“Empowered Women, Empower Women”
FACTS: “For years it’s been shown that black women are less likely to initiate breastfeeding than other races. From 2000 to 2008, only 58.9 percent of black women initiated breastfeeding compared to the 75.2 percent of white women and 80 percent of Hispanics, according to the latest data from the CDC. As Black Breastfeeding Week notes on its site, there’s also some suggestion that increased breastfeeding could help lower infant mortality rates.
“We noticed that as breastfeeding promotion increased, the face of it was still very white and every year we’re still having more research come out showing that there’s a disparity in support for breastfeeding for black women,” Sangodele-Ayoka said. The CDC suggested in 2013 that black moms may need more targeted and direct support so that they can not only initiate but also continue breastfeeding.”
Aren’t those statistics mind blowing? As an African American woman myself I never realized how privileged I was to have so much breastfeeding knowledge and support during my nursing years with the kids. I am proud to say that I successfully nursed 3 babies all close to the age of 2. I did it because I simply knew the importance and had tons of women around me encouraging and supporting my decision.
I remember those nights of cracked and bleeding nipples. Engorgement and pain! For many there is so much that goes into breastfeeding. You have tears, pain, emotions and at times multiple pep talks. It would’ve been much much easier to give up. But because of the community around me of women encouraging my decision I DID IT! I got passed the hard part and then it became natural, easy and exactly what I was hoping it would be.
Now imagine life much different. Imagine no support, no tribe, no community and very few role models of women before or around you that look like you. Imagine being a mother that just delivered a baby, emotional, tired and in pain. We all know the pain of nursing especially in the first two weeks. How much easier would it be for that mother to give up and give in. Don’t get me wrong I know there’s tons of women who cannot breastfeed for medical reasons or even work reasons. I’m not talking about those with a true choice and the knowledge and support. I’m talking about the mothers that wanted to nurse but had no support to help push them to continue trying. I’m talking about the mother that had no clue of the benefits of breastfeeding. Or the mother that was given free formula right from the delivery room. These are the mothers that need our help. They need to know there’s other options. As a woman and mother after reading the statistics of breastfeeding within the African American community I knew it was my duty to help change that. To become a vessel and share these statistics with my community.
This is what Brandy @bstereo and I set out to do. We wanted to make a difference no matter how big or small. It had to start somewhere. So we started planning and decided our obligation was to put together a panel of women, particularly women of color, to educate all of us on the importance of #blackbreastfeedingweek and how we can be a part of the CHANGE that’s needed. After weeks of planning we found a location, confirmed our panel and moderator and started connecting the dots to try and make this something special. We originally planned for 25-30 people max. So imagine how surprised we were the day of our event when we welcomed over 60 people? People of many different ethnicities, backgrounds and genders. We set out to make a difference and we did! We used our influence for something much bigger than likes on Instagram or free swag. We did it for those babies and their mothers.
This was truly one of the most fulfilling events to date! So much that Brandy and I have discussed partnering for many more events something like a series. I’m not sure exactly what we have in store for later but I am sure that this sparked something in my soul. Something that was so gratifying. Cheers to encouragement, love, support and community.
Also, I am beyond thankful to everyone who helped make this event amazing. From our wonderful sponsors to our amazing panel and moderator to my selfless mother who poured so much love into the food. Our sponsors supported us even though I’m sure they knew they would received some negativity about supporting #BlackBreastfeedingWeek. It was so sad to see them post and read comments like, “#whiteboobsmatter”. It was so distributing to see them put into a position to validate something that shouldn’t have to be validated. But even then they continued to support and for that we are forever grateful! Thanks again, ArtShare LA, Erica Chidi Cohen, Racha Tahani, Kimberly Durdin, Debbie Allen, Jazz Smollet, Leah Drexler, Angela J. Williams, Gail Neville, Ergobaby, Lansinoh, Cheeky Home, Bebe au Lait, Parasol, Wright Design, Mothering Naturally, Pommes Frites Candle Co. and John Esparza Photography.