Newsletter: I Was Doing It Wrong-Size DOES Matter!

 

 

Evenflo-Feeding-Brand-Ad_25AUG15

 

Dear Leakies,

Size matters! See a HUGE difference! You can improve your satisfaction by 100%! See immediate results!

(Size matters unless we’re talking the bellies of women, then what matters is knowing when it’s appropriate to ask a woman if she’s pregnant. Carrie explains here.)

I know what you’re thinking… but no, I’m not talking about some little blue pill or new performance enhancing product (though you can read about exploding penises on Beyond Moi this week and more further down in the newsletter). This is way more fun than sex: we’re talking about breast pump flanges.

My definition of fun has a direct link to lactation about 90% of the time. I don’t understand why this is not normal for everyone.

(Next week we kick off a month in September talking about keeping our kids safe with #TLBsafeKids.)

Five years ago I learned that for my previous 4 babies I had been using the wrong size flanges for my breasts when I was pumping. Years of pumping that was painful all because I didn’t know I needed a different size flange! Then, when I did get the right size for me, not only did pumping NOT hurt, I got way more milk.

My mistake had cost me and my baby precious milk.

All that time I had no idea!

Whatever your reason for pumping your breastmilk, be it for your baby while you’re away from them at work, for the occasional date night, or for another baby through milk donation (if you’re a donor, this letter is for you), the right size flanges matter and can make a huge difference.

Not sure if you are using the right sizes? See this video from Shari Criso, IBCLC made available from our friends at Evenflo Feeding. And if that is helpful, be sure to check out Evenflo’s Facebook page and Shari’s Youtube channel. They’re going out of their way to support every family in reaching their feeding goals and to do so comfortably and confidently in their journey. If you’re looking for products that aid you in that journey, Evenflo may have just what you’re looking for here.

(Also, don’t miss out on this collection of pumping tips from Snugabell with The Leaky Boob family.)

Giveaway time! This is the last week of World Breastfeeding Month and while over here in TLB land we’re going “woohoo! World Breastfeeding Month! Wait… it’s always World Breastfeeding Month here…”, it is exciting to see so many voices talking about supporting women in reaching their breastfeeding goals one month of the year. Thankfully, there are those who continue supporting such efforts the other 11 months of the year. TLB has teamed up with several of those brands to bring you the WBW2015 Wrap Up Giveaway with over $2,200 in prizes. Find the secret code word entry option lower in our newsletter (you’ll have to really read closely to find it!) and spread the word because while every month is World Breastfeeding Month to us, it only captivates the world’s attention one month a year.

Happy Breastfeeding and Happiest of Pumping! Thanks to Evenflo Feeding for supporting The Leaky Boob and our community with their sponsorship. The information and community they provide as every baby’s advocate and every parents ally is invaluable. We’re grateful for their participation in our community.

I leave you with this: the funniest breastfeeding-related post on the internet this week is in the private TLB community group on Facebook. Be prepared to cry laughing when you read this.

Check out the rest of our Newsletter HERE. Not a subscriber? Click HERE and join to receive the newest advice, support and encouragement every week for EVERY stage of parenting and lifestyle.

Peace,

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, TheLeakyBoob.com

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Are We Getting It Wrong? TLB’s Latest Newsletter

Dear Leakies,

962543b9-ef8a-4e3a-bd8b-cbc3a5a5bfcbI’ve pondered what to write here for World Breastfeeding Week but the truth is for TLB every single day is World Breastfeeding Day so I find myself coming up with all the same things to say. Not to mention that after MiLK last week (a huge success!) I’m exhausted and focusing on my family. But every year as World Breastfeeding Week rolls around I find myself wondering if we’re getting it all wrong? Are we asking the wrong questions? Speaking (YELLING?) at the wrong people? Considering the wrong issues?

This year it seems like maybe not, we’re talking about breastfeeding and the work place, important matters to discuss. But who is doing the talking?

But my family needs me and so does yours.

So I don’t have much to say. It really just boils down to these bullet points:

Feed your baby.

Shut out the haters.

Push for positive change including work place policies.

Cheer on companies that support breastfeeding and go against the grain.

Spread love, grace, and understanding.

People before feeding methodology.

Feed your baby.

