In 2005, Nicole began learning about natural birth and parenting from women who graciously shared their experiences with her. She is the mother of a homebirthed 11 month old boy whom she breastfeeds, cloth diapers, and babywears daily. She blogs about her experiences as a new mother at Navelgazing. She also maintains the blog, Black Women Do Breastfeed in an effort to promote the community of breastfeeding black mothers.
I don’t remember making a conscious decision to breastfeed. I grew up in Barbados, a small Caribbean nation, where seeing a woman breastfeed her baby in public was not considered an odd occurrence. For me, breastfeeding has always gone hand in hand with motherhood. In fact, I remember being ten years old, looking at my brand new baby sister and thinking that I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to breastfeed my own children.
As a teenager, I immigrated to the United States but I did not become fully aware of the state of breastfeeding here until I became pregnant in late 2008. As I gathered information in preparation for breastfeeding I found story after story that backed the statistics showing low breastfeeding rates in the United States. On top of that, Black women in the US have the lowest breastfeeding rates when compared to other women in the US. In fact, whenever
I did an online search for information specific to Black women and breastfeeding, most of the information I found had to do with the lack of breastfeeding among Black women. I found very few images of Black women breastfeeding and very few stories celebrating those Black women who are breastfeeding.
But I knew that there were Black women who were interested in breastfeeding. Once I had my son and started trading stories with other mothers it soon became apparent that I was right. So, why did it seem like this community of breastfeeding mothers was so invisible?
That led to an idea — I could not wait for someone else to recognize our presence; I would have to do it myself. That’s how the blog Black Women Do Breastfeed was born. The blog serves to highlight the stories and images of black mothers who have breastfed or are currently breastfeeding their children. Those stories and
images are important, not only because they add visibility to black breastfeeders, but also because they can educate, encourage and inspire those who want to breastfeed in the future. Perhaps in this small way we can begin to reverse those dismal breastfeeding statistics.
I’m having a guest post every Friday this summer.
If you would like to participate in Guest Post Friday, please email me here.