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.
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!
What would be a dream come true for a breastfeeding, hip hop aficionado?
A rap song about breastfeeding no doubt!
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!
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:
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?
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?
On, Saturday, October 10th (which happens to be International Human Rights Day), the Illinois Single Payer Coalition along with the IL Chapter of a Physicians for a National Health Program and the Chicago Single Payer Action Network, sponsored a Teach-in at Occupy Chicago. The teach-in not only focused on the overall heath disparities within Chicago, but more specifically on how a single-payer health care system will (or will not) address health disparities in Chicago and throughout the nation.
Community groups and organizers were solicited to join the discussion and were encouraged to provide action steps to move the movement of a national health program forward. I was excited to attend the event as I am familiar with single-payer health care program as a whole but never really sat down to think of specific concerns and or questions as to how this type of system will affect the maternal health & medical industrial complex.
The event began with a brief but truly thorough overview by Steve Whitman, PhD, Director of the Sinai Urban Health Institute, about the history of racial segregation and access in Chicago, health disparities amongst whites and blacks, and his research over the last 28 years. As highlighted in the event announcement on the Illinois Single Payer Coalition website:
Chicago is one of the most racially segregated cities in the country, with one of the worst records on health disparities by ethnicity and economic class. Responses by major public and private institutions have been ineffective at best, and at worst actively sacrifice public health to the interests of big corporations. Wall Street’s demand for ever higher profits for health insurance and pharmaceutical companies exacerbates disparities instead of addressing them.
Chicago has some of the worst health disparities in regards to maternal and child health. With the countless advances in medicine and improvements in technology, the medical industrial complex has continued to fall short in its ability to adequately provide evidence-based, scientifically proven care to lower income and racially oppressed people. According to the research Steve presented, in 1995 many of the 15 health outcomes his work focuses on were equal when comparing blacks and whites. 15 years later, in 2005 when they re-investigated the current data, 11 of these 15 measures were worst amongst Black people; including ones specific to maternal and child health.
Three of the 15 measures used in his research, Low birth weight, infant mortality, and no-prenatal care, were specific to maternal and child health. His research concluded that after the 15 year difference, Blacks ranked highest for all three measures. The most shocking and most well articulated realization that I have ever heard about the criminality of this segregation is, when you look at all of these measures and look at the “excess death” (meaning those preventable deaths due to lack of access) he says about 3200 Black people died 2005. These excess deaths are due to no other reason than racism. If you do the math, that’s about 9 folks a day. Breaking it down even more, 3 Black babies die each week due to this racism.
According to the 2005 publication of The Birth Outcomes and Infant Mortality in Chicago report compiled by the Chicago Department of Public Health Office of Epidemiology, the following data shows how desperate Chicago (and nationally) is for attention to these disparities in birth outcomes.
Knowing this information and overstanding the need for immediate action to reverse 15 years (really more) of the harm imposed by the medical industrial complex, what is in store for us within a single payer health care system?
In thinking about access, race, and the current state of affairs for maternal and child health care (i.e. birth justice) I can’t help but have a few questions about how this system will support low income, mothers of color.
One of my greatest concerns about a single-payer health care system is how will this program increase mothers of color’s access to those “evidence-based” practices that I mentioned earlier?
How will this system make maternal and child health more accessible to our communities (i.e. low income, POC, limited-no access to services, birth workers, and/or midwives)?
How will it provide options to poor and marginalized women to make decisions about their pregnancy, birth and parenting without the policing of their bodies and/or reproduction?
How will policies change to support birth justice within the medical industrial complex as well be provided to our sisters in the prison industrial complex?
How will a single-payer system allow greater opportunities (including financial) for birth workers (midwives, doulas, lactation specialists, childbirth educators), healers, and practitioners of color to achieve education and/or certification (if they choose) and practice?
How will this kind of health care reform close these gaps in disparities and improve outcomes for Black women thus improving community health?
Will holistic and modestly cost public health interventions and preventative care (i.e. massage, acupuncture, yoga, etc) be accessible and covered under a single-payer system?
To add, will the midwifery model of care and out-of-hospital midwifery practices be seen as an adequate and viable option for consumers or will the “standard of care” continue to be based on profit-driven, insurance company rules and regulations and not based on evidence and research?
Will a single-payer health care system hold space for increased accurate, client-centered, public health promotion and communication around most importantly, breastfeeding, SIDS, nutrition, fathering, postpartum depression, pre-conception health, and accessing prenatal/postpartum services?
Lastly, in contrast, will Obama’s Health Reform fill in any of these gaps and concerns I have mentioned in discussing a single-payer system?
Well, I am waiting… (crickets).
The International Center for Traditional Childbearing, the Midwives Alliance of North America, and Citizens for Midwifery all have statements that include recommendations** for some kind of health reform (mostly recommendations for Obama-Biden’s Health Reform); many of which can be applied to the single-payer system as well.
I challenge the administration to really step up and address the social and economic barriers that directly affect the overall health of Black and Brown people and in addition make the birth outcomes of those disproportionally affected a continued priority.
It’s clear that what we have now is not only broken but absolutely criminal and barbaric.
*Language provided by the researchers
**Resources for your enjoyment:
International Center for Traditional Childbearing President’s “Healthy Babies are Everyone’s Business”
Midwives Alliance of North America’s “Reforming Maternity Care in America: Recommendations to the Obama-Biden Transition Team on Maternity Health Care”
Midwives Alliance of North America’s Working Group Recommendations
Citizens for Midwifery’s “Maternity Care: A Priority for Health Care Reform.”
National Association of Certified Professional Midwives’ “Maternity Care and Health Care Reform: Opportunities to improve quality and access, reduce costs, and increase evidence-based practice”
Physicians for a National Health Program’s “International Health Systems.” Check out the Cuba and South Africa profile, written by me back in 2004.
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