Many people find this hard to believe, but I absolutely love Breastfeeding. I love everything about the process, the bonding, the health benefits, the education and the freedom. Freedom is something we strive to have. To now have the freedom and legal right to breastfeed my baby wherever and whenever I want is a beautiful thing and shows how much progress has happened over the years.
Growing up in my community, babies were being born everyday yet, breastfeeding wasn’t the topic of discussion was the norm. My grandmother didn’t breastfeed her children and my mother and didn’t breastfeed my sister and I. To be born in the late 80’s knowing that my mother used cloths diapers on me but didn’t breastfeed is still seems very strange. So I’ve wondered over the years, was the lack of breastfeeding happening at that time due to a lack of support and resources to African American women. Or, were they just not interested in doing so. I mean let’s be honest, Black women haven’t always received the best care when it comes to maternal care and being educated on breastfeeding.
So knowing that not many women in my family haven’t breastfed, I made the conscious discuss to educate myself, break the cycle and prove to myself that a Black girl from the “ghetto” can breastfeed her baby while letting you know exactly what she needs out of aisle nine in the grocery store. Now let me be clear, I wasn’t always as comfortable and had a sense of freedom when it comes to breastfeeding. My oldest child was born seven years ago and I breastfed him for seventeen months, and honestly, I felt uncomfortable nursing him in public because of how people would look at me.
I remember having to nurse my son in the grocery store line while trying to pay for my groceries and it was a true struggle. I was trying my best to stay covered because God forbid, I nursed him in that line uncovered despite how it made him or I feel. At that time, I was so worried about not making anyone around me feel uncomfortable instead of making sure my son was as comfortable as possible while nursing. I spent a lot of time nursing him in my car because I was too afraid to simply walk through a park with my breast out nursing a baby.
Although I was educated on breastfeeding, society wasn’t and that played a major role in my breastfeeding experience the first time around. Now let’s fast-forward six years later and a beautiful baby girl who’s attached like no other. You can’t tell me nothing when it comes to feeding my baby and making sure she’s good. I feel a since of relief and happiness each and every time I have the courage to nurse my baby wherever and whenever I need to. I know that sense of relief is stronger now because I didn’t feel that way with my son.
Society has come a long way when it comes to breastfeeding which I am thankful for and I’m even more thankful that Black women have an entire week to ourselves to celebrate our breastfeeding journey. Logging into Instagram account each day and witnessing the beauty of breastfeeding happening brings me so much joy. The changes that have occurred in the last six years have been major, and for breastfeeding in public to now be legal in 50 states is truly amazing.
Mothers who have never attempted to breastfeed a baby have no idea of the challenges and struggles you face with trying to be successful at it which is why mothers who breastfeed take offense when were asked “When are you gonna stop breastfeeding?” Now I understand that there’s no harm in asking the question, but for me it’s the “stank” look I receive when the question is asked as if I’m committing the most disgusting crime ever.
Breastfeeding looks different for each mom, but we all share a lot of the same joys and struggles and I’m sure I’m correct when I say that no mother wants to hear that question every time she pulls her breast out to feed her baby. As I stated before, black women haven’t always received the best maternal care, so now that there are so many resources, groups, and programs available to support black women with breastfeeding we should take advantage of it.
I made the choice to breastfeed my children not only to give them the best, but also for my ancestors who fought a hard fight feeding another woman’s baby so I could be here now telling my story. I’m a proud Black Mommi who breastfeeds and will stop when I’m good and ready to do so and so should you. Be fearless, empowered and NEVER ever let anyone make you feel a sense of shame for doing what’s best for your baby.
Until Next Time,
Contributing Mommi Jeanine
Hi I’m Jeanine a wife, mother of three and entrepreneur. I am also the founder of Just A Girl LLC which a women empowerment brand geared toward educating women on their journey of self-love. I am an educator, feminist and love all things involving motherhood and breastfeeding.