Black Breastfeeding Week 2020 (#BBW20) and National Breastfeeding Month is now coming to an end. For #BBW20, I wanted to join in the conversation to share my personal breastfeeding stories to encourage other moms who are either currently breastfeeding or who are planning to breastfeed soon.
Before I share our breastfeeding update, I want you to know my thoughts on formula feeding. I am a strong supporter of moms doing what they know is best for their health and their baby’s health. I am not against using formula to feed a baby because there are many reasons why a mom may choose formula. In fact, I have used formula to feed four of my children when they were babies.
But what I am not for is medical professionals, family members, friends, media, and society discouraging women from breastfeeding, shaming women for their feeding choice, and not letting moms choose the feeding choice that they feel is best for them and their baby.
All moms— no matter their culture, race, marital status, or income status– deserve to have the education and support they need on breastfeeding and formula feeding so they can make an informed decision.
ONE MONTH NEWBORN BREASTFEEDING UPDATE
I’m four weeks into breastfeeding Zaya and so far, it’s been an experience that has been both joyful and frustrating. When Zaya was first born, she immediately latched on with no problems. She didn’t even struggle to latch. It was all instinctual and we were both very confident with the process. I remember feeling very proud of myself and also feeling very empowered as a mom.
But a few days later, my milk came in and then my breasts were engorged and Zaya could no longer latch on. I tried very hard to bring the swelling down. I tried cold compresses with ice packs, hot showers, pumping, and skin-to-skin. Combining all four of these techniques did help, but it took almost a week for the swelling to go completely down.
And since Zaya was unable to latch, I had to feed her my breastmilk from a bottle. I would still try every single day to help her with latching, but she would just cry, turning her head away from my breast. Then I would start crying, too, because I felt like a failure. I wasn’t failing, of course, but it felt that way to me because I wanted so desperately for this to work for us.
Looking back, it seems like it was so long ago that all of this happened, but it really was just a couple of weeks ago! Sleep deprivation and hormonal changes can play tricks on your mind. The days seem to run into each other and it feels like one very long day. The truth is– all I needed was to be patient and remain consistent with helping Zaya latch again.
Now she’s breastfeeding like a champ and prefers the breast over the bottle. In fact, Zaya is currently cluster-feeding and it feels like I am nursing her around the clock! (I feel kind of silly now for getting worried two weeks ago when she was having difficulty with her latch.) Despite feeling exhausted, I am enjoying connecting with my baby and I am grateful I am able to breastfeed her.
BLACK BREASTFEEDING WEEK 2020
This year’s #BBW20 theme was “Revive, Restore, Reclaim.” I love this powerful theme! My breastfeeding journey with all six of my children has been a journey of reviving my role as a mother who provides nourishment, restoring faith within myself that I can breastfeed my baby, and reclaiming my connection to breastfeeding.
I wrote a few blog posts about my breastfeeding journey with Zephaniah if you’d like to read them. (Zephaniah was my first baby that I exclusively breastfed.) I’m also including two blog posts I wrote about Black Breastfeeding Week 2016 and an interview with two moms about their breastfeeding experiences.
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