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!).