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‘Cause baby you’re a star…

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Do you think they will get it now?!

For the past 18 months of my breastfeeding journey I have spent a lot of my time while pumping at work looking for a peaceful and quiet place to have an ejection reflex in.

I have shared my office with 4 (then 3, then 5, then 3 again) different people. People have walked out our office, leaving the door open, as clients and other staff walk back and forth down the hall.

People have paid no attention to my initial, modest sign that stated “pumping-in-session” and walked in (read: barged in) on me to get something from the printer, to gossip, or to ask me something in person “since I didn’t pick up my phone.” None of the interruptions mind you are time sensitive nor an emergency.

I’ve had people look almost pained when I’ve asked that they complain to me about their co-worker, the youth, or their partner in about ten minutes or so; once I’m done with trying to feed my kid. Smdh.

So once I moved to my new office this past Monday (where I am alone 87% of the time), I made the above “pumping-in-session” sign because, as it  states…FOOD JUSTICE IS REAL.

Me, out of necessity, returning to work before my daughter was three months old is an abomination. Me not having a private, beautiful space to pump is offensive (and yes, I know all the breastfeeding laws business but it’s real life). As I demand the space to meet my breastfeeding goal (a minimum of two years) I found that taking things into my own hands has truly benefited me. I demanded the move and since have almost doubled my daily output. This stuff is real.

Hopefully, folxs can get it now… f&^*ing knock ’cause this is the revolution.

What have you working mamas done to create or find space to nourish you babies while away from home?

In solidarity,

Jeanine

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!

Free to Breastfeed Photo Shoot & Cafe

Saturday, March 31, 2012

3-6 pm

618 S Michigan Ave. (cross street Balboa)

Chicago, IL 60605

Bring you gorgeous selves, your babies, and your smiles for a amazing afternoon of breastfeeding goodness!

Meet other Black breastfeeding mothers!

Share your breastfeeding stories!

Be on the cover of Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers!

Spread the word!!!

For more info email: jeanine@freetobreastfeed.com.

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Happy Spring Equinox!

In 2008, Harlem Hospital became the first hospital in New York City to gain the special ‘Baby Friendly’ recognition for promoting breastfeeding among it’s mothers–mostly who are African-American and African. Being recognized as a baby-friendly hospital/birth center includes not distributing formula as well as supporting the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, created by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), defines itself as:

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.

Baby-Friendly USA is the national authority for the BFHI in the United States. According to their website, as of December 22, 2011 there are only 125 US-Baby Friendly Hospitals and Birth Centers. You can find their interactive map here.

This video is part of the Women’s eNews Black Matetnal Health Series. Find more info on this series here.

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?

Throughout the month of February, we will be highlighting little-known facts, inspiring histories and creative advice related to black women breastfeeding. If you are interested in contributing to this series, send us a message!

When I first began research for our month of Black breastfeeding history I was disappointed by what little information I could find. When I look up Black+breastfeeding+history I get nothing but articles after articles about Black women as wet-nurses.

A wet nurse is a woman who breastfeeds and often cares for another’s child. Wet-nursed children may be known as “milk-siblings”, and in some cultures the families are linked by a special relationship of milk kinship. Wet nurses are solicited for many reason and used in many societies and cultures throughout history. Unfortunately, Black women have been the ones to become the poster child of the “profession” due to the impact of slavery and institution of wet-nursing and care-giving of their slave owner’s children.

So when I began my research for this month all I could find was this:

Slave and Child circa 1848

So, I’m thinking “I know, I know. It’s Black history month; why we gotta talk about slavery?! I so do NOT want to talk about slavery.” It wasn’t until I stumbled across the amazing blog, Mommy Too! Magazine: Celebrating Black Mothers and Motherhood, that I was hipped to some very interesting history about “sucklers,” or breastfeeding slaves, that I had never heard before.

According to the book American Negro Slavery: A Survey of the Supply, Employment and Control of Negro Labor as determined by the Plantation Régime by Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, in some circumstances breastfeeding slave were afforded some  “priviledges” (for lack of better words) in order to provide breastmilk for their children.

Sucklers are not required to leave their homes until sunrise when they leave their children at the children’s house before going to field. The period of suckling is twelve months. Their work lies always within half a mile of the quarter. They are required to be cool before commencing to suckle to wait fifteen minutes at least in summer after reaching the children’s house before nursing. It is the duty of the nurse to see that none are heated when nursing as well as of the overseer and his wife occasionally to do so.

They are allowed forty five minutes at each nursing to be with their children. They return three times a day until their children are eight months old in the middle of the forenoon at noon and in the middle of the afternoon till the twelfth month but twice a day missing at noon during the twelfth month at noon only. The amount of work done by a suckler is about three fifths of that done by a full hand a little increased toward the last. Pregnant women at five months are put in the sucklers gang. No plowing or lifting must be required of them. Sucklers old infirm and pregnant receive the same allowances as full work hands.

What are your thoughts about this?

Do you think he institution of slavery contributes to the rates of Black women breastfeeding today?

Originally posted on February 1, 2012 at Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers.

It’s February ya’ll and in celebration of Black History Month, Free to Breastfeed presents to you Black Breastfeeding History! All month long we will be sharing Black breastfeeding history facts and photos, posts from featured guests, and other black breastfeeding news including updates about the book, Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers.

So, let’s get started…

Isis breast-feeding youg Horus in naos, Isis Temple, Philae Island, Egypt

“What?! Isis did it too?!”

Black women have been breastfeeding long before time. Looking at breastfeeding in antiquity, there are many goddess that breastfed their young uns.

The ancient Egyptian goddess Isis (Auset), whose name means “throne”, is worshiped as the ideal mother and wife. Auset is often depicted as the mother of Horus (Heru) and is shown nursing him in countless statues, drawing, and steles.

According to Breastfeeding in Art:

In the traditional form Isis sits on a plain throne that is her namesake with her left hand on the infant Horus’ back for support, proffering her left breast to the child. Horus is not usually placed on or at Isis’ nipple or breast but is generally a little distant, offering the viewer the focus on Isis’s breast more than on Horus nursing at the breast. In many of the images of Isis and Horus found in the official tombs and monuments dedicated to the deceased pharaoh, Horus symbolically represents the dead king himself who nurses at the breast of Isis in order to gain the afterlife.

Papyrus

Isis suckling her child Horus in the Papyrus swamps

Egyptian goddess Isis, the symbol of motherhood and protection, nursing her son Horus.

Unbeknownst to some, Egypt is in Africa and Cleopatra did look like Elizabeth Taylor.

Like what you’re reading and want to join in? We’re seeking creative blog contributors for our Black history month series. Lactation consultants, breastfeeders, doulas, etc. are welcome. If you blog, microblog, or tumbl and can bring a breastfeeding spin to black history month, email us with ideas at info@freetobreastfeed.com.

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?

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