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.
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,
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.