The Milk Bar is Now Open
I'm constantly in awe of what this body can do. Over the past 10 months, I've watched life take form and now I have this beautiful little being in my arms. And just as instinctively as my body understood conception in addition to what needed to transpire to create her, it also knows exactly how to sustain her. If that isn't magical, I don't know what is.
Simultaneously, I've got to keep it real, breastfeeding is hard work my nipples are sore to the point where I walk around topless with glistening areolas because they're lathered in ointment, I brace myself when she latches on because latching is an entire education in itself, and I think about taking a nap at least seven times a day. By the way, rock hard boobs are called engorgement and engorgement is not your friend. Still, when I see my daughter's little face relaxed and content with a full belly that came from my breasts and all the good food choices I made, I'm humbled and grateful for the experience. I also know that it gets easier.
Oddly enough, some people aren't as enthusiastic about breastfeeding for one reason or another, including how it impedes on work schedules, in public, or just in general. It never ceases to amaze me how information begins pouring itself into my lap when I focus my energy on a thing. For instance, as the days of motherhood approached me, I came across articles that discussed the trauma of breastfeeding in African American populations due to forced wet nursing and the stigma associated with a woman who breastfed. Trauma has a way of evolving, manifesting and it's something we pass down through the generations, which makes it hard to break harmful cultural norms.
In fact, just recently, the mother of a friend of mine shamed her when she told her she was breastfeeding. I admire my friend for telling her mother to piss off in a respectful way. It really does take a lot of strength to stand firm behind what you feel is right for your baby because everyone has something to say. I've gotten to the point where I'm receptive to what people have to share. Simultaneously, I have a serious filter because I realize I'm not obligated to internalize or apply other people's opinions or experiences.
Returning to the matter at hand, I'm saddened by negative responses to breastfeeding because breast milk is designed specifically for each baby. Breastfeeding provides:
All the necessary nutrients
Defense against allergies or infections
Defense against disease
Easy digestion —typically no constipation or diarrhea
Healthier weight gain as the baby grows
Breast milk also adapts to babies needs. That liquid gold everyone talks about? It's real. If your baby is sick, the mother's milk will get yellow, beefed up with extra nutrients the baby needs. Oh, and some studies indicate that breastfed babes score higher on IQ tests. The icing on the cake is the bonding experience between a mother and her baby. It's so gratifying watching your baby nurse themselves into a milk coma.
I know that some mother's can't breastfeed. I know that some women don't have the support they need to to effectively generate milk or sustain their production and there's nothing wrong with finding an alternative route to make sure your baby is fed. However, now that I'm on this journey, I realize how important it is to advocate for breastfeeding in general and especially among African American mothers.
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What was your breastfeeding experience like?
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