LactoMama to the rescue! Why more Black women should breastfeed.
Kimberly Seals Allers: When I was pregnant, I had the same recurring dream. I walked around in a red cape and stiletto-heeled boots with my huge breasts flapping in the wind as I fed my newborn baby: supplying its every need with free-flowing milk from my bosom. But there's more. I saw myself whipping into the kitchen and giving my breasts a few pumps to add milk to my older daughter's corn flakes and to my husband's oatmeal or coffee. I was LactoMama! -- capably supplying all the milk needs of my family.
There was something so empowering to me about pregnancy and bringing life into the world, and being able to sustain that life with the most nutritious and beneficial food, that I dreamed of taking care of everyone! The feeling was damn near orgasmic. Okay, and admittedly, a little weird. But breastfeeding made me feel sexy and powerful. I am a lactating mama, hear me roar! And oh, that tingling feeling of letdown. I can still recall it at a moment's notice.
Given my strong feelings about breastfeeding, I felt like a complete idiot when I learned that lots of Black women don't take up the cause. In fact, for over 30 years, African-American women have had the lowest breastfeeding rates, and though the numbers have greatly increased in recent years, Black moms still have the lowest breastfeeding rates of all ethnic groups. And when it comes to the gold standard of infant nutrition -- six months of exclusive breastfeeding -- among African-Americans the rate is only 20% compared to 40% among whites. I just don't get it. When you factor in the health benefits to the baby and the known benefits to the mom -- from quicker weight loss to decreasing the risk for certain cancers -- breastfeeding seems like an easy call.
Especially for Black mothers who are in a unique battle with our infants. Our babies die twice as often before their first birthday than white infants, and studies show that breastfeeding alone helps eliminate that disparity.
I didn't know why our breastfeeding rates are so low, but I was determined to find out. For several months, I've been polling Black women at MochaManual.com and talking to women formally and informally in my travels across the country to get to the bottom of the low breastfeeding rates among Black women. And now momlogic has given much-needed thought, reflection, and cyberspace to this critical issue. Go ML! Please check out the momlogic and MochaManual special report on Black women and breastfeeding and join the conversation on how we can increase the ranks of lactating supermamas! Our babies need us.
Join the conversation about breastfeeding. Did you breastfeed? Tell us why or why not. What are your thoughts on why Black women don't breastfeed more? Share them in our Community.
|Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning business journalist and founder and editor-in-chief of MochaManual.com, a weekly online magazine for moms of color. She is the author of "The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy" and "The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit." Kimberly is a divorcing mother of two and lives on Long Island, NY.|