Read these posts for inspiration: breastfeeding friendly work place; breastfeeding passion and TLB mission; and the breastfeeding family. Scroll down through the newsletter for more on how we maybe need to change the conversation.

To read MORE on our latest newsletter, and to watch an exclusive video I wanted to share with you on this subject, WATCH HERE.

Happy Breastfeeding! Happy Bottle-feeding too.

Peace,

Jessica Martin-Weber

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“Oh the Places You Go!” Giveaway

For World Breastfeeding Month we’re celebrating just how normal infant feeding is by taking a look at all the places you go!  With brands that support families in their parenting journey, we’re all teaming up for our adventures Up High, Outdoors, Off The Beaten Path, With Water, and Close To Home (pregnancy focused!).  Each week features a theme because we’re feeding our babies and toddlers here, there, and everywhere.  Oh!  The Places You Go!  The prize packs vary every week totaling over $5,000 in value for the whole month.  And we’re going even further, each week there is one winner AND they get to pick a friend to receive a Beco Gemini.  Oh!  The Places You Go together!

But we’re not stopping there, check out how you can be a part of #TLBmoves, on step at a time.

 

Week 1 logos done 2

Week 1: “Up High”, Total Value: $1091

16 Minute Club: a box of helpful goodies for the breastfeeding mother, $35 value

Bamboobies: a Chic Nursing Shawl, $30 value

Beco: a Beco Soleil baby carrier, $140 value

Belmama and Cherub: a Shower Hug, $30 value

Clek: A brand new Fllo carseat, $380 value

Freja Toys: a Rainbow Bird Nursing/Teething Necklace, $20 value

Gracie & Sam: a Half Buckle Cotton Mei Tai with Harry Potter Spells Cotton-Linen Canvas print, $102 value

KoalaKin: a Koalakin nursing pouch, $90 value

Little Spruce Organics: Two sets of organic cotton nursing pads (flannel & knitted), $14 value

Melinda G: a Dreamy Sleep Bra in black, $25 value

Momzelle: $25 Gift Certificate for momzelle.com, $25 value

Motherlove: Nipple Cream, $10 value

A Mother’s Boutique: winner’s choice of a nursing top from the Annee Matthew collection, up to a $75 value

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: a Lil’ Octopus, a $35 value

Naked Nursing Tank: Platinum Light Grey Classic Cotton Edition, $30 value

NuRoo: a Nursing Scarf, $30 value

The Vintage Honey Shop: $20 shop credit, $20 value

 Week 1 prizes final 2

a Rafflecopter giveaway

__________________

 

Week 2 logos done 2

 

Week 2: “Outdoors”, Total Value: $1012

16 Minute Club: a box of helpful goodies for the breastfeeding mother, $35 value

Bamboobies: a Bamboobies Brahhh, $32 value

Bebe Au Lait: a BAL-ASTORIA nursing cover, $36 value

Beco: a Beco Soleil baby carrier, $140 value

Belmama and Cherub: a Shower Hug, $30 value

Ergobaby: a Performance Baby Carrier, $140 value

Freja Toys: an Organic Cotton Nursing/Teething Necklace, $22 value

Juno Blu: A stylish Ventana breast pump satchel in Mushroom, $185 Value

Little Spruce Organics: a Wooden Sun Puzzle, $34 value

Melinda G: a tee-shirt soft-cup nursing bra style #2115 in nude, $45 value

Momzelle: $25 Gift Certificate for momzelle.com, $25 value

Motherlove: Green Salve, $9 value

A Mother’s Boutique: winner’s choice of a nursing top from the Annee Matthew collection, up to a $75 value

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: a Lil’ Octopus, a $35 value

