It's Black history month, and while we celebrate Black history all year long, this is a particularly special time to honor and remember those who have created legacies contributing to American history.
Breastfeeding, an act as old as humanity itself, carries deep cultural significance across various communities worldwide. In the context of Black history, the practice of breastfeeding holds a multifaceted narrative intertwined with resilience, struggle, and cultural preservation.
Throughout history, Black women have played a pivotal role in nurturing their children through breastfeeding, despite facing numerous challenges and systemic barriers. The journey of Black breastfeeding encompasses both historical triumphs and ongoing battles for recognition, support, and empowerment.
In the era of slavery in the United States, enslaved Black women often served as wet nurses, breastfeeding white children while their own infants were neglected or forcibly separated from them. This painful legacy underscores the exploitation and dehumanization endured by Black women, whose motherhood was commodified for the benefit of slave owners.
Despite the oppressive conditions of slavery, Black mothers maintained a deep connection to breastfeeding as a means of nourishing and bonding with their children. Within Black communities, breastfeeding served as a symbol of resilience and defiance against the dehumanizing forces of slavery.
As the struggle for civil rights gained momentum in the 20th century, Black women played a central role in advocating for breastfeeding rights and challenging racial disparities in maternal and infant health. Organizations such as the Black Women's Health Imperative and the Black Mothers' Breastfeeding Association emerged to address the unique challenges faced by Black breastfeeding mothers, including lack of access to lactation support, cultural stigma, and disparities in healthcare access.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in Black breastfeeding advocacy and support, driven by grassroots movements and community-based organizations. These efforts aim to reclaim and celebrate the cultural significance of breastfeeding within Black communities while addressing systemic inequities in maternal and infant health.
Today, Black breastfeeding advocates continue to champion initiatives aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates, improving access to lactation support services, and challenging societal norms that perpetuate racial disparities in breastfeeding outcomes.
The history of Black breastfeeding is a testament to the strength, resilience, and cultural heritage of Black women and communities. It is a story of survival, resistance, and empowerment—a journey marked by triumphs, setbacks, and ongoing struggles for equity and justice.
As we reflect on this rich history, let us honor the legacy of Black breastfeeding pioneers and reaffirm our commitment to creating a world where all mothers have the support, resources, and respect they need to nourish and nurture their children.
Chardá Bell, IBCLC
As we navigate the delicate balance of motherhood and career, the decision to bottle feed becomes a significant consideration for many mothers, particularly those returning to work. However, for Black women and low-income families, this decision carries far-reaching implications beyond mere convenience. It intertwines with complex socio-economic factors, including wage disparities and wealth inequities, ultimately highlighting the critical importance of pumping and supporting breastfeeding.
For countless mothers, pumping serves as a lifeline, allowing them to continue providing human milk to their infants despite returning to work. This practice not only nurtures the bond between mother and child but also offers numerous health benefits, including bolstering the baby's immune system and reducing the risk of various illnesses. Moreover, pumping enables mothers to maintain their milk supply and alleviate temporary mild engorgement, ensuring a smoother transition back to the workforce.
However, for Black women, returning to work at an earlier rate often intersects with wage disparities, exacerbating financial strain and perpetuating wealth inequities. Research consistently demonstrates that Black women are paid significantly less than their white counterparts for the same work, amplifying the financial burden of childcare and necessitating difficult choices regarding infant feeding methods.
In this context, the exorbitant cost of formula emerges as a formidable barrier, disproportionately affecting Black and low-income families. Marketed aggressively to these communities, formula presents itself as an appealing solution, yet its high price tag perpetuates financial strain and exacerbates existing disparities. Consequently, many families are forced to make compromises, sacrificing the health benefits of breastfeeding in favor of a more financially viable option.
This reality underscores the urgent need to address systemic inequities and advocate for policies that support breastfeeding mothers, particularly those from marginalized communities. Initiatives aimed at increasing access to affordable lactation support services, promoting workplace accommodations for pumping, and combating predatory formula marketing are essential steps towards fostering a more equitable society.
