Roundup Post: Breastfeeding in Public #BlackBreastfeedingWeek

The Month of August is the National Breastfeeding Month. It highlights the joys and struggles experienced by breastfeeding moms. The beginning of the month typically marks the World Breastfeeding Week but soon after its inception in 2011, three moms realized that the month failed to touch on a few issues that are specific to black breastfeeding moms.

Taking matters into their own hands, they started the Black Breastfeeding Week to not only promote and celebrate the fact that black women also do breastfeed, but also draw attention to the different challenges black moms face when they breastfeed.

Image source: Pixabay.com


But why leave out other races? Many women around the world have bashed the BlackBreastfeedingWeek terming it as racist. They however fail to understand that the whole point of the initiative to is address issues that are very specific to black mothers. For more than 40 years, there has been a huge racial disparity in breastfeeding initiation with a CDC report from 2008 indicating that up to 75% of white moms initiated breastfeeding while only 58% of their black counterparts did. This disparity gets even bigger when the duration of breastfeeding is considered.

Historically, black slaves were used to wet-nurse their slaveholders' children. This painfully complex-history is just one of the reasons why raising awareness of the Black Breastfeeding Week is so important. Other reasons include;

High Black Infant Mortality Rate: Black babies are twice as likely to die as white babies from being born too small, too sick or too soon. These babies need the immunity and nutritional benefits of breast-milk the most. According to the CDC, increased breastfeeding rate among black women would reduce infant mortality rate by up to 50%.

High Rate of Diet Related Diseases: Breastfeeding could protect black children from diseases that are rampant in black communities such as upper respiratory infections, asthma, Type 2 diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and childhood obesity.

Lack of Diversity in the Lactation Field: Black culture is grossly underrepresented within the breastfeeding awareness and support community. Most breastfeeding helpers and lactation consultants are white women. This needs to change. How do you breastfeed comfortably when you don't see other black women doing it outside of friends and family.

Another issue that is often frowned upon especially in Africa is public breastfeeding. Other than extended breastfeeding and the Breast vs. Formula debate, public breastfeeding remains one of the most controversial topics among nursing moms. I attended a birthday party last Sunday and when one toddler started acting up, the mom picked her up and started nursing her. What made me sad was that before doing it, she looked at all the mothers in the room (four of us) and categorically stated that she was not to be asked any questions - regarding her decision to breastfeed a toddler. I could tell that she's obviously received unwarranted remarks and advice before, making her a little defensive for using her breasts for the purpose they were intended - to nourish her baby. If you have to explain yourself to other moms, then the future generation is in a lot of trouble.

Breastfeeding Month is meant to raise awareness as well as normalize breastfeeding. "The more normal it becomes, the more common it will become. This will literally save lives."

I asked a few modern moms to share their views on the topic and it is refreshing to know that despite the challenges we all face, many support the right of a child to feed whenever and wherever they feel hungry. Below are the moms' comments.

Wanjiru Kihusa

~ Kihusa is a family blogger at wanjirukihusa.com. She is also the founder and director of Stillamum, a non-profit that supports families dealing with pregnancy and infact loss. She is a mom of one.
 
Yes I support public breastfeeding. When a baby needs to be fed let them be fed without worrying about who will be uncomfortable. Need for food trumps discomfort of a few people. Yes I've breastfed in public. I'd tell other mums to do what they can to ensure they themselves are comfortable like wearing an outfit that's easy to maneuver or having a shawl. Once they are comfortable everyone else doesn't matter.

Esther Ngatia ...

~  Esther is a mom of two and a Home Science High School teacher. She therefore knows a thing or two about nutrition and is often lecturing me against over-cooking my food.

I fully support public nursing because in my opinion my babies' health comes first. One of the biggest merits of breastfeeding apart from it being a balanced diet is that its readily available on demand. I therefore feel that if the demand by the baby is in public then why not? I have done it before and would do it again and again. The biggest challenge comes in because majority of other people feel that its embarrassing to expose my boobies in a matatu for instance hence you may get a weird look here or a nasty remark there 😝😝😝😝😝. May be a baby shawl may help to cover the suckling baby so moms may consider having one with them. Public nursing is not embarrassing, its not outdated it is noble and every mom should feel proud to nurse anywhere anytime

Karen Jelagat 

~ Karen is a mom of one and one of my oldest friend. 
 
Yeah... I support public breastfeeding 100% and yes I did it a bunch of times back when I breastfed. The only problem is that there're so many depraved human beings cropping up in our society lately and as such I'd advice new mothers to be wary of such. So in my opinion, they should try and cover up a little when they are in an openly public place. And two, they should avoid doing that in such places as busy bus stations where they'd be exposed to disgusting looks and crass comments from idle men ie. Touts, street boys etc because that would expose them to unnecessary hurt. Lastly I think that it's important to point out that they should also not breastfeed in dark secluded places because again; safety is paramount.

Hannah Kamau 

~ Hannah Kamau is mom of two and an amazing sister & friend

I support public breast feeding.... I've done before when feeding my two children. I can assure young mothers that this is the most natural way of feeding your child. In my assumption, I think that breast milk flows freely when comfortable.. You do not have to hide.

I also think that women who Breastfeed in public have a high Esteem.they are the happiest people thus tend to enjoy this process.


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Until we see each other again, 


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