Earlier in the blog, I celebrated hitting the milestone of 14 months of breastfeeding. I shared with you guys how important it was for me to breastfeed both of my children and how disappointed I was that I never got the chance to make it past 6 months with my son Jayden. Tomorrow Jurni makes 22 months. Two months shy of making two years old & we are still on our breastfeeding Journey. Today, I celebrate this moment with my baby girl and with all the black moms in the world wherever you are in your journey.
You are most likely reading this as a breastfeeding mother and thinking to yourself, why the emphasis on “black breastfeeding”. Let me share some facts with you guys that will further explain why “Black breastfeeding week” is so important.
A 2019 survey of women who gave birth back in 2015, showed that 16% less black mothers chose to breastfeed their children. Founded by Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, Kimberley Seals Allers, and Kiddada Green, this National Breastfeeding week is making its’ 8th year. The intent behind this week is to bring attention and support to Black moms all over who are on their individual breast feeding journeys. Every year black babies suffer from an infant mortality rate that is double that of white babies. The CDC reports that breastfeeding has the potential to decrease infant mortality by 50%.
Breast milk serves as a preventative natural medicine for many of the health issues that disproportionately affect the black community, such as respiratory infections, type II diabetes, asthma, SIDS, and child obesity. Finding black health professionals is already a challenge and the number of black lactation specialist is even smaller. This indirectly affects black women because lactation specialists who are not culturally sensitive to black mothers may not be as encouraging in the breastfeeding process.
Breastfeeding also can be seen as a negative when you look at the ties of the black woman’s role of a wet nurse during slavery times. Black women were often made to nurse their slave owners children over their own children, passing off the health benefits to white babies over black babies. For this reason, many black women have rejected the idea of breastfeeding.
Benefits of Breastfeeding Baby include:
- Get sick less and have a lower risk of allergies
- Have a lower risk of obesity and Types 1 and 2 diabetes
- Have a lower incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Have a reduced risk for ear infections (otitis media) and gastroenteritis
- Are on a path to optimal brain development
- Get nutrients that help strengthen and develop their immature immune system in a way no other substance can
- Reduce tooth decay
As someone who only breastfed my son for 6 months, who knows mothers who were not fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed in any capacity, and who is an advocate for natural health practices in the black community, coming this close to almost 24 months of breastfeeding feels so good.
Our journey has not been easy and to say I am exhausted is an understatement. However, the natural bond I have built with my children through breastfeeding is one I could never regret. I am not sure how far my breastfeeding journey will take me and we may eventually transition to pumping into a cup. What I do know is that I have no regrets in starting this journey and I couldn’t be more proud of myself for reaching my goal in this process. Whether your journey is for one week, one year, or four years, all of our journeys are special and unique. The hashtag #protectblackwomen is about more than just respect. It is about our health, mentally and physically. It is about our right to have the same opportunities to have our own successful breastfeeding journey. It is about protecting us from the time our child is conceived up through our delivery and first meeting with a lactation specialist. This is our week. Celebrate it and feel proud! ❤️