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I am an African American mother of two wonderful boys of the ages 3 yrs. and 4 months. Growing up in my community I noticed that the rate of African American women that breastfed their babies was extremely low, and my family never really talked about it nor encouraged it. My-self, like many others only knew to use baby formula because many blacks are not educated on breastfeeding in the community.
I have always known in my heart that I would breastfeed my baby because I love the natural things of what God created and I loved the fact that breastmilk is beneficial. I experienced hospitals that want educate you on breastfeeding unless you want to get educated but for someone who is not educated want know to ask, I even had my baby doctor recommend to only breastfed for 6-12 months, that’s why it’s important for me as a woman of color to spread the word.
I breastfed my 3-year-old for 2 ½ years and I’m currently breastfeeding my 4-month-old exclusively. Breastfeeding does have challenges because you must watch what your intake, make sure the baby is eating properly, staying motivated and breastfeeding in public while getting frowned upon because of it. I had an incident where a black male came up to me at a basketball game and complained about me breastfeeding my baby in public, which is why I want to normalized breastfeeding.
The challenges outweighed the barriers because the importance of my babies’ growth, health including my health as well and because I have breastfed, it reduced my children’s sickness, promoted health, weight gain and happiness and my body made a fast recovery during postpartum healing. More challenges that I overcame was the colostrum period and being scared that my baby wasn’t eating enough along with not making enough milk, lack of support from peers and family members. I over came these challenges because I had had support from other black women through the media who breastfed.
There is a gap in the percentage of breastfeeding between white mother’s and African mothers which indicates that African American mothers need more targeted support with starting and continuing breastfeeding. I want to make change in the community and educated and spread the word of breasting feeding and target women of color, that’s why I plan to get my CLC and start nursing school to become a future IBCLC.