Today kicks off the start of Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25 – August 31). You may ask, “Why designate an entire week to Black breastfeeding?” CDC data shows that although there has been an improvement in the number of Black babies being breastfed, rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity are 10–20 percentage points lower among black babies when compared with white babies. It is important for me to share stories of Black moms who choose to breastfeed to help continue normalizing it within our community. Therefore, I am sharing the stories of eight Black women who breastfeed.

Let’s first talk about why it is important for Black moms to breastfeed our sweet little Black babies.

Today kicks off the start of Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25 - August 31). You may ask, “Why designate an entire week to Black breastfeeding?” CDC data shows that although there has been an improvement in the number of Black babies being breastfed, rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity are 10–20 percentage points lower among black babies when compared with white babies. It is important for me to share stories of Black moms who choose to breastfeed to help continue normalizing it within our community. Therefore, I am sharing the stories of eight Black women who breastfeed.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both moms and their babies.

Moms who breastfeed have a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and breast and ovarian cancers. While breastfed babies have shown a reduction in risk for developing in certain illnesses and infections including

  • Ear infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • gastrointestinal infections

Additionally, breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma, obesity, and diabetes later in life.

So Why Are Some Black Moms Choosing Not to Breastfeed?

I am a member of many online mom groups where the topic of breastfeeding often comes up.  From the conversations in those groups as well as conversations had with family and friends, I’ve learned that Black women choose to not breastfeed for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Misinformation
  • Lack of support
  • Wanting their bodies to themselves
  • Breastmilk doesn’t keep babies full
  • Breastmilk has less nutrition than formula
  • Breastfeeding hurts
  • Breastfeeding will make your breasts sag
  • Using formula is just easier
  • It is too time-consuming

And then we have Black women who, despite all the misinformation and lack of support, do breastfeed.  Here are their stories.

Black Breastfeeding Week Black Moms Breastfeed
📸 Krystal. A

Krystal A. 

Krystal is the mom of three boys. She breastfed her sons for 2+ years. Not breastfeeding wasn’t an option for Krystal. She states, “It just seemed like the natural thing to do. I didn’t look into formula until I gave birth to my firstborn. He was having trouble latching. So, I started researching the best milk to substitute with. Once I saw all the additives I was even more determined to keep trying. I pumped for a week until he finally latched.”

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew BEFORE you began your breastfeeding journey?

A: I wish someone told me to make sure I carried a manual pump in my bag when I went out with my kids.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share regarding breastfeeding? 

A: Don’t allow anyone to shame you. Nurse however long you decide.

Q: What was the most discouraging thing you were told during your breastfeeding journey?

A: I wasn’t discouraged, but I was told I needed to stop nursing my 2-year-old.

Q: How would you suggest someone new to breastfeeding respond to negative comments related to breastfeeding?

A: That’s a tough question because it isn’t as easy for some people to ignore others the way it is for me lol. I guess I would tell them to remember why they decided to nurse and that your baby is your only concern.

Mimi Robinson Black Breastfeeding Week Black Moms Breastfeed
📸 Mimi R.

Mimi R. of Mimi Cute Lips

Mimi is the mom of two children, a boy, and a girl. She began breastfeeding at the request of her then-boyfriend. Mimi, not knowing anyone who had breastfed stated that she breastfed both children for more than 7 months. You can find Mimi on Instagram @MimiCuteLips.

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew BEFORE you began your breastfeeding journey?

A: I wish I had a breastfeeding community for support. In 2004 I felt so alone in my breastfeeding journey. I didn’t have anyone that could help me. I worried about how much they were eating and, in the beginning, I was worried my son wasn’t eating enough. I needed more education in that area. It would have saved me a lot of tears and worry.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share regarding breastfeeding? 

A: It is a sacrifice, but one that is rewarding. The start is always much harder than the finish.

Q: What was the most discouraging thing you were told during your breastfeeding journey?

A: I was never told anything that discouraged me. Although the people around me had never done it they cheered me on every step of the way.

Q: How would you suggest someone new to breastfeeding respond to negative comments related to breastfeeding?

A: Ignore them, educate the ignorant if you want. However, what is best for you and your child is your business and you don’t need to defend that to anyone. 

