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Moms Share Powerful Photos to Celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week

The reasons behind the creation of Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25-31), now in its seventh year, are not happy ones. Racial disparities in breastfeeding rates are huge: As cited on Black Breastfeeding Week’s website, 75% of white women have breastfed, while only 58.9% of Black women have. Given the benefits that breastfeeding can have for both mother and baby, that stat alone could be worth an awareness campaign. But other disparities — including lack of diversity in the lactation consultant field and the fact that Black mothers face more structural obstacles to breastfeeding once they reenter the workforce — add more urgency to the issue.

As Ms. Magazine noted, this year’s Black Breastfeeding Week also comes just after the American Academy of Pediatrics released its report on the effects of racism on children’s health. The week is a time to raise awareness, build community, and have discussions. But it is also a time for Black mothers to celebrate their choice to breastfeed despite the disproportionate difficulties they may face — which many are doing by sharing photos with the hashtag #BlackBreastfeedingWeek. Here are some of the most beautiful, badass ones out there.

Brandi Sellerz is a doula and educator as well as writer. The top comment on her post starts with “I didn’t know this was a thing,” which shows just how important it is to bring more women into the conversation.

Baby Tula, a baby carrier company, shared this photo of lactation educator Chardá Fontenot and posted a video of her talking about Black Breastfeeding Week on Instagram and Facebook. You can watch the discussion here.

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We just had a LIVE conversation with Certified Lactation Counselor, @chardafontenot, about Black Breastfeeding Week (and on Facebook yesterday) that was very interesting! We discussed how Black Breastfeeding Week provides an opportunity to gather in real life and online and showcase that #blackmamasdobreastfeed. This helps to dispel the myth that they do not which was something Chardá shared as exist within and outside of the black community. . We thought this confident, multi-tasking mom seemed to showcase just how we can debunk those myths! 🙌🏽 . Catch more of the conversation in our Stories and tag us in your photos so we can continue to celebrate #blackbreastfeedingweek together! . 📷: @camrynbyer . . . #babytula #tulalovecollective #BBW19 #blackbreastfeedingweek2019 #normalizebreastfeeding #babywearing #nursingfriendly

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Jasmine Chanelle writes about juggling breastfeeding and being an entrepreneur.

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“I remember feeling so upset in the beginning that my body didn’t belong to me.” (Read more ⬇️⬇️⬇️)⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ It’s #BlackBreastfeedingWeek 🤱🏾 and I couldn’t let the week pass without taking a moment to celebrate how far Khari and I have come on our nursing journey. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Whew chile, where do I start 🤦🏾‍♀️ Breastfeeding hurts worse than childbirth (in the beginning) and I don’t know why they don’t tell us that up front.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ You will feel like your body doesn’t belong to you. Shoot I still complain about wanting to be “free” but here we are 7 months later and I’m still her 🐄🐄🐄 until further notice. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ This requires a level of sacrifice and commitment I’ve never known. I thought entrepreneurship was hard, sheesh breastfeeding has me questioning my life on an hourly basis. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Popping your boob out in public becomes easier. I’ve pumped backstage before speaking engagements, in airports, while driving and nursed pretty much everywhere including while coaching (hey Mom2Mogul clients💁🏾‍♀️). ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Overall I wouldn’t trade a moment of it! The special bond me and this little one have is worth every sacrifice. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ For the moms beginning this journey, just know it doesn’t get any easier 😩 you get stronger. Y’all pray I make it to 12 months because teeth are coming and I’m not ready. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ P.S. If you’re a mama interested in making motherhood and entrepreneurship work harmoniously check out my IGTV for tips or visit jasminechanelle.com/mom2mogul to learn more about my business coaching made just for moms 💕⁣⁣ ⁣⁣link in my bio

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The Happiest Baby is also doing a series on Black moms and breastfeeding, and how issues of race, class, and education influence their journey. You can read their profile of Avriel Epps here.

One Instagram user shared a picture of friends breastfeeding together, emphasizing the role of community and support that many women rely on.

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Happy Black Breastfeeding Week.🤱🏾 Some may question why this week needed? 🧡Black women have the lowest breastfeeding rates. 64% of our women initiate breastfeeding. ❤️Black women have the highest infant & maternal mortality rates. Many of the causes decrease if a mother breastfeeds. 🧡There are many stigmas placed on breastfeeding… some of this is rooted in our history as black people. ❤️Underrepresentation in the lactation field (Lactation consultants, Lactation/Breastfeeding counselors) & medical racism. 🧡The lack of education on the topic & the lack of support. Some may say this is divisive, but taking a week to acknowledge an issue in a community doesn't take anything away from your journey. We are trying to normalize breastfeeding and increase our numbers. Black women breastfeed too, Nurse on mamas.💛 #blackbreastfeedingweek #blackwomenbreastfeed #blackwomenbelike #lactation #melanin #frobabies #naturalhair #blackmothers #blackgirlmagic #liquidgold #normalizebreastfeeding #blackbreastfeedingweek2019

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The hashtag is also giving many Black doulas and lactation consultants a chance to call attention to their important work.

Some mothers are also using the week to share pictures of them breastfeeding for the first time.

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I am celebrating #blackbreastfeedingweek I am an avid supporter of breastfeeding. I breastfed my child for a little over 3 years and this is the first picture that I ever posted of me publicly nursing her. We were in Amsterdam . . . ‼️Here’s a warning‼️ – 🙅🏾‍♀️MISS ME🙅🏾‍♀️ with the commentary on how women should cover up to feed their child because “no one wants to see that”. I have no patience, chill or remorse for your hurt feelings should you decide to go there. I have digressed. Let’s get back to the celebration piece . . . I loved my journey of nurturing and caring for my daughter in a way that my body was made to and capable of doing. While I didn’t have any issues along my journey, I did receive many stares from people who were uncomfortable with me FEEDING my child. Truth be told, I gave no f&$&@! I had family members comment about how long I was going to let her nurse and my response was always “For as long and I want”. My daughter found comfort and security with me as her mother and the bond we gave is irreplaceable . . . I stand in solidarity with my black mothers who don’t receive the same support in maternity or postpartum care when it comes to providing for our children. I stand in advocacy to show that we as black mothers matter just as much as the mainstream showcasing of white mothers who breastfeed their babies but see no disparity in care or resources. I speak up on this issue because of the high mortality rate of black babies. And lastly I give voice to the silenced mothers who are criticized within our very own black community about doing what’s naturally best for our babies. We need more images, role models and multi generational support so that we can close the gap and reverse this cycle of an oppressive mindset. Black moms, breastfeed on! #blackbreastfeedingweek #blackbreastfeeding #blackbreastfeedingweek2019 #bbw19 #itsmyworld #blackmotherhood #blackmomsbreastfeed #blackmomsrock #blackmomsmatter #blackmomsdobreastfeed #travelingwithtoddlers #normalizebreastfeedinginpublic #blackmothersbreastfeed #bestofmoms #mommydaughtermoments #mommydaughterbond #mommydaughterbonding #raisingblackgirls #raisingstrongdaughters #raisingstrongkids

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Ashely, the mother behind Mommy and Moon, writes, “being a black woman who breastfeeds is powerful.”

Kelly Sloan, a singer and songwriter, posted about how support from her Black moms Facebook group, as well as from her doula, helped her with the many transitions in the first year of breastfeeding.

The choice to breastfeed or not is ultimately a personal one, and many moms may ultimately decide it doesn’t work for them or their family. But all women of all races should have the support, resources, and education to make their own (informed) decision.

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