

(n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://www.slaveryfacts.org/classroom/breastfeeding-master-s-babies-the-wet-nurse-slave

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.