Related: We Were Born With Boobs. Shouldn’t We Use Them?

Cassie P. of www.cassiedionne.com  Black moms breastfeed
📸 Cassie P.

Cassie P. of Cassie Dionne 

Cassie is a mom of one. Knowing that breastfeeding is the best nutrition for a newborn, and the desire to “…give my baby the very best start.” inspired her to breastfeed her child. She breastfed her child for more than 7 months. You can find her on Instagram @CassieDionne.

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew BEFORE you began your breastfeeding journey?

A: How to get dad more involved. You and your baby will have a super tight bond and it can be hard for dad to feel connected.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share regarding breastfeeding? 

A: Be sure dad has his alone time with the baby to create their own unique bond from the very start.

Q: What was the most discouraging thing you were told during your breastfeeding journey?

A: That it hurts! It does but there are techniques and nipple butters that help make it easier.

Q: How would you suggest someone new to breastfeeding respond to negative comments related to breastfeeding?

A: Ignore. Ignore. Ignore and join breastfeeding support groups to help surround yourself with women that are likeminded. They are an incredible encouragement.

Related: Life After Delivery – My Postpartum Experience

📸 Alaya C.

Alaya C. of Baby Droppings 

Alaya is a mom of two. She chose to breastfeed because her childbirth teacher and Obstetrician were both huge advocates of breastfeeding. She breastfed her children for more than two years. You can find her on Instagram @Babydroppings.

Q: What prompted you to breastfeed?

A: My childbirth teacher and OB were huge advocates.

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew BEFORE you began your breastfeeding journey?

A: Even if you’re doing it right, it’s going to hurt at first. 

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share regarding breastfeeding? 

A: Don’t worry about the rules or putting baby on a schedule. Just do what works.

Q: What was the most discouraging thing you were told during your breastfeeding journey?

A: “Don’t let baby nurse to sleep—they’ll never stop if you spoil them.”

Q: How would you suggest someone new to breastfeeding respond to negative comments related to breastfeeding?

A: Just smile and say “thanks, but I’m going to try this first and see if it works.”

Related: Breastfeeding’s a B*tch!

To kickoff Black Breastfeeding Week I am sharing the stories of eight Black women who breastfeed. As a black mom who breastfeeds, having a space where black mom breastfeeding experiences can be shared helps to normalize breastfeeding in the Black community
📸 Seleigh T.

Seleigh T. of Love, Laundry, Laughs Lifestyle Blog 

Seleigh, mom of two, breastfed her children for more than 7 months. She says she wanted to breastfeed due to “The health benefits of breastfeeding for both Mom and Baby are priceless. Breastfed babies learn to self-regulate their food intake and learn to take in what they need and not eat because it is there.” As a result, she says, “My children who are 3 and 8 still control their own food intake in a healthy manner.” You can find her on Instagram @lovelaundrylaughs.

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew BEFORE you began your breastfeeding journey?

A: Pumping when you return to work is daunting. It’s hard to balance a consistent pumping schedule with work demands in the office. You will most likely experience a drop in supply so stock up on supplements and create a stash of pumped milk prior to returning to work.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share regarding breastfeeding? 

A: The first two months are hard, especially with your first child because parenting is already so new. But, it is also one of the most beautiful bonding experiences I ever had.

Q: What was the most discouraging thing you were told during your breastfeeding journey?

A: I never received any discouragement. Most of the women in my family had not breastfed so they were actually intrigued by it.

Q: How would you suggest someone new to breastfeeding respond to negative comments related to breastfeeding?

A: Everything is not for everybody.

Related: Tips for Breastfeeding Moms to Survive Returning to Work

📸 Shannon R.

Shannon R. of Shannon Victoria Blog

Shannon is a mom of one. She breastfed her child for over a year and a half. Having been exposed to breastfeeding via her mom, she says “Seeing my mom breastfeed has normalized it for me since I was a child. It has always been my first choice.” You can find her on Instagram @invadingmars.

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew BEFORE you began your breastfeeding journey?

A: It takes time to get into a good groove. Hiccups early on are normal and expected.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share regarding breastfeeding? 

A: Enjoy every minute of it. The bond I feel with my son is indescribable!

