RBG in Cyberspace!
This is what I found when I googled: “African woman breastfeeding baby”
It’s hard to believe we’re 27 months strong with breastfeeding.
Feed them babies, ya’ll! RBG for life!
Ahimsa and I got together to send a special shout out those RBGs out there. We hope you like it.
This book, The Wonders of Mother’s Milk by Mishawn Purnell-O’Neal, has been a staple at bed time in my home for quite some time now. Ahimsa and I just love the language and its vibrant illustrations. I appreciate the ethnic and racial diversity of the mamas and babes in the book; a culturally appropriate read in my opinion.
Using age-appropriate language, the topics discussed in the book include: the health and emotional benefits of breastfeeding, de-stigmatizing breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding mothers who work outside of the home, the notion of mother’s milk being green (yes!), and extended breastfeeding.
I’m excited to learn that The Wonders of Mother’s Milk is now available as a download for the iPad and iPhone. The book is offered through iBooks as an enhanced version which offers a “Read-To-Me Option” by a professional narrator. I believe that this is the first children’s book with a breastfeeding theme that’s being offered in this kind of digital format. The cost of the download is super affordable too!
A Kindle Edition is also available for download!
I got the enhanced version on my iPhone and can I just say it is so cool!! It really came in handy on our recent road trip to Nashville. Ahimsa enjoyed reading something she was familiar with and having it read aloud to her over and over again. I truly appreciate how, when read aloud, the words are highlighted in red, something necessary for young readers developing their literacy skills.
Thanks to the author Mishawn Purnell-O’Neal, I will be giving away a promotional code for the digital version of The Wonders of Mother’s Milk. Leave a comment on this post by Saturday, June 9, 2012 and it will count as your entry. All names will be entered with a winner selected at random via random.org. I will announce the winner in the comments section by 5:00 pm, June 9th. Winner must respond within 24 hours, or another will be selected.
So, I’m not a “check the postal mail everyday” kind of person. Who needs another bill on the coffee table anyway? But when I checked my mail box the other day, the only thing that was in there was an envelope addressed to Green Diva Super. I immediately knew what it was!
Culturally appropriate breastfeeding activism SWAG!!
Pretty cool, aren’t they?!! I was gifted them by one of my most favoritest bloggers: Lactation Journey.
Since the beginning of my breastfeeding activism, I have been seeking out (read: stalking, lol) other Black women that address the topics of breastfeeding and health disparities in the Black community. It was right before the launch the Free to Breastfeed site that I came across Lactation Journey and was instantly hooked.
Lactation Journey is written by Acquanda S. who is a feminist, an anthropologist, and of course, a Black woman passionate about breastfeeding in the Black community. She writes about her journey to becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), one of the breastfeeding-support professions that desperately need more Black women becoming certified in. In the state of Washington, home of Lactation Journey, Black IBCLCs are rare, if not non-existent.
Here is what Acquanda says about breastfeeding and her “lactation journey”:
This is a journey. It is not simply a task where I learn the steps of attaching an infant to its mother’s breast. That’s the easy part, I’m sure. I am hoping to explore this area via a holistic approach — examining cultural traditions, ritual, language, and all aspects of infant feeding and nurturing through the various ways it is expressed and experienced. My dream is to help create and maintain a positive atmosphere for Black women and all women who choose to participate in this wonderful, healthy tradition, and to encourage other women and men to advocate this area – especially those ‘non-traditional’ ones who, like me, do not have children, and who are often seen as not needing to concern ourselves with this area, to join in.
Happy belated May Day ya’ll!!
Today is day 3 of Screen-Free Week! Screen Free Week is a week where families go without TV and other media (outside the use for homework and/or work for parents) for the set period of time.
Organized by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood,
SFW is a fun and innovative way to improve children’s well-being by reducing dependence on entertainment screen media, including television, video games, computers and hand-held devices. SFW is an annual celebration of life, encouraging, people to read, daydream, explore and enjoy spending time outdoors and with family and friends.
I printed their free SFW Organizers Kit as it has a lot of research about the effects of screens on kids, literacy, commercialization, materialism and marketing, provides age-appropriate lessons for school-aged children (in school or unschooled), and offers 101 cool activities and ideas for playtime fun. Note: One can never have too many activities on hand with a 19 month old toddler. They even have some resources in Spanish.