Naked Nursing Tank: Lily White Luxury Bamboo Edition, $40 Value

NuRoo: a Nursing Scarf, $30 value

Nursing Bra Express: Baby Nip Nipple Hat, $20 value

Rumina: a Hands-Free Pump&Nurse Classic Crossover Bra, a $34 value

Undercover Mama: one Undercover Mama, $25 value

The Vintage Honey Shop$20 shop credit, $20 value

Week 2 prizes done 2

a Rafflecopter giveaway

__________________

Week 3 logos updated cropped

Week 3: “Off the Beaten Path”, Total Value: $1053

16 Minute Club: a box of helpful goodies for the breastfeeding mother, $35 value

Beco: a Beco Soleil baby carrier, $140 value

Belmama and Cherub: a Shower Hug, $30 value

The Dairy Fairy: an Arden bra, $68 value

Freja Toys: a Petite Linen Nursing/Teething Necklace, $20 value

Gracie & Sam: a Full Tie Linen Luxe Sci-Fi Lover Mei Tai, $130 value

KangarooCare: a Fun Stripes Nursing Necklace in Pink, Oak Wood, $26 value

Little Spruce Organics: an Organic Cotton Nursing Bra, $48 value

Melinda G: a Cami Sutra nursing cami in black, $50 value

Momzelle: $25 Gift Certificate for momzelle.com, $25 value

Motherlove: Rhoid Balm, $10 value

A Mother’s Boutique: winner’s choice of a nursing top from the Annee Matthew collection, up to a $75 value

Mrs Patel’s: a box of Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Fenugreek Bars, a $26 value

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: a Lil’ Octopus, a $35 value

Naked Nursing Tank: Hot Pink Luxury Bamboo Edition, $40 Value

NuRoo: a Nursing Scarf, $30 value

Nurse Purse: Winner’s Choice of style for one Nurse Purse bag, $129 value

Nursing Bra Express: a Satin Trim Cotton Sleep Bra, $20 value

Snugabell: a PumpEase Prize Pack including a hands-free pumping bra, a Wet Bag, a ”Through a Child’s Eyes” Keepsake Colouring Book, a Do Not Disturb door hanger, and a Breastmilk Storage Guidelines fridge magnet, $71 Value

Undercover Mama: one Undercover Mama, $25 value

The Vintage Honey Shop$20 shop credit, $20 value

Week 3 prizes done 2

a Rafflecopter giveaway

__________________

 

Week 4 logos final2

 

Week 4: “With Water”, Total Value: $832

16 Minute Club: a box of helpful goodies for the breastfeeding mother, $35 value
Bamboobies: Bellease Organic Belly & Baby Butter, $17 value
Bebe Au Lait: a BAL-NEST Nursing Cover, $36 value
Beco: a Beco Soleil baby carrier, $140 value
Belmama and Cherub: a Shower Hug, $30 value
Crane USA: a drop or adorable humidifier, and a belly glo night light, $65 value
Freja Toys: a Babywearing Mommy Doll, $42 value
KangarooCare: a Wooden Teething Bracelet, winner’s choice of color, $19 value
Little Spruce Organics: Organic Wool/ Silk Nursing Pads, $21 value
Luv My Bag: a LillyBit UpTown Diaper Clutch in Chevron, $35 value
Melinda G: a Dreamy Sleep Bra in black, $25 value
Momzelle: $25 Gift Certificate for momzelle.com , $25 value
Motherlove: Diaper Rash and Thrush, $10 value
A Mother’s Boutique: winner’s choice of a nursing top from the Annee Matthew collection, up to a $75 value
Mrs Patel’s: a bag of Chai Spice Milk Water Tea, a $12 value
My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: a Lil’ Octopus, a $35 value
Naked Nursing Tank: Midnight Black Luxury Bamboo Edition, $40 value
NuRoo: a NuRoo Pocket, $60 value
Nursing Bra Express: a Medela Sleep Bra, $20 value
One Creative Mama: winner’s choice of a mom/baby shirt set, up to $55 value
Undercover Mama: one Undercover Mama, $25 value
The Vintage Honey Shop$20 shop credit, $20 value