In conclusion, the bottle feeding dilemma transcends individual choice, intertwining with broader societal challenges of inequity and injustice. By recognizing the importance of pumping and addressing the systemic factors that perpetuate disparities, we can strive towards a future where all mothers have the support and resources they need to both nourish their children how they see fit and thrive in the workplace.
Disclaimer: This blog aims to be inclusive and respectful of the choices made by families who opt for formula feeding. We are not against formula feeding and recognize that it may be necessary for medical reasons. However, we are concerned about the aggressive and unethical marketing tactics used by formula companies, particularly in Black communities. The promotion of breastmilk substitutes is unnecessary and illegal for those who must comply with the code and fail to do so. Parents should have access to all infant feeding options without feeling pressured or judged. It's wrong for formula companies to instill fear and doubt about breastfeeding in parents' minds without providing information about available resources for breastfeeding support. Formula companies should be able to sell their products without resorting to advertisements that exploit parents' vulnerabilities. To learn more about the WHO code and the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, please visit:
In the miraculous journey of pregnancy, the positioning of the baby in the womb plays a pivotal role in shaping not only the birthing experience but also the postpartum chapter, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. The correlation between fetal positioning and breastfeeding outcomes is a fascinating aspect that sheds light on the interconnected dance of biology and nurture.
Let’s learn about it in 5 quick key points:
1. Optimal Fetal Positioning:
The ideal fetal position for childbirth is with the baby's head down and facing the mother's back. This positioning, known as vertex presentation, facilitates a smoother journey through the birth canal. Research suggests that babies in optimal positions during labor are more likely to have an uncomplicated birth, setting the stage for a positive start to breastfeeding.
2. The Impact on Labor and Delivery:
Fetal positioning not only influences the ease of delivery but can also affect the duration and intensity of labor. Babies in the optimal position may experience a more efficient descent during birth, reducing the likelihood of interventions. A smoother labor process can contribute to a more alert and ready-to-nurse newborn.
3. Skin-to-Skin Contact:
The golden hour after birth is a critical time for establishing breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact, where the baby is placed on the mother's chest immediately after birth, is encouraged. Optimal fetal positioning can enhance the effectiveness of this bonding time, promoting the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the "love hormone," which is crucial for milk ejection and establishing a strong breastfeeding relationship.
4. Latch and Suck Reflex:
Babies positioned well during birth are more likely to exhibit a strong suck reflex and effective latch. A proper latch is essential for successful breastfeeding, as it ensures the baby receives an adequate milk supply while preventing nipple pain or discomfort for the mother.
5. Reducing Breastfeeding Challenges:
Research has shown that babies in non-optimal positions during birth may face challenges in latching and sucking effectively. This can lead to breastfeeding difficulties, such as low milk supply, nipple damage, or frustration for both the baby and the mother. Addressing fetal positioning concerns early in the pregnancy can contribute to a smoother breastfeeding journey. Positive interventions such as prenatal chiropractic, yoga and Spinning Babies Daily Essentials can be extremely helpful.
As expectant mothers navigate the incredible journey of pregnancy, understanding the significance of fetal positioning is crucial. Beyond its impact on labor and delivery, optimal positioning sets the stage for a successful breastfeeding experience. Embracing the connection between fetal positioning and breastfeeding outcomes opens doors to proactive measures that can positively influence both the birthing and postpartum experiences. In this intricate dance of biology and nurture, mothers can take steps to optimize conditions for a harmonious start to their breastfeeding journey.
This is why doulas, childbirth education, and prenatal lactation consults are so important, because those things positively impact breastfeeding initiation and duration. If you or someone you know is pregnant and planning to chest/breastfeed, try these trusted resources to guide you in a smooth transition from birth to successful breastfeeding:
Spinning Babies is an approach to childbirth that helps you understand fetal rotation in the pelvis in relation to the pregnant body and teaches you how to make room for your baby. This can also aid in a better start to breastfeeding.
Want to learn more? Try this Spinning Babies Parent Class taught by Spinning Babies Certified Parent Educator, Chardá Bell, IBCLC, CBE, CD, SpBCPE and Executive Director of the SDBFC Foundation!
