Finding a support system is so important to any new parent. With a recent CDC study regarding breastfeeding statistics finding that interventions are needed to address barriers experienced disproportionately by black mothers in their feeding journeys, community organizations and their team are incredibly necessary. Today, we feature Isreal of Breastfeeding In Color. Her DC area group is working to raise awareness and support a community so often overlooked.
We are very excited to be showing support for black mothers, fathers, parents and infants during Black Breastfeeding Week. For more information, Black Breastfeeding Week shared their top 5 reasons for needing Black Breastfeeding Week here.
How would you describe your own feeding (nursing or otherwise) journey?
There’s so many ways to describe this amazing journey. When I had my son, I’m not going to lie it was rough. I was a single teen parent basically making ends meet and on top of that he had a lip tie. It was difficult but when he turned six months it was smooth sailing. The journey with my daughter was and is awesome. She’s three now and still nursing.
What, if any, misconceptions of nursing did you encounter?
Man the most common misconception I heard was that it was going to make my breast sag…
Did you have any complications or challenges on your feeding journey?
I would have to say milk supply. I had to educate myself on how to maintain a good milk supply. Another challenge was hearing the opinions of others. Many people are not knowledgeable about breastfeeding so seeing me nurse my 2 year old was like WOAH, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
What resources or support helped you on your journey?
In all honesty I had no resources or support that helped me during my journey. Lactation consultants were only available during the time I had to work so I couldn’t even use them. They weren’t accessible.
Why did you start ‘Breastfeeding in Color’ and what is your goal for starting it?
Oh man, where do I start. I started BreastfeedingInColor because I wanted to make breastfeeding an option to a demographic that is constantly overlooked by the healthcare system. I started BreastfeedingInColor to mainly improve the breastfeeding rates among Black moms in the DC area.
Why do you think it’s important to have Black Breastfeeding Week?
Black Breastfeeding Week is important because Black breastfeeding rates are extremely low compared to other races. Breastfeeding isn’t visible within the black community as much as it should be. The Black infant mortality rate is high and breastfeeding can lower that.
Do you have any specific advice to share with anyone looking to nurse?
The advice I have is to do what is best for you and your little one. Breastfeeding is between mother/ parent and child. Nobody else. Don’t allow anybody to shame you into feeding your child any way you do not want to.
Is there one particular story that stands out, of a family you were able to help support on their feeding journey?
I remember helping this amazing single mom who lived in a “not so safe” neighborhood in DC and she automatically assumed that I wouldn’t do a home visit because other lactation specialists and support workers refused to visit her. She was so happy when I told her that I was coming. I helped her with nursing and baby wearing. I provided her with a baby carrier which she loved and demonstrated how to nurse in it. Man, that was a good day and that made me realize why BreastfeedingInColor is necessary and here to stay.