Week 4 prizes final2

a Rafflecopter giveaway

__________________

Week 5 logos final

Week 5: “Close to Home”, Total Value: $1370

16 Minute Club: a box of helpful goodies for the breastfeeding mother, $35 value

Arm’s Reacha Toffee Stripe Mini Arc Co-Sleeper, a $175 value

Bamboobies: Two pairs of Bamboobies Regular Nursing Pads, $15 value

Bebe Au Lait: a BAL-NEST essentials set, $50 value

Beco: a Beco Soleil baby carrier, $140 value

Belmama and Cherub: a Shower Hug, $30 value

Cezara: a belly support panty, $49 value

The Dairy Fairy: a Rose handsfree pumping bra, $34 value

Freja Toys: a Crocheted baby rattles set, $32 value

Juno Blu: A stylish Juno Blu Esalen breast pump tote in Multi-Snake, $185 value

KangarooCare: a Black Gradient Nursing Necklace of Apple Wood, $28 value

KoalaKin: a Koalakin nursing pouch, $90 value

LilleBaby: a Complete All-Season baby carrier, $135 value

Little Spruce Organics: Organic Cotton Receiving Blanket, $18 value

Milk and Joy: an Organic Cotton Teething Necklace (winner’s choice of color). $35 value

Momzelle: $25 Gift Certificate for momzelle.com, $25 value

Motherlove: NL Gift Box, $60 value

A Mother’s Boutique: winner’s choice of a nursing top from the Annee Matthew collection, up to a $75 value

My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear: a Lil’ Octopus, a $35 value

Naked Nursing Tank: Charcoal Classic Cotton Edition, $30 Value

NuRoo: a NuRoo Pocket, $60 value

Nursing Bra Express: Molded Seamless Washable Nursing Pads by Baby Nip, $14 value

The Vintage Honey Shop$20 shop credit, $20 value

Week 5 prizes done

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Oh! The Places You Go! World Breastfeeding Week/World Breastfeeding Month 2014

by Jessica Martin-Weber

#BFingPlaces

Oh the places you go!  Families are busy, on the go in their daily life be it at the grocery store, the park, school, the museum, parents’ work, church, community activities, you name it.  And then there are special events such as vacations at the beach, mountain top weddings, saying goodbye to a loved one, excursions to historical sites, and theme parks.  And along the way, we’re doing what we do, caring for our children, like normal.

It’s about to be World Breastfeeding Week/Month.  I confess, for the last several years I’ve really struggled with this month.  It seems like it should be my favorite, certainly as an outspoken breastfeeding supporter World Breastfeeding Week/Month has a lot of meaning and significance, yet still, I have been increasingly uncomfortable with it.  There are major world wide events bringing breastfeeding moms together, thousands of blog posts sharing personal stories of breastfeeding, mainstream media coverage on the importance of breastfeeding, thousands of brands offering promotions on breastfeeding related products, memes of breastfeeding sayings, giveaways galore, and informative posts as to the virtues of breastfeeding.  Overall, this sounds like a good thing, so why was I uncomfortable

Because somehow, I felt the focus was off (at least my own was) and the audience, well, the audience was mostly the choir.  World Breastfeeding Week/Month was preaching to the choir.  And sometimes the not so thinly veiled, if unintentional message was “breastfeeding moms are better than non-breastfeeding moms.”

I considered not participating, considered taking a position that every single day is World Breastfeeding Day at TLB and just continue on as normal with nothing special for the month.  There was conversation about ignoring it completely but that seemed impractical and kind of weird. Since I see the need for awareness and supportive conversation about breastfeeding, I do believe World Breastfeeding Week/Month has a lot of value, we just needed to figure out what that was in our context and how that fit TLB’s mission. As The Leaky Boob team started discussing how we could celebrate World Breastfeeding Week/World Breastfeeding Month, we knew we wanted it to focus on the moms first and then families. Instead of announcing to the world that breastfeeding is awesome (it is awesome, it’s also really just normal) and jumping in on the megaphone that ends up just going back to the moms that are already aware, we wanted to do something a little more intentional.  Though it makes me feel a little ridiculous to say, we have lost something when it comes to breastfeeding, we have lost it being normally accepted by society.  Plenty of people seem aware of breastfeeding, maybe even too aware, and I know very few people will even debate that breastfeeding is good for babies yet it hardly seems normal.  As absurd as it may sounds, breastfeeding still desperately needs to be (re)normalized.  Since we’re mammals though, that’s like saying breathing isn’t normal, or walking needs to be normalized.

Ultimately though, regardless of how absurd it sounds, women are harassed for feeding their babies, asked to leave restaurants, fear meeting their child’s needs in public due to public shaming, face judgment for how they feed their children, and feel pressured to feed a certain way but be invisible. Weirdly enough though, women that don’t feed their baby directly at their breast or with breastmilk, face much of the same. And those women experience World Breastfeeding Week/Month too but without the cheering support that breastfeeding moms receive.

