Welcome back Fam! I'm super excited about this week's show because this topic is what put Parenting Decolonized on the map for many of you. Back in August 2019, during Black Breastfeeding Week, I posted a heartbreaking poem by Hess Love on the Parenting Decolonized Facebook page that went crazy viral and was even picked up by Upworthy. I remember when I first read this poem, I was pregnant with Gia and when I tell you I ugly cried. My heart broke and I just sat and allowed myself to feel the anguish that washed over me and thought about my ancestors who were bred like animals, whose babies were torn from their arms, replaced with their oppressor's child. I would've wished I dried up too.
That trauma, along with the fact that black mothers have really only been able to mother their children for less than 200 years, has impacted every aspect of our parenting, including breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is always a controversial topic because there's a lot of trauma, shame, and guilt when discussing this as a community, but it's time we unpack these feelings and talk about why breastfeeding in the Black community is so important. In this episode, I chat with Nichelle Clark, owner of SonShine & Rainbows Lactation, about why breastfeeding in the Black community is an act of resistance and the various ways mom can seek support along their breastfeeding journey.
During the show we’re going to break down:
How to hospitals notoriously pushed formula to black mothers, even if they wanted to breastfeed
Why Black moms breastfeed less compared to any other race
How lack of familial support can impact the success rate of nursing moms
The various myths about breastfeeding
The role slavery played in the decline of breastfeeding in the black community
The different ways moms can breastfeed
How to support a nursing mom
Why we need to push for systemic changes to help more moms successfully breastfeed
Talking to Nichelle took me back to my very first interview with Dr. Theresa Chapple who said that infant and maternal happen on a continuum. During this interview, Dr. Chapple broke down how racism plays a huge role in not only birth outcomes but the overall health of black people. If because of racial and intergenerational trauma, black babies are on average born at 37 weeks, with slightly smaller brains, then breastfeeding may just be the thing that helps level the playing field biologically. When I was pregnant researching the benefits of breastmilk, I was blown away, which is why, even though I didn't have much support from my family, I chose to breastfeed and still do at 24 months. It wasn't easy though...and it didn't feel natural. I honestly can't say it's something I have enjoyed. For me, breastfeeding is a true labor of love and I know it is/was like that for many women.
"Most people think that “natural” means “easy”, but it doesn’t. Breastfeeding can be complex and families don't have to navigate that alone."
If you're reading this and feeling any kind of inkling of shame or guilt because you didn't breastfeed, I want you to let that shit go. In this interview, Nichelle talks about why many women feel they couldn't breastfeed and how most of the time if they had had the proper support systemically, they would have been successful. You're still an amazing parent, so please don't feel anything other than a little more educated as you read this and listen to the podcast. I hope this episode sheds some light on breastfeeding in the Black community and how we can support nursing moms moving forward. If you haven't already, please make sure to subscribe to the podcast and leave a rating/review to let me know how I'm doing.
Here's how you can find Nichelle Clark:
SonShine & Rainbows Lactation: https://www.sonshineandrainbowslactation.com/
Until next time...