Over the last few weeks, I have found myself watching more and more tube to zone out a little bit from my job as a youth worker. Over-worked and over-stressed from the daily grind (=burnout) often times sends me straight to the tube to stream Netflix in the evenings. I’m thankful for this break in bad habits and humbly grateful that Mother Nature has blessed Chicago with awesome weather this week.
I am thankful of the work that my partner and I have done to make sure our daughter Ahimsa doesn’t watch a large amount of screen media. I must remember though that I have the potential to rub off on her so making the choice now to deal with my stresses in other ways will truly pay off in the long run.
What role does the TV, iPad, iPhone, social media, video games, etc. play in the lives of you and your family? How do you deal with your daily stresses and/or mini-traumas as workers? What are your favorite screen-free family activities? Let us know!
Endnote: The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood played a huge role in the development of the film Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood. It’s a brilliant film so look out for the review here at It’s Better at Home.
Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers, the book, is in the home stretch and scheduled to be released soon. We want you beautiful, breastfeeding, Black mothers to come out and hang with us for our cover art photo shoot!
Often, I find myself singing the “milks” song to my daugther. It’s pretty simple: “milks, milks, Himi loves milks.” I was singing this in the dark when I thought about the mothers all over who were breastfeeding their babies right at this moment. What were they singing?
Interested, I did some research. I was amazing to find this video by Cameroon Link of the NKah Women of north west Cameroon using this song to promote breastfeeding in their country.
I don’t know about you but I love the lyrics:
Only breastfeeding, we no go tire, we no go tire
Only breastfeeding, we no go tire, Only breastfeeding, we no go tire
Only breastfeeding, we no go tire
We no go tire
As stated on their website, Cameroon link or camlink, is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation created on the 9th September 1991 with head office in Douala, Cameroon. Its objectives include the promotion of food security through interaction with small scale farmers and breeders with media practitioners, especially those involved in community radio action. Media action focuses on poverty alleviation through the promotion of food and nutrition, community health development, women’s empowerment, human assistance, advocacy, education and communication on the rights to adequate food for all.
Some of the activities supported by camlink are the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding of babies for the first six months and advocacy for the promotion of the International Code on the marketing of breast milk substitutes. They were also major participants in 2011′s World Breastfeeding Week.
Another awesome video by Cameroon Link is the Cameroon Breastfeeding Hymn.
The Cameroon Breastfeeding Hymn is a song that was composed to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of the life of a baby. It is sang by expectant mothers and lactating mothers who attend pre-natal and post natal counselling sessions at Cameroon Link and its affiliate associations. It guides mothers on the importance and relevance of breastmilk and the dangers of using formulae before the baby is six months old. It also encourages mothers to compliment breastfeeding of babies from six months with continued breastfeeding up to 24 months and above within the context of the Cameroon National Code.
What are some things you sing to your babies as you nurse them?
I have to admit it.
I really have been enjoying the “sh*t people say” videos. Some of them are hilarious! Soul Veg Mama and I got to spend some time together on her recent trip home. This is our version:
Along with the video, we created a Facebook page. If you want more from us, learn about the upcoming book, or get support and advice check out the Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers Facebook page.
Free to Breastfeed is a online support network which addresses the breastfeeding inequities amongst Black women as well as provides support and a centralized place to connect with other Black women who breastfeed.
Free to Breastfeed was started by us, two blogger mothers interested in normalizing breastfeeding in our community by increasing the visibility of nursing Black mothers online. Our initial project, the Brown Mamas Breastfeed Project, was a huge success and only solidified our belief that more Black women wanted to breastfeed but desperately needed the support to reach their breastfeeding goals. Our mission is to raise awareness of and provide basic breastfeeding education relevant to Black women.
“Like” us and stay tuned for updates about the book.
Also, follow us on Twitter at: FreetoBF
What are some crazy things people have said to you while breastfeeding?
In honor of World Breastfeeding Week and all the beautiful breastfeeding mamas globally, we will be extending the deadline for submissions to Liquid Gold: Black Mothers on Breastfeeding.
We have received some beautiful, intimate, humbling, tear-jerking, powerful, gut-busting, thoughtful, and insightful submissions. Thanks to all of you amazing, revolutionary mamas. We are humbled by your honesty and thank you for trusting us with your thoughts. Please continue to spread the word to Black mamas you know.