Feed your baby way up high,

Or way down low?

In the sun

Or in the snow?

By the water

At the bay?

Feed your baby every day.

Show us the path you take

As your baby eats his steak*

What you see

Or what you do

On your journey

We support you.

*or milk, snack, baby food…

Help us celebrate families and normalize feeding babies without debate or judgment by taking and sharing pictures on social media.  Whether you feed at the breast, with a cover or without, with an at the breast supplementer, or using a bottle, your journey is part of normal infant feeding.  By posting images of the wide diversity there is in infant and toddler feeding, we can help remind ourselves and the rest of the world that we are people with feelings just trying to do our best in the normal act of feeding our children and we can be trusted to make the best decisions about that according to information, our personal circumstances, and our access to resources.  The image can be of you feeding your baby or of what you see as you’re feeding your baby.  Share your journey and together we can support each other with #BFingPlaces and #ISupportYou.  Post your images on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, or whatever social media platform you love to use and use those hashtags.  Be on the look out for some amazing giveaways and remember, every day is a day for support.

This year, World Breastfeeding Week/Month is still going to be celebrated at TLB.  There will be giveaways (one huge prize pack every week for five weeks!) and information sharing, personal stories and memes posted, and events gathering together moms that feed their babies with breastmilk.  But there will also be support for all families regardless of what their journey looks like when it comes to how they feed their children.  We’re celebrating you with the goal to normalize feeding children including breast and bottle feeding.  Free of judgment, full of support, we support you where you are.  Wherever you go.  And Oh!  The places you go.

 

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Every day is breastfeeding day

World Breastfeeding Month/Week is great, a time to raise awareness, share information, celebrate, do crazy huge giveaways, encourage, and share stories.  But I have to be honest here, I’m only a tiny bit into it.  Why?  Because as a breastfeeding mom and a supporter of breastfeeding moms, it’s world breastfeeding DAY every day and everywhere.  It’s just a part of what I do, a part of my life.  Breastfeeding is more than the biologically normal way for me to feed and care for my babies and toddlers, it has actually become one of the most important tools in my parenting tool box.  It tops the list.

Breastfeeding and babywearing, parenting power tools each in their own right, together strategically efficient.  It’s not they have to go together but when they do it’s a win win for all involved.  Ring sling, wrap, soft structure carrier, whatever your favorite carrier is, it can be one of the most supportive tools to your breastfeeding.  And like breastfeeding, as a mother of 6 active little girls, babywearing is a tool I use every day, everywhere.  As World Breastfeeding Month draws to a close, I want to share how babywearing can be a useful tool not only for your parenting in general but specifically related to helping you reach your breastfeeding goals.

#bfbw365

How Babywearing can help you reach your breastfeeding goals:

Babywearing makes for easy skin-to-skin care.  If the wearer is topless or wears a low cut top with lots of skin available and baby is naked or close to naked, babywearing can easily facilitate the important skin-to-skin access that all babies benefit from specially in the early days but even Zrejnuk,.aching far beyond.  Why is skin-to-skin contact so great?  Helps baby regulate breathing and body temperature, better blood sugar levels,  maintains baby’s heart rate and blood pressure, encourages breastfeeding, promotes emotional bonding, reduces infant and maternal/paternal stress, can help prevent or lessen postpartum depression, is comforting to baby, reduces crying, helps developmental process, lowers anxiety, and so much more.

Babywearing keeps baby close for ease in picking up hunger cues.  Even if it isn’t the breastfeeding mother always wearing the baby, any caregiver can easily and quickly pick up onp] baby’s cues that it’s time to eat, allowing for a quick response which will help the mother’s supply and baby’s stress levels.

Babywearing enables mom to be active while being close.  Whether she’s working, doing chores, or caring for other children, babywearing keeps baby close and let’s her multitask her responsibilities.  Moms that feel like they can keep up with their other responsibilities while caring for their infant are more likely to reach their breastfeeding goals because they won’t feel trapped in their home.  Having a happy baby safe and secure and being able to be productive in other areas is a huge confident boost that will go a long way not only in her overall parenting but can directly impact her breastfeeding goals.