Trusted sources for prenatal chiropractic in San Diego:
Have more to add, share them with us! email@example.com
Motherhood is a unique journey, one that brings immense joy but also presents challenges that are often not discussed openly. Among these challenges is the intersection between Black maternal mental health and breastfeeding struggles, a complex dynamic that deserves our attention. Understanding and addressing the specific experiences of Black mothers can lead to better support and improved outcomes for both maternal mental health and breastfeeding success.
Black mothers often encounter unique challenges related to maternal mental health and breastfeeding. Systemic inequalities, racial disparities in healthcare, and societal pressures contribute to a unique set of stressors. These factors can impact a Black mother's mental well-being and, subsequently, her ability to navigate the complexities of breastfeeding.
It's crucial to acknowledge the historical context that shapes the experiences of Black mothers. From the historical trauma of slavery to contemporary issues such as racial bias in healthcare, Black women face additional layers of stress that can manifest in mental health challenges. Recognizing these historical and systemic factors is essential in understanding the broader context of Black maternal mental health.
The connection between Black maternal mental health and breastfeeding struggles is multifaceted. The stressors faced by Black mothers can negatively influence breastfeeding outcomes. Limited access to culturally congruent healthcare, lack of support, and the pressure to conform to societal expectations can contribute to difficulties in establishing and sustaining breastfeeding.
To address the challenges faced by Black mothers, it is essential to break down barriers to mental health support and breastfeeding resources. Culturally congruent care–because being competent isn’t always enough, inclusive healthcare practices, and community programs that understand the unique experiences of Black women can contribute to a more supportive environment.
Advocacy for policies that address racial disparities in maternal healthcare is a vital step in creating lasting change. By advocating for reforms that promote equitable access to healthcare, mental health services, and lactation support, we can work towards dismantling systemic barriers that disproportionately affect Black mothers.
Empowering Black mothers involves providing them with the tools and resources needed to prioritize their mental health and navigate breastfeeding challenges successfully. Community-based initiatives, peer support groups, and educational programs that reflect the diversity of experiences can play a crucial role in fostering a sense of belonging and understanding. We at the San Diego Breastfeeding Center Foundation are working to dismantle these disparities and uplift those affected by them.
The connection between Black maternal mental health and breastfeeding struggles sheds light on the need for a comprehensive and inclusive approach to maternal care. By acknowledging the unique challenges faced by Black mothers, we can work towards creating a healthcare system and societal framework that supports the mental well-being and breastfeeding success of all mothers, regardless of their racial or ethnic background. It's time to amplify the voices of Black mothers and ensure that their experiences are centered in discussions surrounding maternal health.
If you are a Black or BIPOC parent in San Diego seeking mental health support try these trusted sources:
https://www.mind2mend.com/ NaTasha Bailey, LMFT Mind 2 Mend Therapy
https://www.sdicouples.com/kendall-stewart Kendall Stewart, AMFT
https://www.counselingwithcamille.com/ Camille Kelly
https://willkellycounseling.com/ Will Kelly (Black male therapist and married to Camille Kelly listed above!)
Embarking on the chest/breastfeeding journey is a unique and transformative experience for parents. While it offers numerous physical and emotional benefits, it can also present challenges that take a toll on maternal mental health. In this blog, we delve into the intimate connection between chest/breastfeeding and mental well-being, highlighting the essential role of therapy in navigating the hurdles that may arise.
The Emotional Landscape of Breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is more than a physiological act; it's a profound connection between a parent and baby. However, the emotional landscape of breastfeeding can be complex, with feelings of joy, frustration, and even anxiety surfacing at various points in the journey. For many mothers, the challenges associated with breastfeeding can impact their mental health, making therapy a valuable resource in fostering emotional resilience.
Breastfeeding Challenges and Mental Health:
Common challenges such as latching issues, pain, or concerns about milk supply can lead to feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and stress. These emotional struggles can contribute to postpartum depression and anxiety, affecting the overall well-being of both mother and baby. Black women are disproportionately affected by perinatal anxiety and mood disorders, as well as have the lowest breastfeeding rates, most if not all which is attributed to toxic stress from systemic and structural racism. Recognizing the need for support, therapy becomes a crucial tool in addressing the emotional toll of breastfeeding challenges.