So more about World Breastfeeding Week (WBW):
According to the World Health Organization,
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
I love how breastfeeding is being celebrated everywhere. Still sad about how the access to these events and/or advocacy are still scarce in many communities. As a peer educator, I’ve been thinking of what I can do to support women in my community and to celebrate their courage to breastfeed.
I have a couple of ideas but stay tuned to find out more.
In the meantime enjoy this WBW flash mob tutorial created by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). If you can make it through to the end please, take a good listen to the music and check out the lyrics below.
imma rap about breasts
cuz ev’ry other song
has a line about her chest
and the world’s OK with
the sex context
but feed the future and
the world’s like
what the heck?
they call it a rack
turn a gift of god
into a sales contest
and treat ev’ry woman
like an item on the shelf
major corporations and
claim to replace
what’s nature’s best
with powdered potions,
enough of that
it’s time to act
k and waba say
time to take your breast back
I am a true RBG folks!!
IT’S OFFICIAL! I am now certified as a Lactation Specialist (CLS). I got my exam score and certificate in my email.
Although I was super excited and loved spending 45+ hours talking about lactation and breastfeeding, I was very disappointed with the lack of knowledge regarding cultural and socio-economic challenges to initiating breastfeeding and the role of the health care professional (HCP) in supporting this initiation. I, along with many other women there at the training, walked away with the generalization that Black women don’t breastfeed (we’ve ALL heard that right?). I thought about how damaging it was for the message to be perpetuated amongst these 200 some women who were now going to return to there jobs and continue to disempower the women of color that present at their hospitals, birth centers, and private practices.
As a health care provider, if you are “taught” that Black women don’t breastfeed, how committed and dedicated would you be to counter that messaging? Or will you be disinvested and choose not to provide the support a Black woman may need to initiate breastfeeding and continue it at home. Needless to say, this sentiment is a poor generalization and puts all the blame on the mama. What are HCPs doing to help mamas of color? How serious are new mothers being taken when they express their breastfeeding goals to their HCP and they are met with “well, IF you are able to breastfeed” or “it’s a big commitment, do you want to really be bothered?” or better yet, my favorite, “let’s worry about breastfeeding later” (Oh, yes, I’ve heard people tell brown and black mamas this).
HCPs (including myself) need to stop making breastfeeding longevity seem unobtainable. What kind of pump, bottle, etc is important but not as important as just getting started. We need to stop encouraging the myth that breastfeeding more difficult than it needs to be. Some women I’ve talked to have expressed early termination of breastfeeding because they couldn’t afford a particular pump, because the baby wouldn’t take the breast after the nursery nurse gave baby a pacifier, that their milk was late to come in so doc encouraged formula, because their feel like they aren’t making enough milk. No one talked to these women about their options. No one gave them the facts. None of them were empowered to make a holistic and TRULY informed decision.
I am committed and excited to use this information I have learned to help RBG mamas reach their breastfeeding goals. I will continue to learn so that I can understand how to overcome societal and medical barriers and challenges and to increase the breastfeeding initiations and duration in my community.
When they say Black women don’t breastfeed, please know that blanket statement is a lie and that MANY sisters are working diligently to increase our numbers for the benefit of our babies. Now it’s true, for various reasons some mamas just won’t be able to do this at all. And then, some mamas won’t be able to do this for long but doesn’t that mama deserve the information and the creativity to at least look at all the pieces and then be able to make a clear and informed choice?
It is a revolution, y’all.
These baby food and alternative breast milk companies are profit makers and providing these things to our babies isn’t in our best interest. Allergies, eczema, asthma, obesity, common illnesses all can be prevented by simple lactation. And if you can’t get with baby on the breasts, pumping will work too. (Hit me up if you need to know where or how to get a free pump).
Okay, I’m done ranting for now but I will be back with more, sho’ nuff!!
RBG tip #5
As the weather changes, RBG mamas with allergies (like me) are curious about breastfeeding and allergy relief. One of the most exciting things I learned was that the active ingredient in Sudafed cold stops your breast milk. So RBG mamas with allergies, try Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). Not only does Nettle inhibit the body’s ability to produce histamine it is also a natural galactagogue (milk stimulant). It may take a couple of weeks to notice the difference so start now before allergies get too bad.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture of this RBG nursing my baby during her first days. I have to say, she’s still going strong!
For more info, options, or to see/read about other RBGs, go to*:
*it’s better at home wants readers to decide for themselves their own options. we do not offer these resources as endorsement nor support of what is discussed (although many ARE kick ass!).