In the wake of Black breastfeeding week, and let's face it Black breastfeeding Month, I've seen more Black Women empowering one another in sharing their journey with breastfeeding, quite honestly, more than I've ever seen before on social media.
As a Black breastfeeding mother, I understand and relate to many of the experiences that I’ve seen shared over the past few weeks: from the multitude of Black mothers who have never received accurate, or any, information on breastfeeding, to the widespread assumption in the healthcare community that Black babies will automatically be given formula, to those who lack the necessary support from close family. In reading these testimonies, I felt compelled to share in this conversation.
Becoming a mother of two within the past three years, I've experienced two starkly unique breastfeeding journeys. As far back as I can remember, I've always known that when I became a mother, I wanted to breastfeed my babies. What I didn't know was how extremely painful and difficult it would be. The abundant amount of research I did prior to delivering my firstborn did not compare to the fullness of my experience when it was time for him to latch. When I say that My son had the grip of a child that was feeding for survival, I can't even begin to express the shock that I felt in that moment. I thought it was going to be this blissful experience and, boy, was I wrong. I was not fully aware of the uterine contractions that began immediately post-delivery or the sleep deprivation from feeding every 2-3 hours, pumping to store up my supply, and nighttime feedings. Oh, nighttime feedings.
Nonetheless, my mind was made up and the goal of having a successful breastfeeding journey far outweighed the challenges that I endured. I look at my son now and think, wow, he'll never nurse again. I remember in the first few weeks thinking, will I ever get any sleep? Will I ever feel fully rested again? Will my body ever truly have a break? I washed, rinsed and repeated with my daughter when she was a newborn. The difference now is I’ve learned how vital it is to slow those intrusive thoughts down and remain present with our beautiful journey. We’re going 20 months strong, and I feel so incredibly proud of us.
One of the most valuable takeaways I have from my experience that I would love to share with you is the importance of focusing on your big picture and all of the many benefits both you and your baby will partake in. In thinking of a chapter book and landing on one page, you may realize there are many other chapters both before and after the page you've landed on, with more to be read to finish the story completely. The same goes for us on our Breastfeeding Journey. There are so many ebb and flow experiences to behold. So many beautiful memories we’re creating, and one day it will come to an end. Think on what types of memories you wish to create as you embark on your unique journey. Feel empowered and compelled to embrace exactly where you are right now. If you're a new mother starting out with your precious newborn, and you're just getting into the swing of things, give yourself the grace that you deserve and know that this is just a page in your “Breastfeeding Chapter Book.” Ask as many questions as you need to with no shame. If you need support, it’s ok, reach out. While there is so much information available, believe that you will know what is best for you and your baby. With a wealth of knowledge to share in the future with all of the many benefits of breastfeeding, more than anything, I look forward to helping you feel supported and empowered.
Happy Black Breastfeeding Awareness week, month, and as my son would say “to infinity and beyond!”.
Love and light,