The Role of Therapy:
Therapy offers a safe and non-judgmental space for parents to express their feelings, fears, and frustrations related to breastfeeding. A skilled therapist can help parents navigate the emotional landscape, providing coping strategies and emotional support tailored to their unique circumstances. Whether through individual counseling or support groups, therapy becomes a valuable resource for mothers seeking to preserve their mental health during the breastfeeding journey.
Breaking the Stigma:
Unfortunately, there's a lingering stigma surrounding the acknowledgment of both breastfeeding challenges and seeking therapy for emotional support. It's essential to break down these barriers, encouraging open conversations about the emotional aspects of breastfeeding and promoting the idea that seeking therapy is a proactive and empowering step towards holistic maternal care.
Empowering Mothers & Fathers:
By acknowledging the emotional challenges that can accompany breastfeeding and advocating for therapy as a vital resource, we empower parents to prioritize their mental health. Therapy becomes a tool not just for overcoming challenges but for fostering a positive and fulfilling breastfeeding experience that contributes to the overall well-being of both parent and child. Dads and partners can suffer from postpartum anxiety and mood disorders and it's been reported that up to 50% of dads suffer from postpartum depression. We cannot forget our other support people who may also be involved in this breastfeeding relationship and having their own lived experience connected to infant feeding.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural act, but it's crucial to recognize and address the emotional challenges that can arise along the way. Therapy serves as a beacon of support, offering mothers the resources they need to navigate breastfeeding challenges while safeguarding their mental health. Let's destigmatize the conversation around breastfeeding difficulties and therapy, ensuring that every mother receives the comprehensive support necessary to thrive on this transformative journey into motherhood.
One month ahead of Black history month, but we can learn about Black history all year long!
The act of breastfeeding has a rich and diverse history, as it's deeply woven into the fabric of various cultures. This history, shaped by resilience, community, and challenges, highlights the importance of recognizing and celebrating the cultural significance of breastfeeding within the Black community.
In the African diaspora, breastfeeding has historical foundations as it has been a longstanding tradition passed down through generations. In many African cultures, breastfeeding was not only a practical means of providing nourishment but also a communal act, strengthening the bonds within the community.
Colonization introduced challenges to the traditional practices of Black mothers. Separation of families, forced labor, and the undermining of cultural practices disrupted the natural and communal aspects of breastfeeding. Enslaved Black women often faced the harsh reality of having to nourish both their children and those of their enslavers, revealing the complex dynamics surrounding breastfeeding during this period that linger.
Following emancipation, Black mothers faced new challenges. Lack of access to appropriate and high quality healthcare and economic disparities created obstacles to optimal breastfeeding practices. Additionally, the emergence of formula feeding in the early 20th century introduced new dynamics, driven by aggressive and predatory marketing aimed to mislead parents and fuel societal pressures. Despite formula marketing being illegal, advertisements have become more targeted for the Black community.
Despite these challenges, the latter half of the 20th century witnessed a resurgence of breastfeeding advocacy within the Black community. This rise has given us the space to recognize the importance of reclaiming cultural practices, organizations like the Black Mothers' Breastfeeding Association, the creation of Black Breastfeeding Week and Black IBCLC's with an online presence like Trina @BayAreaIBCLC or @thelactatingmamacommunity, Chardá IBCLC @MelaninMilkSD, Lydia O'Boyd IBCLC and Erica IBCLC @TheMilkManual to name a few. These influences have played crucial roles in promoting breastfeeding as a means of health and liberation.
It's 2024, and Black mothers still continue to face disparities in breastfeeding rates, often influenced by societal, economic, and healthcare factors. However, a growing movement emphasizes the importance of culturally congruent support, culturally sensitive education, and representation in the field of lactation to empower Black families in their breastfeeding journeys.
The history of breastfeeding for Black mothers is a testament to resilience, community, and the resounding importance of cultural practices. While challenges persist, we are witnessing a reclamation of these traditions, powered by lactivist, advocates and communities dedicated to fostering a supportive and uplifting environment for Black mothers in their breastfeeding experiences. As we celebrate this rich history, it is essential that we continue to amplify the voices of Black mothers and continue advocating for equitable access to resources and support everywhere.