Babywearing encourages breastfeeding in public.  Have baby, will go out.  Since babywearing can help moms be on the go it can also help them breastfeed in public.  Moms isolated and stuck inside their house often struggle with anxiety and postpartum depression.  Both babywearing and breastfeeding can simplify getting out and being active in social settings, reducing the risk of isolating mothers and developing postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety.  Once she works out how to breastfeed in a carrier (tip: practice in front of a mirror to see what it looks like- you’ll be surprised how incognito breastfeeding in a carrier can be if you are concerned about that.), breastfeeding in a carrier can be much easier than using a cover if mom feels she should, easier than taking baby out of the carrier and feeding even if she feels she doesn’t need to cover, and easier than a bottle of expressed milk or formula.  And it takes us back to the previous point, mom can be active not only while being close but actually while breastfeeding.  Because when you have a 3 year old and a new baby, sitting down in a quite setting with a pillow and staring into your baby’s eyes while they feed for the 67th time that day (I exaggerate… 24th time that day) isn’t always possible.  Being able to feed your baby and keep up with the 3 year old is priceless!

Babywearing helps normalize breastfeeding.  You read that right and no, it’s not a stretch.  Since breastfeeding is encouraged and supported by babywearing the more families that utilize it the more breastfeeding will increase in both numbers and visibility.  As more and more women begin to confidently feed their babies with their breasts, breastfeeding will become more and more normal.  Like walking, when breastfeeding is normal there will be better support available for those that may encounter difficulties because it simply won’t be acceptable to ignore breastfeeding problems any more than it would be acceptable to ignore problems walking.  Babywearing helps normalize breastfeeding by encouraging breastfeeding, helping more moms breastfeed while out, and supporting moms in reaching their breastfeeding goals.

Even for moms that aren’t comfortable feeding in their carrier (but don’t despair if you struggle with feeding in the carrier, it may get easier with time, in a different carrier, or with practice and help from someone) babywearing can be a useful part of your breastfeeding journey and even help you reach your breastfeeding goals for many of the reasons listed above.

World Breastfeeding Month?  Just a month?  It’s great but that’s just a drop in the bucket.  I breastfeed. I babywear. Every day. Everywhere. 365. Way beyond World Breastfeeding Month.

________________________________

Do you breastfeed every day?  Everywhere?  Does babywearing help you? 

If it’s always breastfeeding day for you or has been, share the breastfeeding and/or babywearing love by posting a photo of you breastfeeding and/or babywearing (or the badge or banner below) and let others know!  Use the hashtag #BFBW365 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and help normalize breastfeeding and babywearing for all parents.

________________________________

BFBW365

#BFBW365

 

This week The Leaky Boob is teaming up with Beco Baby Carriers to encourage breastfeeding every day, everywhere.  In showing their support they are also sponsoring a chat on The Leaky [email protected]@b Facebook page on Thursday, September 5th, 2013 at 8pm Central for an hour about breastfeeding 365 and what’s in your parenting toolkit.  We will be giving away 4 Beco Soleils with accessory packs as part of the chat.  RSVP for the chat using the chat below and participate on Thursday, September 5th, 2013 for a chance to win a carrier to help you breastfeed and babywear every day, everywhere. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Black Breastfeeding Week: Interview with Cofounder Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka

by Kari Swanson

On August 25, 2013, the first day of the first nationally recognized Black Breastfeeding Week, I was excited to learn that one of the founding committee members, fellow breastfeeding advocate Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, recently moved to the area where I live.  Anayah is a mother of two, a graduate student, co-founder of Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers and Brown Mamas Breastfeed and a MomsRising fellow.  After a virtual introduction we made arrangements to meet for lunch and Anayah graciously agreed to let me interview her for The Leaky [email protected]@b blog.

 

anayah_resizedTLB

 

Kari: Tell us about yourself and your personal breastfeeding experience.

Anayah: “I’m a mom.  I have 2 kiddos.  I’m a breastfeeding advocate.”

Kari: How did you become involved in breastfeeding advocacy?

Anayah: “I was nursing my oldest, now 3 years old, up all night in the early months and was intrigued by [breastfeeding]—it was so beautiful to me—and I wanted to know more about it, but outside of friends and family I didn’t see black women breastfeeding.  I wanted to talk to women who understand my life.”