Q: What was the most discouraging thing you were told during your breastfeeding journey?

A: To supplement after less than a week, when my milk was still regulating. I immediately thought I was doing it wrong.

Q: How would you suggest someone new to breastfeeding respond to negative comments related to breastfeeding?

A: Smile and just keep doing what you are doing. New mom or not, no one knows what’s best for your baby like you (and your partner) do!

📸 Terri H.

Terri. of Terrific Words 

Seleigh, mom of two, breastfed her children for more than 7 months. She wanted to breastfeed because she, “…always heard about the health benefits associated with breastfeeding, not just physical benefits but the emotional benefits for mom and baby.” You can find her on Instagram @TerrificWords.

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew BEFORE you began your breastfeeding journey?

A: I wish I knew all that was involved with breastfeeding. I had no idea there were so many factors that went into successfully breastfeeding. From diets to nursing tops and more, there is so much you have to consider when breastfeeding. I also didn’t realize how much time it took. People always say that breastfeeding is much cheaper than formula feeding, which CAN be true. But we often forget how much time it takes and a woman’s time is valuable too.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share regarding breastfeeding? 

A: Breastfeeding is natural – NATURALLY hard. It’s a learning process for everyone. Baby has to learn to latch, breathe, and suck at the same time. Mommy has to learn holding positions, baby cues, etc. So I tell mommies, that no matter how it goes, they need to proud of what they’ve done. Becoming a new mommy is tough enough. No need to scrutinize yourself for the way you feed your baby.

Q: What was the most discouraging thing you were told during your breastfeeding journey?

A: When trying to find a place to breastfeed, I remember being told I can go to the women’s bathroom. I had to tell the person that I don’t want to feed my child in a public bathroom just like you wouldn’t want to eat in a public bathroom – because it’s not the most sanitary place.

Q: How would you suggest someone new to breastfeeding respond to negative comments related to breastfeeding?

A: Sometimes the best response is no response at all, if that brings you peace Just continue feeding your baby as you see fit. You don’t owe anyone an explanation to anyone.

Related: Breastfeeding Tips: Know the Basics of Pumping Breast Milk

📸 Shani P.

 

Shani P. of  71AteChef

Shani is the mom of 2 – a boy and girl. She breastfed her son until the age of two. But due to a 7-day NICU stay, she did not breastfeed her daughter. Wanting to save money and bond with her children inspired her to breastfeed. You can find Shani on Instagram @71AteChef.

Q: What prevented you from breastfeeding?

A: My daughter wouldn’t latch on after being in the NICU for 7 days. I wasn’t advised in the beginning by the nurses/doctors that I could take her out and breastfeed her.

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew BEFORE you began your breastfeeding journey?

A: That it’s hard to ween.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share regarding breastfeeding? 

A: If it [breastfeeding] won’t happen, don’t get frustrated or feel like a bad mom. I still pumped and fed my daughter the second go-round.

Q: What was the most discouraging thing you were told during your breastfeeding journey?

A: He’s too big to breastfeed. Once he turned one. When he turned two, it was worse.

Q: How would you suggest someone new to breastfeeding respond to negative comments related to breastfeeding?

A: Tell them to mind their business. You know what’s right for you and your child. Educate them on the importance of breastfeeding.

Related: Tips to Reduce Discomfort Experienced During Breastfeeding

As you can see, breastfeeding is a journey. Everyone has a different experience. It can be as tough as it is rewarding so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Today kicks off the start of Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25 - August 31). You may ask, “Why designate an entire week to Black breastfeeding?” CDC data shows that although there has been an improvement in the number of Black babies being breastfed, rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity are 10–20 percentage points lower among black babies when compared with white babies. It is important for me to share stories of Black moms who choose to breastfeed to help continue normalizing it within our community. Therefore, I am sharing the stories of eight Black women who breastfeed.

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Kim is a 30-something-year-old wife and do-it-all mom of two beautiful daughters; her rainbow babies. Kim uses Beauty and the Bump NYC, to share her perspective about the things that she loves most and finds beautiful: family, travel, cars, food and more. As a contributor to A Girl’s Guide to Cars, Kim shares her love for cars through providing helpful tips and car reviews from the perspective of a modern working mom.