The SDBFC Foundation was born in 2016, a year that to many, further emphasized the power, urgency and necessity for immense efforts to reshape our society to make it a more equitable and just place. About 3 years after the birth of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, 2016 also marked a very tense presidential election, following President Obama's historical eight years in office. Our country became further divided as we got a new president. In 2016, the Flint water crisis, caused severe and lifelong conditions from contaminated drinking water, that negatively impacted the health of thousands including over 9,000 babies in Flint, Michigan, which is 57% Black. Also in 2016, the tragic death of Philando Castile, a young Black father with his family when he was killed during a traffic stop. The 2016 heartbreaking story of Kira Dixon Johnson–a victim of the Black maternal health crisis, despite the persistent pleas from both Kira and her husband, Charles Johnson, the hospital callously disregarded their urgent requests for a post-childbirth examination. Tragically, 12 hours after undergoing a cesarean section, Kira succumbed to internal bleeding, with the insidious impact of medical racism proving fatal. The death of Kira Dixon Johnson sparked a national conversation about the racial disparities in Black maternal care. Against this backdrop, issues of race, racism, and discrimination became intricately woven into the fabric of our nations’ discourse, creating the complex narratives of our collective anxieties. In this year, it became crucial to continue dismantling harmful systems of oppression that are responsible for these very avoidable disparities.
Understanding the dynamics of race and racism in America is crucial, especially when considering the lived experiences of marginalized communities. Centuries of systemic racism, from slavery to segregation, have cast a large shadow on America's racial landscape, influencing the overarching tensions within our society. These same issues intersect with the complexities of breastfeeding, that go beyond health considerations, intertwining with broader societal challenges, particularly racial disparities in healthcare affecting access to lactation support for families of color. Black women, in particular, face numerous hurdles in successful breastfeeding due to systemic and structural racism, highlighting the need to view breastfeeding as a social justice issue linked intricately with reproductive rights.
Within the realm of maternal and infant health, breastfeeding emerges as a natural act with a complex intersectionality tied to social justice, reproductive rights, food justice, and environmental justice. For many families, especially those in marginalized communities, the decision to breastfeed is entangled with broader societal issues, such as limited access to quality healthcare, systemic racism, and economic disparities. Recognizing breastfeeding as a reproductive right emphasizes the need for equitable support structures. Placing breastfeeding within the realms of food justice and environmental justice deepens our understanding of its societal implications. Limited access to nutritious food and exposure to environmental toxins can impact a mother's ability to provide optimal nutrition through breastfeeding, resulting in an inequitable feeding experience for the baby. Lactation support has become a crucial force in addressing the intersectionality of breastfeeding challenges, necessitating culturally congruent care and inclusive support systems.
By recognizing the diverse needs of breastfeeding families, lactation support becomes a dynamic force for dismantling systemic barriers and promoting health equity. Addressing breastfeeding disparities for Black women requires a comprehensive approach encompassing advocacy for policy changes, workplace reforms, improved healthcare access, and trauma informed and culturally competent high quality support services. The SDBFC Foundation, saw and heard the diverse needs of our community, and that's why we're here.
The foundation has been working tirelessly to eliminate disparities by providing culturally congruent lactation support and breaking barriers through scholarships for aspiring BIPOC lactation professionals. In 2023, we proudly became a Black woman-led non-profit, offering over 1,000 free or reduced lactation consultations and granting 16 BIPOC scholarships totaling over $17,000.
..And so here we are first week of January 2024, we initiated this blog to provide space to educate, empower and uplight the community. We hope it fosters constructive and candid conversations among the public to learn how we can all be working towards a more inclusive and equitable society in lactation and perinatal support. As we celebrate eight years of growth, our commitment to eliminating disparities remains unwavering, and we invite you to join us in this mission. Share our vision with your friends, family, colleagues, and networks. We need you, the community needs you, the babies need you.
Your donations and grant funding keep our work going! If you wish to contribute, volunteer, or work with us, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the tabs above. If you're a parent seeking support, click on the "our clinics" tab, and if you're interested in a scholarship, click on the "get involved" tab. Donations are welcomed year-round!