In her search for like-minded women she was introduced to Jeanine Valrie.  Together Anayah and Jeanine created Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers and the Brown Mamas Breastfeed Project .  Initially the Brown Mamas Breastfeed Project was created as a way to gather photos of black mothers breastfeeding, but Anayah and Jeanine discovered that the women who shared their photos were also interested in sharing their stories as well.  In part based on the research-supported assertion that narrative can be used to increase the number of women who breastfeed, they are currently expanding the Brown Mamas Breastfeed Project into a book, which is forthcoming.

“This book could be good for moms in areas where they are actually in the minority.… [especially if] they do not have online social networks.”

Working with MomsRising also gives Anayah a platform around issues pertaining to race and class, especially as they relate to breastfeeding and families’ economic security.

Kari: What do you see as some of the challenges black women in particular face when it comes to breastfeeding?

Anayah: “When we deal with a larger culture that positions breastfeeding as something white women do—or at least something specifically not black [that is a challenge].  The larger narrative is about white women, so even physicians don’t address it. [For an African American woman], she hasn’t seen it growing up.  It’s not something she is exposed to… She either had people who said nothing or were openly hostile about it.”

Anayah related that in her own experience she was threatened with being thrown out of a pediatrician’s office, because she was breastfeeding her baby there.  Most of the women in her community did not breastfeed, so even the pediatrician’s office was not accustomed to seeing a woman breastfeed.

“African American women are at increased risk of diabetes and breast cancer and breastfeeding can address it.  Breastfeeding is one of the only things a woman can choose to do to decrease the risk of breast cancer, especially the type that overwhelmingly kills black women.”

“I don’t even think it’s important whether or not black women’s challenges are unique. That we face serious and life threatening health conditions of which breastfeeding offers some support at such high numbers is enough to warrant attention. In mainstream media, breastfeeding is still discussed as a lifestyle choice and for African-American families, it’s much more serious than that.”

Kari: Tell us about Black Breastfeeding Week.  Why do you care so much about this topic that you helped to create a nationally recognized awareness week for the subject?

Anayah: “Kimberly [Seals Allers] had written articles about World Breastfeeding Week, but there was no traction in the community—not much ethnic diversity.  So, she wrote this piece about greater diversity.  I read the piece and decided I had to ask her about it.”

Fast forward to the ROSE Summit in Atlanta where Kimberly Seals Allers (of Kimberly Seals Allers’ Mocha Manual), Kiddada Green (of Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association), and Anayah met and decided to coordinate and launch Black Breastfeeding Week to bring attention to breastfeeding to their community.  Anayah pointed out that where “large campaigns can’t go deep enough” a more focused effort can.

“It’s not about physiology; it’s about social context,” she said.

Anayah described some of the historical social context related to breastfeeding among African American women, including the fact that black women have always worked outside of the home, quite often as domestic help for white families—caring for white children—and that formula was supposed to make it easier for them to be separated from their own babies.   In addition, a lack of support “across the board” contributes to low rates of breastfeeding among African American women.

Increasing the rate of breastfeeding among African American women will require “more than seeing some black faces sometimes.”  And it is vitally important to the lives of black women and their babies that the rate of breastfeeding be increased.

“Creating Black Breastfeeding Week was primarily about us raising greater awareness and pulling together forces among African-Americans for breastfeeding. We want to make breastfeeding part of other conversations we’re having on parenting and life in general, so we’re using this week to do it. The tweetchat on Thursday is a special effort that will help; when we have a major publication like Ebony.com and the top black bloggers supporting the conversation, we can reach more families than those who are already thinking and talking about breastfeeding.”

The first annual Black Breastfeeding Week is taking place this week, August 25-31.  For more information please visit:

Black Breastfeeding Week on Facebook

First Annual Black Breastfeeding Week announcement

Moms Rising Black Breastfeeding Week announcement

 

 

 

kariswansonTLB

Kari Swanson is a daughter, sister, wife, mother of two, librarian, member of Generation X and an admin for The Leaky [email protected]@b Facebook page.   Kari blogs occasionally over at Thoughts from BookishMama.

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