Tomorrow don’t miss the Celebrate Midwives! Film Festival.

This fundraiser, hosted by the Illinois Coalition of Certified Professional Midwives, is just in time for the International Day of the Midwife! Three films will be shown; all about midwifery and midwives.

Following the films there will be a panel discussion in which I will be a part of. Yay! Ain’t nothing better than talking about birth (well maybe for me, breastfeeding;)).

Check out the trailers for the films below and hope to see you there!!

Bringin’ in da Spirit is a historic look at the Grand midwives of the south and addresses midwifery in the Black community.

Narrated by Phylicia Rashad, this evocative and passionate film celebrates women who have committed themselves to holistic answers amidst powerful misconceptions about the practice of midwifery and virulent opposition from practitioners of Western medicine.

At Home in Maine

Guerilla Midwife

Jeanine @greendivasuper

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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.

Jeanine @greendivasuper

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!

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What would be a dream come true for a breastfeeding, hip hop aficionado?

A rap song about breastfeeding no doubt!

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ComScore

I just finished listening to this lyrically amazing song Food for Thought by Njeri Earth.

Njeri Amira-Nana Earth is a mother of four, wife, daughter, sister, Hip Hop artist and musician, child care provider, business owner, youth mentor, and holds a B.A. in Organizational Management with a minor in Child Development; among other things.

Fans might recognize her from her earlier years in hip hop with her collaborations with the Wu-Tang clan’s GZA/Genius album “Beneath the Surface on songs “1112” and “Victim” and the again as the “3rd Parking Lot Rapper” in Eminem’s ” movie 8 Miles.” Releasing her first album “Supa Sista” in 2005 and then the follow up albums “20-20” in 2007 and “The Best Part” in 2008. She back now with the upcoming release “The Highest Elevation” with features this breastfeeding gift of love, Food for Thought.

Although this sista has been out for some time, the song Food for Thought is spreading through the breastfeeding advocacy community like some good gossip. With breastfeeding, Black women becoming increasingly more visible in mainstream this song is right on time.

Check out the Food for Thought lyrics below and Njeri Earth Facebook page here.

I nurse my babies from my bosom, so U can put the Similac back
The breast is best and that’s an actual fact
Unfortunately some don’t see it like that,
A woman’s chest is just for sex, may I suggest that’s foolishness
I was blessed with these to nourish my seeds
Gives em’ what they need, antibodies to combat disease, so please
Spare me your staring, snickering, and snaring,
As I’m preparing to swaddle, my babies need no bottles
Nor a pacifier, because they’re satisfied
And ain’t no other food that money buys able to give what Mother’s Milk provides
So why must, I be mocked and criticized,
Told to stay behind closed doors, like I’m breaking a law
Or doing something that’s wrong, by feeding my new borns,
And covering with a shawl where U can’t even see my bra, naw
Ya’ll dead wrong for try’na censor Mother’s Nature
Maybe U would be greater if ya mama gave ya
(Food For Thought; Designed for the mind and it can’t be bought;
No matter how they try with the lie that’s taught;
That formula is all your babies need, I encourage my sisters to Breast Feed)-
Lyrics By: Njeri Earth, from the song “Food For Thought,” – (Inspired by the Breastfeeding Mothers Unite organization) on the album “The Highest Elevation”; coming soon. PEACE!

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?

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